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‘Cancellation in the digital space’ Putin rails against ‘xenophobic’ Western AI models at industry conference

Source: Meduza
Kristina Kormilitsina / Sputnik / imago images / Scanpix / LETA

On November 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the stage during the plenary session of Artificial Intelligence Journey 2023, an AI conference in Moscow. Over the course of a more than 30-minute speech, the leader called for the advancement of AI models rooted in Russia’s “traditional culture,” warning that the Western programs that currently dominate the field are “xenophobic” and are engaged in the “cancellation” of Russian culture. Read Meduza's brief retelling of Putin’s speech below.

Humanity is beginning a new chapter of its existence, using artificial intelligence in science, education, and healthcare. Life is changing at a fundamental level, and Russia should be at the forefront of these changes. We must create infrastructure for the widespread use of AI in our country. The new generation of AI is an outstanding achievement of human intelligence. But how will it feel for humans to be among machines? This is a divisive question throughout the world right now.

AI can’t replace doctors or teachers, but it may be able to replace their assistants. The future doesn’t lie with bans on technology. If we ban something, it will simply develop elsewhere, and we’ll fall behind. But we must practice safety and rationality when using AI. And in doing this, traditional culture should be our foundation. It serves as the ethical regulator of technological progress. As do the ideals of goodness and respect for humanity that Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and the sci-fi writers Belyayev and Yefremov wrote about. In an era of technological revolution, cultural and spiritual heritage will be the key factor in preserving national identity.

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The dominance of Western developments in Russia is dangerous and unacceptable. It’s important that we use Russian solutions to create AI systems that are safe for humans. Domestic AI models should reflect the richness of world culture, heritage, and the wisdom of all civilizations. The basis of our developments should be traditional values along with the richness of the Russian language and the languages of the other peoples of Russia.

Some Western search engines operate selectively and with bias. They cancel Russian culture, not taking it into account. A task is assigned to a machine, and it uses only English-language data. The algorithm may indicate to the machine that Russia, with our culture, science, music, and literature, simply does not exist. This is cancellation in the digital space. The same thing can be done with other cultures. This kind of xenophobia can arise even from artificial intelligence if it is created according to certain Western standards. The technological world of the future must be multipolar and must be built on a basis of trust.

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