Sber’s international online conference “Artificial Intelligence Journey” culminated in a discussion titled “AI Technology to Address Social Issues”, in which the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, participated. The discussion was moderated by Sber CEO and Chairman of the Sberbank Executive Board, Herman Gref. The session was attended by the winners of the AI International Junior Contest, organized by Sber in partnership with the Artificial Intelligence Alliance.
This year’s conference hit all-time record, with 52,000 participants. Over 800 people presented their solutions to AI challenges, including innovative approaches to Strong AI and Artificial General Intelligence. For the first time, the conference announced the results of the international AI contest for children who have demonstrated considerable ambition.
President Putin started his speech by thanking CEO Herman Gref and Sber’s employees for a great job, noting that Sber’s banking operations have always been, and remain, a true “people’s bank” of systemic significance to the Russian economy, serving over 100 million clients to date. While promoting the idea of technical progress, Sber has built a people-centric ecosystem, developing a new paradigm where the human is the centre of all processes. This transformation supports not only economy but also people’s lifestyles.
With this background, President Putin noted, it is crucial to transition promptly from an experiment to a major launch of new cross-cutting technologies designed to improve the quality of people’s lives. Accordingly, the development plans in various industries should be closely aligned with AI development strategies and extensive training programs on AI competencies for specialists from various fields are essential.
At the same time, when removing excessive barriers to advanced solutions and creating a regulatory environment appropriate to the challenges of the time, it is necessary to consider a wide range of complex legal and ethical issues. These relate to ensuring access to data and data depersonalization, intellectual property guarantees, and countering crime in the field of technology. To be leaders in the field of AI, we need a human environment — an atmosphere in the family and at school that supports moral values and the development of soft skills, including teamwork.
Sber CEO Herman Gref then announced the winners of the Artificial Intelligence International Junior Contest, with contestants presenting their AI solutions to President Putin. Among them was an app for converting Russian sign language into text; a neural network that adapts school tasks to the interests of the student (sports, music, literature, animals) without distorting its meaning which increases motivation; a system for detecting deepfakes; and an algorithm that generates a cartoon based on a text string and a requested genre.
President Putin then answered questions from the students. The students were interested in topics such as the development of a mentoring system in Russia, the possibilities of utilising AI technologies in public administration, automation, and the pace of mass implementation of AI in all spheres of domestic life. In answering the questions, President Putin stressed that when implementing AI, it is necessary to ensure the interests of people and respect for their rights. This should be facilitated by a code of ethics in the fields of AI development and application, developed with the participation of the Artificial Intelligence Alliance member companies.
Sber CEO and Chairman of the Sberbank Executive Board Herman Gref said:
“All of us – large companies, companies of the alliance for the development of artificial intelligence in the country – will try to do everything to fulfil our social mission and your request that we do everything to place people at the centre of technological development. In the past we tried to offer familiar goods and services to the market. Today, with the help of AI technology, it is possible to place the customer at the centre of our activities and seek to provide services many could not even dream of yesterday, as conveniently and affordably as possible. We are already at this stage of our technological and economic development, and with your support, attention, and that of the government, I see no hurdles to achieving the goal of making Russia a world leader in the development of AI technologies, and in economic development in general.”