January 23, 2023

No Money, No AI


No Money, No AI
An inspection of the Skolkovo Foundation building under construction  Skolkovo Foundation

According to Kommersant, Russian authorities have significantly reduced funding for development of AI technologies.

In a 2019 roadmap spanning the forthcoming five years, the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media of Russia planned to spend R56.8 billion ($830 million) on the development of artificial intelligence technologies.

According to a new roadmap, however, the state will only spend R24.6 billion ($359 million) from now through 2030. Expected extra-budgetary financing for the sector decreased even more significantly: from R334 billion ($4.8 billion) through 2024 to R111 billion ($1.6 billion) through 2030. 

Expectations of the return on investment have also decreased. In 2019, it was assumed that, by 2024, the domestic AI technology market would total R160 billion ($2.3 billion). The new document assumes a market less than one-tenth that size.

Thirty foundations, universities, and government entities will be engaged in the development of AI technologies in Russia. Among them are the Skolkovo Foundation, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and Sberbank, all of which are under EU and US sanctions, complicating their access to technological products.

As an example of the effects that western sanctions are having on Russia's IT sector, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan's TSMC company suspended deliveries to Russia and refused to produce new chips for Russian developers. This forced Baikal Electronics (a domestic semiconductor company) to suspend production of server CPUs.

Russian technology companies also are short on personnel. An estimated 500,000 citizens have left Russia. According to Forbes, about 30 percent of Russia's IT specialists have left the country or are planning to do so soon.

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