Russia’s AI Mission Is State-Driven

In response to US initiatives supported by their leading tech companies and even more than China's highly ambitious investements, Russian is trying hard to position itself as a facilitator of innovation in artificial intelligence, the technology that Vladimir Putin said will lead whoever masters it to global advantage.

Russia has a smaller budget for commercial research and development in AI, however, it’s military applications are significant with developments in military robotics, autonomy, machine learning and artificial intelligence that improve intelligence collection and analysis is growing. One of their aims is to reduce the costs of urban warfare and enhance combat effectiveness across the spectrum of military operations.

While the Russian government, its military, and its people are well familiar with the heavy toll urban warfare exerts in manpower, resources, and political capital, Russian strategists also realise that much of the fighting in future conflicts will take place in cities.

Since the start of its modernisation reforms in 2008, and especially over the course of its involvement in Syria, the Russian military is developing a wide range of unmanned systems and in further refinement of its command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities, technologies that Moscow expects will safeguard soldiers’ lives and make its forces more precise and lethal in combat.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems
The Russian military today views AI as an enabler in its automated control and decision-support systems that enables rapid analysis of diverse data in multiple domains. In the near future, Defense Ministry experts want to develop AI capable of operations approximating human brain function. The incorporation of AI into semi-autonomous and autonomous ground and air vehicles can potentially help improve force protection, increase situational awareness, and ensure freedom of maneuver and movement in complex urban terrain.

The Russian Defense Ministry is looking at the patterns of modern warfare in the Syrian conflict and is responding to them by investing in certain technologies and adjusting tactics. 

One of the questions that faces Russian high-tech development is just how much brain drain and an anemic “start-up culture” retard technological breakthroughs. Even members of Putin’s cabinet acknowledge the “lack of innovation cycle” for the country’s young entrepreneurs, the absence of hi-tech infrastructure, financial support and legal frameworks. Moscow still has a STEM-educated workforce, capable and smart young people across Russia brimming with ideas who, given the right conditions, could propel Russia into the ranks of high-tech trend-setting nations. But they need the right mix of mentoring and financial support, which is why the Russian Federation is in the midst of an unprecedented program to literally lift itself by its “hi-tech bootstraps.” 

At this point, the United States is in a unique position when it comes to AI, its private sector has since matured to the point where it can even dictate their terms to the US military. 

Russian has embarked on a major experiment, jump-starting their hi-tech innovation culture. Equally important in the near future will be the development of the hi-tech private sector in Russia that is independent of state support, despite some problems it is encountering along the way. 

War On The Rocks:        DefenseOne:          Medium

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