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Russia Joins AI Competition with GigaChat as a ChatGPT Alternative

Russia is the latest entrant to the artificial intelligence (AI) race as, mostly state-owned, Sberbank announced the launch of GigaChat, a rival to a conversational chatbot, ChatGPT. The move could heat the competition among countries looking to assume leadership positions in the technology that has taken the world by storm.

Last November, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, an AI model that can strike human-like conversations with its users. As more and more people began using ChatGPT, AI’s versatility became known.

From writing poems to essays, the chatbot is capable of quite a lot, and if Bill Gates is to be believed, AI could soon start tutoring kids too. Microsoft has been quick to back OpenAI monetarily and looking to incorporate the technology into its products and is taking the lead in the AI race. Other tech companies are also picking up the pace with their AI models, and we have seen multiple releases in the past few weeks.

Who are ChatGPT’s rivals?

Google, which acquired DeepMind to work on AI products, was caught off guard when ChatGPT was released. Its hurried attempt to release its AI model Bard backfired, and it has since taken a measured approach. Recently, it equipped Bard with the ability to write and debug code, which OpenAI offers through another AI model, Codex.

Chinese search engine Baidu also had a similar fate with its Erniebot, which did not meet people’s expectations. Earlier this month, e-commerce major Alibaba released its own AI model, which excels in two languages, English and Chinese, setting the stage for the global AI race.

GigaChat: Russia enters AI race with its ChatGPT rival
AI Chatbots are now available in scores on a global stageKhaosai Wongnatthakan/iStock 

The Russian announcement of GigaChat, adds another player to AI model offerings at a global scale but might not have that much of an impact since it excels in the Russian language and not so much in foreign languages.

With the wide availability of cloud-based supercomputing networks, it is becoming relatively easier to train one’s own AI models. How versatile they truly are and competitive on a global stage remains to be seen.

Interestingly, GigaChat has not been developed by a Russian technology company but by a lending bank investing in technology to reduce its reliance on Western imports. With Russia facing sanctions for its aggression in Ukraine, how it will source the advanced chips needed to advance AI research and development remains a bigger question.