Posted: 22.08.2023 17:30:00

They approach the matter wisely

The National Academy of Sciences is working on creating an artificial intelligence platform that will bring together all the major Belarusian players in this field

Developments related to artificial intelligence (AI) have been making a splash since the beginning of this year, occupying a significant place on the information agenda. Therefore, it seems that now the question is not whether to engage in the introduction of AI technologies or not, but only how exactly to develop them? Sergei Kruglikov, Director General of the Informatics Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, spoke about how this process is approached in Belarus.

Development platform 

A number of experts called for a suspension of the development and training of AI this spring. However, opinions were divided, and some eminent experts spoke out that there was not much point in slowing down the learning process of neural networks: not everyone would agree to do this, and those who stopped would simply lose their advantage. Sergei Kruglikov is also actively watching what problems in the field of artificial intelligence appear before the world community. In his opinion, it would be more correct to systematise all the current achievements in this area, making them more understandable for developers. In addition, for the systematic development of this direction, it is necessary to create a standardised base of legislative normative legal acts. This will allow us to move in a single constructive direction.
— The specialists of the National Academy of Sciences are actively working on these issues in our country even now. Opening the Intellectual Belarus exhibition in January, the Head of State assigned this direction to the National Academy of Sciences. We will act as a regulator of artificial intelligence in the country. We have already created a mature school for the study of AI. Furthermore, we are working on creating an artificial intelligence platform. It will bring together all the major Belarusian players in this area for the joint adoption of strategic decisions.
Sergei Kruglikov also noted that preferential conditions will be created for the players who will come to the platform. They are currently being defined. Among the new opportunities, for example, it is discussed that private firms will be able to receive government orders.
The creation of this site will be actively discussed at the second forum Artificial Intelligence in Belarus, which will be held on October 12th at the National Academy of Sciences.

Single law for the CIS

In addition, during the forum, it is planned to hold an expert council of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS countries, which will discuss the concept of a model law on artificial intelligence for the Commonwealth states. 
— The CIS countries are very interested in the development of technologies tied to AI. In the spring of this year, the Informatics Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus won a tender to develop a model law on artificial intelligence for the CIS countries. In the near future — on October 12th — with the consent of the Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences, we will hold an expert council of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS countries on the basis of the National Academy. Having gathered a round table of experts — members of the CIS countries, we want to show how artificial intelligence will develop in Belarus. 
During the meeting, the parties will discuss the very concept of the model law, some key points. The document has already been practically prepared and is now being supplemented and updated. 
— If we agree on a specific vision for the development of AI within the CIS, then this process will accelerate in Belarus. There are no problematic moments when creating the concept.

Leaders and results of the year

As part of the future forum Artificial Intelligence in Belarus, the Leader of Artificial Intelligence competition will be held for the first time. It will be held in three categories: the leader of AI in Belarus in the company, product and project sections.
During the forum, experts will also evaluate companies and their artificial intelligence technologies that they have implemented over the year. Among the companies that are already working with such technologies in the country are large industrial giants, food manufacturers, medical and agricultural organisations. 
— In 2023, we will hold a nationwide forum. But there are already many applications from foreign colleagues for participation in it. For example, we have already entered into a co-operation agreement with the Russian Innopolis university. It is worth noting that they want to co-operate and plan to decide on the categories of projects that we can work on together. Our experience is important to them, and we have it wide. 
As Sergei Kruglikov stressed, next year the forum is expected to acquire an international status.
— In June, we had numerous of joint events with Russia, Uzbekistan, through the EAEU, the CIS. Among them are CIPR-23, the Eurasian Forum, Innoprom, the Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia. According to these events, it can be judged that people understand the need for joint development in this area.

Designing the future today

Speaking about what the National Academy of Sciences is currently working on, Sergei Kruglikov said that specialised institutes continue to develop a number of technologies related to artificial intelligence.
— We are working on creating algorithms in different directions. For example, in the processing of video information streams for solving a number of tasks: recognition, capture and tracking of an object on video, analysis of a video sequence. For the agricultural drone, this is important because, in case of loss of control, it will be able to return, analysing the video sequence, which captures the flight area. Thus, it can return to its point of departure with very high accuracy. 
Sergei Kruglikov drew attention to the fact that the Informatics Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus is also working on many projects for the development of healthcare. 

— Our algorithms process X-ray images, CT diagrams, which allows us to detect neoplasms in various human organs. We started with the lungs and eyes, and now we are moving to other organs. We are constantly working on processing this data. Moreover, in this direction we occupy high positions in the world ranking.
There are also voice recognition systems among the projects. 
— Now we are creating a platform for studying the voices of birds. It makes it possible to determine the level of ecology of any zone where bird voices sound. There is a set of certain birds that live in clean and polluted places. This will make it possible to determine with a high probability that in some areas there is a decline in natural resources. 
Sergei Kruglikov recalled that last year work was announced on the creation of a voice assistant analogous to Alice. Today, scientists are already approaching the completion of the project.
— We named the Belarusian version Ales. It is not yet as advanced as Russian, but the system speaks Belarusian. We will offer to test it in various call centres. We plan to put it into trial operation and make a finished product. However, we can train Ales according to the needs of customers
Now we are actively looking for them. In fact, wherever existing voice assistants operate, our alternative could be installed. In October, we want to show Ales to the public.
Among the interesting projects, Sergei Kruglikov noted the already launched first experimental line for sorting apples using an image recognition system using technical vision and neural networks.

— The project works in Tolochin. The line already allows sorting 2.8 tonnes of apples per hour. The same system has been developed for sorting potatoes, but it has not yet been made. We will work on it. 
Sergei Kruglikov also said that a domestic 3D printer would be created by the end of 2023.
— It will be affordable and competitively priced. Initially, we are ready to release one or two units per quarter. Our main consumer is the organisations of the National Academy of Sciences. Chemists, physicians, technicians are interested in development. 

By Ilya Kryzhevich
Photos by Yegor Yermalitsky