Rustam Minnikhanov about AI: ‘If only it isn't a mouse fuss’

The president of Tatarstan has reviewed import substitution projects and called for real results in the field of AI

“I am for artificial intelligence, but only if it isn't like in a joke," Rustam Minnikhanov sternly warned the “digital attaches” from Innopolis at a meeting of the board of directors of Tatneftekhiminvest—Holding JSC, demanding real results in the field of AI. As a warning, the president of Tatarstan told an anecdote about poison for rodents, making it clear that artificial intelligence technologies should not be turned into a farce. Besides, at the meeting, KAMAZ received patronage in localising the production of industrial-rubber collars, SIBUR agreed to scale latex technology for medical gloves in Tatarstan, and the idea of creating a special energy zone for working out new tariffs has been sent for revision. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

5 directions of AI from Innopolis

The fashionable presentation on the introduction of artificial intelligence technologies, which was made by the first vice-rector of Innopolis University Iskander Bariev at the very end of the meeting, caused irony in the president of the republic. It would seem that the harmless “hackneyed” topic of digitalisation of production should have passed easily and simply in the last minutes, but in reality it served as a reason for a real rebuke for “digital attaches” and wards of enterprises. They were sent a clear signal: adopt artificial intelligence technologies with real economic returns, not engage in farce.

“We have high expectations from artificial intelligence in production optimisation technologies in the petrochemical industry," said Rustam Minnikhanov, inviting the speaker to the podium to the microphone. “Maybe we can compensate for the lack of our intelligence with artificial ones.

Then he immediately gave the guidance the author to specifically list the main areas of work in this area. “It is political studies, we need to know specifically," the president warned and began to listen with interest to what the new AI research centre, recently created in the structure of the Innopolis University, can offer.

At first, the first vice-rector — deputy director of the university, Iskander Bariev, recalled that the AI Research Centre has become one of the six centres, along with the MIPT, Higher School of Economics, Skoltech. He chose five directions for creating industry products based on AI. The first is warehouse logistics, where the task is to increase the turnover of goods. The partners here are Russian Post and Wildberries. The second is the security of the fuel and energy complex, the partner is Tatneft. The third is maintenance of transport, where Aeroflot and Sinara Group have become partners. In their interests, AI technologies are being developed aimed at reducing the time of inspection of air and ground transport before going on a flight. The fourth is medical diagnostics, the fifth is cooperation with SIBUR and TANECO companies in the creation of new materials. Regarding research activities in this direction, Iskander Bariev said that AI technologies will prompt “the optimal technological mode of production.”

A joke from Minnikhanov, or Why catch rodents if there is poison

Here the president of Tatarstan stopped the speaker and directly asked the CEO of TANEKO if he believes in the possibilities of AI?

The company's CEO, Ilshat Salakhov, did not hide that without collecting big data AI technologies will not begin to work. “For this system to work, we need a set of data on the introduction of the technological regime, data on the physical and chemical composition of raw materials," he explained. It turned out that there was no such initial information, but “work is underway.” “Until there is no such data, intelligence will not begin to work. First we need to train a mathematical model," he explained. In a word, there is no information field for AI processing yet, and it is unclear who should do this. Not to rack his brains, the president told an edifying anecdote:

“They sell poison for rodents. One smart one, like me, asks: how to use it? “You catch a rodent, tie it up, open its mouth, put the powder. And that's it, it will die," they answer him. “But if I caught it, then I can kill it anyway," the buyer is perplexed. “Yes, if you do that, it will also be right," they answer him.

No one in the audience laughed. “The main thing is that it isn't like in this joke. I'm for artificial intelligence. But if only it isn't a mouse fuss, but a real mathematical model," Minnikhanov switched from allegorical narration.

Then he specifically turned to the CEO of TANECO. “I'm telling you, as CEO. You've heard me. Mathematical models are in fashion now, it is necessary that it be real," he warned.

SIBUR's import substitution projects

Then the first word was given to Daria Borisova, the managing director of the development and innovation direction of SIBUR PLC. In her speech, she spoke in detail about import substitution projects. She suggested localising the most “delicious” ones in Tatarstan. We are talking about the production of medical latex gloves with a volume of 2,6 billion pieces. It is necessary to produce 49 thousand tonnes of latex.

“All medical gloves that are used in Russia are imported today," said Daria Borisova. “The niche is large in terms of volume and total earnings. There was no latex production or glove production in Russia before the pandemic. It was all imported from Asia, which is the world leader in the production of gloves.

SIBUR is completing the development of the technology by launching a pilot production in Krasnoyarsk. However, the output volumes are small — 3-3,5 thousand tonnes. The speaker suggested considering the possibility of scaling up the production in Tatarstan. “I would like to invite the region to consider who could become a regional champion in the production of gloves," she addressed the audience.

SIBUR has invested in the development of primary technology, and laboratory tests have been completed. The goal is to create a more productive and low-cost method of latex production than the one available in Krasnoyarsk. But for import substitution, there is a lack of partner who would be ready to invest in the production of gloves. At the same time, Daria Borisova warned that there would be difficulties: “The path is not easy, since neither (latex) nor the other (gloves) were produced in Russia.”

“The path is thorny, we have not reached the targets as quickly as planned. The development has not been completed yet, about a third of the way, or 40%, has been completed," she said.

“This task is strategic. I am ready to work with the federal government and defend federal projects together with you, move step by step what is possible," the president of Tatarstan assured the speaker.

According to Rustam Minnikhanov, Tatarstan is ready to offer production sites in different regions of the republic. For example, in Kazan it can be the technopolis Khimgrad JSC or Kazanorgsintez PJSC, in Yelabuga — Alabuga SEZ. This means that one of the residents of industrial parks may be interested in the project. “Probably, it's time for us to create some industrial parks and technoparks, where those who want to do this could come, for example, Alabuga SEZ, there is Khimgrad. We are ready to provide premises and participate at the sites of Nizhnekamsk and Kazanorgsintez," he listed possible options. “Even what we can get in friendly countries, we may not get from these suppliers tomorrow," Minnikhanov agreed. He instructed to create a working group to prepare a roadmap for the project.

Special energy: energy companies are asked to be released from excess capacity

Larisa Khabibullina, the deputy chairperson of the Tatarstan State Committee on Tariffs, proposed to create a special energy zone for working out new tariffs at a low voltage level. She explained its necessity by that more and more users are connecting to the distribution network, which can lead to collapse due to lack of investment resources.

“Last year, more than 34 thousand new connections were made, which may lead to a point of no return. The main capacities were laid in the 1950s, and the investment reserve is diverted to the operating costs of the networks. If nothing is done, the “no return” will come in 2035," she warned.

According to her, now 80% of the tariff is used for operating costs, and 20% — for the repair and reconstruction of the existing fund. The task is to change the proportions in favour of real investments. She proposed to create a technological testing ground for testing and approbation of innovative solutions near the substation in Zelenodolsk or Verkhneuslonsky districts of the Republic of Tatarstan. Sources — grants from the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, co-financing of the Grid Company and third-party investors.

“In what form do you need support?" the president of the republic specified.

It turned out that the experiment with the energy SEZ is aimed at releasing excess capacity. The president agreed that new facilities are being built with excess of the required capacity facilities. “Such work (on optimisation) is needed, we are giving instructions. You, as the initiator, will inform us," Rustam Minnikhanov put an end to it.

Luiza Ignatyeva
Analytics Tatarstan
Stock market
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  • Nizhnekamskneftekhim103.35
  • Kazanorgsintez114.7
  • KAMAZ183.2
  • Nizhnekamskshina74.6
  • Tattelecom1.08