Saidash Miftakhov: ‘The presence of the Tatar language on the Internet is almost zero’
The artificial intelligence specialist urges not to simplify the Tatar language
On the basis of the Achyk University online project (“Open University”), a free course on studying the possibilities of artificial intelligence has been opened, it is conducted in the Tatar language, including all terminology. The authors of the idea are the new chairman of the World Forum of Tatar Youth, Rainur Khasanov, and expert in the field of artificial intelligence Saidash Miftakhov. The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya talked with the speaker of the course and found out when new technologies are going to “speak” Tatar.
“All my life I've been herding cows, picking potatoes and enjoying the delights of village life”
It all started with a webinar in Tatar on the topic of artificial intelligence and its application, which was organised in the summer of 2023 within the framework of Achyk University. It was visited by about 60 people.
“We did not expect that it would cause such a stir. To be honest, Rainur and I held a webinar for fun. Then I spoke about AI many times. Later, we had the idea to make a special course," said Saidash Miftakhov.
A native of the Kukmor district from the village of Urazai, he won the Olympiad in the 11th grade and entered the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. During his studies, he became interested in the field of IT. On the 3d year of study, he went on an exchange trip to the Netherlands, immersed himself in the topic of artificial intelligence. Already on the 4th year, he already worked at Severstal — automated production using AI. Then he enrolled in a master's degree in Skolkovo. At the same time, he continued to work in various companies, promoting his startups. But then he returned to Kazan, and last year he joined the Yandex company.
“Now there is a process of simplification of the Tatar language”
Almost 300 people of all ages, employed in various fields, have enrolled in a free course on artificial intelligence in the Tatar language.
“The rticipants of the course are very different — there are many teachers, journalists, IT specialists, and schoolchildren. One of our most active participants is famous journalist and public figure Rimzil Valiev. He is always very interested, asks the right questions, thereby enriching our course. I tell the audience how to use AI in everyday life," says Miftakhov.
The course is taught entirely in Tatar, including all terminology, which is often difficult to translate. According to the authors of the project, the main goal is to enrich Tatar-language content on the Internet.
“I think that now the problem of developing our language is to simplify it — we cannot go far from Sabantuy, chak-chak, and echpochmak. All the latest technologies are presented in English and Russian. We hope that our project will begin to correct the current situation at least a little," says Miftakhov.
According to the expert, the presence of the Tatar language in the field of artificial intelligence is very limited, but the beginning has already been made.
“The main work in this direction is carried out by the Institute of Applied Semiotics of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan. For example, the famous online translator is AI. We have been using this service for so many years, unaware that this is artificial intelligence. The Institute of Semiotics is launching the function of translating audio recordings into text soon.”
In order to create AI, Miftakhov says, first of all, a very large amount of information is needed that could cover the entire Internet. Now the largest database is at the Institute of Applied Semiotics.
“In general, the creation of AI is a very complex, expensive process. The more resources and finances you put into it, the better it will turn out," the young man believes.
“We are not on the Internet”
Saidash Miftakhov believes that the presence of the Tatar language on the Internet is almost zero today.
“We don't have resources that are watched by millions. There are no bloggers who would talk about topics of a narrow focus related to science, for example. We have more people who show only their lifestyle — how and what they eat and drink, how they dress, communicate and so on. Of course, such bloggers are also needed, but we cannot limit ourselves to this," the AI specialist is sure.
According to Miftakhov, the Tatar Wikipedia makes a great contribution, thanks to which the world's artificial intelligences know at least something about the Tatar language. For example, open GPT chat. It does not yet know how to compose whole texts, but it can already master some words in Tatar.
“But this is not enough, of course. There is a lack of information in the Tatar language. For example, if you want to find information on Physics, you should still switch to Russian-language content, since there is simply no Tatar-speaking content on this topic. At this rate, Tatar is going to turn only into the language of grandparents and pop music. It will be not a language of knowledge, new technologies and opportunities. Besides, there is another danger, such an application of Tatar can lead to that the vocabulary itself will become scarce. Even now, few people speak the complex, high-quality, truly beautiful Tatar language. Globally speaking, we are not present on the Internet. This situation needs to be corrected. This requires high-quality bloggers, high-quality content," Saidash is sure.
“Let's ask ourselves this question — is there a popular and, at the same time, high-quality media for young people in the Tatar language? The only youth magazine comes to mind and that's it. They often focus primarily on demand, but I would like to disagree with this. I think we should start by making such a media. Otherwise, we may come to that the Tatar language itself will not be in demand.
It all depends on ourselves, the young man sums up: “We ourselves must take the initiative and start doing something. Now there are a lot of young people who are passionate about this and want to create new projects. But for now, we are all acting locally and separately. We need to unite or act separately, but with an understanding of the main task — to bring the Tatar language to a new level. It seems to me that our society will awake. New projects will appear, including on the Internet, so that the Tatar language can support itself in the digital space.”