Rustam Minnikhanov: ‘We will not catch up with artificial intelligence if we compete’

Council for Culture and Art has decided to create a database in the Tatar language

The meeting of the Council for Culture and Art under the rais of the Republic of Tatarstan, which was devoted to scientific work in educational activities in the field of culture and arts, finished with a discussion of the prospects and threats posed by the development of artificial intelligence. After that, in particular, Rustam Minnikhanov instructed to create a dataset in the Tatar language and organise a large-scale cultural forum.

A single catalogue of texts in Tatar

“In the republic, research on issues of national identity and self-awareness, preservation and transfer of cultural traditions to descendants is carried out by many institutions," the head of the republic noted at the beginning of the meeting. “Nevertheless, this work is often scattered or duplicated. The research results remain within the walls of institutions, they are not collected into a single open scientific base, and therefore cannot be used effectively. There is no system in the topics of numerous scientific conferences. As a rule, they are of a narrow departmental nature and do not have a wide public response.”

Continuing the discussion, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan Irada Ayupova noted that “the museums and libraries of the Republic of Tatarstan keep a valuable layer of written sources that require additional study”.

“Several institutions are engaged in digitisation and attribution today," Ayupova said. “While creating their own disparate databases, which deprives the results of this work of consistency and accessibility. In this regard, we propose to join forces and create, together with the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan, a single open consolidated electronic catalogue of Arabographic manuscripts.”

Besides, Ayupova spoke about the musical heritage, pointing out that there is no presentation site for the production of traditional musical instruments in Kazan. It is planned that an experimental workshop of ethnic musical instruments will appear in the Center of Folk Arts and Crafts, which will open in the building of the Central Department Store. For this, the database of craftsmen is being reassembled.

Irada Ayupova. предоставлено пресс-службой раиса Татарстана

Who knows about Tukay?

Both in her speech and in communication with journalists, the minister drew attention to a 1914 recording from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation: a captured Tatar tells his biography in detail.

“Who of our contemporaries could tell about a writer, a scientist, or even about our history in the same way as a person from an archival record?" she asked a rhetorical question.

After that, a remark was made from Realnoe Vremya: whom does the minister blame for that young people almost do not know the works of Tukay?

“Myself, first of all myself, I never look for the guilty, I openly say that we are underworking. And the event that we are preparing, in it we will try to discover another Tukay, his work, show that he is relevant at all times," so Ayupova once again advertised the first national theatrical circus performance 'At The Haymarket', where the poet will be played by choreographer Nurbek Batulla and actor of the Kamalovsky Theater Arthur Shaidullin, and his beloved — Elmira Kalimullina. The performance will be shown for ten days at the circus starting on April 26.

President of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan Rifkat Minnikhanov began his speech by criticising the spending of funds: They say that in the field of culture, science is often replaced by measures to promote and preserve the language to the detriment of the common cause. He noted the frightening figures in the field of scientific personnel training:

"73 people have been accepted into the postgraduate programme of the Academy of Sciences in the Humanities, 35 of them have formally graduated, eight have defended. The effectiveness of the postgraduate course was 11%. For comparison, the average figure in the country is 14%. In general, in the republic over the past four years, the output of scientific personnel has fallen by 12%," the head of the academy noted, pointing out that “with such trends over the next four years, we have risks of losing the system of training scientists in areas directly related to culture”.

Vadim Dulat-Aleev. предоставлено пресс-службой раиса Татарстана

Art criticism is half art itself

“The science of art has a feature that distinguishes art criticism not only from technical and natural sciences, but also from the humanities. The first difference is that the science of art is half art itself," Vadim Dulat-Aleev, rector of the Kazan State Conservatory, poetically noted.

He said that the conservatory strives to ensure that the results of scientific research are not confined within the university, offering to develop a system of state order in the field of art criticism — both centralised and through the end user (these may be educational and creative organisations). And also to introduce a system of special grants, which at the application stage do not contain requirements for scientometry.

“Therefore, they do not put art criticism in conditions of unequal competition with university-type humanities," said the rector, pointing out that such applications should be considered according to their tasks and significance as works of art.

What does AI threaten us with?

At the end of the speech by Tatyana Abankina, the director of the Center for the Public Sector of Economics at the Higher School of Economics, who, in particular, spoke about the development of models for interaction between cultural institutions and creative industries, Minnikhanov suddenly began to ask her about artificial intelligence: how will its development end?

“Any innovation was a threat, the industrial revolution was also a threat," the head of the republic reminded, specifying: what is the danger of AI in the field of culture? Can it replace real talents?

Abankina recalled that there was a concert in the St. Petersburg chapel where Shostakovich's symphony was performed with the introduction of artificial intelligence. And Minnikhanov gave his advice:

“We have bacteriological weapons that are dangerous for humanity, we have nuclear weapons. There should be those moments in artificial intelligence that should limit it.

“The more artificial intelligence is introduced into our lives, the more valuable living human labour becomes," composer Elmir Nizamov reacted from his seat.

“You're wrong," the rais replied. “Yes, it makes progress, but the fear is that we may remain primitive. We will not catch up with artificial intelligence if we compete.”

Rainur Khasanov. предоставлено пресс-службой министерства культуры РТ

How will artificial intelligence help the Tatar language?

However, as the head of the Writers' Union of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rkail Zaidulla, noted that hardly half of the participants at the council clearly understood what artificial intelligence is. It seemed that the speech of the new chairman of the World Forum of Tatar Youth, Rainur Khasanov, would sound audacious after that. But the IT coordinator of the educational platform Achyk University (Open University) confidently talked about the prospects of using artificial intelligence in the development of the Tatar language and culture (in the Tatar language).

“Unfortunately, the Tatar language has not yet been able to fully integrate into the world of artificial intelligence," Khasanov noted that the database used by AI does not contain or contains very little data in the Tatar language. He illustrated this with a drawing on request: Rainur asked to draw Tukay, and AI gave out a certain medieval poet. He suggested collecting the database not only with the help of scientific institutes, but also with the help of volunteers.

“For example, data collection and processing can be integrated into school lessons of the Tatar language, so students will learn the Tatar language by collecting and processing databases," Khasanov pointed out. “If we act in this way, the Tatar language will not only not disappear and will not be lost, but will also develop further.”

Khasanov pointed out that in Bashkortostan, in just three months, 400 thousand proposals have already been verified and annotated in the format of the competition. And the Chuvash, having collected one million rubles, annotated 1 million Chuvash sentences.

“With the help of artificial intelligence, many projects can be implemented," said the head of the forum. “For example, one can work on projects to digitalise the national heritage using OCR (optical character recognition) technology for texts written in Arabic letters in Old Tatar. Besides, large information libraries can be created on the basis of artificial intelligence, digitalising the work of our cultural figures, thereby arousing the interest of young people. These projects open up great opportunities for the development of artificial intelligence in the Tatar language.

Minnikhanov instructed the Academy of Sciences to work with Khasanov on this issue.

Finally, Deputy Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan Marat Akhmetov pointed out that now all dissertations in the Republic are defended in Russian, since there is no Tatar Anti-Plagiarism programme in the Republic of Tatarstan. The head of Tatarstan instructed to create it also.

A year later, on the same day, March 25, Minnikhanov announced, a cultural forum will be held in Kazan, within the framework of which they plan to organize a session of young scientists.

Radif Kashapov

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