LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 EURASIA, MOSCOW: A panel of experts thrashed-out key barriers facing the development of AI products and features in Russia and beyond, citing regulation and public fears shaped by science fiction.

During a session discussing the development, use and potential of AI, panellists from Veon, MTS and Russian search engine Yandex highlighted a variety of issues hampering the technology.

Yandex director of AI development Alexander Kraynov pointed to public perception and a lack of expertise in Russia as major problems.

“Public opinion is very prejudice and cautious. It is formed by the media and scientific [fiction] works related to AI: two movies The Matrix and The Terminator,” he said. “But we need to consider the opinions of people, we shouldn’t say you’re all stupid, we will introduce AI and everything will be fine.”

Instead, he suggested positives of the technology needed to be highlighted so the public can “embrace these ideas smoothly”.

MTS VP for AI Alexander Khanin agreed there was a lack of local specialists, but also noted few entrepreneurs in the market were willing to back AI developments.

Khanin also highlighted restrictive red tape on Russian companies exporting products featuring AI technology.

“If you try and follow all the procedures to ship a product abroad featuring AI to Kazakhstan for instance, to make all the conformations for all regulators is a real challenge.”

Veon director digital operator George Held pointed to unresolved issues around ethics in many use cases for AI and a need to temper expectations on the technology.

From an international perspective, he noted the challenge was partly “everyone expects it to just switch on and then be fine” noting there was also a need for start-ups and innovators to team with larger companies to perfect the technology.

“AI without a large amount of data doesn’t offer us a value,” Held said. “Three guys in a garage can come up with a cool idea but until it works on a huge amount of data from big companies it will never be efficient enough. There should be a good balance between start-ups and big corporation.”