Sberbank, the state-owned Russian lender, has recently introduced its own AI-powered chatbot, GigaChat, to compete with OpenAI's ChatGPT, which has been causing concern for tech giants and governments worldwide. GigaChat is currently in invite-only testing mode and is distinguished by its ability to fluently converse in Russian, which sets it apart from other global neural networks.
The chatbot is the latest product of this effort, as the bank aims to reduce its reliance on imports and become Russia's tech leader. Sberbank is one of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the country, holding 30% of all Russian deposits and loans. It is also a popular choice among average Russians for banking and financial services. GigaChat is part of Sberbank's digital transformation drive, which includes investments in various tech ventures such as autonomous cars and cloud services.
As ChatGPT is inaccessible in Russia due to the country's mounting apprehension regarding its possible exploitation. With its vigilance against Western nations and involvement in an indirect conflict, Russia has opted to distance itself from OpenAI's chatbot. This decision is based on the country's unwillingness to allow AI to dominate the discourse.
What can GigaChat do?
GigaChat, a tool developed by Sberbank, is capable of answering questions, conversing, writing code to develop software, and generating images, according to numerous reports. The AI chatbot has been trained in Russian and boasts multimodal features, which sets it apart from ChatGPT that is currently limited to text.
One of the most significant differences between GigaChat and other chatbots is its ability to allow Russians to communicate in their native language. However, the chatbot may not be equipped to hold lengthy conversations.
Sberbank is betting on GigaChat's image generation capabilities, which is currently dominated by OpenAI's DALL-E image generator. GigaChat is a multimodal tool that can potentially incorporate video, audio, and additional capabilities in the future.
It is worth noting that the Russian tech industry is no stranger to AI and its related developments. Russian hackers have utilized AI for creating deep fakes and content in recent years. Some media outlets and companies in Russia have also turned to deep fakes for advertising purposes.
GigaChat and GigaChad
The bot's chosen name, GigaChat, piques curiosity due to its resemblance to the widely circulated internet meme GigaChad. This meme is typically used as a form of satire to poke fun at toxic masculinity and portrays a hyper-masculine male model with an exaggerated muscular build and strong jawline. Although the model, Ernest Khalimov, is a known figure, it is less commonly known that he is from Russia. While it remains uncertain whether this association is intentional, it is worth noting that Russia is a country where the ideal of masculinity is highly valued and embodied by figures such as President Vladimir Putin, who is often seen engaging in masculine activities such as fishing and horseback riding without a shirt.