Head of Russia’s Human Rights Council condemns Yandex voice assistants for avoiding politics — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Head of Russia’s Human Rights Council condemns Yandex voice assistants for avoiding politics

The head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeyev, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the performance of Russia’s two most common AI voice assistants, Alisa and Marusya, Russian daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

During a speech at an event in St. Petersburg dedicated to protecting people’s rights and freedoms in the digital age, Fadeyev said he was outraged that neither voice assistant would answer the questions “Who does Donbas belong to?” and “What happened in Bucha?”.

“ChatGPT has answers. I thought they would be hard propaganda answers, but no — it gives the opinion of one side and then the other, there is a discussion. It’s pretty streamlined, but the answer is there,” Fadeyev said, adding, “Why are our new tools hesitant to give answers? It’s not a question of censorship, it’s a question of the nation’s attitude to its history, a fundamental ideological question.”

“A child should have only one answer. It’s the same with history — even if you’re talking to a teenager you can’t give them multiple points of view,” Ashmanov added.

Yandex’s director of AI development Alexander Kraynov replied to Fadeyev’s comments at the event, noting that while there were topics where mistakes were tolerated, there were some areas in which the company could face criminal prosecution.

“Avoiding an answer is the best thing we can do right now. Because if we gave the wrong answer, we would most likely be banned altogether,” Kraynov explained.

Joining the discussion, another member of Russia’s Human Rights Council, Igor Ashmanov, stressed that the AI assistants were being marketed as companions for children and argued that it would be pointless for the assistants to give children nuanced perspectives.

“A child should have only one answer. It’s the same with history — even if you’re talking to a teenager you can’t give them multiple points of view,” Ashmanov added.

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