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Russia’s Sber launches GPTChat rival Gigachat

Leading Russian technology company Sber on Monday announced the launch of its conversational artificial intelligence app intended to rival the US star ChatGPT.

The state company said in a statement on its website that it was “launching its own version” of a chatbot, which will be called GigaChat — a first for Russia.

The Russian-language app is now only available by invitation in test mode.

Sber said GigaChat can “have a conversation, write messages, respond to factual questions” but also “write code” and “create images from descriptions”.

Sber chief executive German Gref, who has spearheaded the company’s digital transformation in recent years, said the launch was “a breakthrough for the whole vast universe of Russian technologies”.

Russia has been strengthening its domestic technology sector in recent years, particularly since being hit by a barrage of Western sanctions after the Kremlin launched its Ukraine offensive.

It has also been strengthening laws to regulate the sector, against a backdrop of growing political repression.

The Kremlin has called for different sites and social media platforms to be blocked as a way of censoring voices critical of its offensive in Ukraine.

The launch of GigaChat comes in the wake of the runaway success of ChatGPT and is being seen by experts as the latest twist in Russia-US competition in technology.

ChatGPT’s success sparked a gold rush among other tech firms and venture capitalists, with Google hurrying out its own chatbot and investors pouring cash into all manner of AI projects.


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