Future of the digital economy and AI discussed at Sberbank’s conference


  • International experts have analysed AI and DS possibilities in banking, medicine, retail and other areas.
  • The winners of ClassicAI and Sberbank Data Science Contest with a RUB 4 mln total prize fund were awarded.
  • The conference was attended by more than 3,000 participants and became the largest AI and DS event in Russia and Eastern Europe.


10 November 2018, Moscow – Participants of the Sberbank Data Science Day international conference that was held on 10 November in Oktyabr cinema considered the possibilities of using artificial intelligence (AI) and data science (DS) in different areas: banking and finance, medicine and bioinformation, retail, industry, media and telecommunications, and others.

CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank Herman Gref talked about global and Russian achievements in AI and DS and challenges that appear in this actively developing area:

“Today, AI is an area in which everyone is involved, although until recently it was for specialised companies only. At Sberbank, we implement the AI First concept. We need pure data, and taking into account enormous volume of data, that is impossible to achieve without AI. Other companies and the state are facing such issues too. I would like to encourage everyone to work together to find best decisions that will lead to the country’s prosperity.”

A panel discussion titled DS and AI Technology in the Digital Economy opened the conference. The participants discussed what should be done to create Russia’s digital economy and what elements should be included in it, how data’s digital identity should be provided, how specialists in this area should be prepared, and AI’s role in the future that we want to build.

CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank Herman Gref:

“An effective state management system is important for developing the digital economy. All significant decisions should be made on the basis of data, and all management teams of companies and state bodies should understand data science logic.”

Deputy Prime Minister for Transport, Communications and Digital Economy of the Russian Federation Maxim Akimov:

“Pure data, a good regulatory environment and qualified people are needed to develop the digital economy. As for ambitions, the digital economy has already been established: the interest in this issue is enormous. However, the higher the level of ambition is and the higher the building we want to construct, the deeper the foundation is needed. And we are creating such a foundation today.”

Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Digital and Technological Development Dmitry Peskov:

“Decisions should be made on the basis of data, not emotions. We proceed from a target image of the future where access to data is a fundamental human right, and people and AI can learn from each other.”

CEO of Digital Economy Autonomous Non-commercial Organisation Yevgeny Kovnir:

“Today, the basic development of AI is possible thanks to the efforts of business and through solving applied issues. These issues can also be solved together with the state.”

Chancellor of the Higher School of Economics Yaroslav Kuzminov:

“We need a new education system that will be created independently from the formal education system to prepare specialists who will build the digital economy. Universities and scientific institutes are losing their monopoly on research: the core of AI research is in the largest companies, and this is a great challenge for education and science.”

Founder of Open Data Science of Russia Alexey Natekin:

“Data scientists will appear in a larger number of companies and state structures. It will allow a great amount of state services to be digitalised.”

The second panel discussion – Innovation Trend: Using DS/AI and Improving Client Experience – was dedicated to current and future changes in client experience that will be possible thanks to the AI-related technology. First Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank Lev Khasis moderated the discussion.

Chief Technology Officer of Ozon.Ru Anatoly Orlov:

“Retail is an area that will completely change in the future. It will look like Uberisation. Logistics and banks will change significantly in the near future too.”

CEO of VisionLabs (a Sberbank subsidiary) Alexander Khanin:

“We will use inalienable identifiers such as face, voice, and iris. That’s why access to the services of banks, shops, and restaurants will be provided with your face, that is always with you and impossible to be left at home or faked. Our life will become more secure and convenient.”

Deputy Minister for Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation Maxim Parshin:

“We proceed from the fact that cooperation between the state and its citizens, as well as business, should happen as conveniently as possible, with a single click. We plan to build a completely paperless state and replace paper documents with records in specialised registers.”

Director, Brain Science Research Centre at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Soo-Young Lee:

“Within several years, we will get personalised services that are based on our habits. We must do this in a manner that doesn’t have a negative impact on our privacy.”

Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft Russia Dmitry Khalin:

“All products will become more intelligent and less obtrusive; things will be preconfigured and pre-educated.”

Deputy General Director of Rambler Maxim Tadevosyan:

“The world economy is moving towards a service economy. People have more time for entertainment, education, and development; the number of offers increases, that’s why the amount of custom content that is personally optimised for consumers will grow.”

Sberbank Data Science Day discussions had 23 sections with more than 60 speakers. The sections of the science stage were dedicated to automatic machine learning (AutoML), computer vision, natural language understanding, reinforcement learning and speech analytics. Two business stages discussed DS/AI use in banking and finance, medicine and bioinformatics, retail and industry. At the community stage, AI community projects with open code were considered.

The winners of two contests held by Sberbank – ClassicAI and Sberbank Data Science Contest – were awarded at the conference. Trophies and cash prizes were awarded to the winners by First Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank Alexander Vedyakhin.

The participants of ClassicAI (with a RUB 1 mln prize fund) had to develop an algorithm that would create a poem in the style of Alexander Pushkin, Sergey Yesenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky and other Russian authors, based on the received part of their text. 

The winners are:

  1. Ilya Koziev
  2. Alexander Shvets
  3. Yevgeny Ivanov

Sberbank Data Science Contest is an annual contest that has been held by Sberbank since 2016. This year participants were given the unique task of developing a meta-algorithm that could conduct the whole cycle of machine learning model building. The prize fund of this year’s contest was RUB 3 mln.

The winners are:

  1. Roman Pyankov and Sergey Arefiev
  2. Anton Klenitsky
  3. Andrey Dukhovnik