In October 2018, at the “Open Innovations” forum, the head of the Russian government, Dmitry Medvedev, was driven around by a “Yandex” unmanned vehicle through the territory of the Skolkovo innovation center. A year later, speaking at a plenary session in the framework of “Open Innovations”-2019, the Prime Minister voiced a complaint: due to the fact that laws do not keep up with technological developments, only 55 of these ‘drones’ have so far been tested on Russian roads, including in Skolkovo, and this is an unacceptably small number.

“The law is never able to keep pace with technological changes, this is good and quite possibly: if the law had always been able to keep pace, maybe there would have been no technological changes,” Dmitry Medvedev believes. - The law, by its very nature, is conservative. Without experiments, there can be no introduction of discoveries or new technologies. But testing is very often not consistent with current standards, which often leads to very unwanted and unexpected consequences. We agreed to engage in trials of unmanned vehicles. I personally gave directives and instructions. Our companies carried them out. But because of the complex certification system for use on the roads of the Russian Federation, only 55 of these vehicles have been tested. In the United States, 1500 of these types of vehicles have been certified. We need to work faster. It is necessary to accelerate the introduction of this technological advancement into the market, essentially turn the regulatory model upside down and adopt not prohibitive, but acceptable norms. It is precisely this ideology that the draft law on the so-called regulatory sandboxes adheres to. This legal standpoint will allow innovators to develop these innovative vehicles so as not to break the law. ”

Dmitry Medvedev began his speech with a reminder that next year the Skolkovo Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary. Photo:

The plenary session of the forum at which these statements were made was entitled “Intelligent Economics. Three dilemmas for the digital nation.” One of these dilemmas is the legislative support for technological development. Another is digital security. “The Internet, since its inception has become synonymous with openness. The rapid cross-border exchange of any amount of information creates enormous opportunities for the development of not just the individual, for cultural ties, and business but in fact, for the all countries. But any technical phenomenon will always contain an opposite effect. Openness, of course, carries certain, very significant risks. ” Among those, the prime minister called ensuring the national interests of the country, the risks posed by electronic voting (“Obviously, the future is somehow behind this,” D. Medvedev predicts), and terrorist threats.

The third challenge of the digital age is the transformation of the labour market in connection with robotics. “Fear of competition with machines from the late 17th and into the 19th century led to what? Workers tried to destroy these machines so as not to create competitors for themselves. But over the four centuries since the industrial revolution, machines have not been able to totally supersede people. And, in all likelihood, they will never replace us; they will just not be able to do this. Scientists say that in the next two years, 133 million new ones will appear on the planet to replace the now redundant 75 million traditional jobs. This inspires some optimism, - said Dimitry Medvedev. “Low-skilled labour should go to robots, and people should have and develop the so-called soft skills, that is, creative thinking, the ability to quickly solve problems.”


Dmitry Medvedev began his speech with a reminder that next year the Skolkovo Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary. “I want to invite all those present to take part in the events that will be held here, to see what has been done over these 10 years and what remains to be done. Of course, the discussions that we are conducting in the framework of the forum also contribute to this. ”

As for the “Open Innovations” forum, according to the head of the cabinet, it "has become a ‘futurelogical history’ that breaks down stereotypes that prevent the promotion of a digital agenda." “We see how some technological trends that were predicted at the first forums were overturned by the subsequent development of events. And some of them, of course, came to fruition and the forecasts that were made here have become a reality. ”

Among the forecasts for the near future that Dmitry Medvedev shared this time was the promise that from March 1, 2020, an electronic passport pilot scheme will be launched in the Russian Federation, and this requires a serious attention to security issues. In addition, the government is working to ensure that the process of entering Russian universities can be carried out via the Internet. Moreover, such an opportunity, the head of the cabinet promised, will not only be for residents of large cities. 

Dmitry Medvedev called The level of development of information technology of the Russian Federation; “a competitive advantage”, since 75% of the population has access to all the advantages associated with Internet technology. “1.6 trillion Rubles are envisaged being spent for the development of this number but not all issues are able to be resolved with cash,” the head of government said. “We need to give answers to the serious challenges that exist.”

Skoltech professor Ivan Oseledets, moderator of the plenary session. Photo:

The Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas, who came next, suggested thinking about creating a special venture capital fund of the Eurasian Economic Union. “In our countries, a lot of excellent start-ups are being born, which, receiving funding from the US and the EU, change their residence of registration. Why not jointly invest in each other's promising developments? I would ask you dear colleagues, to think about it. Other states that are not members of the EAEU but have close and friendly relations with us could also join such a fund,” Mr. Rumas predicts.

Talking about the successes in the development of the IT industry in Belarus (“many of those who had previously left to work in other countries have begun to return to us; Virtually all graduates of IT specialties remain in Belarus”), Sergey Rumas explained that at the end of 2017 President Alexander Lukashenko had signed a special decree on the digital economy. “We decided to create a favourable regime for creativity and innovation, to eliminate any bureaucracy within our IT park. Residents of the park are allowed to conduct business and conclude deals in Belarus as they are used to doing in the best jurisdictions of the world. We gave residents of the park tax incentives and protected them from interference by control and supervisory authorities. And the results were not long in coming. ”

In alignment with this, the Prime Minister of Belarus is convinced that with the development of artificial intelligence and digital technologies, the responsibility of society should also increase. “The digital world of the 21st century will become a golden age for mankind but only under one condition: if the level of morality, consciousness and responsibility of the elites and general society becomes equal to the level of technology, and for every person who is endowed with a great, or small influence, lies this responsibility. We are not afraid of the technology of artificial intelligence itself - progress is unstoppable and hindering it, is pointless and stupid. More people are worried about the moral unpreparedness of this society,” the Belarusian prime minister admitted.

Reflections on morality were continued in a speech by Nick Bostrom, a futurist from Oxford University and director of the Institute for Future Humanity. Session moderator, Skoltech Professor Ivan Oseledets called his Oxford colleague “a famous techno-pessimist.” “Rather, I'm a somewhat frightened techno-optimist,” Professor Bostrom corrected the presenter with a laugh.

Professor Bostrom considers himself "a somewhat frightened techno-optimist." Photo:

The future, as follows from his speech, really does not look too scary. It is unlikely that humanity will face universal unemployment associated with robotics. Moving into the new world of machines, we can expect rapid economic growth, because automation will increase labour productivity. People will still need to work, more likely not for the sake of money, but in order to feel their relevance in society. This, Professor Bostrom continued, will lead to a change in the cultural paradigm and education system, which will be relieved of the focus on the preparation of labour resources. A more important role will be played by literature and art. However, this favourable picture of the future can be spoiled by the hypothesis of the vulnerable world proposed by Nick Bostrom. It states that, as the technological development of global threats grows, it could lead to the disappearance of humanity.