13th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club. Session 6. Will Technology Revolutionize the World?


Participants of the sixth Session of the 13th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Club, titled "Will technology revolutionize the world?" discussed the impact of modern technology, which emergence only accelerated in the current realities, on human development and technology’s ability to withstand all the new challenges.

Opening the discussion, one participant noted that challenges such as international security, the migration crisis and the threat of terrorism were discussed during previous sessions. However, it is necessary to compound them with the problem of the anthropogenic pressure on the planet, providing the population with food and drinking water, energy resources and the risk that eradicated diseases could return. In other words, the participant said, the intellectuals must be prepared for challenges that have not yet shown themselves. Touching on a thesis that the essence of politics is changing, he urged countries to stop perceiving science as a means of struggle for leadership, and to use it as a means to build cooperation and trust. This, in his opinion, the main problem of modern science.

The following developments and successes of Russia in innovation were also mentioned:

  • The structuring of higher education, in which training leaders in the field of innovation play a special role;

  • Expansion of the education system;

  • The creation of new institutions to support the development of new directions in science;

  • Development of international cooperation. For example, Russia has already invested about 1.5 bn. Euros into the development of the European innovation infrastructure.

Another panelist examined current and prospective technologies that will change the world in the coming years. Among the trends, he identified:

  • The development of communications, which would allow scientists to gather teams from all regions of the world to implement distance education and outsourcing, the latter of which allowed 367 companies from the Fortune 500 to underpay taxes by over $700 billion;

  • The importance of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoins, which do not have an assigned emission center and which banks consider competitors;

  • Globalization of data storage. Traditionally, this was the domain of the state, but today an enormous amount of data is stored by Facebook, Google, Twitter and other systems. As the revolutionary events in Libya and Egypt show, this factor may have serious political implications.

  • The development of artificial intelligence. The expert claimed that the AI ​​is already at a high level of development and will become the core technology of the near future, but it can pose a threat to the labor market, leaving many out of work.

In general, taking into account the identified trends, panelist optimistic about the future, calling it a "Renaissance 2.0 '.

The next speaker did not agree with such a view and recalled that in the past, technological breakthroughs, were almost always associated, if not with wars and devastation, then social upheaval, often with destabilization. In recent decades, it has been an increase in the number of so-called disruptive innovations, which completely break the rules of the game. They need only 10 years to reach the market.

In addition, the panelist noted that in addition to the global system of talent drain, there is also a system of business and capital drain, as evidenced by the example of Singapore. Another example - China, which announced a plan of transition from the industrial leadership in innovation with the aim of the new expansion, involving the active buying of technology on the world market

The speaker highlighted the inability of traditional systems to keep up with the changes. For example, modern medicine allows the average person a high probability to live up to 100 years. However, such a long lifespan creates big problems in the pension and insurance system, as well as the demographic situation in the world.

The final speech was devoted to the problem of development nature-like technologies. In this topic, it is important to share priorities for tactical and strategic. For example, the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War in 1945 was a great tactical success, but a few months later atomic weapons were used against Japan, which could have meant the end the USSR’s existence, if a strategic priority to develop its own weapons was not implemented. Thus, the tactical priority to creating the conditions for implementation of the strategic priorities. Nuclear technology as a strategic priority led to great breakthroughs in nuclear medicine, energy, mathematical modeling and the military.

A major global challenge, according to the speaker, is the sustainable development of civilization. Leadership in the modern world is provided by the technological superiority and military colonization was replaced by technological subjugation.

The participant drew attention to the antagonism between nature and technology. To save the planet nature-like technologies must be developed. In Russia, for this presidential initiative "Strategy of nano-industry development" was for the years 2007 to 2025 was developed. The initiative in the creation of nanotechnology and biotechnology products, bionic hybrid devices, nanotechnology and biotechnology systems and bio-robotic technical systems. The Kurchatov Institute’s NBIC technologies complex engages in this. It should be borne in mind that the development of nature-like technologies can have unpredictable consequences in the event that the artificial systems begin to displace their natural analogues or technologies fall into the hands of extremists.

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