Dmitry Peskov "Island of Russia". Special Representative of the President on the new digital strategy
Material posted: Publication date: 25-07-2022
Today there is not a single country in the world that has achieved the level of technological sovereignty. One may ask: why then is it needed if no one has it? Life is changing, the condition for the survival in the truest sense of the word of any large country in the coming decades will be the achievement of technological sovereignty by this country. What is technological sovereignty? This is when no one can disable Apple Pay on your phone. And the lack of technological sovereignty is when at any second the messenger in which you are currently chatting can be turned off. Previously, this was perceived as a fantasy, but today it is a reality, a risk and a threat.

My colleagues and I work professionally with models of the future, and the year before last we looked at what will happen in the next 10-15 years in the world from the point of view of technology, the reset of the world order and the chance for the emergence of new social relations. What is important to understand here? In 2020, the world actually zeroed out. And now four development scenarios are being implemented simultaneously.

The scenario that we have called "New Left Nationalism" is the slogans of "take away and divide", equality and the primacy of the national economy. America first, India makes, "China first" and so on. The scenario of building a "Green post-capitalism" implies a departure from the model of direct money-making and attention to ecology, carbon footprint. Another scenario is "Islandization", the separation of large techno—economic blocks. And the last, perhaps the most interesting, is the "Half—life", when we enter the period of the collapse of international institutions.

The most likely scenario in the coming years is "Islandization". The collapse of globalism and the end of the global security system of the XX century are almost guaranteed. Reboot of global technology markets, nationalization of technical standards, re-localization of production of critical goods. That is, countries, all large techno-economic blocks will want to produce food, medicines and everything else on their territory. This is what is happening right now. What are we going to do? Technological sovereignty is the implementation of part of our scenario about how to build our own "island", on which we are in charge, we are adults, we make decisions, we are responsible for them. This is the main story for the next ten years for us, and also for countries such as the USA, China, possibly for India.

Today, Russia faces several major challenges on its way to achieving technological sovereignty: responding to the "green" agenda, creating its own techno-economic block, an export package of agricultural products, a new generation of transport logistics corridors between Russia and Asian countries, exporting global security and solving the problem of human capital.

It is believed that this problem has no solution. Why? To sum up the objections, the size of the market is too small to have the motivation to develop all its own, it will allegedly be worse, more expensive and longer. We do not control the centers of value creation in global supply chains. We can supply some parts for the iPhone, but we do not determine exactly how much it costs in the global market. It is believed that sanctions can defeat the adaptability of our economy. We do not have key competencies for the production of means of production. And in general, while we are restoring the past, the world will run far into the future, and we will fall behind forever. This is a classic discourse of the liberal community. But I personally was born and grew up in the Soviet Union, which loved to solve impossible tasks. And if we build technological sovereignty, what is important to highlight? First of all, our new cold war of 2022 requires a change in the level of representations, the cognitive level. This is the most difficult, the most painful thing that happens to us. It makes no sense to engage in technology without solving the problem of cognitive sovereignty. Cognitive sovereignty is when someone else's meaning cannot be put into your head and you have enough of your own analytical abilities to separate what you really need from what is imposed on you by others. In Russia, in the last 20 years, cognitive sovereignty at the level of economy, technology and education has been practically absent. We were told: there is such and such a best practice in that country. Let's implement it. But in fact, the best practices very often turn out to be toxic. What is suitable for one is completely unsuitable for the other. And we fell into a series of cognitive traps that cost us an incredible amount of resources.

Technological sovereignty should solve simple tasks: to ensure security, to obtain energy, food independence, essential goods, transport connectivity, information production, access to means of production of means of production, sorry for the Marxist terms. For example, in terms of end-to-end technologies that we once adopted as part of the National Technology Initiative, what does this mean? That there should be a level of fundamental technologies that allow you to create products using digital doubles, new materials, processors, sensors, and so on. Here the product appeared. Further in the logic of achieving technological sovereignty, we are obliged to single out a group of transport technologies, which we have not done so far, in particular, to have separate programs for engines. And climate technologies, primarily related to water life cycle management, carbon and methane life cycle, climate adaptation management. Above all this, there is a class of what we can do worst. These are complexity management technologies. Well, at the very top — cognitive technologies. Over the next few years, we must rebuild the system of state priorities and state technological policy in a logic that will ensure this pyramid of sustainability.

Technological sovereignty is fundamental sustainability, an additional equivalent of value. What is it about? Today you have money, and you can change anything for money. This was the case until the spring of 2022. And even before spring there were already sanctions, not everything could be bought for money. But the point is that in addition to ordinary money, cryptocurrencies, energy, carbon footprint and technology claim this position. This means that the role of technology is becoming so big that it is a crime to sell them for money. You change technologies for wrappers or for crypts, which is even worse than wrappers. Therefore, the future is, of course, mirror transactions. Someone has the processor we need, and we have the missiles he needs. Let's exchange rockets for processors, but in such a way that we also exchange R&D and that the functioning of one system in one country is tied to another system in another country.

This thesis is a key objection to skeptics. Technological sovereignty is not isolation. This is a strong negotiating position when building alliances with other countries. You either have an exchange fund or you don't. What does the achievement of technological sovereignty mean from the point of view of the country? A second industry should appear in the country, that is, an industry based not on ministries and corporations, but directly on development teams, medium-sized technology companies and universities. I call them engineering corporations, these are institutions that are aimed at producing the final product and creating a market, and not at immediately extracting shareholder value. An entity that is absent in our country, but without it, technological sovereignty is unattainable.

The preparation of the practice of supporting startups should stop just like that, just because they are startups. Our universities should enter the position of qualified customers for certain technologies. Based on our experience, the R&D financing system can be replaced by a system of technology competitions with a bonus for the result, but with covering the costs of the main participants who have overcome the qualification.

The most important thing in this whole story is who the main character is, who is the person who creates this very technological sovereignty. In different periods of human history, they were merchants, researchers, financiers. Now the era of startups is ending. My deep conviction is that the future belongs to engineering teams, to those who are able to create sustainable complex engineering systems that work for a long time, based on deep fundamental knowledge, with a high level of stakes and risk and aiming for a bright future.


Tags: assessment , Russia