Olga Uskova: ''Russian programmers today are better than Russian ballet due to hysteria surrounding Trump election''

A closing window of opportunities for Russia, a chance for KAMAZ and the last ‘’achievement’’ of Skolkovo

Why does the robotisation in China lead to suicides in the workplace, but in Japan the robot is the human's best friend? Whether Russia will have time to ''jump'' into the closing ''technological'' window of opportunities? How do the rumours of terrible Russian hackers help Russian companies to promote their innovative products on the foreign markets? What consequences can be due to the spread of the virus WannaCry? President of Cognitive Technologies group of companies (a Russian developer of software and IT solutions) Olga Uskova answered these and other questions to Realnoe Vremya.

''Russia has no plan of entering the new era, and we are not preparing for a role changing at the workplace''

Olga Anatolyevna, at the international conference Skolkovo Robotics, you talked about how Chinese workers are experiencing robotisation of productions (suicides of employees, special networks for those who decided to settle scores with life at work and so on). Could you tell us about the reasons of this situation?

I described the social implications of certain technological decisions when a society is not engaged in social programmes. In China, everything is ok with robotics, and in this sense, China is one of the flagships in implementation of scientific and technological achievements of the last generation.

The change of the type of production in China is revolutionary in nature — the human is almost completely taken outside the production processes. And if a government has no programme of social employment, if state programmes are not balanced, what will happen to the people freed from work in production? In this case, the situation will be like in China. Let's imagine Naberezhnye Chelny, for example, KAMAZ is shut down. In China, the situation is the same, around a large automobile plant there is a town, which provides this plant with people, and all these people's lives are centered around the plant. If a person loses the job, then it is the end of life. He has nowhere to go, he has to move, to change the way of life completely, and if nobody helps, then it may result in suicide. And it has a massive character in China — it is visible, and these networks are not invented.

''The change of the type of production in China is revolutionary in nature — the human is almost completely taken outside the production processes. And if a government has no programme of social employment, if state programmes are not balanced, what will happen to the people freed from work in production?'' Photo: hbec-thailand.com

Russia has no plan of entering the new era, and we are not preparing for a role changing in industries, which will happen anyway. Social programmes are the responsibility of the state. It should think about what will do happen to those people who due to automation and robotisation of production will remain unemployed.

Since we specialise in unmanned cars, I want to say that in China there are about 80 major automotive companies, 20 of them are of the same size as BMW and Mercedes. Judging by the latest data and what we have seen, the speed with which they are being engaged in adapting their machines to the latest technology, including to unmanned, is just amazing. They recruit engineers and buy technology from around the world, including from Russia. The standard picture at a Chinese production: a Japanese designer, who leads the team, and the international team, which has the world's best competencies. The Chinese now gather such teams in order to learn these skills and to create their own national sites. In this respect, they have quite a strict policy.

Also, I would like to add that if we understand how to work with the Europeans or Japanese, then the business practice in China for us is a fairly complex issue. We sell hi-tech products, and know-how is one of the key points, but we still haven't figured out how to protect know-how from copying and, at the same time, to conform with their laws. In fact, a foreigner here is not protected from copying of technologies.

Is it true that in Japan the situation is different?

Yes, in Japan we see the opposite picture. It is quite a uniformly set up, social society. If you look at the education of children, at media load — which cartoons are shown, how the theme of robotics is presented to children, and how they are preparing for the new world, we can see that this is a very positive environment where the robot is a human's friend. In Japan, everyone tries the latest technology with pleasure.

''If you look at the education of children, at media load — which cartoons are shown, how the theme of robotics is presented to children, and how they are preparing for the new world, we can see that this is a very positive environment where the robot is a human's friend.'' Photo: ktar.com

It is a very smooth and socially adapted entering of new technologies into the fabric of society. They started doing this programme on social adaptation even 20 years ago. This is a very planned society. In this respect, Japan is now one of the most harmoniously developed countries in the world. Perhaps, they are developing not so fast as China or Germany, but their development is balanced, with precise steps, and the legislation is built very well and without prejudice to the public.

Japanese engineers can be compared only to German ones, and it is interesting to interact with them. By the way, in a very short time we have achieved several contracts on the Japanese market (we have purchased technology to detect holes on the road). We were very pleased that the Japanese engineers appreciated our technology in the field of artificial intelligence. I would like to note that for slow Oriental market this is the unprecedented case as the average pre-sale cycle is about two years. In our case, the decision was made during several months. This clearly demonstrates that the field of artificial intelligence and unmanned vehicles is at the forefront of attention of all economically developed nations.

Shooting robot Fedor, Russian school of artificial intelligence and a closing window of opportunities

Olga Anatolyevna, you have the opportunity to work with the best engineers in the world, you work with advanced foreign companies. Against this background, what assessment can you give to our experts and robotics in Russia?

I have a great attitude to engineers. Historically, we have a very strong school of artificial intelligence, which is due to a number of circumstances did not die in the time of perestroika. ''Islands'' of this school are alive and scattered throughout the country — I can call Tomsk, Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Moscow and many small innovative enterprises across Russia, which do wonderful, absolutely competitive things. Some of them enters international markets with small decisions, but it should be emphasized that they make these decisions better than anyone.

At the same time, we have no system work with this engineering layer and its state support at the moment. We don't have a single plan, a roadmap that would form the industry as breakthrough, as flagship, as it happens all over the world — now the whole world is being shifted to the robotic technology.

''It is not a high level. There are much more interesting technologies. Our main problem is that over the last five years we have not gone further than showing to managers and the PR show around the show. Nowhere.'' Photo: twitter.com

Dmitry Rogozin has recently been shown the Russian robot Fedr, who shot with two hands. In your opinion, is it a high level?

It is not a high level. There are much more interesting technologies. Our main problem is that over the last five years we have not gone further than showing to managers and the PR show around the show. Nowhere. There is a demonstration, the press is present, leaders give their speeches in the background of this show, but then everything fades out because we have no mechanism for creating this new industry. We also have no clearly defined governing internal customer — everyone is busy with their own affairs and this is not a topic of primary importance for them. ASI (Agency for Strategic Initiatives — editor's note) has not become a driver, apparently, they have other strategic objectives.

Thus, we have no breakthrough team to promote this field, we also can't distinguish a single leader. This suggests that just a little time later the window of opportunities for Russia will close. Let me explain: in such revolutionary periods, there is a window of opportunities when a country can occupy a high-profile position (if not to be among the leaders, then at least be independent) at the general distribution of work. This window of opportunity in the field of robotics is just five to seven years. Four years have passed, and we have literally three years in order to do something. But we see no movement.

We took us a lot of effort to have a dialogue with the Duma about necessity of formation of a corresponding commission to determine the rules of driving on the road for mixed flows to allow developers to release unmanned cars to the streets. By the way, in America and Germany they have already adopted the relevant legislation. But we even have not established a body, you know? The standards that we will accept are not ours, the Ministry is not engaged in our own standards. This means that in a few years we will be certified by foreigners and we will begin to consult with foreign companies for big money.

KAMAZ could be an example of the leader from the domestic automobile industry that could present on the international markets unmanned vehicle, but this requires serious funding, running on the polygons is required, it requires serious investment in infrastructure (by the way, the conversation about it started, there was the decision of the government from 2015, but all went in an endless examination). So, in this part I have nothing positive to tell you.

''KAMAZ could be an example of the leader from the domestic automobile industry that could present on the international markets unmanned vehicle, but this requires serious funding, running on the polygons is required, it requires serious investment in infrastructure.'' Photo: kamaz.ru

The last ''achievement'' of Skolkovo and the Germans going ahead of the Americans

We have already discussed China, Japan and Russia, and what are the achievements of the US in robotics? Are they ahead of the world (if they are at all)?

In my opinion, the German team is developing most interestingly and innovatively. But the Americans take infrastructure solutions faster than others. All their interest is in the financial group, there are a lot of startups, and the excitement comes not from technology, but from financial institutions that begin to ''play'' loud statements and to increase the value of startups without any momentum or confirmed technological innovation.

Such American approach on this market may slow them down because there are so many fakes and uninteresting solutions, which are accompanied by big money. I think the model of German engineers here is more interesting.

I would like to ask you a question about Skolkovo. All sorts of experts have repeatedly claimed that Skolkovo is a smokescreen to launder money and it has no sense. Can you give five arguments in favour of the fact that these people are wrong?

You know, I can't give you five arguments. About money laundering I don't know — it's probably a question to the Accounts Chamber. But the latest ''achievement'' of Skolkovo in the field of robotics is the closure of the Robotics Center. I think at the moment it looks like a crime. Especially because it is in the robotic center of Skolkovo there was still some life. The fact that the center was eliminated is insane. In the country there is nowhere to go for people dealing with this topic, but Skolkov destroys the Robotics Center.

Russian hackers who conquered the world, the death penalty for taking bribes and the online initiative of German Klimenko

Lately, mostly for politically expedient reasons, the international community blames Russian hackers of all ''leaks'' and ''attacks''. But objectively, is there any reason to be afraid of our hackers?

It's just nonsense, but it benefits us. Seriously speaking, when we come to negotiations (just in the last year after this stupid hype around the US presidential election), there literally was stretched the red carpet in front of us: ''Is RnD in Russia? Of course, of course! You have such experts!'' Such advertising cannot be invented purposefully. I'm sorry that our government does not take advantage of it, but we, our company, does. All this psychosis has shortened contract cycles two times. Russian programmers are now better than Russian ballet, thanks to the hysteria around Trump.

''Such advertising cannot be invented purposefully. I'm sorry that our government does not take advantage of it, but we, our company, does. All this psychosis has shortened contract cycles two times.'' Photo: Dmitry Schipanov

All the rest, of course, is b***t because a hacker is international. When there is an attack on our sites, the sources are usually from somewhere in Peru through Bali and so on. We should understand that hackers do not have nationality.

In 2017, there were several Internet initiatives from Russian politicians, including from German Klimenko, who offered to adopt the Chinese model of the Internet. What do you think about that?

I always wonder why it is necessary to take a great economy (and China has a great economy), to choose the most inefficient factor and suggest it. Personally I would take China's death penalty for bribery – it is a mega efficient economic lever, and I think that the presence of such point in our Criminal code would help the country. Also, I would take the protection of the national manufacturer — the set of laws that obliges a foreign partner when entering the territory to have a Chinese partner, with a majority stake, and to access their codes.

What is connected with the limitation of the Internet is nonsense. China needs a firewall because there is a one billion population, and it is shaken outside, then it will difficult to calm down. We have a totally different situation — a very small population and a lot of resources. It is better not to close information for the population, but to do robotization of the economy in order to maximize the use of our advantages.

Do you approve of the idea of transferring servers of foreign companies (Twitter, Facebook) on the territory of Russia?

This is the right thing, and I want to say that America does not accept software of a particular purpose if the server is not on the territory of the US. It is a necessary thing — you have a start button on the effects of global systems beyond the scope of your competence, and at any time they can pull the plug on a particular reason to you.

''It is a global model, and it is really connected with security because cyber-terrorism and network system of information exchange do require control. Unlike previous times, it is possible to ''fire'' from anywhere, what is more, all points of the world.'' Photo: thetimes.co.uk

''If you have an office in the US, only then you understand what real pressure, wiretapping and total surveillance really are''

Olga Anatolyevna, the journalistic community, human rights activists and many other have lots of claims to SORM. What do you think about this technology and to the fact that our legislation provides abuse of wiretapping? In my opinion, it is not right that a security officer can get a warrant to wiretap and, at the same time, he is not obliged to present it to the operator, who, by the way, is simply obliged to obey.

I'm not spoiled here because I deal with the US legislation, which order is much tougher than ours. So, in my opinion, in this sense we are very liberal. If you have an office in the US and you work there, only then you really understand what real pressure, wiretapping and total surveillance are.

I think it is eventually an inevitable result — it is a global model, and it is really connected with security because cyber-terrorism and network system of information exchange do require control. Unlike previous times, it is possible to ''fire'' from anywhere, what is more, all points of the world. In this situation, the state is obliged to protect its citizens. But we still have a more liberal situation than in Europe and America.

The last thing I want to ask you is about WannaCry virus that has infected the Interior Ministry, MegaFon operator, the Ministry of Health and much more. What is it? Skynet is coming?

One of our projects is a united electronic trading platform. It hosted a few hundred million trades, and when some major movement of money start, there immediately appear attacks, launches of viruses and so on. The site has been living in this mode for the last seven years. I think any major state resource lives in this mode. Why now it has been distinguished as a separate state, I don't know. Moreover, as far as I know, physically, the virus has affected not so many users — stronger attacks had taken place before, when sites, servers crashed and personal data was lost. Perhaps, this issue will just be used by someone as a PR mean. It's hard to say for sure.

By Lina Sarimova

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