09 December 2008

Putin Attempts to Resurrect a Dying Russia Using the Desperate Magic of Nano Technology

Putin is attempting to thrust Russia into the mainstream of world nanotechnology research and production via a desperate crash program of spending. In a typically "Soviet" manner, Putin has chosen a highly centralised approach to Russian nanotech development. Russia accounts for less than one tenth of one per cent of the global nano-industry, so the country has some significant catching up to do. At a time when Russia's population is steadily shrinking, it may seem odd that Putin would spend large amounts of Russia's energy cash on a technology area where Russia has no infrastructure -- academically, commercially, militarily, or in government research labs.
In terms of gross domestic product (GDP), Russia ranks as the eleventh largest economy in the world. But while many smaller countries such as Australia or South Korea, not to mention all of the bigger nations, have invested steadily and broadly in all areas of nanosciences and nanotechnologies for years now, Russia has had no coordinated science policy, no industrial policy, and no commercial industrial base to develop its nanotechnology capabilities. Until last year, that is. In April 2007, the Russian president signed off on a public policy paper that ordered a multi-billion dollar program to develop a world-class Russian nanotechnology industry by 2015.

...It is obvious that Russia has chosen a much more centralized approach to developing a nanotechnology industry than most other industrial nations. While this could be a result of the countries past history of large state monopolies, it could on the other hand be the only realistic way of pulling off the crash development of the Russian nanoindustry...

Time will show if the Russian approach works. With the flurry of deals, projects and cooperations announced over the past few months, not to mention the glitzy Rusnanotech event, they appear to be off to a good start. _Nanowerk
The Russian bear is suffering from a number of problems relating to a rapidly contracting and aging population. Russia is unable to maintain its huge energy infrastructure -- and that is the source of most of Russia's income. Russia's rusting and demoralised military struggled to subdue tiny Georgia, while Russia is helpless to stop Chinese illegal immigration into Eastern Siberia -- a de facto invasion and takeover. Russia's medical infrastructure is unable to cope with rising rates of Tuberculosis, AIDS, alcoholism, and widespread suicidal depression.

The Nano Initiative, coming at this low ebb of Russia's existence, seems like just another Potemkin Village. The question is not whether Russia will be able to compete in Nanotechnology in 15 or 20 years. The question is whether Russia will even exist after that time.

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Blogger Markku said...

Russia's rusting and demoralised military struggled to subdue tiny Georgia,

Struggled?? It was cakewalk. Georgian armed forces were completely and utterly crushed.

while Russia is helpless to stop Chinese illegal immigration into Eastern Siberia -- a de facto invasion and takeover.

Numbers? Besides, Russia is not a democracy, so demography doesn't count politically as much as it would otherwise. And when did an emigrant Chinese population raise hell anywhere? Both Russia and China are major nuclear armed powers so there is very very little chance China is ever going to resort to war to capture any territory in Russian Siberia.

Tuesday, 09 December, 2008  
Blogger neil craig said...

Does sopund a bit dodgy buit at least they are trying to do something sensible. Look at the amount western governments are putting into creating jobs in the "renewables" industry. Whether Russia manages it nanotech is at least a genuine industry. Singapore has shown, in both financial services & biotech, that it is possible to have succesful top down encouragement of new industries. It all depends how competent the top is - which is why mostly I would just go for low regulation & business taxes. On the other hand if i was running Russia I would be funding space X-Prizes like mad - ditto if I was running the US, UK, Singapore or Venezeula.

Wednesday, 10 December, 2008  
Blogger Will Brown said...

I don't know Al Fin, Putin is cetrainly familiar with the Soviet methodology for technology development. Czar Vlad may well buy some talent, pirate some technology and steal a march on the regulatory-laden development environment the West imposes on itself.

If the country isn't likely to be recognisably Russian within 20 years or so anyway, why not risk it all? If he wins, he has leverage over the new "russians". If he loses, he salts the enemy's fields.

Wednesday, 10 December, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Russia's military analysts beg to disagree with you Markuu. The Russian invasion was planned for well over a year, and the groundwork laid in the Russian-occupied territories far in advance. Imbibing mass media pablum is no way to understand a complex dynamic.

Neil: X Prizes work only where individuals and companies have the freedom to pursue ends, and where the national infrastructure is adaptable and versatile. Russia probably does not qualify on any count.

Will: It certainly is amazing that Putin found himself with his pants down, so badly unprepared. It is a testament to Putin's 20th century Soviet mentality.

Wednesday, 10 December, 2008  
Blogger neil craig said...

Al I agree that X-Prizes are likely to work better in more open, competitive & unregulated societies, of which even the US, UK & Venezuela may not be good examples any more. On the other hand if they only work slowly that is better than nothing & in fact might, by encouraging open competition give societies a good cultural spin off. I also think that if the government was offering $1 bn for a working shuttle it would create pressure to remove bureaucrats from another dept of government (any government) getting in the way.

The other great advantage is that if they don't work they cost nothing which as the worst possible downside shouldn't worry Putin or Obama.

Thursday, 11 December, 2008  

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