Extracts from Yulia Latynina’s latest radio interview on Ekho Moskvy. Without endorsing her views in general, I more or less agree with this:

First, I have to tell you that… I’m in the Netherlands, in Maastricht, at a congress… talking to Russian speakers. One of them is designing… essentially an artificial intelligence system to drive automobiles… With another person, who is designing systems of a different kind but also artificial intelligence essentially… so that the airbag would inflate before the crash when the AI system realizes, on time, that impact is inevitable… It’s complex object recognition and it’s used for different purposes. Why am I talking about this? It’s Europe living in the 21st century. I can’t say it has no problems – it does. But then I listen to Putin’s speech on the sacral Korsun (Chersonesus). Then I realize that Russia is living in a totally different age; also, I realize that whatever you can say about the sacral Chersonesus, Prince Vladimir… killed the governor of the city and his wife and before that, he raped his daughter before their eyes. [Yes, according to a Russian chronicle.]

OK, so I understand all the stuff about sacrality but there are no jobs in Russia for the [hi-tech/AI] people I’m talking about. They have left Russia and it’s ridiculous to assume that any Russian company is working on things like that. What’s going on in Russia reminds me of what’s going on in the Middle East, where people are told, “they are damned in the West: rich but low in spirituality while we are highly spiritual but we’re paupers.” Of course there is a difference between Russia and the Middle East, at least in the size of the elite. If all the militants disappeared from Syria… it’s still unlikely a European elite would emerge, capable of running the state. In Russia, thank God, that kind of elite exists. It has not thinned out completely… it’s still going to take a long, long time to weed out this elite. But the vector we’re moving along is of course frightening.

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