Science evolves along with the economy


Today, the media often write about the threat posed to humanity by artificial intelligence.

If you look wider — is it possible to create something that will surpass our own intelligence?

Alferov: I recently thought a lot about education and ideas related to nanotechnology and nanoelectronics. Any computer consists of software, which very rapidly evolved, and the material base, i.e., silicon chips and heterostructures. Let me remind you that the Nobel prize in physics was awarded in 2000 for the development of information technology: Jack Kilby received the award for the silicon chips, and Herbert kroemer for heterostructures. On the latter, I would like to say separately. Actually, the heterostructure working as an opportunity by changing the chemical composition of the electronic component can fundamentally create any additional components.

Japanese physicist Leo Esaki, my old friend and somewhat rival, who received the Nobel prize for the tunnel effect in semiconductors, once said that there are crystals created by God (silicon, for example), and the crystals made by man, i.e., heterostructures. God is not created, and they are much better than natural.

Can we create something above what is given by nature? I think, Yes.

culture: continuing the theme I wanted to ask — quantum computers are?

Alferov: that will be, I have no doubt, but what role they will play, I do not presume to say. The ideology of a quantum computer is quite feasible, of course. But time will tell what opportunities we will receive, it is too early to judge.

culture: In connection with the development of technology seems particularly important question about the social order. Saying that capitalism is going to change…

Alfyorov: At the time, I was struck by published in may 1949 article by albert Einstein, “Why socialism?”. The great physicist very clearly justify why the future of socialism. He showed what a nightmare is the capitalist system, which necessarily leads to the oligarchs and oligarchy. One of the worst things he considers deformation of the education system: people from school used to the fact that important to be a winner. In a capitalist system, people take each other’s property and fighting with each other to lawfully. And it’s not bandits on the road.

culture: Is it not in the nature of a person has to be a winner?

Alfyorov: In the human nature to compete, to win, but be the first one without suppressing the other. The question of price. Einstein saw the output in the socialist system and planned economy.

culture: These ideas relevant now?

Alferov: That, from my point of view has changed today? One of the defects in our Soviet planning, the state planning Commission, was that it at some point it became too detailed: painted all the details by hand. The development of computers eliminates this problem. Today, if you started some kind of production, it can pereplanirovat all, and is fast and simple. But there is a problem of strategy.

Still need to understand what we have paid little attention. Capitalism is private ownership of the means of production, is its main feature. It prevents large-scale strategic plans. So Einstein is right that socialism will replace capitalism, which slows down the development of crises and lack of planning.

culture: What should be property? Whose?

Alferov: community, state. Private she could be in the service sector, in small and medium business and I would like to emphasize in start-up companies. Invented something, created a firm — earn! But if it develops into large-scale production, private property is invalid.

culture: the Complex transition. Who large-scale production from private hands will give?

Alferov: I’m Sorry, it’s been implemented. The Soviet Union with public ownership of tools and means of production, with many consequences of this (with free medicine, education, development of science) was a very successful experiment. Bertrand Russell, first belonged to the Soviet Union and Lenin was extremely negative, but then changed his point of view. He has a phrase that albert Einstein was a genius idea, and Vladimir Lenin was a genius of action. The fact that Vladimir Ilyich could, it was unique. Remember that many of the Bolsheviks after the February believed that this revolution and nothing will continue to live in the bourgeois-democratic system. As Lenin said: “No, we will move to socialism immediately” (this idea is contained in his “April theses”). He realized that there was a unique situation: the fraternization at the front, the terrible situation in the country as a whole… the Bolshevik Party numbered about 30 thousand people, after February rose to 200 thousand, it was small, during the February revolution a good half of its members generally was in Siberia. And how this tiny organization has been able to take power into their own hands? I remember we were taught in school, a paragraph in a history textbook called “Triumphal March of Soviet power”: in a short period of time, Soviet power was established throughout the country, and if not for the intervention, then there would be Civil war.

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culture: the Civil war due to the split of society and the country happened, and due to the intervention?

Alferov: White, of course, lost a lot, but without the very active assistance from abroad, with the landing of troops, sending military units, no long resistance, they would not have had.

culture: the Soviet Union was successful? Today, the Soviet Union is often criticized. However, without the malice that was in the 90s…


Alfyorov: We are in the war to survive! But not only that. Let me quote the words of the Nobel prize in Economics James Heckman, Professor, University of Chicago. It during a round table of Nobel prize winners conducted by the BBC, said the following sentence, I love her quote: “Scientific and technological progress second half of the twentieth century was defined by competition of the USSR and the USA, it is a pity that this competition is over.” These are not my words, a Professor of Economics from Chicago.

culture: But the contest ended before the collapse of the Soviet Union?

Alferov: Nothing like that! It ended when we eliminated their industry, destroyed the first top ten defense-industrial enterprises, which produced 60 percent of high-tech civilian products. There are people who have a positive attitude to Yeltsin, I don’t understand it! Today we say, returned to Crimea — Yes, achievement. A man (Yeltsin) gave half of the country. I still wonder how the Congress of people’s deputies in the 90 th year could vote for the sovereignty of the RSFSR from the Soviet Union! From nearly a thousand deputies only 13 opposed. What you need to be to take and vote for what we don’t need the Soviet Union, saying that we are a Republic feed. As we feed them? How can you live without Ukraine, no Belarus, no Kazakhstan? Half Sredmash was in Kazakhstan. Unique gold development in Uzbekistan. In Ukraine some powerful industry: “Pivdenmash”, agriculture. Only in Belarus, due to Lukashenko, was able to revive its technological base.

And we have eliminated our industry, high-tech industry, threw in the privatization. We are really determined — rights was James Heckman, the scientific and technical progress all over the world, before we all made LEDs, semiconductor lasers, microwave transistors, we had already experienced the production. Took it and destroyed in the early ‘ 90s, smashing the entire electronics industry of the Soviet Union.

culture: something we just copied?

Alferov: Yes, Zelenograd had no patent, but simply copied the silicon chips. But in the field of silicon microelectronics, engaging copy, we were on the same level as the West. At us in Minsk the company “planar” doing that created a equipment, Steppers, which bore the image of the integrated circuit onto a silicon wafer. What was the enterprise “planar”? Clean room at a depth of eight meters under the ground to come loose from the metro, trams. Steppers produced by three countries — the USSR, USA and the Netherlands, they determined the level of technology of silicon microelectronics, and while we worked “planar”, we were on the same level.

The problem was that there was too large a military flux: we often didn’t understand what microelectronics and nanoelectronics later encountered is the engine of development of industrial technologies. But our electronics industry — three million, three thousand enterprises, 400 KB, and institutions in all 15 republics. And today she stayed in Belarus and in Russia, and at us in the country — 20% of what it was in Soviet times, all the other republics simply don’t need to recreate again.

culture: to Recreate from what point? How bad is it?

Alferov: Industry science, we almost died (except military) in the liquidation industry. High school, too, because she lived at the expense of economic agreements with enterprises, which is preserved in the Academy of Sciences, with the losses, but still. The new law ran turned into a club of scientists, so we struck a nearly fatal blow to academic science. I want to say the following: science in Russia to revive decrees, programs, projects completely impossible. There is one way to raise the industry. Science can develop only under one condition — when you need it. And she need the presence of powerful, high-tech industry. And if we renew it, we rekindle and science.

culture: Already, apparently, we are talking about the digital industry

Alferov: today We talk a lot about the digital economy, micro – and nanoelectronics. But, sorry, that was the digitalization of industry and the economy have to be industry! What we reprovisioning?

culture: If we are entering the era of the digital economy as humanity as a whole — a society must change with the move?

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Alferov: And it’s already changed. Information technology began to impact on the social character of society, it happened. On the one hand, technology in industrial production, we have become much faster to do. On the other hand, young people because of smartphones lost interest in literature, to language.

culture: the amount of information is increasing all the time and somehow have to process.

Alferov: I think that it is impossible to overestimate the role of schools and teachers. Information technology, of course, all help to find faster the information should be updated. But the problem is — and how to look at this information? Here the immense influence of the school. The good guys learn in our Lyceum “Physical-technical school” Academic University, but good-they primarily because we educate excellent teachers. Our best math teacher, Valery Adol’fovich Ginger, 80 years. I often come to him in the class, and the lesson he gives to lead his disciple. This is the education is absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, one of the modern troubles, and almost everywhere people want to earn money fast to get money and put it in his pocket, forgetting everything else. Very rare even scientists are thinking about how to develop one or another scientific direction, what is the impact. Lots of divorced professionals, artists grants: the man, the same study sells 4-5 times, has 4 of the grant. It has become a mass phenomenon. I think the system of funding science that we had before, and substantially more progressive. You Finance a scientific institution — and well… Grants is to give especially young people, talented people was manifested. And when you try to translate budgetary funding in the grant, you destroy scientific institution.

culture: what’s the ideal system? The establishment of issued money, and it does something, and the state asked then?


Alferov: Academic institutions have a budget, they can obtain additional funds when the money is issued by the industry. In the system of pure science, we had a program of the Academy of Sciences, but when they lit a large number of firms that provide grants (the people who do this are not specialists), we have, of course, everything went wrong there. Once born masters for winning grants. Russian Foundation for basic research was at its birth a positive phenomenon, but when such funds there are many, the problems began. But science will continue to develop when it is demanded by the economy. My friend, already late George porter (was at one time President of the Royal society of London), a remarkable phrase said:“Science is all applied, the only difference is that a separate application can be achieved quickly, and some through the centuries”.

culture: I Wanted to clarify about Your parliamentary activities. You are headed the Committee on education and science?

Alferov: I can’t and don’t want to. Age, many other tasks — no Committee I will not head. When the Chairman of the state Duma Vyacheslav Volodin created a Scientific Council, will be able to influence science and education, I hope to work there. I am sorry that Parliament was not included Valery Chereshnev, who is the leader of “Fair Russia” Mironov pushed his time in the middle of the list. This is a big loss.

culture: In the Western journals is now a lot of criticism of this kind: at the time, was a great scientific breakthrough, and now all treading water and reproduce what was in 60-70-80 years, all running on old database, and no breakthroughs. You agree with that?

Alferov: to Say that no breakthroughs? No, I certainly disagree. But again, going back to what we talked about. It was a competition of two systems and two great countries, and could win not through financial fraud, and with the help of scientific breakthroughs. The destruction of the Soviet Union affected the progress in the world, Western countries who began to compete. And because it turned into a race for profit. From the collapse of the Soviet Union lost everything.

However, in areas that can give immediate outcome through the centuries — for example, in astrophysics, the study of “black holes”, “dark energy”, there are completely new things, interesting and important. The science is still developing.

culture: Where now breakthrough trends? What areas of science will develop faster and the future?

Alferov: I can say from the most General considerations, we are in the early, initial stage of understanding biological processes. That is, knowing how a alive. Further development will give us a lot, including for technological breakthroughs in Biomedicine, nanobiotechnology. To it today we should be very careful, we can implant chips in human body, and this implies a lot of interesting, individual stories. Nanotechnology — that is the area where there are already — and are still — large breakthroughs.

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