I’m an entomologist in Moscow. My contact with other species is limited to the kind of technology I read about and study in the Russian publications I scrutinise. I am not happy about it.
The reason is that despite years of open-door inspections of our vegetable fields, our bears, deer and pigeons (mostly introduced by Switzerland, where there’s big demand for fresh meat), I’ve only seen or heard of a few out-of-bounds wildlife creatures. In any case, they’re all pets, and my neighbours tell me that they are not threatened by them. I wonder if I can trust my own instinct on these issues. But I’m not writing about any of these animals.
I did hear someone complain about dogs roaming in the front yards of retired-military housing co-ops near the city centre (one of the last places I live where dogs are not allowed). The dogs are friendly: when I visited a co-op in a few months ago, I counted at least 14 of them lounging around the living room (not surprising, when you consider that Sochi was voted “Dog Friendly City” in 2017). Perhaps it’s normal and joyous. Now, however, that I’m writing about this animal menace, these reports of barking animals scare me. Since when did humans need to bother animals with their pet dogs?
Safeguards and sniffs are not good enough. It takes away a valuable aspect of productivity
Harmless dogs or cats are not the only threat to the eco-system of rural Russia. As former chief scientist of Russia’s Institute of Unmanned Aerial Systems, I took issue with the recent decision of the Russian regulator Rostelecom to ban the use of unmanned aircraft (see below), saying it will be detrimental to the development of Russia’s IT companies.
It is good for Russia to develop new approaches to the developing and operation of automated, remotely controlled drones, as in the case of China, where there are already plans to deploy 9.8m robots by 2025. But this development must be carried out in an environment that is not recklessly indifferent to the conservation of the environment, which is still not a great place to live and farm.
On the scientific side, it worries me to see the increasing number of businesses and workers developing products and services in line with full and open scientific inquiry without being checked by or receiving favourable conditions for this activity. After all, safeguards and sniffs are not good enough. It takes away a valuable aspect of productivity. Even the most advanced drones or vehicles are not immune to the wild effects of the weather or climatic conditions or to attacks of nature.
The use of drones should depend on the design, the special requirements of the products, the expertise of the users and their clients and the preparedness of authorities. There should be a clear development road in order to avoid the poor results we observe now.
• This article was amended on 6 August 2018 to remove any incorrectly translated titles and to clarify that there is one cooperation agreement that is currently taking place in the field of tech in Sochi.