Research: More than Half of Russians are Optimistic about Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Courier Drones


Within the framework of the Open Innovations Forum, a presentation of the results of a study by RVC and the Institute of National Projects on the study of “technological optimism” was held. One of the main objectives of the study was to identify the attitude of Russians to the latest technologies that are being developed as part of the National Technology Initiative (NTI).

The general level of “technological optimism” in Russia, reflecting the faith of citizens in scientific progress, turned out to be quite high. Thus, 46% of Russians and only 22% of the survey participants in the EU agree with the statement “Scientific and technological achievements can solve any problems”.

The study also asked questions about specific NTI technologies, which have prospects for mass application in the future. Of these technologies, the greatest confidence is caused by the delivery of goods by drones: 54% of respondents in Russia expressed their readiness for such a “service”. The level of “trust” in drones on average in Europe is slightly lower — 42%. The attitude of Russians towards robots and artificial intelligence is slightly different from the Central European: 54% of positive answers in Russia and 61% in the EU countries.

For other breakthrough technologies, the attitude is a little more wary. For example, only 35% of respondents in Russia agree to become a passenger of an unmanned vehicle, while the rest relate to drones with some concern. However, even this indicator is still higher than the “technological pessimism” of Europeans (28% on average in the EU).

As many as 39% of Russians surveyed declare their readiness to become patients of robotic medical equipment. However, 37% say they would calmly accept the need to implant a chip to restore hearing. The most “popular” medical technologies (that is, with the broadest potential audience) were remote medicine technologies. Forty per cent of respondents will feel relaxed when using telemedicine services, as well as when making a diagnosis with artificial intelligence instead of a doctor.

Alexey Gusev, Director for Development of the RVC Innovation Ecosystem
For us, this level of technological optimism became as a surprise. Honestly, we had not expected such high rates. Of course, 37% or 40% in answers to questions about medical technology is, on the one hand, very little. But as to the formation of primary demand, what is called “early adopters” in marketing, this is a very significant figure. We have a hypothesis about the nature of this “optimism”, which has been repeatedly confirmed during in-depth interviews and focus groups in the regions. One of the reasons may be in infrastructure restrictions — long distances, doctors are not enough in clinics everywhere, or people are not inclined to trust their qualifications. This is transforming into a high level of expectations from new technologies, which in the eyes of the layman can compensate for problems, for example, in healthcare.

The study also revealed an important fact — Russians more often trust state authorities and scientific and educational institutions as agents for introducing innovations rather than private companies. The effect is most pronounced for everyday use technologies and solutions in which the safety factor comes first. Thus, with the mass introduction of unmanned public transport, 38% and 37% of respondents trust state authorities and scientific and educational institutions, respectively, and only 16% trust private companies.

Alexander Auzan, Dean of the Faculty of Economics of Moscow State University and a member of the Board of Directors of RVC
The most important aspect of the mass spread of new technologies is a matter of trust. We identified a group of respondents with a higher level of technological optimism, confidence in new technologies; conditionally, we called them “innovators”. Next, we analysed the sociocultural factors that is in evidence for this group. It turned out that the so-called institutional trust is positively correlated with confidence in technology. In other words, this is the belief that our social institutions work more or less properly, including regional and municipal authorities. Other important sociocultural factors are individualism, long-term planning horizon, and tolerance of uncertainty.

At the same time, Russians are very suspicious of one of the most important aspects of the use of digital technologies - the transfer of personal data. For example, if we talk about medical data (health status and lifestyle), then only 27% of respondents are ready to share them with government agencies, and with private clinics or pharmaceutical companies — only 11% and 5%, respectively. 28% of respondents said they were not ready to share their medical data with anyone at all.

The study is based on data from a telephone survey of more than 8 thousand respondents from 10 regions of Russia conducted in late 2018 and early 2019. The sample is representative for Russia as a whole and for each of the regions separately. Conclusions were also verified by qualitative research: focus groups and expert interviews. Some questions were specially formulated in such a way as to repeat the wording of the survey "Eurobarometer" — a regular study conducted in Europe. This made it possible to have the possibility of international comparison on a number of issues, although in some cases the answers were not identical.

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