Within the Open Innovations Forum framework, the results of the annual research by RVC and the Institute of National Projects, devoted to studying socio-cultural factors of Russia's innovative development, were presented. The study's focus in 2020 was to assess how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed Russians' attitudes towards modern digital technologies.
According to the study, 43% of Russians said they are more prepared to use new technologies due to the coronavirus pandemic and the period of self-isolation. The key “beneficiaries” of the pandemic are medical and educational services. For example, 24% of respondents noted that they have become better about telemedicine; a fifth of the respondents began to trust more devices that track health status and automatically transmit data to a doctor. Medical diagnostics using artificial intelligence is less credible — only 8% of Russians are more optimistic about this technology.
In education, 23% of Russians began to have a better attitude towards distance learning of schoolchildren, and in the group of respondents with school-age children, this indicator was even higher (29%). Various unmanned technologies also maintain consistently high confidence levels: The idea of delivering goods by drones or robots is positively perceived by 50% of respondents. About a third of Russians are ready to become a passenger of an uncrewed vehicle. These technologies in Moscow have even higher support: 58% and 38%, respectively.
The only technology for which the coronavirus has become a rather negative factor is the use of neuro implants. In the survey, the respondents were asked to rate their attitude to such technology as implanting a computer chip connected to the brain to restore hearing. Unlike in 2018, when 37% of Russians would be calm about this technology, in 2020, this number is only 26%.
The study also assessed the attitude of the population towards the possibility of vaccination against the coronavirus. It turned out that the respondents trust the Russian vaccine more than foreign-made vaccines. So, when vaccinated with a domestic vaccine, 50% of Russians would feel calm, while a foreign vaccine would be acceptable for only 31%. The main factor influencing preferences is age: the older the respondent, the better they relate to the Russian vaccine and not the foreign one.
The pandemic has exacerbated the issue of the permissibility of the collection and use of personal data of citizens. The survey showed that people's attitude towards using their data by the state depends on the purpose. Thus, 76% of Russians consider it permissible for law enforcement agencies to use face recognition algorithms. Meanwhile, 66% would tolerate if the government collected information on citizens' contacts to identify potentially infected people. At the same time, older people with higher incomes demonstrate a higher level of tolerance. On collecting personal data for digital passes, the opinions of Russians were practically divided in half.
The situation with the issue of data security is worse. Only 30% of Russians believe that the data collected by the state is appropriately protected. The higher the level of education and age of a person, the less often they agree with this statement. Thus, among people aged 18–22, 54% of respondents consider their data appropriately protected, and among 45–60 — only 25% of respondents think so. Insufficient protection of personal data with an increase in the amount of information collected can lead to public discontent and the proliferation of personal data hiding strategies. In general, most Russians (55%) are confident that citizens should have the right to choose what personal data the state has access to, even if it limits public safety to some extent.
The research of RVC and the Institute of National Projects is based on a telephone survey of more than 5 thousand respondents conducted in July–August 2020. The sample is representative both for each region separately and for Russia as a whole. The findings of the study were verified through expert interviews.