How the News is Reported in Russia
Special Edition: Science and Technology
Russia’s major news channel, First Channel, ran a series this month on “The Future Around the Corner.” The series focused on how science and technology are changing the way people live. It also focused heavily on geopolitical issues and negative social impacts from technology. This series was, in part, complimented by a new made-for-TV film, Sleepers, which shows a “based-on-real-events” battle between Russian and US spy agencies using technology and social media.
Issues concerning science and technology are often featured in Russian news broadcasts, but this month, they had a special focus. Below is a collection of stories on these issues that aired on Russia’s Sunday news broadcasts over the month of October.
According to a 2016 poll by the independent Levada Center, 80% of Russians view television as their primary source of news. The same Levada poll, however, shows that only 41% trust the news as an objective source of information. The broadcasts sampled here are from Russia’s most-watched channels: First Channel and Russia Channel.
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Spy Movie Spyashie (Sleepers) Is Based On Real Events
First Channel reports that the new movie Spyashie (Sleepers) is based on real events, which allegedly took place in 2013. In the movie, the CIA has deployed special agents in Russia, and they are waiting, getting ready to strike. The secret project of CIA is aimed at destroying Russia from within in order to prevent Russian rapprochement with China. As a result, a battle emerges between the special services of the USA and Russia. Spies are shown delivering messages via smartphones’ NFC function injecting information to the media, and manipulating public opinion through bloggers and opinion leaders.
60 Year Anniversary of First Satellite Launch
First Channel reports that 60 years ago, on October 4, 1957, the Sputnik, the world’s first man-made satellite, was launched by the Soviet Union. At that time, the channel explained, the effort was being used to solve a “practical problem” – how to deliver a bomb to any point, mainly to the USA. “The danger of attack from them was real,” states First Channel, so Sputnik was solving the military task, and in this way, it made a breakthrough for the whole humankind. Sputnik was also a dream come true as many Russian philosophers and scholars, most notably Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, developed philosophy of Russian cosmism centered around space.
Russia Channel also reported on the anniversary, concentrating on how Sputnik “influenced the minds of all earthlings.” They reported that the first satellite was tiny – only 58 centimeters in diameter and remained in the orbit for three months. The name of lead Soviet rocket engineer Sergey Korolev was kept in secret from the public. Otherwise, the channel said, he would have received the Nobel Prize for his accomplishment. The design of Sputnik was simple – a battery, a transmitter and four antennas. The aluminum surface was polished to a shining gloss. As a response to the launch, the Americans started developing safe modes of data transfer, and came up with the Internet.
New Russian Academy of Science President
Russia Channel reports that the Director of the Nizhny Novgorod Institute of Applied Physics, Alexander Sergeev, has become the new President of Russian Academy of Science. According to the channel, the elections were held by new rules, which were “as democratic as possible.” President Putin met with Alexander Sergeev and wished him best of luck at his work.
Dmitry Medvedev: Our country is ready to work with all partners in area of digital technologies
First Channel states that developing digital technologies is a priority for Russia. It quoted Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as saying at the Open Innovation Forum in Skolkovo that Russia is ready to work with all partners in this area. First Channel states that the Western sanctions imposed on Russia are an obstacle for such cooperation, and quoted Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel as saying at the forum that this situation must be settled, “as it harms everybody.” According to Dmitry Medvedev, before the sanctions, annual trade turnover between the EU and Russia was 430-450 billion dollars. Currently, it has fallen to about 200 billion dollars and these losses cannot be compensated.
Komsomolsk-on-Amur: unique resort and high technologies
Russia Channel reports that Komsomolsk-on-Amur is today a prominent city with a shipyard where submarines are built and aircraft plant where SU fighter jets and the Superjet passenger aircraft are manufactured. The city is home to the Quantorium Industrial Park which even houses a unique school where 800 gifted children, who will later become technology specialists, study science. The city is also famous for its unique mountain skiing resort, which is actively renovated and will soon have 50 kilometers of skiing tracks. Today, local residents are no longer leaving the city, as it was in the 1990s when people migrated from the Far East to Central Russia. On the contrary, people from other regions are coming to Komsomolsk-on-Amur to work and live.
Future Around the Corner: What kind of new high-technology generation is coming to take our place?
First Channel reports that the new generation is completely different; the IT environment in which it grew has created a new type of people. The channel quotes a 16-year old boy who became a designer at Yandex that while previously, the older a person was the wiser he/she was, nowadays this is not the case. The older generation will have to adjust as the new digital generation is rapidly growing and changing the world and the ways of living in it.
Future Around the Corner: What is bitcoin about and how does it work?
Speaking about crypto currencies, First Channel states that “many countries are not pleased with the domination of the US dollar; the currency of a weakening superpower cannot be the global currency; new options are needed, and Bitсoin is one of them. The entire global financial system may undergo drastic changes, but nobody can say that they know what these changes will exactly be. Russia hosts one of three companies which can fully produce bitcoins. Currently, investing in bitcoins is risky, but the idea of crypto currencies can be further developed by states, which would then change global finance.
Future Around the Corner: Every person on the planet is a surveillance object
First Channel reports that 245 million surveillance video cameras operate in the world, one camera per 28 persons, and in London, which the most cameras of any city, the average person is seen by 300 cameras every day. Some people prefer to cover cameras and microphones on their computers, but there are plenty of other electronic devices which are difficult to block like that. Information technologies are being developed to establish a person’s identity based his/her facial features. It is unclear where the technologies will lead people, and if people will be able to keep the technologies under control, First Channel states.
Future Around the Corner: Humankind may be on threshold of creating artificial intelligence
First Channel states that hazards and risks associated with artificial intelligence, are not properly assessed and addressed. Meanwhile, a case of machines getting out of control has already taken place, when bots started trade sessions at a stock exchange, which caused big financial losses for some people. One of the feasible hazards is loss of jobs for many people who will be replaced by robots. Forecasts show that 47 percent of US jobs will be lost to robots by 2030. Also, people will lose abilities due to heavy reliance on technologies. There is even a distant danger that an artificial mind might eventually be able to surpass the human mind.
Psychics Fail Intuition Tests
Russia Channel produced a report on the history of “psychic healers” in Russia, who, such as Allan Chumak, became popular in the 1990s when people brought jars of water and put them in front of a TV set to get them “charged” from the healer. However, they are “lying,” the channel reports, and then showed several self-proclaimed “psychics” who failed to identify items in the dark when the TV presenter turned off the lights. In fact, the report continued, even when such psychics claim they see objects while wearing masks, they in fact peek through the mask, from under its edge, or are otherwise fed the information through non-psychic means.