Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

New Russian Science City Modeled On Silicon Valley

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the innograd-has-a-certain-ring-to-it dept.

Businesses 213

Hugh Pickens writes "Russia's rich scientific traditions and poor record of converting ideas into marketable products are both undisputed, cited as causes for the Soviet collapse and crippling dependence on mining and petroleum. Now the NY Times reports that the Russian government, hoping to diversify its economy away from oil, is building the first new scientific city since the collapse of the Soviet Union modeled, improbably, on Silicon Valley and jokingly referred to as Cupertino-2. 'The whole country needs some sort of breakthrough,' says Viktor F. Vekselberg, the Russian business oligarch appointed co-director of the project. 'The founding of the innovation city, in form and substance, could be a launching pad for the country as a whole.' The new town is intended to advance five scientific priorities — communications, biomedicine, space, nuclear power, and energy conservation — and to encourage cross-fertilization among disciplines. Property will not be owned, but rented, and the government will offer grants for scientists who struggle to find private financing. Once developed, the city is intended to incubate scientific ideas using generous tax holidays and government grants until the start-ups can become profitable companies. Its backers in government and the private sector describe it as an effort to blend the Soviet tradition of forming scientific towns with Western models of encouraging technology ventures around universities. 'In California, the climate is beautiful and they don't have the ridiculous problems of Russia,' says Andrey Shtorkh, publicist for the new venture, adding that to compete, Russia will form a place apart for scientists. 'They should be isolated from our reality.'"

cancel ×

213 comments

Five Year Plan (2, Insightful)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842194)

Well, I hope that this centrally-dictated economic activity works better than the 20th century ones did.

Re:Five Year Plan (4, Interesting)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842236)

Science is one thing that if done right under socialism works best. I definitely do not promote a Socialist or Communist political environment as being overall good/bad/otherwise, merely that science does not have definite returns, and if it does, the timeframe is very rarely visible/correct on prediction.

This means that generally there is too much risk for a commercial enterprise to indefinitely fund research into something that may or may not provide payoffs, and if it does, perhaps not into their current vehicles. I.e. fusion power may be discovered by a deep sea mining company, meaning that they would need to form a completely new company and structure.

If science is a socialist thing, then it is about the research and the ability to do something, rather than the added complexity of having what you find to be applicable to your sponsor. This will definitely be an interesting space.

Re:Five Year Plan (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842276)

Yeah, it's interesting how much that's true even in the mainly capitalist US. The most significant private-sector research was at quasi-governmental regulated monopolies, like the heydey of Bell Labs. Most research these days ends up being funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, or similar government body. Certainly most fundamental research is: I don't know of any significant physics research that's come out of the private sector since the Bell Labs days.

Re:Five Year Plan (2, Interesting)

fpitech (1559147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842522)

I think it's more about the death of basic research than private versus public funding. Companies nowadays don't want to invest in basic research because they are risky and long term investments. In my opinion, companies in general are rather investing in marketing and short-term projects that only rarely result in radical innovations, but are marketed as "innovative" despite not offering significant benefits compared to old products.

Re:Five Year Plan (2, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842594)

Yeah, it's interesting how much that's true even in the mainly capitalist US. The most significant private-sector research was at quasi-governmental regulated monopolies, like the heydey of Bell Labs. Most research these days ends up being funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, or similar government body. Certainly most fundamental research is: I don't know of any significant physics research that's come out of the private sector since the Bell Labs days.

I think the operative words in the GP's post was "science done right under communism". A socialist agenda may be more conducive to this but I believe the operative term is still "done right".

We need only look at the advances to come out of organisations like CSIRO in Australia or NASA in the US to see that government backed research yields good results in the long term. I'm certain there are dozens of other organisations we could name and this is before we look at the contributions of universities, which at least in Australia receive significant backing from the government.

Re:Five Year Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842664)

We only need only look at the advances to come out of organisations like CSIRO in Australia

Excuse me? Like what?

Re:Five Year Plan (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842692)

Kangaroos. With frickin' stinger missiles!

Re:Five Year Plan (3, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842708)

Excuse me? Like what?

I don't respond to AC's normally and I don't really need the Karma for this but...

Do you mean "what is CSIRO"?

Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation. [csiro.au]

Or did you mean what are CSIRO's accomplishments [wikipedia.org] (and I hope you're on Wifi being eaten by mosquito's for this one because Wireless LAN and Aeroguard are on that list).

CSIRAC was the forth stored program computer ever made and one of only two first generation computers still intact.

Re:Five Year Plan (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843024)

WiFi for one.

IBM and the high temperature superconductor etc (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842996)

IBM had a similar attitude to Bell labs. I don't know if they still do however.

Re:Five Year Plan (2, Funny)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842304)

Science is one thing that if done right under socialism works best.

Cable is another..

Achilles heel (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842314)

A major defect of capitalism is that it will tend to cater to the lowest common denominator. If everyone invests in the idea that science (evolutionary bioengineering, alternative energy development, vaccines, space exploration) is bad, then the whole economy and culture is going to go south pretty quickly. When China owns the factories and the intellectual property, things won't be looking so good.

And if Palin and Huckabee end up bickering over which day should be Jesus Day, all I can say is, good game America. It was fun while it lasted.

Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (5, Informative)

xmark (177899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842350)

Specifically, I'm referring to your argument that "Science is one thing that if done right under socialism works best."

Under capitalism, science is often bent to the needs of the patron/employer/investor.

Under socialism, science is often bent to the political needs of the "people" as interpreted and enforced by the government.

Neither case must necessarily lead to a poor outcome. However, it's naive to think science can be completely unfettered from the society that supports it. All forms of government and economy concentrate power into the hands of a few at the expense of the many. Those few then use that power to shape the actions of others to suit their own needs and beliefs.

Gloss: Lysenko was the director of the Lenin All-Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, who decreed as a matter of state ideology (among other bizarre rubbish) that desirable traits in plants were not heritable, but instead could only spread through grafts and nongenetic methods. In short, he was a Lamarckian who could ruin a scientist's career, or worse, for daring question the validity of official state science.

Under Lysenko, agricultural science in the USSR was, from the late 1920s until 1964, based on ideology rather than the scientific method, and this led to uncounted misery for Soviet citizens due to massively underperforming or failed crops.

Wikipedia has a decent article about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism [wikipedia.org]

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842378)

You are conflating the flaws of the early USSR (Stalin mania) with socialism. Socialism is not what that time in the USSR was, and even the Communist Party of the SU acknowledged that the time of Stalin left a lot to be desired.

"Anti-Communism" and McCarthy's idea of being a patriotic citizen of the USA is the other example of ideological hysteria dressed up as keeping society afloat.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842400)

No true scotsmialism.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842444)

So what was socialism's role in supressing Lysenkoism? It was overreaching state power which suppressed it. I think you have your definitions muddled up.

I may as well say that capitalism is responsible for the United States' gun crime. I've used my own definition of capitalism...

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842624)

... even the Communist Party of the SU acknowledged that the time of Stalin left a lot to be desired.

Not while he was alive of course, unless they had some sort of death wish.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842392)

Has anyone written about why agriculture was so different from other areas? It seems like an interesting thing to investigate. Was it just because Lysenko was personally powerful? Or because it didn't lend itself to solid, hard-to-fudge experimentation as easily? Or did similar things happen in other areas? My impression is that in physics, math, astronomy, and chemistry, Soviet research was considered top-notch, even by the west.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842484)

Agriculture held a special place in USSR governance and economic decision making (grain yields and so on). Gorbachev was helped by his experience in agriculture, among other things, on his way to 1986.

I forgot what I read on it, but it had to do with the USSR not producing enough grain and having to continually import it (with exceptions of course). They tried all sorts of solutions, including non-biological ones such as the farm legal structure and legality of growing crops for private sale. This problem would last for the entirety of the USSR's existence.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (5, Informative)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842584)

Yes, there is an answer for why communism in the farm fails.

Read the eminent economist and commentator Thomas Sowell's book, "Knowledge and Decisions" for an explanation of why socialism/communism failed in the farms, and why the same reasons it failed there cause it to fail or be continually less efficient than capitalism in every other enterprise.

If you think a publicly-owned anything can do better than a private organization, you have to explain how it will use coercion to do that, because public org's ability to coerce is the only difference between them. Both public and private companies are simply groups of people. People denigrate private orgs for having personal stakes in the outcome, but what turns out to be worse is the indifference of those with no stake in an enterprises outcome such as we find in communal/public organizations.

Ultimately, what Sowell's thesis comes down to is that communal organizations face a distortion of incentive structures. If something breaks on a farm that's owned by the farmer he fixes it. If a machine breaks on a communist farm he expects someone else to fix it--he doesn't own it. He neither profits by fixing it nor loses by not fixing. Thus, the owner has incentive to do what maximizes efficiency. The communal farmer does not, and could actually be punished for trying.

But farming doesn't have a lot of room for error. And if you're drastically inefficient enough people start starving. See China and Mao's "Great Leap Forward" (into starvation apparently) which resulted in the deaths of some 20+ million Chinese.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842628)

If you think a publicly-owned anything can do better than a private organization, you have to explain how it will use coercion to do that, because public org's ability to coerce is the only difference between them.

How it goes about is a separate issue from whether or not it can. But I'll play along anyway - 1) it can commandeer land that's lying idle, and 2) it can compel workers to labor on it.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842872)

If there is a need for products of that land that means that there is a market for it and therefore there is a need for workers to labor on it so it won't be lying idle for long. This will be done a lot more efficiently the land is privately owned and the owner stands to gain or lose his own money.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (1)

davaguco (771514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842884)

The Great Leap Forward famine had a lot more to do with other things, apart from inefficiency. Specifically to very bad government policy and agricultural science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Chinese_Famine [wikipedia.org]

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (2, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843018)

Agricultural research != farming. GPP was talking about the former, and you jumped in with a rant about the latter ... or rather, used the latter as an excuse for an ideological threadjack. Nice move. It's too bad in a way that the Soviet Union isn't around any more, because people like you were highly employable there.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843104)

Yeah, I don't really disagree (it's hard to, really) with "Soviet forced collectivization was a mess". But it doesn't answer: why was their agricultural/bio research full of nutty stuff like Lysenkoism, while their physics/math/etc. research is pretty universally considered top-notch? It can't be something simple like "Communism is good for science" or "Communism is bad for science". It could, of course, just be luck of the draw; maybe agricultural research got unlucky with their early prominent scientists who set the tone (Lysenko), while their physics and math institutes got lucky and got good people. But I'm not sure.

Re:Lysenkoism makes your argument look foolish. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842618)

Is it so different? I'd figure if you have bureaucrats wielding power they can influence pretty much anything.

News flash (1)

MK_CSGuy (953563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842376)

Russia isn't really socialist anymore.
The SU collapsed and the new Russia is ad capitalistic as it's euro neighbors.

Re:News flash (1)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842648)

The reality is that russian government is still able to create government corporations and government monopolies and does that very frequently. It also invests money into "private" companies. Basically Russia now is 50% capitalistic and 50% socialistic.

Re:Five Year Plan (1)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842532)

If science is a socialist thing, then it is about the research and the ability to do something, rather than the added complexity of having what you find to be applicable to your sponsor.

I think most innovation occurs without a "sponsor" of the sort you're talking about. That is to say, I think most innovation happens when the source material (the ideas, research, infrastructure, etc.) is cheap or free, as would occur inside an existing organization, but importantly, there also needs to be no imposed mission other than to make money. An enterprise (almost) always wants innovative ideas/applications to fit their current business model, and this means the vast majority of workable innovative ideas/applications are discarded.

Entrepreneurship, however, is all about creating a workable business model around innovative products or services. To foster entrepreneurship, the initial costs must be inversely proportional to the risk - the more money needed to start a business in any given field, the less risk there must be that it'll pay off. Since entrepreneurship typically occurs outside of an existing enterprise (Google and its 20% time may be an exception; I don't know enough about it to say really) where the initial inputs are essentially free, that means that, in the tech field where necessarily everything is expensive to develop at first, but is cheap to copy afterwards except for restrictions due to IP laws, innovation occurs when you can steal ideas and employees as well as appropriate existing infrastructure. See Apple stealing from Xerox, Microsoft stealing from Apple, internet businesses relying on customers to pay their ISPs for access, and ISPs to pay for network infrastructure, etc. etc.

So, you argued that having a paying sponsor for research adds complexities that slows down innovation (well, you said science, but the article is about Russia wanting its own Silicon Valley, and I dare say Silicon Valley is about innovation and not basic science). I think that's true, but the answer isn't socialism/communism,* because while that might lower the initial costs, it doesn't provide a big enough payout in the end to justify the risk. Entrepreneurs aren't going to risk years of their lives recklessly chasing their dreams to be rich, if "rich" is only marginally better off than they would be if they followed the easy path and took a job with a guaranteed career path and salary.

Whether or not Russia counts as a socialist/communist state anymore is a different question. The summary indicating that "Property will not be owned, but rented" is not an encouraging sign, though.

* I'm very gung-ho socialist when it comes to things like basic science, healthcare, labor conditions, reigning in too-big-to-fail businesses, limiting commercial speech, etc., but when it comes to sussing out what people want to consume, you really can't beat the market.

Re:Five Year Plan (0)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842722)

Science is one thing that if done right under socialism works best.

What? A commie? Here in this holy forum? (Loads shotgun.)

I definitely do not promote a Socialist or Communist political environment

Oh well, he seems god fearing.(Eases grip on shotgun and chews tobacco.)

as being overall good/bad/otherwise

(Chokes on tobacco.) Hell, he's not condemning the commies!? (Frantically hops about with shotgun and bids her wife Martha-Jane good bey 'cause he'll be off on a crusade.)

I take your point that science needs a form of altruism in order to be independent. I merely wanted to illustrate that the strong feelings certain people foster against communism condition us into excusing ourselves for using the C-word and writing disclaimers, basically telling people that coffee is hot and that you shouldn't pour it on your testicles.

DISCLAIMERS:

  • Sorry for using the C-word myself
  • I am not a commie. (Shit here I go again.)
  • In fact I think commies -oh well...- should be individually prosecuted for being idiots ruining the world by wanting to impose their lofty ideology on every one, including their own ilk.
  • Coffee is hot and that you shouldn't pour it on your testicles.

Re:Five Year Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842886)

Russians nowadays for the most part do not care for a state ideology, but while in the USA you still have to be careful when talking about communism. Talk about the USA being a "free" country: formally free but informally still reluctant.

Re:Five Year Plan (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843192)

(Frantically hops about with shotgun and bids her wife Martha-Jane good bey 'cause he'll be off on a crusade.)

Her wife, eh? You were doing quite well on the whole gun-totin', god-fearing' redneck shtick, but then you turned out to be a lesbian...

Shame about your confusion between socialism and communism too...I mean, I know you 'merkins like to twist the meaning of words till it suits the political agenda of the day, but if they were one and the same we'd have gone with one word over the other by now.

Re:Five Year Plan (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842860)

Science is one thing that if done right under socialism works best.

Umm, do you have any real world examples to back that up? Yes, a lot of funding for science comes from the government, even in capitalist system, but there is also funding from private universities the best of which tend to be in capitalist countries, not least because they tend to be quite wealthy. Also, while private sector might not have strong incentives to invest in basic research, there is a lot of research that falls under science that is done within private companies, in non-profit research labs funded by private money, or in university research departments also sponsored by private money. In any case, that is not the issue here. What they are trying to do is convert that research into commercial products and that historically is not done well under a government plan.

Re:Five Year Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31843200)

"What they are trying to do is convert that research into commercial products and that historically is not done well under a government plan."

Agreed.

too many things wrong with the idea that Science is best under socialism. Just one aspect of scientific research is good under government planning.

Science needs technology, and technology needs science. The soviets had to rip off all the west technology and never invented anything. You can have great research but someone has to take that research and turn it into a business. That start-up creativity is a huge thing. And I don't see how any socialist systems are going to make that mad chaotic process work. How many great companies and products were believed in no one, until they actually worked...

So maybe a lot of great science has happened under government financing, but they were using private sector technology to do that research and often with close relationships with companies along the way.

Re:Five Year Plan (1)

Reikk (534266) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842296)

In Soviet Russia, cities model you

Re:Five Year Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842560)

In Soviet Russia, cities model you

Actually it should read "In the West". Soviet propaganda sometimes mentioned people getting fooled and shortchanged by the money and glitter of the cities.

Re:Five Year Plan (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842332)

"Well, I hope that this centrally-dictated economic activity works better than the 20th century ones did."

If you had read more than the word "soviet" you would have noticed it is actually five centrally-located scientific activities.

Re:Five Year Plan (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842632)

Well, I hope that this centrally-dictated economic activity works better than the 20th century ones did.

It doesn't work when corruption is rampant all the way up to the top, and there is no institutionalized mechanism of repression as there was in USSR (where large scale economic crimes could carry death penalty). Which is the case in today's Russia.

It's not the first time they tout something as a "Russian Silicon Valley", either. There was a project in Siberia, and then there was Dubna. They've actually built some infrastructure in both cases, and both ended up as failures.

The reason is very simple. If you define "Russian Silicon Valley" as the place for IT innovation and business where Russians work, then it already exists - it's U.S. (and other western countries). Why stay if you can move to a place with a higher standard of living?

Re:Five Year Plan (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842876)

The whole country needs some sort of breakthrough,' says Viktor F. Vekselberg, the Russian business oligarch appointed co-director of the project.

The new boss, same as the old boss.

Silicon valley was not a government project. And starting a state run program to create what happened spontaneously elsewhere in an environment where competition and markets prevailed is doomed to failure.

Great way to build a moon rocket or a hydroelectric Dam, and to copy other technology, but hardly the way to spark creativity and new inventions.

We got tons of laurels (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842208)

What a bunch of rubes. If they didn't screw up so badly last century, they could take a nice long rest on some laurels like us Americans.

Re:We got tons of laurels (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842642)

If they didn't screw up so badly last century

Yeah, if only they could sit out WW2 with no attacks on their soil, and very minor (in comparison) casualties in overseas conflicts, rather than providing most of manpower and industry that won the war...

What goes around comes around (0, Flamebait)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842674)

When you sign a non-aggression pact [wikipedia.org] with a one-balled megalomaniac and proceed to carve up smaller countries, don't be surprised it comes round and bites you in the ass.

Re:What goes around comes around (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842734)

You think that, were the pact in question not signed, the war wouldn't have happened, or wouldn't have involved the USSR to the same extent?

Re:We got tons of laurels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842694)

He's probably not saying what you think he's saying.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/rest+on+laurels [thefreedictionary.com]

I won't be impressed (4, Funny)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842224)

... unless they pack it into one giant building and call it an arcology.

Re:I won't be impressed (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842826)

I'll rather have that arcology in Cairo.

Hard to build a diverse technology zone (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842232)

Though I couldn't link to it now, several weeks ago I read an analysis of this plan that was rather pessimistic. Earlier Russian scientific communities were, for all the lip service paid to science, really dedicated to furthering atomic weaponry. There was never a great diversity of scientific exploration going on within them, and Russia thus has no experience with establishing communities that can actually create profitable technologies that will boost the country's economy.

Re:Hard to build a diverse technology zone (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842274)

Russia has no experience establishing communities that don't have endemic corruption and government mismanagement. If anything that is what is going to sink this project.

Re:Hard to build a diverse technology zone (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842980)

Humanity has no experience establishing communities that don't have endemic corruption and government mismanagement. If anything that is what is going to sink this project.

Re:Hard to build a diverse technology zone (3, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842612)

Earlier Russian scientific communities were, for all the lip service paid to science, really dedicated to furthering atomic weaponry. There was never a great diversity of scientific exploration going on within them, and Russia thus has no experience with establishing communities that can actually create profitable technologies that will boost the country's economy.

Another way of saying is just that they missed the IT train. But to dismiss their level in aeronautics, space, physics (tokamaks anyone ?) is a bit exaggerated. I think that through this plan they will try to come back on the IT scene and that they have good opportunities for that. We all know about the Russian hackers, it means that they have a wealth of capable and educated people there.

Re:Hard to build a diverse technology zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842732)

You might be interested to know that tokamaks don't work very well.

Need a new diverse technology zone - old one broke (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843084)

No problem, they've got a lot of people that have come back from Silicon Valley so they don't have to invent it from scratch.
Russia, China and others are putting a lot of money into trying to create the Silicon Valley situation where people with good ideas come from all over the world and can get funding for their ideas. It will probably work somewhere because the USA has destroyed the advantage they had by making it difficult for people to get in and by not having much investment money available anymore. It doesn't help that California is run like Albania on cocaine.
China's probably got the head start near Hong Kong but there is a lot of energy money in Russia.

Russian Field of Dreams (1)

JakartaDean (834076) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842238)

If you build it, venture capitalists will come?

Re:Russian Field of Dreams (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842288)

They're trying to lure Sergey Brin back to the motherland.

Re:Russian Field of Dreams (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842498)

They're that upset about their PageRank, eh?

Re:Russian Field of Dreams (1)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842356)

I don't think the venture capitalists will bite.

I'm all for laissez-faire, but rather than building a city based on taking that philosophy to the extreme (in mother Russia, the government PAYS tax to the business), they could pass laws to make the whole country more business friendly. Small business hate red tape because it stifles their growth, large business secretly love red tape because startups cannot navigate around it.

Everybody knows those business friendly cities are merely bait and switch anyways. If the next Google is founded there and their yearly income is measured in billions, do you think Russian regulators will still extol the virtues of tax holidays?

Re:Russian Field of Dreams (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842652)

I'm all for laissez-faire, but rather than building a city based on taking that philosophy to the extreme (in mother Russia, the government PAYS tax to the business), they could pass laws to make the whole country more business friendly. Small business hate red tape because it stifles their growth, large business secretly love red tape because startups cannot navigate around it.

You know who loves red tape even more than big businesses? Government bureaucrats, who can use it to extort bribes (so that wheels finally start to get turning).

And here's the fun fact: in Russia, today, there are more (depending on who you ask, by anywhere from 1.5x to 3.x) government bureaucrats than there was in the USSR - with a population less than half of the latter.

biggest challenge (2, Insightful)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842254)

They have intelligence and creativity. Their biggest challenge will be isolation from the corruption that seems endemic to Russia in this time. Corruption is pure poison to economic systems intended to be based on merit in markets. Like adding >300% to your company's overhead...how do you compete, even with fantastic ideas/tech?

How many times had this been tried? (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842260)

Research Triangle, Austin, Irvine . . . I don't think you can copy this culture. Bangalore comes the closest but actually got started in the 1970s, before Silicon Valley was the model. Everybody here is from somewhere else, including Russia. Where inside Russia could you draw that kind of international crowd?

Silicon Valley (5, Insightful)

Rapsey (241302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842270)

Was never built. It grew.

Re:Silicon Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842700)

How is bullding formed?
how is building formed

how city get constructed

woohooo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842286)

Fantastic, a new outsourcing mecca. With the new health care bill just passed in the US it is perfect timing to take advantage of the certain flood of work headed their way.

Naive to say the least (2, Insightful)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842298)

putting a group if geeks in one spot and throwing money at it wont work, the Japanese did the same and it failed miserable. You have to have not only bright scientists but people who know how to manage and sell the ideas that are created by these people. Im an ideas man in my company but I will be the first to admit without good assistance from those around me I would have given up on many of my concepts within the first hour.

Re:Naive to say the least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842480)

You're an idiot. The reason it did not work in Japan is because they did not have brilliant scientists, they had nerds who were just memorising information rather than actually being able to understand it, and innovate. For that reason, the japanese get the highest scores on the test (gres, mcats...) but it is the Jews and Russians that get the Nobel Prizes, Field Medals...

And in your case, you should have given up during the first hour, as I am certain you don't have the mind to create anything new... by all means do link us to your peer reviewed published work. You're an "ideas man"? lol what a joke.

Re:Naive to say the least (1)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842706)

The GP actually has a point. But it is addressed in the OP: there won't just be scientists working there, but also businessmen since "Russia's rich scientific traditions and poor record of converting ideas into marketable products are both undisputed".

Re:Naive to say the least (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842614)

putting a group if geeks in one spot and throwing money at it wont work, the Japanese did the same and it failed miserable. You have to have not only bright scientists but people who know how to manage and sell the ideas that are created by these people.

No, not marketers. They will ruin a good idea faster then just throwing money at scientists.

What you need is direction and goals. A person who is capable of evaluating results and pouring the resources into that project or if need by stopping a project that is dangerous or will not yield anything useful. Selling the ideas just creates the same problem we have now, no real theoretical work is being done as everything that is done must make a profit so it's all applicable science (this means we are not really progressing, just streamlining existing ideas).

Breakthrough! (1)

Victor Liu (645343) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842330)

You mean to say they plan to also build a weather machine to replicate the ever sunny skies here?

Re:Weather machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842340)

You mean to say they plan to also build a weather machine to replicate the ever sunny skies here?

Why bother? They'll finally build the atomic sun!

Re:Breakthrough! (1)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842712)

Nah, they'll just make holographic representation of a sunny sky - just like in Racoon City

Why is Silicon Valley successful? (3, Interesting)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842348)

This article [paulgraham.com] says:

I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds. They're the limiting reagents in the reaction that produces startups, because they're the only ones present when startups get started. Everyone else will move.

Personally, I think there need to realistically be three things, in proper order

  1. A place people like to live
  2. Universities
  3. Military and research installations

These three conspire to attract rich people and nerds as the article states. That SUN (Stanford University Network), HP and Google are directly from Stanford, and that Oracle got it's start as a government project are quite good examples.

Graham also thinks it might be possible... (2, Informative)

dido (9125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842622)

Paul Graham also writes [paulgraham.com] that it might actually be possible to buy a Silicon Valley, or something very close to it, by investing a billion dollars or so in a city with the right environment that will be conducive to the growth of startups. Perhaps someone in Russia read Graham's article and decided that they had the kind of political will (which Graham says is so unlikely) to pull it off.

Re:Why is Silicon Valley successful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31843178)

Given that a typical post-doc salary is in the vicinity of $50K/year, nerds are cheap. If Russia started offering $70K/year, they could be up to their ears in research scientists in no time.

As to the rich people, some might argue that venture capitalists are to inventors what recording companies are to musicians - that there are legitimate questions as to whether the relationship is symbiotic or exploitive.

Then again, what do I know? If I actually had life figured out, I wouldn't be a post-doc.

Silicon Valley WASNT planned (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842362)

it actually grew in a much more organic fashion and a big part of it was how the culture attracted the people, not how the people attracted the culture. Having a government "plan" a silicon valley is like trying to cook by throwing all the ingredients in a pot, turning on the heat and hoping for the best.

Re:Silicon Valley WASNT planned (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842802)

I guess you don't like soup?

Re:Silicon Valley WASNT planned (1)

qc_dk (734452) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843254)

Having a government "plan" a silicon valley is like trying to cook by throwing all the ingredients in a pot, turning on the heat and hoping for the best.

Which after all is a proposition with better chances of succeeding than just standing in the kitchen staring at the ingredients.
(also it worked for the Manhattan project, CERN etc.)

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842372)

"'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Cupertino-2, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, Where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Cupertino-2 can become your city as well."

I ask you... (5, Funny)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842396)

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?
"NO" Says the man in Washington, "It belongs to the poor."
"NO" Says the man in the Vatican, "It belongs to God."
"NO" Says the man in Moscow, "It belongs to everyone."

I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose...

Rapture!

Re:I ask you... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842470)

Troll? What kind of a sad boring idiot are you to have never played bioshock? How can you not see the hilarious similarity?

The Charm School for Russian nerds? (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842398)

The Charm School was a 1988 thriller novel by Nelson DeMille.
A training facility was set up in Russian so spies could be trained to infiltrate American society by living in a fake US town.
Could copying/dreaming about/improving US communications, US biomedicine, Russian space hardware, Russian nuclear power, and EU/Asian energy conservation really geek up young Russians?
Surly a picture of Putin with Alexander Lebed above the communal lab and the hint that Moscow U/city papers could be
canceled if grades drop would be enough to motivate any young Russian.
If your really really good, no Obama style City Year near Mayak for you :)
Geeks and nerds like the free range freedoms of the USA not gilded gulags.
Learn from China and send them to the USA and get them educated for free, then as they get homesick debrief them.

Corruption (1)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842482)

I wonder what serious western businesses will want to invest in such a corrupt country. Most major international businesses work in Russia, but only because the market there is so large and untapped. These large international businesses are just there though with sales departments.
>br> A translator who works with westerners in Moscow once told me the way to tell if a foreign company in Russia is paying bride to distributors ect., is to look if they are making a profit. If they are, then they are paying bribes to someone. It is possible to have a business in Russia and not make bribes, but not to have a business in Russia, not pay bribes and make a profit.
>br> TO conclude, as long as this business culture there continues as such, Western companies will only invest in Sales departments in Russia, and not any further. There are cheaper alternatives in the east for non-western scientific investment.

Re:Corruption (0, Troll)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842650)

I wonder what serious western businesses will want to invest in such a corrupt country.

Why not, they invest in the US, don't they?

Do not forget HP lesson (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842500)

Science incubators and technology districts are usually the buzzwords evocated by politicians and real-estate investors. Hewlett and Packard years ago demonstrated that, to start a succesful company, everything you need are a bright idea [hp.com] and a garage [hp.com] . I still have to meet a politicians with 1/1000 of the genius of these guys.

Re:Do not forget HP lesson (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842590)

The story is that even the Generals respected David Packard when he was in Government. It was as if $300,000,000 was printed on his forehead.

--

Cowboys by a creek in Wyoming: Do you see that log in the creek? Yes.
Do you know that there are ten thousand ants on it, and that everyone of them thinks that he is steering it?

Newsflash (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842506)

Dear former Soviet Socialists,

It doesn't work like that. You don't plan things like Silicon Valley, they are just things that happen. Silicon Valley itself is something that nobody should deliberately emulate. The fact that it is the home of many successful tech companies is simply a bizarre freak of nature. Otherwise, it's just a strange congested-but-also-not-dense piece of land. There's nothing inherently technological or successful about it. It's just a patch of land that's not really in the mountains and not quite on the coast either, that's not quite industrial and not quite residential.

Regards,

People who have been to Silicon Valley

For energy, it might work. (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842516)

It's not a silly idea. Russia is positioning itself as an "energy power", and energy projects need heavy industrial infrastructure. The USSR was good at that.

Fusion would be a good goal. Or thorium reactors. That's a problem that may yield to organized, determined effort and money. The USSR still has a big nuclear program, and resources to draw upon.

Re:For energy, it might work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31843040)

It's not a silly idea. Russia is positioning itself as an "energy power", and energy projects need heavy industrial infrastructure. The USSR was good at that.

Fusion would be a good goal. Or thorium reactors. That's a problem that may yield to organized, determined effort and money. The USSR still has a big nuclear program, and resources to draw upon.

The problem is that established respectable research centers in this field (Novosibirsk, Arzamas) have nothing to do with new "Silicon Valley".

Russian high-tech is hindered not by lack of money (2, Insightful)

S3D (745318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842542)

or place to sit. It's hindered by widespread corruption and still quite criminalized economy. Tax breaks will be used for tax evasion by unrelated businesses and grants will be stolen by corrupted officials. Right now high-tech, which is by its nature quite transparent and vulnerable for extortion can not compete with different shady and semi-shady businesses. The way to grow hi-tech in Russia is not to pour money into it, but clean corruption from the government, especially local authorities. Do it and high-tech will flourish without any outside interventions.

"Cupertino-2" is no joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842544)

"2pertino", on the other hand ...

Or maybe "Cuper2no" ...

You can't duplicate geek culture if you haven't mastered the pun.

In Sovet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842548)

...science city models YOU!!!!

Didn't the EU try recently something like this? (1)

Froeschle (943753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842616)

I don't have time to look for the Slashdot article, but I think there was a similar story a few years ago about the EU attempting to create an "elite" university to complete with US schools such as Harvard and Yale. When will they ever learn that you cannot just one day decide to create these things from scratch? There are many factors that must first be present in order to allow them to come into existence then become what they are on their own merit. Where do the Europeans and Russians get these ideas from?

Re:Didn't the EU try recently something like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842758)

> I don't have time to look for the Slashdot article

You must be new here.

Re:Didn't the EU try recently something like this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31843144)

You must also be extremely closed-minded as well as short on time...

Oxford, Kingston, Cambridge, London Metropolitan University, University Of Greenwich, King's College London, Glasgow University, St Andrews and the Imperial College to name a few, are all famous Universities across the UK with thriving communities surrounding them. They are some of the best schools and universities in the world and Cambridge and Oxford are ranked 1 & 2 respectively for physics research here in the UK with a lot of interesting work being done at both.

In what universe does the EU (or at least the UK) need to compete with Yale and Harvard?

P.S. At least we do get ideas, instead of trying to make existing ones pay out for a few centuries... (Cheap shot, but who cares?)

don't believe the hype (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842686)

This will be another manner, in which government money will be pumped into the pockets of the government officials.

It has been proposed by the government there that in order to 'promote' innovation, the firms, who will be allowed to enter the zone will be selected by government officials. In the zone they will not have to pay taxes I think but the most important aspect of this is that whoever is in the zone will be getting government contracts WITHOUT any competition. So that tells you everything you need to know about what will happen. The firms selected will be the ones close to the government officials selecting them and they will get the contracts for any 'innovations', which in reality will not promote any innovation, except one type of innovation: an easier way to siphon money for the politicians and their friends/relatives/people with the right attitude towards doing business, if you know what I mean.

No private property eh? (1)

cstec (521534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31842718)

Property will not be owned, but rented....to compete, Russia will form a place apart for scientists. 'They should be isolated from our reality.'"

Proving that once again, they just don't get it.

Not a fat chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842756)

I immigrated from Russia to US a couple decades ago. No matter how they dress their city up, they will not be able to foster the kind of innovation and opportunity that the US provides. Until they fix that massive corruption there, I will not touch investing there with a 1000 foot pole (and I suspect many others have the same line of thinking).

I read a story once of this guy who went there to establish a Subway chain. Once he got it set up, he had to leave for a bit to tend to some other business. When he came back there were these hired goons with guns who ran him off his own business premises and took over. Now, I bet that these kind of things happen fairly regularly (hell, you can even hire the police there to do your dirty deeds).

You would have to be a convoluted retard to take your money to that region and expect any kind of return on your investment. You'd be lucky to keep your head attached to your body. If your business doesn't get jacked, your ass will - in hopes to score some ransom.

They need to focus less on imitating, and more on fixing deep inherent problems like corruption. Pour that money in restructuring policy and security first, then worry about the infrastructure that will ride on that policy.

Comment from a Russian (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31842972)

I have an IT background and a decade of experience working with/for Russian government IT-related agencies.

There're several cities in Russia with strong academic traditions which were the analogue of Silicon Valley during Soviet times (Novosibirsk is the best known of all).
There're cities near Moscow which even have high-tech-production infrastructure (Zelenograd, a "microchip city" of Soviet times) - they are not being used.

What government does is building "Silicon Valley" in a empty field near Moscow - easier to launder money this way.

I'm willing to bet a thousand bucks that there are only three possible outcomes:

1) 90% of funding laundered to offshore banks, 10% is spent on administrative expenses (shiny sport cars for management), project is silently closed and written off;

2) 90% of funding laundered to offshore banks, 10% is spent on administrative expenses (shiny sport cars for management), scape goat it found and publicly spanked (but not too hard), project is closed and written off;

3) 90% of funding laundered to offshore banks, 5% is spent on administrative expenses (shiny sport cars for management), 5% is spent to build a couple of buildings and hire 10 scientific-looking guys. They are made into media stars to show how great new "Silicon Valley" is. Project is declared a huge success. After a year the funding is cut, project is silently closed and written off.

There's no other possible outcome given the amount of corruption in Russia and this government track record.

It's not about VC and it's not about suburbia (1)

tlambert (566799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843012)

It's not about VC and it's not about suburbia.

Russia, unfortunately, doesn't have strong enforcement of the rule of law, and it doesn't acknowledge intellectual property rights.

As much as I think long term software patents are B.S., a much shorter term protection for software and an period of protection aligned with that of other W.T.O. members would go a long way towards opening up Russia to business, and a long way to stopping the "brain drain" their politicians are complaining about. The normalization and bilateral agreements on intellectual property are missing, and that's the major reason Russia remains an observer at the W.T.O. rather than being a member. There an excellent paper which makes this point right here:

        http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/cp73_katz_final.pdf [carnegieendowment.org]

Without the ability to feel safe in their homes, they are not going to attract the talent or the entrepreneurs.

Reading the article, it looks like the capitalists are asking for a free-for-all zone, while the government is interested in putting together another cold war era style "science city", where the inhabitants are just as insulated. To quote from the article:

"In California, the climate is beautiful and they don't have the ridiculous problems of Russia," Mr. Shtorkh said. To compete, he said, Russia will form a place apart for scientists. "They should be isolated from our reality," he added.

...which does absolutely nothing to fix that "reality" so that their new "science city" becomes anything more than a walled microcosm of a Silicon Valley suburb surrounding a Silicon Valley tech park.

This seems as wrong to me as the U.S. Government "fixing the economy" by giving tons of taxpayer money to the very people who broke it in the first place. I do not expect this venture to be successful unless they very quickly change their ground rules on intent and plan of action.

-- Terry

Cargo cult (1)

Nephrite (82592) | more than 4 years ago | (#31843110)

They think if they build special city and make special signs on buildings they'll magically have the technologies flock to them and make them money. But really they (read: russian officials) just will steal the money allotted for building the "city".

Isolation from reality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31843208)

Perelman didn't need ... isolation from reality. It's the meat grinding machine of Russian society that creates that kind of genius in the first place. That said, they do need a way to materialize theoretical science into concrete enterprises.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...