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SPIEF-2018. The future of the world


St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2018 looks less and less like a classic platform where the contracts are being signed. It looks more like an incubator of sorts where digital approach to economics is developed. Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, digital economy - here’s a language that participants of the forum speak on


Apparently, every possible answer can be found in the very name of the forum: economic, international, held in St. Petersburg. But, in fact, the 22nd SPIEF, as it was named by journalists long ago, is almost entirely dealing with pure science. One should only read the names of the sessions: «How to create a secure global digital infrastructure», «Digital reality of the nuclear industry», «Betting on e-commerce».

Pavel Nikiforov, reporter: This world-famous SUV, literally stuck in a lump of amber, has unknowingly become one of the most important and non-obvious symbols of the forum. When a technology gets old, it is literally turned into a stone. Same with the economics, in order for it not to turn into a stone it has to be developed in the most non-obvious way».

What are those non-obvious ways? First of all, there should be people who would suggest the ways. Stepan Solzhenitsyn, son of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. His father, one of the most recognized Russian thinkers of the XX century, was puzzled about the country’s destiny. In modern Russia, Stepan, having returned from the US, puzzled himself with the problem of economics.

  • I have the impression that the SPIEF is more about science. It is something that the global economy really needs right now, isn’t it? Am I right?

Stepan Solzhenitsyn, senior partner at "McKinsey & Company»: This is pretty much the answer. It is definitely not a scientific forum. It’s just our business and economic realities are about the new development, about cheaper sensors, about more powerful capacities of software. Thus we solve the problems which previously were impossible for us to deal with, and now we can do it».

Michio Kaku: «Science is the engine of prosperity, and there are four waves of a rich generation. A wave, as you may have guessed, is AI, biotechnology and neurotechnology. They will become a job source. By the way, I think that Russian economy is just fine, except the fact that it is not diversified. We only need more people in IT industry, more people who can increase profit, increase the number of jobs by using hi-tech and AI».

Predicting the future, the future of economy, is a common thread that has gone all the way through the forum, through literally every session. One of the non-obvious ways that we’ve mentioned before was to invite Nassim Taleb, the most famous sceptic in the world and the author of «Black Swan» bestselling book, and Sadhguru, the chief mystic, and even to get them to sit at the same table.

Nassim Taleb, Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering: «I work with fragility. Basically, anything fragile will sooner or later break. And if I have to make predictions for 30 years, then I don’t have to imagine all those things, I just look and try to find something fragile, because it’s fragile that will disappear. It’s a very simple rule».

The point is clear - searching for a fragile business on the market in order to understand what exactly might disappear soon. Knowing that one can calculate the risks and even avoid them. But the Indian mystic has a completely different approach. Every human creation is fragile by definition. And the only thing in this world that is not fragile is us - the people.

Sadhguru, yogi, mystic: «If we take a look at the history of humanity, we will see that it has been the story of survival. And I think that this fight for survival will be destroyed, erased within just 25-30 years. Then the humanity would evolve, and only then a man would truly become a man».

The technology will grant us the most important thing - freedom. Freedom from work, from diseases, from wars. It will be at that very moment that the future economy appears. However, it seems that to a certain extent it has already appeared here - at the SPIEF.