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Youth 2030: The Image of the Future panel session

October 21, 2017, Sochi

Vladimir Putin attended the Youth 2030: The Image of the Future panel session.

In the course of the session, representatives of different countries made presentations on a number of development trends: future technologies, healthcare, aircraft of the future, new media, economy for future development, modelling the future, global policy, future science and education, industries in the future, world railroad network, setting up the Future Team.

The 19th World Festival of Youth and Students is held n Russia on October 14 to 22. On the first day, an international student carnival was held in Moscow, whereas the main events are hosted by the Olympic Park in Sochi between October 15 and 22. More than 29,000 people from over 180 countries have participated in the festival.

* * *

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

On my way here, I was thinking about what I could say to you, and I realised that I should not set a task before myself to tell you something interesting. First, because everyone has their own interests; second, you are all young people, and the younger the people are, the more convinced they are that they know better and more than anyone else. For that reason, it is no use setting myself the task to surprise you.

Just like your colleagues on the podium, on this stage, I will just tell you a few words, which I believe, after listening to your colleagues, to be important. I will just share my ideas about what should be borne in mind, in my view, when you start implementing your wonderful and ambitious plans.

Let me start with the simplest things. First, these plans, unless they lie in the area of fundamental science, should be of an applied character. You must be able to realise them, and not only from the point of view of tomorrow and the day after, but also today.

For example, if we look at environmental protection. That wonderful girl, a beauty from Finland, told us about rubbish incineration plants. Yes, there are already many such plants in the world, but you must realise that when you incinerate waste you need to use the energy resulting from the burning. However, almost everywhere the energy generated in this way is subsidised, which means it is not competitive as yet. If we want these technologies to become widespread, and if we want to really influence environmental protection, we should make this energy competitive by using all the capabilities of current and future technologies. As long as we subsidise it from the budget – and I am saying this as a person who deals with it professionally, it will not be widely used.

The same happened in aviation. Do you remember that the Soviet Union had a Tupolev Tu-144 aircraft? There was a supersonic jet in Europe too. Where are they now? Only combat air force has supersonic airplanes while civilian aviation has none. Why not? It is too expensive.

Alexei Kosygin, who was Prime Minister in the Soviet Government, was asked once, “How much does the Soviet supersonic passenger plane Tu-144 cost?” You know what he replied? He said, “There is only one person who knows that. It is me. But I will not tell anybody.” It will be difficult for us to introduce new technology as long as this situation persists.

I had a meeting with Russian young people a short while ago and said that we can imagine – actually, we needn’t as these are today’s realities – covering the distance from the westernmost point of the Russian Federation, from Kaliningrad, to the easternmost point, Vladivostok not in eight to nine hours, as we do now, but in just 20 minutes by using space technology. This is the way a rocket flies, with such a speed. Can we use them? Yes, we can. But will it be used today? No, it is much too expensive. Space tourism has developed, and it costs 20 million to take a space flight. Can anyone in this audience afford this? That is fairly unlikely. However, we have to work on making it widely accessible. Can this be done? It certainly can. But to do that, new technologies have to be used effectively, and they must be introduced. And this is what you spoke about here today.

To do this efficiently, we must pay attention to what I believe is one of the key things. It is education, and it was also spoken about here. It is great that here in Russia, we have managed to hold this festival – true, the event has not finished yet but it is approaching its end. It is great that we have managed to hold such a conference, such a meeting, and I will explain why. Because education today is being completely transformed, as much as technologies are.

Firstly, it is obvious that the people who will have competitive advantages are those who do not just possess knowledge of certain interesting and important facts, but who have what is called soft skills, who have both a creative, planning and other kinds of intelligence. An individual must follow a learning trajectory, a path for acquiring more and more new knowledge, because the world is constantly changing, and education must follow it further, and an individual should also go further. Absolute competitive advantages will belong to those who can not only think in a modern way but also accumulate knowledge from totally different areas of knowledge and different sciences, those who can combine them and effectively apply them to solve the problems facing all of us.

One more aspect is also extremely important, and this festival is a good illustration of the point. This aspect is called the communication skill, the ability to control, if not suppress, one’s emotions, to work in a team – a very important quality. I would very much like to hope that this festival, let me reiterate this, supports and develops these qualities in you, and they will accompany you in you lives.

Finally, the third very important aspect for all of us regardless of what we do or will do in the future. Do you know what it is? It is the moral component of our work, of any job. You spoke about biology and medicine here. A girl from India does a very specific job, she works in emergency healthcare. But you also spoke about biology here. Many of you specialise in it and know what it is. Many are excited by other things and are not so much involved. I would like to make just a few remarks.

Genetic engineering will undoubtedly open up incredible opportunities in pharmacology, new medicines, altering the human genome if a person suffers from genetic diseases. All right, that is good. But there is another part to this process. What does it mean? It means that humans acquire the capability to get into the genetic code, which was created by nature or, as religious people say, by Our Lord. What practical consequences can this entail? It means – we can already imagine it – not so much theoretically, it is already possible to create a person with the desired features. This may be a mathematical genius, this may be an outstanding musician but this can also be a soldier, an individual who can fight without fear or compassion, mercy or pain.

You are aware that humankind may, and most probably will enter a very complicated and very demanding period of its existence and development. And what I have just said may be more terrifying than a nuclear bomb.

When we do something and whatever we may be doing, let me repeat this once again, we should never forget about the moral, ethical foundations of our work. Whatever we do should benefit people. Make them stronger, not destroy them. This is exactly what I would like to wish you.

Thank you very much.


October 21, 2017, Sochi