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In his September 1, 2017 speech to incoming Russian schoolchildren, Putin made waves by proclaiming that whoever becomes the leader in AI will become “ruler of the world.” This provoked a variety of reactions, from Elon Musk commenting on his belief that competition for AI superiority will be the likeliest cause of World War III to discussions of the geopolitical aspects of the “control problem” at the more esoteric rationalist venues like /r/slatestarcodex. Many of the reactions were skeptical, citing Russia’s traditional weaknesses at commercializing its inventions. Nonetheless, Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky, who can hardly be called a Russia optimist, cautioned that Musk’s concerns be taken seriously, citing a range of civilian and military AI applications being developed in Russia.

But here’s another story that happened to unfold on the same day. Back in 2015, Sergey Chemezov, the head of Rostekh state technology corporation – one of Putin’s KGB chums from their time in 1980s East Germany – proudly presented the Russian President with one of his company’s latest “innovatory” offerings: A thin, double-screen, YotaPad-based tablet which was “of entirely Russian make”, meant to be used as an electronic textbook in schools. But they were actually made in Taiwan, and when the devices were distributed to some Russian schoolchildren at the start of the school year, it emerged that they took three minutes to start up, only worked with a stylus, and weighed 1.5 kilograms. According to an investigation by the online journal Znak, the device in question was actually a slightly rebranded version of the American device enTourage eDGe, an outdated and unsuccessful product from 2009 that could be bought wholesale for $20 apiece as of 2015 (you can still get it for $30 on Ebay today). Meanwhile, the official cost of the 8,000 tablets in the trial electronic textbook program was 24o million rubles, which translates to around $500 apiece. This isn’t even very impressive innovation so far as siphoning away taxpayer money into private pockets is concerned, to say nothing of technology.

So which of these stories best reflects the real state of Russian science and technology?

The one in which a technologically adept elite are seriously driving the development of things like strong AI and pondering on its world-historical consequences – or the one in which a clique of kleptocrats pay lip service to innovation while skimming off even the modest resources they bother investing into science and technology?

As per usual, I believe that the best guide aren’t anecdotes, which are the singular of “statistics,” but numbers, numbers, and more numbers in international comparison, as I did in 2006 with respect to China’s scientific/technological convergence with the United States in terms of indicators like published scientific articles published, the prevalence of industrial robots, and the number of supercomputers. I will repeat the same exercise, but with Russia.

Scientific Articles

The SJR maintains a database of scientific publications by country and subject for the past 20 years.


The Soviet Union in 1986 produced around 7.6% of the world’s scientific articles, which was a quarter of the American rate and comparable to other leading industrialized countries like the UK, Japan, West Germany, and France. In the wake of the brain drain and financial collapse in the wake of the USSR’s dissolution, this figure plummeted to below 3% by the mid-1990s and below 2% by the mid-2000s, in a drop made all the more remarkable by the absence of a “publish or perish” scientific culture in the erstwhile USSR. It was only in 2014 that Russia’s relative standing began to recover.

However, with 73,000 articles published in 2016, Russia remains far below the United States (602,000) and China (471,000), as well the bigger European countries like the UK (183,000), Germany (166,000), and France (113,000). As the 13th most scientifically productive country in the world, it is wedged in between South Korea and Brazil. This is true across the board. For instance, even in the sphere where Russia does best, in the Soviet mainstay of “Physics and Astronomy”, it is still only fourth in the world with 23,000 articles, well behind both China (79,000) and the United States (59,000).

Moreover, even the very modest overall figures conceal a yawning gap in some of the most recent and prospective spheres of modern science. Before worrying about the dangers of AI “eating us” – let alone fantasizing about “sharing this know-how with the entire world” – it would have perhaps served Putin better to first concern himself with the question of why Russia only published 552 papers in the field of AI in 2016, relative to 11,800 in China and 6,700 in the US. Another important sphere that is seeing blistering progress are the genomic sciences, some of whose applications – for instance, human germline engineering for higher IQ – will be world-transforming. Could Russia lead the world in producing “[genetically] spellchecked supermen“? With 690 published papers on Genetics to America’s 13,600 and China’s 9,600, 386 in Biotechnology to China’s 7,100 and America’s 6,400, and 350 in Bioengineering to China’s 6,600 and America’s 4,900, this question answers itself.

The state of affairs in the social sciences is even worse. While Russia’s two (sic) published articles in Women’s Studies in 2016 are nothing to worry about – sooner the converse – that’s about where the happy news ends. Not only do the social sciences suffer from all the other weaknesses of Russian science, but the Soviet legacy there is, if anything, negative value added.

For instance, one sphere that I am personally highly familiar with, psychometrics – the science of measuring mental capacities and processes – was declared a “bourgeois pseudoscience” in 1936, with research in it banned up until the 1970s (though they, unlike the geneticists, seem to have at least largely escaped Stalin’s murderous gaze). Consequently, pretty much all of it had to be re-imported wholesale from the West. While there are now some very good people working on psychometrics in Russia, they have to do it on ageing computers in a creaking building, and financed almost exclusively by European grants.

Far from atypical, this is a steady pattern in the social sciences. To take another example, consider Sinology. Many of the USSR’s leading Orientalists were executed in the late 1930s on spying charges (trumped up ones, I hope it goes without saying). Today, as China expert Alexander Gabuev explained in a couple of articles in Kommersant several years ago, which I summarized in a recent article for The Unz Review (The State of Russian Sinology: Past Chequered, Present Dismal, Future Uncertain), the field of China Studies in Russia is a minnow relative both to China Studies in the West, and to Russia Studies in China. And why should it be otherwise? As of when Gabuev wrote his overviews, the average salary of a docent at the prestigious Moscow State University’s Institute of Asian and African Studies was around $500. Consequently, there is a near total lack of expertise in the country that Kremlin talking points describe as Russia’s “strategic partner.” Though one can cite any number of amazing anecdotes from Gabuev’s articles, I will limit myself to just one. During the Russian-Chinese military exercises “Maritime Cooperation 2012,” the Chinese had nearly 200 young officers with a solid knowledge of Russian at hand to provide linguistic support; the Russians could only muster three translators, and presumably, the Russian GRU intelligence service’s sole China analyst wasn’t one of them. Consequently, not only is the Russian military’s degree of China expertise incomparably lower than America’s, but it is also likely far lower than the PLA’s understanding of the Russian military.

One observes a catastrophic lack of understanding of China across the entirety of the Russian ideological spectrum, not least as regards the extent to which their own country is falling behind.

Scientific Articles: Adjusted for Quality

But if Russia’s raw research output is nothing to write home about, it diminishes to near irrelevance when adjusted for quality.

Here’s one important thing you should know about our world if it were a Civilization playthrough: The Anglo-Saxons have won the Cultural Victory. The majority of cultural output in the world happens in the English language, and this rises to at least 95% so far as science and technology are concerned. The Germans were competitive earlier in the century, before the Nazis (and American demographics) ruined everything, and the Soviet Union maintained a technical mini-civilization partly secluded from the global mainstream, but since its collapse, the Anglo system has become the only game in town.

Most of the really important scientific research gets published in a handful of high-impact factor journals. If there is a proxy for modern day scientific productivity adjusted for quality, and without the generational lag problems that you encounter with the Nobel Prizes, then it is the number of articles an institution or country manages to publish in those elite journals, which are proxied by the Nature Index.

# Country Physics Chem Life Total
1 USA 4307 4567 6674 15157
2 China 1970 4025 795 6380
3 Germany 1411 1372 940 3593
4 UK 965 947 1126 3039
5 Japan 879 1116 581 2538
6 France 755 542 468 1811
7 Canada 315 421 483 1229
8 Switzerland 400 345 319 1019
9 South Korea 462 542 141 990
10 Spain 373 442 190 980
11 Italy 503 234 171 909
12 Australia 243 268 280 835
13 India 300 408 81 804
14 Netherlands 275 234 245 744
15 Sweden 152 140 181 452
16 Israel 175 132 162 442
17 Singapore 150 232 80 404
18 Russia 252 98 27 377
19 Belgium 123 114 112 336
20 Taiwan 134 157 57 332
21 Denmark 108 79 111 299
22 Austria 110 82 105 285
23 Brazil 144 34 57 246
24 Poland 114 74 18 204
25 Finland 70 42 52 160

Source: Nature Index, WFC 2016

The US absolutely dominates high-quality research, producing about a third of the world’s total, even though China has gained considerably ground, going from 9% of the global total in WFC 2012 to 14% as of today.


Despite modest improvements since 2012, Russia remains a complete minnow, accounting for less than 1% of elite global scientific research. It is worth noting that it lags China not only absolutely, but in per capita terms as well. In total, Russia produces as much elite level science as does Singapore, Belgium… and the University of Cambridge.

It is hard to imagine any plausible adjustment which would cardinally improve its position. Although it is possible that Russia’s scientific potential is somewhat underestimated by linguistic insularity and its incomplete integration with the global science scene, this is unlikely to be a major factor; since Russia is not actually a world scientific leader in any sphere but a few rather narrow areas of metallurgy and nuclear physics, much of the conversations that take place in exclusively Russian language journals will be outdated and useless. It is also likely that a significantly larger chunk of Russian scientific research relates to military applications than in most other countries, and is effectively “black.” That said, even we assume – very generously – that this underestimation is on the order of 50%, that would still mean that 146 million Russians produce fewer Science Points than the 8 million citizens of Switzerland. Even in Physics, its area of greatest relative strength, Russia barely manages to match Australia; as for the Life Sciences, it is nestled in between Czechia and Argentina.

This analysis is backed up by the performance of individual Russian institutions and scientists.


The most productive (and elite) Russian university, Moscow State University, is in 254th place on the Nature Index, alongside the likes of Oregon State University and the University of Liverpool; fine institutions though they might well be, they do not have a reputation as academic powerhouses. Although Russians tend to complain about the low positions of their universities on international rankings – and I will admit to having once espoused such beliefs myself – it is worth noting that since Moscow State University is 93rd on the latest ARWU Shanghai Ranking and 194th on the THES ranking, it would seem that if anything, the rankings overstate Russia’s performance.

There are a grand total of three Russia-based researchers in Clarivate Analytics’ database of highly cited researchers (of whom only one, Sergey V. Morozov, has his primary affiliation there; the other two primarily work in Spain and the United States). Amazingly, this means that there are as many Russian highly cited researchers in just one American university, U.C. Berkeley – Alexey Filippenko, Igor Grigoriev, Natalia Ivanova – as there are in the whole of Russia! In fairness, Russia’s BRICs rivals Brazil and India don’t do substantially better. However, China has long left its colleagues behind; there are almost 200 highly cited researchers who have their primary affiliation in the Heavenly Kingdom, who are producing 20% of the world’s high-impact academic publications as of 2016.

R&D/Academic Personnel

Russia spends a relatively low but far from catastrophic 1.1% of its GDP on R&D, which is similar to the Mediterranean and Visegrad countries. It also used to have one of the highest concentrations of researchers in the world, with almost 8/1,000 workers employed in R&D, which was higher than the equivalent figures in all the major OECD countries except Japan. Since then, this figure has declined to 6/1,000 even as the average OECD figures went up, so here Russia, too, now keeps company with the Mediterranean and Visegrad. Even so, this was hardly a disaster – the USSR overproduced “researchers” in the same way as it overproduced “doctors” and “engineers”, many of whom would have been mere nurses or technicians in the West. So the thinning out of a good fraction of those fake “researchers” should in theory have been a good thing, assuming that the system was purging itself of dead wood. But the reality was sooner the other way round. Due to the utter lack of prospects in Russian academia, the most talented either continued to emigrate West (with the bulk of that outflow occuring in the 1990s), or went into the private sector.

Many explanations have been proposed as to why Russian science has been in an unending death spiral. Some of the more ideological works cite factors such as the lack of democracy and human rights, and its estrangement from the West – as if Yeltsin’s Russia was a fount of innovation (or democracy, for that matter), while the scientific explosion in modern day China is a mirage (not to mention countless historical counterexamples, e.g. the most scientifically dynamic country in the world prior to World War I was authoritarian Wilhelmine Germany). In Becky Ferreira’s recent profile of Russian science for VICE, one researcher is quoted as saying the following: “If people really only went to countries which do not invade other countries and respect human rights, then they would stick to countries like Andorra or Bhutan… Maybe it sounds a bit cynical, but in my observation, most people in science are driven by opportunities. Regardless of whether such an attitude is moral or not, it is clear that science should be free of any politics.

No, the real reasons are much more banal: Money, or rather the lack thereof.

According to an exhaustive study of global academic salaries published in 2012, the average Russian academic received 2-4x less money than his equivalents in Visegrad, the Baltics, and even Kazakhstan, and an order of magnitude less than in the developed world.


Source: Paying the Professoriate by Philip G. Altbach et al. (2012).

Here is what the authors have to say about the practical consequences of this breadcrumbs-based approach to scientific funding:

In Russia, young faculty earn approximately 70 percent of the average wage in the workforce; professors’ salaries often fall 10 percent below the average wage of others in the workforce who have completed higher education. In most countries, a middle-class income generally depends on additional employment, either within the same institution, at another academic institution, or in nonacademic employment. All of this added pressure decreases the attractiveness of the academic career and will further deter the “best and brightest” from choosing academe.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the astounding prevalence of corruption in Russian academia. According to a Slate article by Leon Neyfakh, the Russian plagiarism detection project Dissernet has found improper borrowing in around 4% of all the dissertations defended in Russia. This doesn’t include plagiarism-free ghostwritten work: Ararat Osipian, a specialist in academic corruption, estimates that around a quarter of all dissertations written in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union were purchased.

There have also been private complaints of “ethnic capture” of certain Russian academic departments, primarily by Caucasians. To the best of my knowledge, this is an unquantified phenomenon (though it would not surprise me if this was true, since such a pattern has been confirmed in Italy, where as you go south – which is more corrupt – the incidence of identical surnames within university departments increases, indicating rising nepotism). However, consider the case of the Ingush. They produced six times fewer scientists per capita than Russians during the less corrupt Soviet period; today, their homeland is the highest unemployment, most subsidized region in Russia. And yet they somehow manage to have the highest concentration of postgrads per capita in all of Russia, around 50% more than in second-place Moscow. I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions.

As if the poverty level wages were not enough, the corruption and cronyism also cannot help but discourage the more talented and conscientious from academic careers.

R&D Equipment

The age when enthusiasts could jerry-rig their own scientific equipment are long gone. You need powerful supercomputers to simulate protein folding, climate change, and the integrity of your nuclear arsenal. You need high throughput sequencers to do serious experimental work in genetics.

But money isn’t any more forthcoming here than it is for salaries.


Twice a year, the Top 500 website compiles a list of the world’s five hundred most powerful supercomputers. Since 2010, China has exploded out of the margins to overtake the United States – as of November 2017, it had 202 top supercomputers to America’s 143, and that included the world’s most powerful supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, which runs on entirely Chinese processors.


Table: Country Share of Top 500 supercomputers in November 2017

Russia’s performance is… rather underwhelming – its measly 0.6% global share of the world’s top 500 supercomputers is equivalent to Switzerland, and lower than that of Sweden, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia.


Nor are the trends encouraging. While there was an uptick in Russia’s numbers of top 500 supercomputers to around 2% of the world total around 2010-2011, those figures have been dwindling ever since.

High Throughput sequencers

James Hadfield maintains a reasonably up to date map of the world’s high throughput DNA sequencers. The current version of the map isn’t easily readable, but here is a screenshot from 2013.


This is a very typical picture: A modest cluster in Moscow, while the rest of North Eurasia is a scientific desert.


Russia’s performance in patent applications isn’t too bad by global standards – comparable in per capita terms to the UK and France, much higher than in the BRICS minus China (and it’s not exactly a secret that many East Asian patents are of a spurious nature).

Patent applications (2015)
China 968,252
United States 288,335
Japan 258,839
Korea, Rep. 167,275
Germany 47,384
Russian Federation 29,269
United Kingdom 14,867
France 14,306
India 12,579
Turkey 5,352
Poland 4,676
Brazil 4,641

But you can’t realize ideas without money, and despite growing by leaps and bounds in the past decade, the Russian venture capital industry remains tiny from a global perspective.


In 2016, VC funding in Russia (€295 million) was at the level of Ireland (€367 million) and Finland (€324 million) in absolute terms, though a bit above sluggish and overly bureaucratic Italy (€162 million).

And this is relative to Europe, a continent that grossly underperforms relative to its wealth and demographics. According to another source, the old continent had just $14.4 billion worth of VC activity in 2015, relative to $72.3 billion in the United States, $49.2 billion in China, and $8.0 billion in India.

In per capita terms, this means that VC funding in Russia it is at just around 5% of the Chinese level and 1% of the American level.

This expresses itself across the entire range of the hi-tech sphere, but we will just focus on one of the most important and “hip” applications.

Artificial Intelligence Startups

Let’s go back to artificial intelligence, the brains behind the coming wave of automation. How does Russia stack up?


It accounts for 13 of Europe’s estimated 409 AI startups as of mid-2017…


… or just 0.7% of the world’s 1951 total.

The US enjoys near total dominance in this sphere – with more than a thousand AI startups, it accounts for more than half of the world total. China is assuredly moving into second place position, hurtling past Japan and the major European countries.

Meanwhile, Russia is once again in the company of countries like Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland, who have less than 10% of its population.


According to a just released report by CB Insights, in 2017 China leapfrogged past the US to dominate global equity funding to AI startups. They are fast becoming the only two relevant countries in this sphere, with countries that are not China or the US accounting for a mere 13% of the global total.


For all the lunacies of the Soviet economic system, their planners did at least appreciate the importance of robotics and their role in enhancing productivity in manufacturing.


Source: International Federation of Robotics – World Robotics 2005

At the time of its collapse, the USSR had an operational stock of around 60,000 multipurpose industrial robots. In practice, this is a very inflated figure – a large percentage were simple, even hand-operated tools that would not have been counted as industrial robots anywhere in the capitalist world. Still, the Soviet level of industrial robotization in the 1980s was at least broadly comparable to the developed world, and several orders of magnitude higher than in a China just emerging out of its Maoist slumber.

Until the early 2000s, the publicly available databases generally didn’t even include the numbers of industrial robots in Chinese factories, so small and insignificant were their quantities. But from the late 2000s, the robotization of Chinese industry began to explode. As of 2016, it accounted for about 30% of the world industrial robots market, overtook Japan to become the country with the world’s largest operational stock of multipurpose industrial robots, and leveled with the United Kingdom in robot density.

Conversely, it has since become hard to even find any specific data for Russia… According to the World Robotics 2013 – Industrial Robots report, Russia had an operational stock of around 1,771 multipurpose industrial robots as of 2012.


Source: World Robotics 2013 – Industrial Robots


Source: World Robotics 2013 – Industrial Robots (2011 data)

Russia’s (total!) figures are slightly higher than in Slovenia, but lower than in Slovakia. In per capita terms, the rate of robotization per worker in Russia in Russia hovers between that of India and Iran, and is far behind middle-income industrial countries like Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico, to say nothing of a China fast gallivanting its way up to the levels of its super-automated East Asian peers.


Source: International Federation of Robotics – Feb 2018 press release on robot density (2016 data)

The state of affairs today isn’t any better. A 2016 report from the Russian robotics association NAURR presents two different datasets about the rate of introduction of new robots onto the Russian market in recent years.


Sales of robots in Russia, 2005-2014
Graph: World Robotics 2015


Sales of robots in Russia, 2011-2014
Source: FANUC

Although they diverge somewhat in their assessments, the underlying picture is clear – only around 500 industrial robots are introduced into Russian industry per year as of 2014, accounting for a dismal 0.25% of the global total. This is about thrice less even than Brazil’s 1,300, and two orders of magnitude lower than in China, where 57,000 were sold in the same year. It is likewise highly unlikely that Russia saw any improvements since 2014, considering that this was when it fell into a two year recession.

According to the NAURR report, the top five countries for scientific publications about robotics are the United States, followed by China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea. While figures for Russia aren’t given, it is probably safe to say that it is about as irrelevant here as it is in AI.

Machine Tools

It would also be worthwhile to briefly survey the machine tool industry – a sector of special interest not only because of this its inherent technological sophistication, but also because of its strategic importance as the only part of the industrial economy that actually reproduces itself and makes everything else possible.


Source: Gardener Research – World Machine Tool Survey 2016

As you might expect, the lists of countries that dominate industrial robots and machine tools production – Japan, Korea, the Germanic lands, Italy, and increasingly, China – are highly similar. Russia is not an exception, accounting for just 0.6% of world machine tool production.

As with elite level science and robots, China has left Russia in the dust not only in absolute, but even per capita, terms.


Global share of machine tool production 1913-1995 (Brown – USA; Black – Germany; Green – Britain; Red – Russia; Purple – Japan; Yellow – China)
Source: genby

The Russian Federation also massively lags even the late USSR. As an autarkic military-industrial empire, the USSR understood the necessity of being able to make the machines that make all the other machines, bequeathing the Russian Federation with 2.8 million machine tools in 1992 upon its dissolution. Since then, that machine tool stock has inexorably depreciated, and as of 2013 constituted just 760,000 pieces, with the average age almost doubling from 12 years to 21 years.


Since the end of the USSR, it has become clear that a chasm has opened up in in terms of scientific and technological output between Russia and the developed West.

This video juxtaposing the lumbering Robot Fyodor versus the agile Atlas built by Boston Dynamics seems like a good metaphor for what is perhaps the single biggest failure of Putinism in the past 18 years.

In comparison, any successes or failures in the Middle Eastern military adventures that pundits and commenters obsess over are basically irrelevant.

This is not to say that things are unremittingly bleak and getting worse.

The government has a strategic goal to get five of its universities into the global top 100 by 2020, to which end it has lavished significantly greater funding on its 21 most prospective universities. Consequently, academic salaries have greatly improved since 2013, at least in the elite institutions. They still don’t compare to the caviar feasts served up to Western professors, but at least they now constitute solid hunks of bread instead of the measly crumbs that were served up before.

There’s no very obvious reasons why Russia can’t succeed more at science. The average IQ relative to British norms is around 97, which might fall significantly short of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon (native!) averages, but isn’t really out of place relative to Mediterranean or East-Central European standards. Moreover, there are signs that Russia continues to enjoy a Flynn Effect, and besides, surely any minor disadvantage with respect to raw IQs is cancelled out by Russia’s traditionally very strong performance in international programming and mathematics contests.

Meanwhile, as regards industry, it is worth pointing out that Russia does consume around 2.7% of the world’s machine tools – it is, after all, the world’s eighth (or so) manufacturing power, not the gas station masquerading as a country of John McCain’s imagination. Infrastructure – roads, rail, airports – has genuinely gotten much better in the past decade, and with post-Soviet inflation finally tamed, Russia looks set for fairly vigorous growth.

But the problems holding Russia back are severe, and possibly intractable.

There remain strong financial and ultimately institutional barriers to unlocking Russia’s scientific potential. Putin and his clique seem to prefer lavishing resources on expensive status-signalling sporting events and white elephants as opposed to serious science and supercomputers. The former burnishes his prestige amongst simple people and provides endless opportunities to siphon away money to his Ozero chums – the latest lunatic project is to built a bridge for $10 billion to Sakhalin and its 500,000 people (a contract won by Arkady Rotenberg – who else?), which is about what the federal government spends on the Ministry of Education in a year – while the latter will only cause political trouble.

Ending corruption within academia would likewise seem a quixotic endeavor. While one can say much more on this topic, consider that PhD’s are no less a status symbol for the Russian elites than Mercedes cars and English boarding schools for their children. High-flyers found to have plagiarized their doctoral dissertations include no less than one in every nine members of the State Duma, and for that matter, Vladimir Putin himself. Waiting for these people to solve the problem of academic fraud is about as realistic as expecting them to solve corruption, or training foxes to guard hen houses. Nor is it possible to imagine a serious response to ethnic nepotism in academia in the land of Article 282, where you can be prosecuted just for arguing that the Caucasian republics should get fewer federal subsidies.

Finally, the absurdly low levels of robotization in industry raise serious questions about Russia’s political economy and its economic future. Why are Russian businesses loth to make serious moves towards automation in industry, even though Russia is, despite everything, a reasonably high IQ and well educated country? Is it because these require big capital investments that they are not willing to risk because of what they perceive as Russia’s environment of legal nihilism? It is correlated with Russian elites being the most apatride of any major civilization?

The importance of finding good answers and good solutions to these questions will only increase in the coming years and decades, as industry moves towards greater and greater automation. It seems likely that the countries that will be most successful at this will also be those who are succeeding at robotization today. Will Russia fall into a low-income trap where low wages preclude automation, and low automation preclude greater productivity and wages? At any rate, it doesn’t seem to be the case that anyone in Russia is seriously thinking about this, at least beyond empty electoral slogans – even as Putin runs for his fourth and hopefully final term, his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs during the 2012 Presidential elections has been conveniently forgotten.

Now this is not to say that the problem is with the Putin regime and that its removal will improve things. The pro-Western liberal elites are at least as rapacious as the kremlins, no less authoritarian in spirit, and far less patriotic to boot. Although this post was primarily about Russia, feel free to go back through the hyperlinks and study the case of the Ukraine, where liberal “lustrators” have repeatedly won; it is almost Sub-Saharan Africa so far as advanced science, native hi-tech (as opposed to offshored work), and any sort of capital-intensive manufacturing that wasn’t bequeathed to it by the USSR is concerned. Even the Visegrad and Baltic nations don’t have much to write home about. While most of them – especially, Czechia, Estonia, and Poland – do substantially better than Russia on most of these metrics, they still hugely lag the developed West and have been left behind in the dust by the Chinese juggernaut.

I don’t propose any great over-arching solution to these problems. “More money for RAN, less money for the Rotenbergs” might be a nice slogan, but as they say, the devil is in the details.

However, a solid start would be to look at the statistics and acknowledge that a very big problem exists, which, unresolved, will continue to degrade Russia’s economic, industrial, and eventually military competitiveness.

• Category: Economics, Science • Tags: Automation, Corruption, Russia, Science, Technology 
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There are three main reasons why the correlation between national IQ and GDP per capita is only around r=0.7, instead of r=0.9.

Oil/resource windfalls: Saudi Arabia would otherwise be about as prosperous as Yemen.

The legacy of Communism: Central planning and especially the lunacy that is Maoism are far less effective than free markets.

The legacy of Malthusianism: This is the most subtle factor, but it used to be very important. Countries like China, Japan, and to a lesser extent India used to be stuck in a high-level equilibrium trap; quite intelligent and productive, but unable to accumulate capital surpluses due to almost everyone being at the limits of subsistence.

This was not the case with relatively land-rich Latin America, where escaping from the Malthusian trap was easier. As a result, the degree of human capital there has long correlated much better with the region’s wealth. (Argentina even had a resource windfall effect around a century ago).

But all these factors will diminish in the coming decades!

Practically everyone outside Sub-Saharan Africa has more or less escaped the Malthusian trap.

Communist regimes have nearly all collapsed, leaving just a few relics like Cuba and Best Korea as monuments to failure. Moreover, over the long term, we can expect institutions everywhere to get better, as different countries adopt established best practices – occasional backsliding as with Venezuela regardless.

The impact of resource windfalls – apart from a few exceptions (e.g. Botswana – diamonds), we’re speaking about oil – will likewise decline. Technology has conquered Hubbert’s peak from the supply side, and soon enough, electric batteries are going to cut in from the demand side.


Even today, it is presumably not an accident that the countries with the most developed automation in manufacturing – Germany, Switzerland, (Northern) Italy, Japan, South Korea, parts of the United States, and increasingly, China – are those where the core populations have 100-105 range average IQs.

The coming automation of more and more sectors of the economy, including services, will impact disproportionately on low IQ jobs, so the impact on economic performance of average IQs – and especially smart fractions – should if anything increase even further.

The one thing that could throw a wrench into this – sort of – is if countries were to begin randomly adopting large-scale intelligence augmentation at highly differential rates (e.g. via CRISPR + genomics of IQ). But it isn’t likely to be random. It will almost certainly be the richest and least superstitious/obscurantist countries that will adopt these technologies first, and both of those factors are already highly correlated with IQ.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Automation, Futurism, Human Biodiversity 
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Nothing illustrates China’s meteoric rise as some well chosen numbers.

By the end of the 1990s, China had come to dominate the mainstays of geopolitical power in the 20th century – coal and steel production. As a consequence, it leapt to the top of the Compositive Index of National Capability, which uses military expenditure, military personnel, energy consumption, iron and steel production, urban population, and total population as a proxy of national power. Still, one could legitimately argue that all of these factors are hardly relevant today. While Germany’s fourfold preponderance in steel production over Russia may have been a critical number in 1914, China’s eightfold advantage in steel production over the US by 2014 is all but meaningless in any relevant comparison of national power. The world has moved on.

By the end of the 2000s, like Victorian Britain in the mid-19th century, China became the workshop of the world, overtaking the US in both manufacturing and coming very close to it in terms of PPP-adjusted GDP. As a consequence, this was when China also overtook the US on a wide range of consumer welfare and ecological impact indicators, such as exports, CO2 emissions, Internet users, energy consumption, car sales, car production, and number of patents issued. Still, its presence in the hi-tech sector was still pretty modest, and innovation was low. This was not yet an economy that could furnish first-class armaments, or inspire far off peoples to carry out color revolutions in its name.

But as of this year, China is hurtling past yet another set of inflection points – the hi-tech component of its economy, roughly comparable to any of the major European Powers a mere decade ago, is now about to converge and then hurtle past that of the US by the end of the 2010s (even if in per capita terms it remains considerably behind, like South Korea 20 years ago).

This process can be proxied by three indicators: Number of scientific articles published, operational stock of industrial robots, and number of supercomputers.

Science Articles

The SJR maintains a database of scientific publications by country and subject for the past 20 years.

In 1996, China published a mere 29,000 papers, well behind Japan, the UK, Germany, and France (50,000-90,000) not to mention the US with 333,000. As of 2015, however, China had surged to 416,000 published papers, still modestly behind the US with its 567,000 papers but far ahead of everyone else.

science-plagiarism-map Now to be sure, Chinese papers are still considerably less cited than those of the developed world. And yes, this reflects the fact that, on average, the quality of Chinese scientific output remains inferior – less innovative, more derivative – than that of the US. This extends to outright plagiarism; the negative stereotypes about Chinese academia are somewhat borne out by a study that showed that 7-8% of Chinese articles on were flagged for text overlaps, compared to less than 4% for the US and the UK.

Nonetheless, in the “hard”/STEM spheres that arguably matter more for technological progress – and which have much less in the way of a replicability crisis – China is already ahead of the US in terms of total publications: 34,000 to 28,000 in mathematics; 67,000 to 52,000 in physics and astronomy; 63,000 to 36,000 in chemistry; 120,000 to 67,000 in engineering; 49,000 to 41,000 in computer science. The only major spheres here in which the US remains considerably ahead are the more biologically orientated sciences, such as: 196,000 to 69,000 in medicine, 83,000 to 59,000 in biochemistry/genetics, 23,000 to 7,000 in neuroscience, and 18,000 to 14,000 in pharmacology. Otherwise, the US retains clear dominance only in the the softer spheres of social science and the arts: 54,000 to 7,000 in the social sciences, 10,000 to 2,000 in economics, 23,000 to 2,000 in psychology, and 27,000 to 2,000 in the arts and humanities. In one subcomponent that is arguably outright negative value added, that of Gender Studies, the US published 1,456 documents to China’s 23.

The overall trends cannot be denied – Chinese scientific output is rapidly approaching American levels and will probably outright overtake, at least in absolute numbers, by around 2020.


Until recently, the general consensus was that automation would be an issue mainly for developed countries with high labor costs. China, then still seen as a country of boundless, cheap, and disciplined if unskilled labor, was not expected to be deeply affected by those developments (except perhaps to the extent that it would be challenged by renewed competition with First World manufacturing “reshoring” back to the American rustbelts).

This was, until recently, a logical enough viewpoint. Traditionally, the world’s operational stock of industrial robots was concentrated in the most advanced manufacturing economies, with the highest per capita rates seen in Japan (which accounted for a third to half of all industrial robots during the 1980s and 1990s), Germany and the Germanic lands, Northern Italy, and more recently, South Korea. In contrast, until the early 2000s, the publicly available databases generally didn’t even bother to estimate the numbers of industrial robots in Chinese factories so small and insignificant were their numbers.

But from the late 2000s, the robotization of Chinese industry began to explode.


China went from having 32,000 industrial robots in 2008 (~Spain), to 189,000 by 2014 (~Germany) and approximately 263,000 robots by 2015, which puts it ahead of the 259,000 robots in all of North America and just behind Japan’s 297,000. It is therefore safe to assume that China took first place this year. By 2018, China is projected to have 614,000 industrial robots, equal to that of Japan and North America combined.

It is also worth noting that China dominates the global machine tool production industry, having overtaken the two leading countries in that sphere – Germany and Japan – around 2010. As of 2014, China accounted for 30% of the world’s yearly production of machine tools. This is of special interest not only because of this industry’s inherent technological sophistication, but also because of its strategic importance as the only part of the industrial economy that actually reproduces itself and makes everything else possible.


A third excellent proxy for a country’s technological sophistication is its stock of supercomputers, which enable detailed simulations of phenomena as disparate as global climate, protein folding, and nuclear weapons reliability.

China emerged on the supercomputing scene in force during the early 2010s, when it became the world’s (distant) second to the US. However, within the space of the past year, it has surged ahead. According to the June 2016 list of the world’s top 500 supercomputers, China is now marginally ahead of the US in terms of total number of systems, with 168 top systems relative to America’s 165, and well ahead in terms of performance share, with 211 petaflops total to America’s 173 petaflops.


China also hosts the world’s most powerful single supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, which is nearly three times as powerful as the world’s second best (also Chinese) and five times as powerful as the top US supercomputer. Remarkably, it is based entirely on Chinese processors, the US having banned the export of Intel chips used in previous Chinese supercomputers for national security reasons in 2015. Evidently, this has had negligible effects on Chinese technological progress, because China has no dearth of native human capital and a state-backed program to reduce reliance on foreign technologies.


Forget the war against terror, forget the Syrian conflict, forget Ukraine – when historians look back on this period, they will identify China’s emergence as a technologically capable continental economy (soon to far overtake the US in absolute size) that is less and less reliant on the West for its technological convergence is by far the most important geopolitical trend of the century.

As this process unfolds, China is likely to start being more assertive on the international stage. We are already seeing this in the South China Sea, and its recent aquisition of its first foreign military base in Djibouti and plans to multiply its (as yet meager) power projection capabilities by building over 1,000 heavy strategic aircraft – that’s far more than what the US and Russia have combined. (Note that my standing projection is for China to overtake the US in total military power by 2030 and in naval power by around 2040).

It will also come to assume a much bigger presence in science, culture, and soft power generally, though this will take some time to recognize given the long lag times between invention and recognition.

Its also worth emphasizing that this technological emergence is quite specific to China, not to the BRICS in general. South Africa is basically an affirmative action BRIC and not worth mentioning further, while Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be, as per De Gaulle’s witticism. Despite strong recent economic growth, India’s presence in all the aforementioned spheres – published papers, supercomputers, industrial robot stock – is comparable to that of a typical middle-sized European country, its huge population being nullified by underdevelopment and an average national IQ in the low 80s.

As for Russia, while general economic output has recovered and exceeded Soviet era levels, its scientific and technological superstructure remains depressed: Russia’s share of global science papers as of 2015 is now 1.9% of the world’s total relative to 7.6% in 1986 (a drop made all the more remarkable by the USSR’s absence of a “publish or perish” scientific culture); its respectable Soviet-era stock of ~60,000 industrial robots has now almost entirely depreciated without getting replaced; and the quantity of Russian supercomputers in the top 500 in any given year has stabilized at around 5-10 since the late 2000s (i.e., comparable to Sweden). This is a consequence of the post-Soviet degradation of Russia’s human capital, especially its more elite elements, due to the 1990s brain drain; the ultimately lackadaisical approach to industrial and technological policy under Putin; and the intrinsic limitations of a ~97 average national IQ (in comparison, China, Germany, Japan, and the advanced parts of the US and Italy are in the low 100s).

• Category: Economics • Tags: Automation, China, Technology 
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So now that I’m blogging more or less regularly again I’ve been thinking of setting up a bit more of a structured schedule.

Probably it will be minor posts interspersed throughout the week, with a compendium of my best questions and major posts (called Big Posts) every Thursday or Friday which will (generally) run as Features sometime over the weekend.

So without further any ado, here’s my Q&A’s since last time.


Automation and IQ

What model do you foresee replacing the current global neo-liberal economic model? When do you think it will happen?

The game changer will be automation. To be sure, people have been talking of automation for decades, but I suspect when it truly hits it will be very sudden since it will likely involve a series of rapidly occuring threshold events as robots and AI programs quickly replace humans in industry after industry.
I don’t know when it will happen. Sometime between 2020-2050 is really the best I can do.
In the new world that will arise, many – perhaps most – people will be driven out of their jobs. Only the >130 IQ cognitive elites will still have more or less guaranteed employment in the creative industries and in designing and improving the robots (until/unless superintelligence takes care of them too but that’s another story).
Since almost all income will now accrue to the owners of capital, wealth inequality will soar to levels that make today’s reality seem like some kind of hippie commune.
Presumably the oligarchs can be persuaded to institute some kind of basic universal income system if only for their own benefit (no consumers = no economy). But the outcome won’t necessarily be that rosy. My friend Scott Jackisch posits a sort of neo-feudalism where the oligarchs retreat to their gated mansions, get legitimized by their paid up NRx bootlickers, and keep the proles in line through ubiquitious surveillance and drones. And hackers and cyborg “grinders” lead an insurgency against them from the derelict ruins of the old cities. He really should write a sci-fi novel one of these days.
Anyway… back to reality. I do think eventually there will be UBI. That, and the various MyFace/Twatter entertainment systems, are cheaper than murder drones anyway. An interesting question is to what extent, if any, UBI will be linked to “good behavior” (socially, politically). An even more dystopian scenario (to some) would be to have your basic income get determined by your social justice karma. I think we might well be heading there…
If Rindermann’s “smart fractions” are important to national prosperity now, they will become all-important after mass automation. GDP per capita will *essentially* be linked to the numbers of >130 IQ people you have relative to “dead weight” i.e. everyone below that. Even the most blank slatist economists will realize what idiots they were back when they argued for (~85 IQ) mass Third World immigration.
Since countries like Japan, Korea, and Germany could be expected to become ultra-competitive due to their large “smart fractions,” countries in the <95 IQ zone – i.e., most of the Third World – will have to become protectionist if they want any of their domestic industries to survive. This could lead to a retreat of globalization, and ironically, provide a counter-acting force against rising inequality.

Are you shocked by the amount of low wage labor in large metro areas in America? Most of it came within the last 20 years from immigration. My impression is that Europe (even with its immigration) doesn’t have nearly the amount of stupid unskilled labor that we have.

Yes, I noticed it, though I am not particularly shocked by it. I suspect it’s largely on account of the US having a large class of ~85-90 IQ NAMs (Non Asian Minorities).
In contrast, when I visited France in *the early 2000s*, even the supermarket in the small town I was staying at *already* had an automated self-checkout. It was my first encounter with them. (I had lived in Britain beforehand. Incidentally, for whatever reason, productivity in France is substantially higher than in Britain, which you wouldn’t predict on the basis of neoliberal orthodoxy).
Which raises the really big puzzle of just WHY and HOW American GDP per capita is so much higher than that of the EU countries, and France/Germany in particular. (I tried to answer it here, but didn’t really succeed in doing so:
For whatever reason, the middle class and the smart fractions in the US are just a lot more productive than their European counterparts.

What are your thoughts on driverless cars? Will they be a game changer?

Obviously a lot of lorry drivers, chaffeurs, etc. will find themselves out of work. It will take a long time to implement – even if adopted all at once, it will still take about 20 years to change the bulk of the vehicle stock – so I don’t see this as being an absolutely massive game changer. That said, I look forwards to not having to bother with owning my own car, and being able to do something useful during commutes instead of driving.

Given the coming wave of job automation, what would you suggest is a good long-term career path for someone who is in their early to mid 20s, in the 125-135 IQ range but with no technical skills? This is an odd question, I know, but I’d like to what you have to say about it.

Get in an oligarch’s good graces. That’s what half of NRx is doing! ;)
Slightly less flippant answer: Read N.N. Taleb’s writings on the power law, and internalize it. If you have a 125-135 IQ, you should be able to build a successful passive-income business, write a bestselling book, etc. You will most likely need to make a lot of attempts before you hit gold, but with your cognitive profile, you have a good chance of making it there eventually. People who end up succeeding are usually those who also fail the most beforehand.
You’d do well to start at this now before everyone is unemployed, on basic income, and competing with you trying to do the exact same thing.


My Book, Smart Fractions

I always liked your posts o n education, PISA performance and related economics/demographics. A few days ago I stumbled on . In this database you can see fertility rates for all countries of the world by education level. Is that of use to you? It is.

Thanks a bunch for the link! I look forwards to exploring this. Might even be of use to my book.


“It is. Thanks a bunch for the link! I look forwards to exploring this. Might even be of use to my book.” You’re writing a book?

Yes. The preliminary title is Apollo’s Ascent.
Its big idea is that the rate and global distribution of technological progress in history has largely been a function of the literacy rate and the absolute numbers of “smart fraction” people available.
I actually plan to make an announcement about this relatively soon on the blog with a more detailed exposition of the main thesis (hopefully before Garett Jones’ Hive Mind comes out).

wrt the premise of your book, how does Britain fit in? AFAIK we’re the single largest contributor to ‘human accomplishment’ over past thousand years or so but by no means a large populace so the smart fraction couldn’t have been that large in absolute terms.

Here’s the thing: England made a huge leap forwards in terms of literacy early on in the Early Modern Age. By the time of the Civil War, literacy was at around 40%. This was much higher than practically anywhere else. Renaissance Italy peaked at around 20% and then remained stagnant at that level for centuries. France on the eve of the Revolution was only at around 25%.
For a smart fraction to be capable of contributing to scientific/cultural progress, it needs to be literate. According to Ancient Literacy by William V. Harris, Ancient Greece was probably the first society on Earth to go beyond “priestly literacy” (~1-2%) to “craftsman literacy” (~10%). England was probably the first society on Earth to go from “craftsman literacy” to something resembling mass literacy, and that happened in the 17th century.
You will know from Human Accomplishment that the great bulk of British achievements accrued in the post-1600 period, and that this coincided with the genesis of the Scientific Revolution.
Another thing to bear in mind: Since England was also one of the first societies to escape Malthusianism, it would also have been one of the societies longest subject to dysgenic trends. While British national IQ today is unremarkable relative to other West European countries, it might have been somewhat higher 400 years ago. Finally, the English were unusually well fed by continental European standards from the 17th century onwards – they were a few cm’s taller, for instance – so that would have likely given a further boost to their IQs.

I myself played a round a bit with the Education/Fertility database and calculated a “predicted IQ loss” over the next generation. Because of the extreme fertility differences, Latin America will be hit very hard (loss about 4 IQ points). What is your take on the future of Latin America?

“Brazil is the country of the future… and always will be.” – Charles de Gaulle.
CDG was usually right.
Apart from a burst of strong growth in the 50s-70s, Latin America for most of its history seems to have merely been keeping up with the advanced countries if not actively falling behind them (like Argentina).
If as you say dysgenic trends are particularly strong there, then all the more reasons for longterm skepticism. about 7 hours ago

What developed country has the most eugenic fertility? What about the least? My observation is that Britain has the most dysgenic but I haven’t seen the data? Where does America fit in there?

Not a topic I have looked at in any great detail (yet).
From what I have gathered from Lynn/Murray, trends amongst White Americans are moderately dysgenic and strongly dysgenic amongst Black Americans. However, JayMan statistically disputes that:
As far as I know, most of the differences in fertility rates between developed countries accrue due to fertiltiy differences amongst the more intellectual sorts. So it may be reasonable to assume that dysgenic trends in low fertility countries (Germany, Italy, Japan) are stronger than in high fertility countries (USA, Australia, France). Which if true would be a double whammy of sorts. But as I said I haven’t looked at this in depth, so don’t quote me on this yet. about 2 hours ago


CRISPR, Eugenics, Futurism

How do you think positive genetic engineering will be deployed? will the .1% be able to use it to ensure the primacy of their offspring or will natural inborn inequality be ‘fixed’ by it or any other scenario? When do you imagine it will be used in a majority of human births?

Using CRISPR to “correct” genetic load and vastly increase IQ is a no-brainer to me. Most East Asians would agree with me, though many Americans laboring under Judeo-Christian morality systems would not. Their loss. Most will probably come round eventually, but might miss out in the meantime.
According to estimates I’ve heard from a well informed person the actual technology should be pretty much worked out in 5 years (this was in 2014).
Then it should be mainly regulatory and ethical issues, but they are a big unknown. However, ambitious (ruthless?) billionaires will be able to start upgrading their offspring around about then.
If left to market forces, due to the Moore’s Law-like progress in biotech costs, I expect the procedure will become affordable to the vast majority of people soon after the technology is worked out. If many or most people start doing it, there will be a huge acceleration in technological progress, possibly but not necessarily in sufficient force to take us to a computer superintelligence sometime this century.
So whether it reinforces or suppresses inequality ultimately depends on the regulatory response. Short of a concerted global ban, high net worth individuals will be able to upgrade their offspring but the option will be foreclosed to the proles. The motivations behind any such ban could be naive concern over “human dignity” or other such nonsense, but I don’t exclude the possibility of a transnational oligarch conspiracy to create “global Brahmins” out of their family lines either.

CRISPR&intelligence: I’m reminded of point 6 of Fred Reed ramblings on evolution (I don’t share his skepticism of evolution) Still, remark is interesting. Why are seemingly extremely beneficial traits so rare? Somewhere they must have downsides

Certainly. Bigger brains require more energy. But eventually limits are reached beyond which more intelligence offers diminishing marginal returns and ceases to be strongly selected for.
IMO, Pumpkin Person nails it in his reply to Q3:

More on intelligence&downsides. Beyond brain energy consumption, Cochran thinks the downside of Ashkenazi intelligence is a higher prevalence of a host of specific genetic diseases. Beyond, consider the anxiety about GMOs crops. How then can you brush off the precautionary principle for HUMAN GMOs?

(1) We just avoid the specific Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence genes that result in genetic diseases, thus “missing out” on the modest <1 S.D. improvement in IQ that would have otherwise given us. That still leaves huge scope for improvement, at least on the level of 4-5 S.D.’s, which describes the cream of the cognitive crop today.
(2) I don’t think the anxiety over GMO crops is scientifically legitimate.

What developed country are you most optimistic about over the next 50 years? What country most over-performs their potential? Also, what country most underperforms their potential?

(1) The “Anglo offshoots” i.e. Australia, Canada, even the US. Demographically vigorous. High native IQs. Strong universities and hi-tech sectors. Cognitively elitist immigration policies. The US is a partial exception, but since so many talented people around the globe still want to move to the US anyway, this means that in net terms, things will probably cancel out (especially since with the advent of mass automation, the influence of “smart fractions” is likely to increase even further).
Since the Cucks of Europe are insisting on flooding the continent with <90 IQ Third Worlders, and Sub-Saharan Africans will come to comprise something like 40% of the global population by the end of this century (UN projections) resulting in massive immigration pressure, I don’t hold out much hope for any EU countries, including even Poland and Hungary, who will still have to answer for Juncker’s and Merkel’s choices. Japan and South Korea will do okay but ultimately their potential is going to be constrained by their lower q factor (curiosity) since that will likely attain more of a premium in the coming age of automation.
(2) The US itself is the biggest and most prominent example. See
(3) Once smart fractions (varying IQ distributions), oil windfalls, and Communist legacies are factored in, there are very few countries that truly overshoot or underperform very much.
But the biggest example here is China. See


Charles Murray and Steven Pinker

Do you know Charles Murry and Steven Pinker? They think mainstream-social science is still lagging behind REAL science by ignoring genetic and racial differences. What’s your idea of this situation and political-correctiness of FAKE knowledge ?

They are of course correct, but their high status stops them from being too forthright in calling a spade a spade. This allows Pinker to retain his status as a high priest of modern liberalism, complete with columns in the Guardian, while Charles Murray, for all my respect for his sociological work, is at heart a cuckservative who gets triggered by Donald Trump of all people. As such, they embody the problem at least as much as they contribute to solving it.

Thank you for answering my questions about C Murry and S Pinker. When will the mainstream media & social science accept and talk about the TRUTH? How hard it will be?

I used to think that the flood of new genetic evidence would sweep away the dogmas that have been accumulating in universities and the media since the days of Boas and Gould.
But I have become much more skeptical of late, because I now realize that regressive trends have if anything accelerated. With SJWs making common cause with the Western deep state (NSA, GCHQ, Google, Facebook, etc.) the foundations are being laid for enshrining blank slate, social justice ideology in perpetuity – or at least until whenever its host organism collapses.


The Ukrainian Question

In you wrote that Ukrainian nationalists have been preventing Poroshenko from making good on the Minsk agreements. Why them rather than his Western retainers?

It appears that the latter, not the former, are the ones who got him by the balls. I think the Western powers generally do want to see Ukraine fulfill the Minsk Accords (the Europeans do at any rate; I am not 100% sure on the neocons who are overseeing US policy on Ukraine).
The problem is that the Maidan absolutists and nationalists view fulfilling the Minsk conditions as a great zrada (betrayal) and are uncompromising in their opposition to it. The nationalists might not enjoy huge electoral support, but they have a lot of armed, violent men in their ranks, and that is likely what by far the most important consideration in Ukraine nowadays. If they can overthrow one President, then they can overthrow a second one as well, if the circumstances are right.
Moreover, actually fulfilling the Minsk Accords would raise the risk of the far western regions (Galicia, etc.) demanding the same autonomies as the Donbass. These are generally considered to be the main reasons why Poroshenko isn’t rushing to fulfill them. In fact, he has yet to fulfill a single condition in them.

Are Russian and Ukrainian nationalisms necessarily at odds?

I have no issues with Malorossiyans who take pride in their regional culture, traditions, and identity.
As for the “Ukraine” project, it is a fiction jointly created by Poles and Soviet multikultis to divide the Russian nation.

Why do you say Ukraine is a Communist invention? It was created in 1917 by the February Revolution. Its precedent is the Kyivan Rus

No, it’s absolutely not. Ukraine (namely, “borderland,” there being at various times multiple ukrainas to denote territories near the borders of the Russian world) has absolutely nothing to do with Kievan Rus. The term itself was a Tsarist-era literary invention that was hijacked in the 20th century to serve the cause of Ukrainian nationalism. In the days of “Kievan Rus” itself, the term people from Galicia to Vladimir-Suzdal used was just “Rus,” or “the Russian Land” (Russkaya Zemlya).
This is what results in the very peculiar Ukrainian nationalist sort of schizophrenia in which they propose to prosecute and imprison people calling Russia (aka the modern state), “Russia”, or “Rus”: In a way, they’re sort of proving the point that Ukraine is an unconvincing fiction. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t care.

Could the Russian Empire in the early twentieth century have peacefully transformed into something like the British Commonwealth?

Emmanuel Todd’s work suggests that a transition to Communism was not an accident. Virtually all countries/regions with the exogamous communitarian family system (Eurasia, China, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Cuba) took “naturally” to Communism, at least in the beginning.

But if we consider a what-if in which there was no WW1 and the Russian Empire did not become the USSR, it would also have avoided the “multinational” experiments that created Ukraine and Belarus, and both those regions would have become firmly Russian, just like the French provinces only became truly French in the 19th century through the natural process of nation-building. The fact that there were protests in Belarus in the 1920s when Soviet commissars insisted that they study in Belorussian instead of in Russian in the schools shows how much natural, organic momentum this nation-building process had.
The non-Russian regions (Finland, the Caucasian states, Central Asia, etc.) would have fallen away or more likely become federated states. Relations with Eastern European Slavs would be a lot better. With the exception of the Poles, most East European Slavs were highly Russophilic in the 19th century.


Chinese IQ & Cultural Influence

A Chinese official medical magazine show s China’s average IQ of kids was 103.4 in 2005. But there are huge differences among provinces. Someone think it’s caused by Iodine difficiency in some regions.What’s your idea?

I don’t think differences in iodine deficiency will be playing a major role nowadays. The link between iodine deficiency and IQ depression has been known for a long time now, and Communist countries of all systems are pretty good at solving problems like these!
*Most* countries have major differences between provinces. Moscow is about 2/3 S.D. higher than the Russian average. Northern Italy is 1/2-2/3 S.D. higher than Southern Italy. Recently, Kenya Kura found a similar north/south gap in Japan, which is rather surprising since Japan has a reputation as a homogenous country! China does not have a reputation as a homogenous country, so the fact that it has major differences in IQ between different provinces is not surprising in the least.
Shanghai and Beijing clearly enjoy a “cognitive clustering” effect. Everybody who’s anybody wants to go there (just like Americans want to go to NY or SF; Britons want to go to London; Russians want to go to Moscow; etc). But only the more intelligent and driven Chinese are capable of doing that, especially since China has barriers to urban migration in the form of the hukou registration system.
The far southern provinces have higher levels of admixture with the (lower IQ) pre-Han indigenous peoples, plus Clarkian/Unzian processes of selection for higher IQ would not have had as long a chance to operate there as in Yangtze/Yellow River “core” China. There might also be a slight environmental factor in the form of greater parasitic disease load in the south, but that is more speculative. Yunnan and Guizhou provinces (lowscoring) are also remote and landlocked and have lagged in the developmental process, so their IQs may also be additionally depressed by sheer poverty and great malnutrition (though malnutrition has long ceased to be a major problem in China overall).

My question about anime, china and japan was about how much china could exercise actual cultural influence in the West, like Japan did in the 90′s and 2000′s and still does to some extent in the form of Anime.

If cultural influence is a function of g, q, and GDP – namely, intelligence, creativity, and economic weight, as seems reasonable – then eventually Chinese cultural influence can be expected to massively outweigh Japanese cultural influence in the West.
What specific form that influence will take is something I have no idea about.


Balkan IQ

According to Lynn, Serbia’s national IQ is 90. Basically, all of the Balkans countries seem to have low, as in 85 to 90ish, IQs. But I’m struck at how low the Serbs apparently are in terms of IQ. Have you any experience with Serbs or Serbia? Are you inclined to accept or to doubt Lynn’s numbers?

I haven’t had many personal interactions with Serbs or South Slavs so I can’t say. Actually, even I I did, it still wouldn’t be of much validity, like all personal anecdotes. I knew one Kyrgyz woman who was very bright but Kyrgyzstan has an average IQ of ~75 (derived from PISA). So personal anecdotes aren’t worth much. I do not see any obvious reasons for why the figures for the South Slavs should be incorrect so I assume they are more or less accurate.
The Balkans in general have been Europe’s least-developed region for centuries. Serbia as late as 1913 had an illiteracy rate of more than 90%. This was far lower than the contemporaneous figures even in Russia or Portugal, the two most extreme non-Balkan laggards in Europe at that time. Since development and literacy are both somewhat associated with national average IQs, that would support the finding of low IQs for the Balkans.
JayMan’s theory on this is that whereas the northern Slavs had selection for higher IQs in the form of cold winters – village communities that were too feckless at longterm planning would simply starve to death and vanish off the map – there were no such rigorous selection mechanisms for higher IQs in the Balkans.

The Serbian IQ is that it isn’t much higher than that of black Americans, just 4 or 5 points higher, and yet they seem so much more civilized. Other Balkans countries, IQs are either a tad higher, the same or even lower (Albania) than blacks, and yet they too are more civilized. How can this be? Which other ethnic group has an IQ that is “4 or 5″ points higher than that of American Blacks?

Hispanics are basically civilized people. Ron Unz had an article a few months ago in which he statistically demonstrated that White and Hispanic crime rates were essentially the same. I currently live in a Hispanic majority area and don’t feel particularly unsafe.
There is more to civilization than just IQ.
I think with respect to American Blacks there are two things we have to keep in mind. First, what really characterizes them is their amazing levels of violence. Nicholas Wade suggests it might be linked to the 2R allele of the MAOA gene. South Slavs and especially Albanians have a reputation for being thuggish relative to other Whites, but they have nothing on Blacks in that department. As you correctly point out, you will be far, far safer anywhere in Belgrade than in Baltimore.
Second, the stereotype of the violent, low IQ Black is drawn primarily from the inner city ghettoes. It is an accurate enough stereotype, but note that those ghettoes consist of those Blacks too poor or feckless to move out of them. There are plenty of Blacks living relatively unnoticed in middle class suburban neighborhoods. If we’re talking of real hardcore 95%+ Black ghettoes with 50/100,000 annual homicide rates, the mean IQ there is probably more like 80 instead of 85.


Russian Economy, Society, Foreign Policy

Are there plans in Russian to seriously start re-building their industrial base (ie non-extractive economy)?

So you have to identify whether you mean “re-building their industrial base” in a statistical sense, or in the rhetorical sense that is often used in political debates in Russia.
In statistical terms, industrial output since 2008 has come close to peak USSR (RSFSR) levels. Let’s take a sectoral look. Light manufacturing (e.g. textiles) is now a small fraction of peak Soviet output, but that doesn’t matter much, since those are shit industries anyway (unskilled, low value added). Machine building, an important industry, is at 50%. Car production is TWICE higher relative to peak Soviet levels. Electronics production is substantially higher. Aerospace and military output has increased greatly in the past few years, but still lags Soviet peak output by a large margin. But the Soviet economy was massively distorted to favor heavy manufacturing, especially manufacturing with military applications. It is unlikely that Russia will be able to return to that kind of structure under a market economy that caters to consumer needs. Or whether it is even good sense to make that effort.
In terms of policy debates, there have been arguments by statist economists like Sergey Glazyev to use Russia’s accumulated oil funds to provide subsidized loans to strategic manufacturing sectors (amongst other suggestions). This is quite a radical suggestion that is unlikely to be adopted anytime soon since the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank appear to be run by monetarist hardliners. Unsurprisingly, the consensus of Western and liberal Russian economics commentators is that Glazyev is a madman. Speaking for myself, I do not feel I have the requisite expertise on the Russian economy or industrial policy to venture any firm opinions on this.

What are some things that the West (and America) do better than Russia? Also vice versa?

Relationships between strangers is a key difference in America’s favor (see
Britons are civil, but not very friendly. Russians are uncivil, but can become very friendly once you come to know them. Americans are both civil and friendly.
Overall I think Americans are more open to free speech and freedom in general, such as gun rights. This is, overall, a good thing (so long as society can handle it and American society can). Russians (and Britons, and Europeans in general) are very totalitarian in their attitudes towards gun rights and “hate” speech. I mean you can still easily get fired for voicing the wrong things in the US, but at least you won’t be imprisoned for it.
Needless to say, the average American is still far richer than the average Russian (though the gap isn’t as vast as it first appears due to purchasing power differences), and enjoys much better healthcare and higher education services. Moreover, contrary to eurofag propaganda, US healthcare and higher education is better than in almost all other European countries (e.g. just look at cancer survival rates across countries, or the national shares of Nobel Prize/Fields Medal winners). Of course both healthcare and higher education are an order of magnitude more expensive in the US, but the typical American, so long as he isn’t completely feckless, is usually able to afford them quite easily.
I might come off as highly anti-American in my blog postings but in general I really admire quite a lot of things about ‘Murica!
You can read a LOT more about my comparisons of Russia to the US (and Great Britain) here:

What is your opinion of the “Euro-Siberian” empire that some people on the alt-right (eg Guillame Faye) like to put forth?

Bismarck said that Europe is nothing but a geographical expression. Eurosiberia isn’t even that.
Broadly speaking, I support a Europe of independent nation-states. I do not see a problem with extending the common economic space across the Eurasian steppes, in a gradual, unforced way, and at a pace with which its constituent peoples are comfortable with. But I see no point in any grander constructs.

How do you see future relations between Russia and China?

No China isn’t going to conquer or otherwise “take over” Siberia. The idea is so absolutely fucking stupid but so many seemingly intelligent people appear to take it for granted.
China and Russia complement it each very well. Russia has the mineral and energy resources, China has massive economic and financial heft. There is a lot of scope for joint work in manufacturing and technology and increasing numbers of agreements are getting signed to that effect. Geopolitical disputes between them are minor and fade into insignificance relative to the problems both have with the US and its aggressively ideological approach to international relations.


Quick Rejoinders

You should do a “game” analysis of the major Russian writers and their works, it would be a great humorous read to supplement your usual serious articles. I can see it already: (Gogol – omega, Turgenev – beta-orbiter, Lermontov – shadow-alpha, Tolstoy/Pushkin – peak Aplha, Nabokov- alpha marriage)

“Return of Kings columnist” isn’t on my current list of career goals.

Have you considered getting a PhD in one of the many subjects that interest you and that you write so engagingly and intelligently about on

Why should I pay money to discredit myself?

Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.