January 31, 2020

Do Russians Dream of Electric Sheep?



Do Russians Dream of Electric Sheep?
Fun fact: the 1921 Italian movie "The Mechanical Man" was the first film to feature a fight between robots. AlejandroLinaresGarcia, Wikimedia Commons

A recent survey of Russians has found that, despite widespread knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI), few understand the technology itself.

The study, conducted by VTsIOM (ВЦИОМ, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center), records that 75% of Russians have heard of AI. However, only 29% were able to define it, while 38% could name its applications. 

Overall, though, Russian opinions towards AI are positive, with only 12% of respondents reporting negative feelings towards the technology, and 68% unconvinced that AI will take their jobs.

By contrast, Americans tend to be more apprehensive. But we, too, are a little confused. So until we come to a consensus of what we should look out for, be wary of Alexa saying something like, "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

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Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

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Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
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The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
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This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
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