Andrey Zlobin, Ph.D., mathematician
It seems that officials are beginning to realize why import substitution and technological sovereignty are stalling. Official people are faced with the fact that any modern high technology requires advanced, fundamental and applied science. Whatever area of engineering and technology you take, simple solutions are not expected. Even just taking and copying something high-tech without science will not work. Without academicians, doctors and candidates of sciences, without a multitude of scientific schools, no technological sovereignty is possible in principle. You can make plans, proclaim high-profile undertakings, develop programs for technological revival, and appoint those responsible. The result will be the same - castles in the air and Potemkin villages, and, of course, trillions spent senselessly.
Take, for example, the aviation industry. Even the best designers will not be able to create an airplane or helicopter without the help of science. Let us recall Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovsky, whose scientific works determined the development of the entire world of practical aviation for a long time. Only highly qualified scientists are able to develop the necessary structural materials for an aircraft or its engine, carry out the most complex calculations of the working process, optimize the design, conduct full-scale tests, and provide the necessary resource. For example, in order to correctly design the most complex part of a modern aircraft engine - a cooled turbine blade, it is not enough to use CAD automation or so-called "digital twins". You need to have a full-fledged broad engineering education, an appropriate academic degree, a deep knowledge of many sections of physics, mathematics, and gain vast experience in working with iron and fire, not only in theory, but also in practice. This skill has been developed over many decades. Therefore, when you hear that we are going to start mass production of powerful aircraft engines or aircraft in a few years, you understand how unrealistic this is now.
Software is now called as another important area of import substitution. Again, you can hear the terms defined by several years. Apparently, even here the officials do not fully understand how complex the problem of the sovereignty of domestic software is. This is probably because no one wants to consult with academicians again. And it would not hurt officials to know that there are different levels of programming, and the so-called "hardware programming" has far from the last relation to sovereignty. Computer hardware in our country is predominantly imported. And no matter how wonderful programs Russian programmers write in the coming years, they will not be able to do without programming on foreign hardware for a long time to come. You can be deceived by the advertising paraphernalia of "import-independent" computer programs, beautiful on-screen interfaces, and inscriptions in Russian. But real import substitution of software will not happen in this case - at the level of computer hardware, microchips, domestic programs will still include a foreign technological basis. This is a bitter truth that they prefer not to mention.
What is needed for real import substitution in the field of software? And we need fundamental and applied science, which, first of all, will help create domestic computer hardware free from foreign "bookmarks". This is the only way to guarantee the real import independence of the software. It is up to big science and scientists to help revive the element base for the production of miniature electronic components, offer the most advanced architectural solutions for computers, and finally develop domestic programming languages that are not inferior to Western counterparts or surpass them. Russia needs its own computer industry, including the production of all the necessary electronics, without which any attempts to import software imports are a senseless Sisyphean labor.
These examples show that the toy measures taken today for the purpose of supposedly import substitution do not stand up to scrutiny. Attempts to patch holes in any areas of high-tech on the principle of a patchwork quilt are doomed to failure. Only a systematic, strictly scientific approach is able to provide real import substitution. The main role is given to fundamental and applied science. Officials no longer have time to think. As there is no time for imitation of import substitution.