In the world of internet technologies, Russia is giving Silicon Valley a run for its money. The documentary Inside Russia's Creepy, Innovative Internet, produced by Bloomberg as part of their Hello World series, takes a tour through some of the country's most cutting-edge efforts, and the figures who make it all possible.
The journey begins with Dmitry Grishin, the co-founder of a Russian internet corporation called the Mail.Ru Group. Grishin's real passions lie in robotic gadgetry, and his work runs the gamut from drone-driven shipping technologies to the BB8 character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. These accomplishments have garnered the adoration of other giants from his field who reside in the United States who are all clamoring for his particular brand of invention. But given the rise of tech entrepreneurship currently taking place in his homeland, he feels compelled to remain where he is for the time being.
The spirit of innovation has led to the creation of many tech start-up companies in the region. Several of these are profiled in the film, including endeavors related to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. While the talents behind these efforts are progressive in their approach to the possibilities of technology, they often find themselves at odds with a government that monitors their every move. The Kremlin has set forth a series of laws that restrict the freedom of the creators, and they've put equally prohibitive walls around their country's virtual activities.
Historically, Russia has fallen far behind the rest of the world in their adoption of the internet. The film shows us how this all changed in 2012 when the web became a galvanizing forum for protestors to express their opposition to the re-election of President Vladmir Putin. In response, the government began exterminating these opposition sites, and worked tirelessly to recreate the internet experience only in the image they chose to project. The film shines a spotlight on the hacking community that attempts to thwart these oppressive tactics, and the large cybersecurity firms who walk a tightrope between serving international clients and occasionally bending to the will of their government.
Inside Russia's Creepy, Innovative Internet provides an intriguing look inside a landscape where this generation's tech revolutionaries struggle to thrive within the confines of an oligarchy.