The CEO of Acronis, a reputed global technology company, talks on the future of computers and opportunities

Ugyen Penjore

Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing. Sounds too technically sophisticated and way beyond comprehension?

If that was what most in the audience felt when invited to a talk on “Future of Computing”, the guest speaker, Serguei Beloussov, left many convinced that the future is in science and technology.

Serguei Beloussov is the Chief Executive Officer of Acronis, a reputed global technology company and the founder of Schaffhausen Institute of Technology (SIT), Switzerland.

 Bhutan should take advantage of its smallness and use it as an opportunity to get ahead in the field of science and technology, said Serguei Beloussov, who is also a serial tech entrepreneur. Drawing examples of Switzerland where his company SIT is located and Singapore where he is currently based, he said Switzerland was a small poor farming country before it started precision manufacturing. Singapore, he said, transformed from a small poor country to one of the wealthiest nation based on science and technology.

 “The smallness is not a threat. It is an opportunity. Science could be the future for Bhutan,” he said.

 In technology and science, the number of people, he said, was not important. “It is about having smart people. Albert Einstein in one year did more to science than all the 30million PhD holders did in 50 years,” he said. Bhutan, he added, has the advantage given its culture and ethics. “In science and technology, ethics matters.”

 On the importance of quantum computers, Serguei Beloussov, who is also the first man to bring cyber protection to motorsports, said the world was becoming digital whether we want it or not. “The world is transforming from primarily a physical world of the past to the digital world of the future. The world is now about Internet of things, next generations computers, big data, virtual reality and space exploration.”

 On how and where Bhutan could start, Serguei Beloussov, said IT is an amazing field where everything changes every 10 years. “There is no way that you are behind because there are many aspects to IT that are new. You can just start new and will be starting fresh with everyone else,” he said.

 Serguei Beloussov said real-world problems need computers to solve it. “The problems of aging and diseases, environment and global warming, social justice and poverty could be solved with better computers,” he said. “If we have the right computers, we could predict the problems of the universe. Quantum computers are a reality and there are amazing features to solve once unsolvable problems.”

 The digital world, however, is fragile and needs security. Therefore, cyber protection has become the basic need in the digital world. “Without cyber protection, we cannot continue in the future just like we cannot continue living without immune system. Immune system for the digital world is cyber protection.”

 The CEO said cybersecurity was a priority for Bhutan too.   “There is no choice. Whether you wan to be happy or unhappy, you have to have cyber security as you have gone digital,” he said. “For Bhutan, cyber security is more important given our geographic location.”

 On the apprehension that supercomputers or building the next generation of computers would require resources, human and material, Serguei Beloussov said science and technology are not really difficult or complicated as many believe although a lot of symbols and technical data are involved. “Sixty years ago when people were using information theory and computer science, it was for scientists. Today, it is for everyone. Quantum physics actually simpler than classical physics. In fact, it is not harder to learn it than arithmetic,” he said. “300 years ago, only the priests could read and they are considered special people. Today everybody could read, write and count. This is no harder.”


GNH and the digital world

 Calling himself a believer in knowledge, Serguei Beloussov said that knowledge could make people happier when asked about how the drive for technology featured in the concept of Gross national Happiness. “I believe that without knowledge, you will be unhappy. And so, if you are refusing technology, it’s effectively refusing knowledge.”

 Bhutanese, he said, were a lot happier than others, but the ranking was not high on the happiness ranking. He pointed out issues related to unemployment. “People want employment. In my country, we have 100 percent employment and people are happy. I don’t think you can argue that you want to have less jobs,” he said.

 On GDP, Serguei Beloussov said the world cares about GDP.  “People want to be having higher levels of life. Everybody wants to have a nice house, live longer lives, they to be sick less,  get better education,” he said.

“In my opinion, if you increase the life of a person, you provide them better education, better schools, better healthcare, better roads, better food, better environment, cleaner forest.”


IT hub in Bhutan?

 At the talk, the CEO said that SIT was considering establishing a South Asia campus in Bhutan. Although it is at an initial stage, the founder of SIT said that leveraging on IT could create high-end jobs, attract high-end tourists and promote local industries and the government.

 He said that just 10,000 IT jobs in the country could add about 30,000 non-IT jobs, develop Bhutanese tech companies and add about Nu 3Billion to the GDP.

 He also said that SIT campuses could create leaders. The first approach for a SIT campuses in the country would be approaching Cyber security, Atificial Intelligence and machine learning, software engineering and robotics in the field of computers.

In the field of business, the approach is on digitilising health, new generation business management, digital sports digital learning and education and artificial intelligence in arts and design.

The talk on Tuesday, February 11, was organised by His Majesty’s secretariat at Taj Hotel, Thimphu.