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Although the brutality and inhumanity of war has not changed for thousands of years, wartime technologies have evolved in new ways that are shaping Russia’s war on Ukraine. While electronic warfare has defined the 21st century battleground, the proliferation of misinformation against entire populations of people has made the war in Ukraine much more complicated. In particular, the use of artificial intelligence and notably machine learning technologies have driven many of these attacks. Let’s talk about how these technologies are changing and expanding the field of battle in Ukraine.
To help us understand how these technologies are used in the war, I asked
One of the most profound changes that AI technologies have brought to the war in Ukraine are the kinds of people fighting the battles.
“Now that AI is part of this informational war, many IT workers wound up becoming warriors on the cyber battlefield”
“They’re not fighting with bullets and munitions, but instead with data.”
There are a few reasons that Evgeniy suspects are responsible for us reaching this point. “War has become more intelligent than ever, and western nations have become more and more reliant on technology,” he says.
“Importantly, the reliance of entire populations on the Internet and social media platforms for news is a perfect storm for misinformation campaigns and social engineering.”
Another important thing to note is that AI has advanced a great deal over the past few years. According to
Aggression in the invasion of Ukraine on the digital front has utilized artificial intelligence in ways not seen before in a war of this scale.
However, another dimension of the war is the use of AI to spread misinformation and attempt to manipulate the population on social media by Russian forces. “Russian forces are using fake accounts with
“Since these images are unique and lifelike, they are less likely to be identified as bots.”
These deepfakes usher in a completely new generation of propaganda war as these fake accounts spread pro-Russia and anti-Ukrainian content.
An important and dire example of the use of
As reported in Tech Monitor, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)’s Senior Fellow for Cyberspace and Future Conflict, Greg Austin, believes that Vladimir Putin did not put enough resources into his cyber offensive, meaning that no substantial gains have been made by Russia’s cyberattacks.
Indeed, a more effective strategy would have been to utilize electronic warfare as the United States did in the Gulf War, utilizing EW aircraft like the
In response to Russian aggression, Ukraine has a number of means to defend itself through
“Ukraine has a powerful and fast-growing information technology industry,” Evgeniy describes. “Our strong education system allows for people to jump right into an IT position at a company like MobiDev right after they graduate from university. For sure, they still have much to learn, but with the solid background and the right guidance, they’re on the right track”. Indeed, Kharkiv alone has
“One of the most valuable digital tools available to Ukrainians in this war is Diia,” Evgeniy says, showing me his phone. ‘Diia’, which translates to ‘Action’ in English, is an app created by the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation that launched in 2020.
According to Bloomberg, over a third of the nation uses Diia. Although it allows citizens to digitize their documents, it also has another key feature to help promote safety and security during the war.
A key feature of Diia is that access to the application is restricted behind facial recognition. Using artificial intelligence, the app verifies the user’s identity based on whether or not their face matches what they have in their database. Modern facial recognition technologies are also armed with anti-spoofing methods that are used to prevent defeating biometric security.
With chatbots, Ukrainian citizens can report Russian troop movements and attach images and videos. “
“By utilizing chatbots, the Ukrainian government can handle large quantities of user-generated reports much more efficiently.”
With the illegal Russian attack on Ukrainian soil and numerous human rights violations occurring across the nation, it has become more important than ever to collect data on Russian activities and their actions. Evidence of war crimes can be used during future judicial cases and reviews of the events of the war, bringing justice for those who have suffered over the course of the conflict. Already AI technology is being used to identify war criminals who committed atrocities in
One way that artificial intelligence is helping in this effort is through facial recognition, which is being used to identify Russian casualties.
“AI is uniquely suited to handling facial recognition tasks”
Evgeniy continues. “By using social media platforms as a database and matching the images with photos taken of these soldiers, it can become easier to identify who they are and return the bodies to their families.”
Another important ability that enables artificial intelligence to assist the war effort is speech recognition. By taking intercepted radio and phone communications between Russian forces and analyzing them with
“This works by training the algorithm of the program with recordings of people speaking. The more training data you have, the more accurate are your results with the final product.”
This has been used to analyze numerous Russian communications over the course of the war. It’s possible that these communications may be used in the future to try Russian forces for war crimes.
Although unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been in use for over a decade, their accuracy, scope, and number have increased substantially. Advances in artificial intelligence technologies have made these weapons more autonomous than ever, able to recognize and engage targets based on data they receive from cameras and sensors.
Bayraktar’s software enables UAVs to detect objects on the ground from the aircraft’s tail camera. Not only that, their software allows for enhanced automatic control of the aircraft and continuous learning from each flight.
This technology doesn’t just apply to military-grade UAVs. Consumer drones like DJI’s fleet are widely available. These can be used by civilians or even military operators to
The cyber attacks committed by the Russian government and its supporters may be a nuisance, but they are serious. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Ukraine’s strong IT sector and the ‘IT Army’ and its allies, these attacks are little more than a nuisance. In response, Ukraine’s efforts to utilize artificial intelligence technology to empower citizens to support the defense of their nation are an inspiring reminder of the importance of standing up against injustice.
With AI and machine learning tools being used to identify the perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine, justice can be achieved for the families affected by these tragedies.
“The future of warfare is a chimera of physical and digital tactics, and that future is with us right now here in Ukraine,” Evgeniy says. “Not only will we continue to defend our homes with weapons and armor, but also with information.”