Ukraine Uses ‘Controversial’ Artificial Intelligence Tech In Its War Against Russia As Kiev Looks To Win The ‘Digital War’

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has demonstrated how technology may play a significant role in modern warfare. While Ukraine’s military force isn’t as strong as Russia’s, it does employ cutting-edge technology to its advantage. 

It has been observed that Kyiv is aggressively utilizing social media to weaken Putin’s forces’ morale.

However, it does not stop there; the country is now employing facial recognition software to identify Russian personnel killed in action and notify their relatives of their deaths. 

The country’s vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who also heads the ministry of digital transformation, told Reuters that Ukrainian officials had been utilizing Clearview AI.

It is a software that uses facial recognition to discover the social media profiles of deceased soldiers, which authorities then use to notify relatives and arrange for the bodies to be recovered.

“As a courtesy to the mothers of those soldiers, we are disseminating this information over social media to at least let families know that they’ve lost their sons and to then enable them to come to collect their bodies,” said Fedorov.

He wouldn’t say how many bodies were identified using facial recognition, but he said that the percentage of recognized individuals claimed by relatives was ‘high.’

Ukraine is getting free access to Clearview AI’s powerful face search engine, which is also allowing officials to screen suspects at checkpoints, among other things, said  Lee Wolosky, an adviser to Clearview and former diplomat under U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

File Image: S-125-Neva Air Defense System

Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That told Reuters that his company had access to more than 2 billion images from the Russian social media service VKontakte, out of a total database of more than 10 billion photos. 

That database, Ton-That said, can assist Ukraine recognize the dead more quickly than matching fingerprints and functions even if there is facial damage. Decomposition hampered the technology’s effectiveness, according to research for the US Department of Energy, but a study from a 2021 conference revealed promising outcomes.

Clearview’s database is more extensive than PimEyes, a face search engine that goes through the Internet to find pictures containing given faces, owing to the VKontakte images, according to Wolosky. 

It’s thought that this technology is needed in Ukraine since there’s a lot of debate about how many Russian military servicemen have been killed in the conflict.

Last month, a Russian tabloid published and subsequently deleted an article claiming that about 10,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began, far more than had been reported previously. Later, the tabloid claimed that it had been hacked. 

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy in the Donetsk region in June 2021. (Wikimedia Commons)

Controversy Around The Software

While technology adds new dimensions to military conflicts, it also opens the door to the prospect of online harassment. Furthermore, many governments and people all around the world are already unhappy about Clearview AI’s privacy practices. 

Clearview’s actions prompted public criticism and a broader discussion about privacy standards in the age of cellphones, social media, and artificial intelligence. Personal privacy, according to critics, is being eroded by the firm. 

Clearview was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois for violating a legislation that prohibits the gathering of biometric data, and the corporation is also facing class-action lawsuits in New York and California. Facebook and Twitter have also demanded Clearview to stop collecting data from their sites.

Also, the company was fined $22 million by Italy for violating EU consumer privacy regulations, and the software company was required to remove all of its data on Italian people. The company was also ordered to stop storing all user data by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office and French authorities.

Several reports have also questioned the company’s facial recognition technology’s dependability. It is uncertain how reliable the new techniques are, experts believe they could raise the possibility of a person being incorrectly recognized and worsen systemic prejudices. 

The company, on the other hand, claims that the software’s accuracy is highly trustworthy. According to Ton-That, tests have shown that the additional tools boost Clearview’s accuracy.

Ukrainian civilian Tractor pulling a Russian Tank – Via Twitter

“Any enhanced images should be noted as such, and extra care taken when evaluating results that may result from an enhanced image,” he said. 

Meanwhile, it appears that the company has already amassed a sizable user base. Foreign police departments and governments, as well as private firms such as Macy’s and Walmart, are said to have tested Clearview’s technology. 

The business has previously stated that it is not currently pitching the technology to private enterprises or outside the United States. Ton-That explains, “We’re focusing on the United States because we want to get it right here.” “We never want this to be abused in any way.”

Regardless of how reliable the technology is, it gives the Ukrainian army a new tool with which to prosecute information warfare against Moscow.