The civil war in Ukraine continues and we hear a lot about military action, but behind the scenes the country seems to be evolving into the world's technology research and development laboratory.
Time reports that Palantir Technologies is integrating its software into the daily operations of the Ukrainian government, using AI to analyze data from various sources and provide military options to commanders.
This technology is used for more than just intelligence gathering on the battlefield. It also helps collect evidence of war crimes, clear landmines, resettle refugees, and root out corruption.
Building the technology sector
Palantir isn't the only technology company helping Ukraine. Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Starlink have all contributed to the nation's defense by providing protection from cyberattacks, moving critical government data to the cloud, and staying connected.
Controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI has provided its tools to Ukrainian authorities, who are using them to identify Russia's presence in their country.
Cooperation between foreign tech companies and Ukraine's military is driving new kinds of experimentation in military AI, leading to major changes in the nature of warfare, Time magazine says. While some view the introduction of AI tools with skepticism, Ukraine and its private sector allies are engaged in the long game of creating a military research institute for the future.
The potential impact this will have on the world is enormous. In disputes over software and AI, technology companies can wield significant power as independent actors. This can lead to breakthroughs that ignore legal, ethical, or regulatory norms, and these new tools risk falling into the hands of adversaries.
Ukraine has been working to build a technology sector that could not only help it win the war, but also become a pillar of its economy in the future. CEOs of technology companies, defense councils and business summits have been targeted with messages that Ukraine is open for business. The reaction has been positive, with investors launching funds to invest in Ukrainian startups and defense technology companies setting up shop in Kiev.
But tools from companies like Palantir and Clearview raise complex questions about when and how invasive technologies should be used during wartime, and how far privacy rights should be enforced. Despite these concerns, Ukraine continues to serve as a living laboratory for AI-enabled systems, leading to major changes in the nature of warfare.