There have been messages of support for the Ukrainian people from all over the world. Beyond these friendly messages, legal experts are mainly analysing this Russo-Ukrainian conflict from an IHL (International Humanitarian Law) perspective, deploring the humanitarian situation and the military operations that are currently taking place.
This conflict could also involve an IT (Information Technology) dimension since AI has demonstrated that it can influence the outcome on the battlefield. Accordingly, Russia has been somewhat eager to develop such a technological capacity. For instance, an article from Politico recalls that “Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict has been Putin’s testing ground for AI technology. In Syria, Russia used different types of [drones] at different ranges to provide them with around-the-clock situational and informational awareness about combat, and this capability has been perfected across numerous drills and exercises in the Russian military”.
AI may be used for a wide variety of purposes in war. AI techniques can act as a reliable intelligence tool because they enable a vast amount of data to be processed quickly. Disinformation may spread faster using algorithms and bots. From an operational perspective, AI-driven drones can also strike defined targets. The implications of AI for security are almost endless.
Against this background, the Center for AI and Digital Policy, a non-profit organisation based in Washington DC, issued a statement on March 1st 2022 supporting the Ukrainian people and alerting the World as to the dangers that AI might pose during the conflict. In particular the Center “call[s] attention to the danger of Artificial Intelligence techniques that promote propaganda, enable cyberattacks, and make possible automated warfare”.
These AI-induced threats include promotion of pro-Putin propaganda and the use of autonomous weapons. Finally, the statement highlights the fact that it is the responsibility of both States and Tech companies “to monitor the use of algorithmic techniques for disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, and automated warfare”.
This statement has so far been endorsed by dozens of scholars and IT professionals around the globe.
MELISSA HEIKKILÄ, “AI: Decoded: Putin’s high-tech war — Making sense of AI systems — Deepmind controls nuclear fusion reactor”, Politico, AI Decoded, February 23rd 2022, available at: https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/ai-decoded/putins-high-tech-war-making-sense-of-ai-systems-deepmind-controls-nuclear-fusion-reactor-2/
SATAVISA PATI, “Bot in Arms: Autonomous Drones in the Russia-Ukraine War”, Analytics Insight, February 28th 2022, available at: https://www.analyticsinsight.net/bot-in-arms-autonomous-drones-in-the-russia-ukraine-war/
“AI thinkers grapple with modern war”, Protocol, February 25th 2022, available at: https://www.protocol.com/newsletters/protocol-enterprise/ai-russia-ukraine-zendesk-momentive?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1
“Statement on Russia’s Unjustified and Unprovoked Attack on Ukraine”, Center for AI and Digital Policy, March 1st 2022, available at : Statement on Ukraine – Center for AI and Digital Policy (caidp.org)