Psychological warfare has been a common tactic in conflict throughout history, however, with the advent of modern technology, the Ukrainians are taking the strategy to a whole new level thanks to the technological backing of the United States.
According to The Washington Post, the Ukrainian government, led by Volodomir Zelensky, has begun using US facial recognition technology to scan and identify the faces of dead Russian soldiers so they can then contact the families of the deceased – specifically the mothers – in order to horrify them and foment anti-war sentiment among Russian citizens.
In all, the Ukrainian government has run over 8,600 facial recognition scans on dead or captured Russian soldiers since the war began. The operation has been carried out by the country’s IT Army, which is made up of “a volunteer force of hackers and activists that takes its direction from the Ukrainian government.” The clandestine group says it has used the positive identifications obtained from the US-based technology to harass the families of 582 Russian soldiers.
The Ukrainian communications to the horrified family members included sending them photos of the abandoned corpses.
From the Washington Post:
“The country’s IT Army, a volunteer force of hackers and activists that takes its direction from the Ukrainian government, says it has used those identifications to inform the families of the deaths of 582 Russians, including by sending them photos of the abandoned corpses.
The Ukrainians champion the use of face-scanning software from the U.S. tech firm Clearview AI as a brutal but effective way to stir up dissent inside Russia, discourage other fighters and hasten an end to a devastating war.”
But some military and technology analysts worry that the strategy could backfire, inflaming anger over a shock campaign directed at mothers who may be thousands of miles from the drivers of the Kremlin’s war machine.”
Clearview AI’s technology has primarily been used in the US by federal and local law enforcement in investigations. The tool works by comparing photos of suspects or witnesses (or anyone else) to see if they match with any others in the Clearview database, which includes over 20 billion images from the internet, according to the Washington Post.
However, in Ukraine, the Clearview mobile app is reportedly being used to scan the faces of soldiers live on the battlefield. It has been such a ‘success’ that the company’s chief executive officer, Hoan Ton-That, bragged that Clearview AI is holding “daily” training calls with new police and military officials who are looking to begin using the system.
As of now, there are more than 340 officials across five Ukrainian government agencies who now have access to Clearview’s facial recognition technology, with more being added daily. Anyone trained in the system can access it 24/7 and use it as much as they want, free of charge, according to Ton-That.
The technology is so powerful and efficient that Ukrainian officials are apparently experiencing “oh, wow” moments when shown the tool because of the sheer amount of data produced when looking up individuals with the system. Everything from family photos and social media posts, to relationship details and personal information, can be found using a single photo of someone’s face, the Washington Post explained.
The technology brings an entirely new tactic to modern-day warfare.