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Ukraine conflict ‘a bonanza’ for US military – NYT

The conflict has become a “laboratory” for the US military, a senior American general told the newspaper

The US military is reportedly using the Ukraine conflict to test a new artificial intelligence technology that helps detect targets on the battlefield using drone footage, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Dubbed Project Maven, research into the technology was initially picked up as a government contract by Google six years ago, according to the outlet. However, after pushback from engineers and employees, who did not want to take part in building an AI tool for military use, the tech giant stepped away from the project, which was picked up by other contractors.

Now, the technology is being tested on the front line in Ukraine, the NYT claims, as Western and Ukrainian officers, along with some of Silicon Valley’s top military contractors, are “exploring new ways of finding and exploiting Russian vulnerabilities.”

So far, the results of the testing have reportedly been “mixed.” While Project Maven allows commanders to identify the movements of Russian forces and use AI algorithms to predict their next steps, it has apparently been “difficult” to bring  “21st-century data into 19th-century trenches.”

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One of the main barriers, the Times said, is that due to restrictions imposed by US President Joe Biden, the US military can only provide Ukrainians with a “picture of the battlefield” without giving precise targeting details.

It is also unclear if the new technology would even be able to change the course of the conflict, given Russia’s ability to quickly adapt to technologies being used by the Ukrainian side.

“When new technology meets the brutality of old-fashioned trench warfare, the results are rarely what Pentagon planners expected,” the outlet said.

Nevertheless, the Ukraine conflict remains “a bonanza for the US military” in the minds of American officials, and a testing ground for rapidly evolving technologies.

“At the end of the day this became our laboratory,” Lt. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, who commands the US Army’s 18th Airborne Division, told the NYT.

Russia, meanwhile, has repeatedly decried increasing US involvement in the conflict. Moscow describes it as a proxy war being waged by Washington and its partners, using Ukrainians as “cannon fodder” to further Western interests.

April 24, 2024 at 12:40AM

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