Ukraine is using facial recognition to track down the families of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict

With the help of modern technology, the war between Ukraine and Russia took on a psychological side that was difficult to anticipate just a few years ago, with the mothers and wives of Russian soldiers sent to the front finding anonymous phone calls about the reality of the war.

Officially, the strategy is justified as a necessary measure to bring the Russian population into contact with the reality of the war, given that the quasi-total censorship imposed by the Kremlin power deprived the families of soldiers sent as “cannon fodder” on the Ukrainian front even the most basic information about the situation and the activities undertaken by family members. Thus, it is easy to anticipate how harsh a phone call received from an unknown number can be, informing the wife or mother of the soldier about his death, fighting for a cause that has been clarified only through propaganda television.

Controversial, the use of facial recognition technologies provided by the American company Clearview AI could become the 21st century equivalent of the nuclear weapon, in the idea that no individual government or soldier can hide his actions behind a wall of anonymity. that any horrors and war crimes can simply be passed on to the “name” of the political leader from whom it all started.

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In the 21st century, Russian soldiers who kill without discrimination and commit rape in a foreign country can be recorded on surveillance cameras, or on the phones of survivors. They are documented when they send war loot to the post office, or tracked down in their own home when they try to use stolen electronics from looted homes.

Inevitably, the conflict between modern technology and the methods of the last century in which the war in Ukraine is waged has raised a situation that balances the primitive barbarism with which Russian soldiers understood to fulfill their oath to their homeland, with the need to draw a line between the right action of informing a censored population and the trauma very easily compared to an act of revenge, in which the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities inform dryly, then confirm with explicit pictures, the murder most often terrible of a close family member.

The problem is that, given the chosen mode of communication, many Russian family members could interpret the gesture of the Ukrainian authorities as an act of revenge, meant to ensure that any event in which Russian soldiers are killed at the front is reflected in the suffering greater, felt by family members. In the absence of full-scale news channels, it is easy to anticipate how the gesture of the Ukrainians can be manipulated and reinterpreted, portraying the Ukrainian resistance as an act of cruelty to the “liberators” sent by Russia.

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Clearview AI chief executive Hoan Ton-That told The Washington Post that more than 340 officials from five Ukrainian government agencies can now use his tool to search for facial recognition whenever they want, free of charge.

Clearview employees are now conducting weekly training calls with new police and military officials who want to gain access to technologies so easily applicable in the information war.

In addition to the controversy surrounding the use of this technology, there are reports that not all facial scans are performed like a book. Especially in the case of very mutilated soldiers, the matches made by AI algorithms could also make mistakes, with terrible consequences for families who are misinformed about the loss of a family member.

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