Simon O'CorraJun 17, 2022
“It's like being given an iPhone 13 and only being able to make phone calls,” said Sergeant Pysanka, clearly exasperated.
Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Natalia Yernak, New York Times, 6th June 2022.
This Ukrainian soldier is talking about an influx of state-of-the-art Western weaponry, and in particular a high-range tech finder that uses laser technology to measure distances. The problem, though, is that few know how to use the advanced technology finding its way to Ukraine, including this tech finder. This places the country at a disadvantage when it comes to driving back the Russians.
Conversely, Russia has equally advanced technology and knows only too well how to use it, with devastating effects on the people and buildings of the Ukraine. There is talk of the Russians using a kamikaze drone called a KUB-BLA, which may possess AI that can target and smash into buildings, detonating an on-board explosive. It is thought that at present this drone requires manual targeting, but Russia is believed to be upgrading to an AI version.
KUB-BLA Kamikaze Drone
In March 2022, Ukrainian authorities announced that a KUB-BLA, which has only been operational for a year, came down on a house in an historic part of Kyiv, fueling speculation that the Russians may have been targeting a specific individual, which in turn has raised fear that this drone with its one kilo of explosive packed with lethal metal ball bearings may be used to target President Zelensky. KUB-BLA was introduced in 2019 by ZALA Aero, a subsidiary of Kalashnikov, makers of the AK -47.
[The Lancet] is a smart multipurpose weapon, capable of autonomously finding and hitting a target. The weapon system consists of precision strike component, reconnaissance, navigation and communications modules. It creates its own navigation field and does not require ground or sea-based infrastructure.
Gregory C Allen, CSIS 26th May 2022, Quote from Kalashnikov.
With Russian soldiers deserting in droves, it is likely that Putin may deploy these two drone systems to gain a military edge. However, blocking devices are under development, so any advantage may be short-lived.
Technology is at the forefront of this invasion, expediting the murder of civilians and soldiers alike and targeting buildings of all kinds, including cultural icons. Thankfully Ukraine has drones from the US and possibly Poland, which seem to be stemming the Russian advance.
Both combatants possess technology for warfare. But what of technology as a tool for restoration?
3D printing is nothing new, and in fact has been in existence since the 1980s, but this novel use will help Ukraine save as much of its cultural infrastructure as possible from the Russians. Polycam, which makes a 3D scanner app for smartphones, set up Backup Ukraine in collaboration with other international bodies.
3D image of a building
The major advantage of this project is that anyone with a smartphone can download the free app and photograph anything of cultural value. The company announced it would store those images for five years.
A Ukrainian citizen using Polycam to record a bronze bust
Despite the risks of venturing outdoors in Ukraine, the app offers not only a way to restore cultural artefacts but also a way for the Ukrainian people to hold onto their shared history via digitized images, according to the company.
Digitized 3D image of a church
These 3D images of Ukraine will be stored in the cloud and as the company says, no bombs can reach them there. A true innovation!
Another exciting development is the possibility of recreating entire buildings using 3D printers, layering slices of a building's infrastructure much as a builder might have done originally. In 2015 a 50-story apartment block was created using a 3D printer. The technology is not just for the restoration of small artefacts.
A 3D printed building in Spain
Ukraine has already taken steps to save its heritage, wrapping immovable statues in protective anti-explosive materials and transporting cultural artefacts from museums and galleries to secret underground locations. But what a joy to have the support of technology companies.
It may not be possible to recreate icons such as the Cathedral or Theatre in Mariupol, but Ukrainians are moving to save the remaining intact cultural artefacts and buildings. There is hope at last, something for Ukrainians to hold onto, in these devastating times. Technology for good is providing a counterweight to the destructive technology of warfare and could prove to be another thorn in the side of Putin and his grand schemes for annihilation.
Simon O'Corra has been a creative since childhood, working in theatre and film and also as a designer and artist. He now combines all these skills to write monologues, duologues, short and feature films and plays. He also has experience in the following: copywriting, research, mind mapping and brainstorming, script editing and mentoring. Simon is a people's person and is a great networker. He currently has a range of short and feature films in development and plays also awaiting production dates post-Covid.