Ukraine employs ChatGPT and 3D printing to develop drone explosives.

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The Revolutionary Role of Technology in the Ukrainian Conflict

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been far from a short-lived conflict. As time goes on, we are witnessing the increasing role of technology in this Eastern European battleground. While major players in the weapon tech industry are making a significant impact, it is the ingenuity of Ukrainian amateurs that is capturing attention. Thanks to trending technologies like 3D printers and ChatGPT artificial intelligence, these enthusiasts are designing custom “candy bombs” that have proven to be game-changers in the defense of Ukraine.

It is remarkable to note that there are about 200 small groups, both inside and outside of Ukraine, who are contributing to the creation of explosive ordnance. These groups are driven by their fierce enthusiasm to protect their homeland. However, this multitude of bomb variations may not be the most efficient approach. Consequently, efforts are now being made to streamline bomb types and production methods.

The casing or container of a bomb is a crucial component that is not easy to acquire. However, it can be readily manufactured by 3D printing enthusiasts. The Economist recently interviewed two such individuals who utilize 3D printing technology to produce bomb cases to be dropped by drones. One individual, known as Lyosha, and his team in Kyiv, came up with the ‘Rabbit’ bomb. Weighing 800g (1.75 pounds), this anti-personnel bomb impressed with its ability to cut through wooden planks effortlessly.

The Ukrainian military has requested 1,500 ‘Rabbit’ bombs per day, but the production team can currently only manage 1,000. Another fascinating example is the ‘Big Egg,’ created by a Polish volunteer group called the Wild Bees. The Wild Bees contribute the body and tail for this 27cm (11-inch) bomb, which is then imported to Ukraine disguised as harmless ‘candy holders.’ The military then adds shrapnel and explosives to enhance its effectiveness.

What makes these custom bombs even more intriguing is the involvement of artificial intelligence. Ukrainian bomb-makers have turned to ChatGPT for assistance in improving their designs. While recent regulations have restricted ChatGPT’s ability to offer advice on illegal or immoral activities, it appears Ukrainian bomb makers have utilized this AI for engineering tips. Although specific gains in bomb design attributable to AI assistance are not explicitly mentioned, it is worth noting that some bombs have incorporated shrapnel material that creates superheated plasma jets, ideal for penetrating armor. Remarkably, these anti-armor drone-payload bombs weigh only around 500g (1.1 pounds).

While having 200 different groups producing unique bombs fosters innovation, it may be time to assess which bombs perform best to optimize production efficiency. This evaluation is currently underway. However, it is important to acknowledge that even less efficient weapons are still crucial when faced with an aggressor. In this ongoing conflict, any weapon is better than no weapon at all.

The role of technology in the Ukrainian conflict is revolutionizing warfare. From 3D printing to artificial intelligence, Ukrainian amateurs are driving innovation and empowering their defense efforts against the Russian invasion. As the conflict persists, it will be fascinating to see what further technological advancements emerge on the frontlines.

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