By Jeffrey Dastin
PALO ALTO, Calif. (Reuters) – Data analytics company Palantir is “responsible for most of the targeting in Ukraine,” Chief Executive Alex Karp said, elaborating on the U.S. company’s work with Kyiv since Russia’s invasion last year.
Its software helps Ukraine target, for instance, tanks and artillery, a Palantir spokesperson said.
The remarks are some of Karp’s most direct yet on how Palantir, which got its start two decades ago supporting U.S. intelligence services, is aiding Ukraine’s war effort.
Karp was the first head of a global business to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of the country. The company, whose co-founders include Karp and investor Peter Thiel, has opened an office in Ukraine.
Last month, at an event Palantir hosted in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said technology allowed real-time tracking of the war’s developments.
Ukraine has compiled information on enemy troop movements in a situational awareness system such as Palantir’s, based on which its military decides a course of action, Fedorov said.
Palantir has marketed its software as a way to quickly determine resources to deploy, taking in feeds from satellites and social media to visualize an army’s positions, or making expansive data files easier to query.
Asked about artificial intelligence (AI) that can generate content on its own, technology that has been the talk of Silicon Valley, Karp said that ethics needed to be considered before deploying software that could take independent action.
“There are huge ethical issues on the battlefield,” he said at an event Palantir hosted in Palo Alto. “If you use an algorithm to generate a military decision and it goes wrong, who’s responsible?”
Palantir recently signed a 75 million pound ($91.4 million) deal with Britain’s Ministry of Defence.
It also sells technology to other government agencies and enterprises. The company is expanding its work with Japan’s Sompo Holdings Inc 8630.T through a five-year, $50-million deal announced Wednesday, which will help the insurer and care provider address social issues like aging, its top digital officer Albert Chu told Reuters.
Japan is a “very high priority” market for Palantir including in defense, another Palantir official, Kevin Kawasaki, said in an interview.