During the previous month, we witnessed unexpectedly strong resistance of the military and people of Ukraine in the war with Russia, which is known as the world’s military superpower. No one could have foreseen such a development of events since Russia declared a military operation, and not a war (which would bring Ukraine under the control of Russia). In the future, we will be reading numerous analyses about how such a powerful and great Russian army is facing such a strong resistance of the Ukrainian forces. The source of the resistance can be found primarily in the brave hearts of soldiers, as well as owing to the advances of military equipment donated to Ukraine by Western powers during the last eight years. However, the Western powers have offered something more valuable – an open mind, that in the context of the exploitation of advanced technologies works as a key strategic advantage.
It would be difficult to ignore the results stemming from a union of the greatest Western and East-European intellectual endeavours. The Western system celebrates creativity and offers advanced technologies as a result, and the Eastern approach is resourceful and unburdened with bureaucracy. This union is a suitable ground for the development of the so-called “recombined technologies” that numerous authors describe as the foundation for the development of strategic and competitive advantages in the 21st century. To put it simply, the term “recombination” refers to new technological values emerging as a result of combining the already existing solutions. Recombination is a much faster and safer way towards solutions the application of which may be completely different from applications certain technologies were primarily intended for.
We may recall that the clashes in Ukraine did not start a month ago but in 2014. Parallel to the development of the situation on the frontline, spontaneously or not, an intense development of technology in Ukraine itself started, which, it will turn out eight years later, will often be a determining factor on the frontline. Ukrainians have carefully compiled a list of technologies that will be a priority in the development: pilotless vehicles, smart ammunition and IT solutions. All of the above corresponds to the framework of the Forth Industrial Revolution we are living in.
Although the potential of recombination is almost limitless, it is important to mention another technological specific feature of our era: advanced technology was being developed, especially in the West, for military purposes initially but after a certain time it got its civil dimension. The list of technological solutions we use every day and which were developed for military purposes is long. Radars, jet engines, GPS, as well as the Internet you are using to read this article, are only some of the technologies that followed the above-mentioned course of development. In the beginning of the 21st century, parallel to the invention of smartphones, this trend was “reversed” and today we are witnessing a “reverse transfer of technology” from civil into military industries. Owing to this, opportunities have arisen for a faster and much cheaper development of advanced technologies.
The list of Ukrainian products emerging as a result of this mindful approach and exploitation of the various benefits the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought is impressive. Especially interesting the People’s Drone project, the development of which was started by a group of young people who, in the beginning, used their own funds together with citizens’ donations before the state institutions recognized the importance of what they were working on and decided to participate in the project. Only two years later, the project resulted in the establishment of a respected company for the development of UAVs and its products are used today across the world. Aside from this company, at least two more companies for the development of small UAVs intended for different missions were founded in Ukraine. The UA Dynamics company is producing small kamikaze drones intended for eliminations of strategically important targets, whereas Skyeton is specialized for the development of surveillance long-distance airborne vehicles. A unit called Aerorozvidika has also been found and is exclusively tasked with operations related to operating UAVs and IT operations. Together with UAV solutions from Turkey and other countries, relying on its own production of airborne vehicles, Ukraine has managed to keep up the balance in the war with Russia.
It is quite certain that the greatest benefit from technological recombination and reverse transfer will be reaped by developing countries, i.e., those countries that enjoy cultural influences of both the West and the East, Bosnia and Herzegovina being one of them. The military and strategic success of brave and clever people of Ukraine is a practical example to support this claim. Aside from Ukraine, significant results in this field have been achieved by small Baltic countries such as Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, the populations of which do not exceed 6 million (Estonia 1.3, Lithuania 2.6, and Latvia 1.8 million people).
Owing to a solid industrial basis, a strong IT sector, and young people who possess a valuable experience in engineering, our country as well has a potential for the exploitation of the above-mentioned technologies. It is of crucial importance to undertake necessary steps and use this potential considering the fact that emerging technologies, through their advancement, soon become unreachable to small countries.