How Can Artificial Intelligence Help Stop Human Trafficking?


    How can artificial intelligence help stop human trafficking? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

    Answer by Emily Kennedy, Founder & President of Marinus Analytics, on Quora:

    With the advent of the Internet, we now live in an age where so much of life is happening online. When I was studying sex trafficking back at Carnegie Mellon in 2011, we saw huge websites like Craigslist and Backpage emerge, and the sale of sex move online. Although the majority of ads on those sites are for at-will sex workers, we knew that sex traffickers also were using those platforms to advertise their victims against their will. We see everything from the low level trafficker who has one or two victims, to the organized transnational criminal network who sells tens or hundreds of victims on these platforms.

    And so back in 2012, we thought there was a huge opportunity to use AI for good to help law enforcement sift through this massive amount of data to find victims—the needles in the haystack. We deployed the first version of Traffic Jam in 2013; it’s an AI-based investigative tool that sifts through the hundreds of millions of online ads and applies AI to them to help detectives find patterns that help quickly recover victims and dismantle organized criminal networks.

    For example, facial recognition can enable a detective to use only a photo of a 15 year old victim to identify where she is being sold online and ultimately lead to recovery. Pattern and image recognition can enable analysts to search with a photo of a hotel room, and recognize patterns like a bedspread that help law enforcement find multiple victims pictured in the same location.

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