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Emerging trends: How AI’s helping to check abuse, exploitation of children

By Emmanuel Elebeke

By Emmanuel Elebeke

Joelle Casteix is a renowned child rights advocate who co-founded the Zero Abuse Project meant to end sexual abuse of children.However, when she envisioned the project, she did not figure that Artificial Intelligence (AI) would play a role.As a founding member of  Zero Abuse Project, Casteix had been working on legal and regulatory aspects of sexual abuse of children. Out of Zero Abuse Project she created another, called Project G.

Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence

Project G is a tool that identifies risk factors of predatory behaviours, not only on predators who prey on children, but those associated with the cover up of sexual exploitation.During the recent  ITU  AI for Good Global Summit, Casteix explained that when she decided to build a database to catalogue and index records of abuse by institutions, she realized that she needed a powerful tool to make sense of the data.She said: “We never thought AI would be a part of our mission.

I was working to figure out how to make organizations and institutions safer for kids. Our number one goal was to build a database, something where, if we needed the information quickly, we could rely on. So, we met a contact here through a friend of ours, Neil Sahota, and he said: “I think what you need is a little more than a database”. That was how I was introduced to AI,”

She recalled that the contact insisted that by using Artificial Intelligence, Project G, a new initiative from The Zero Abuse Project would bring to light trends and risk factors that threaten children’s safety.According to her, “The goal of our non-profit is to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation globally, no matter the form of that exploitation.

Today, with the tool we are aware of various behaviours and also use AI to find patterns that we have never thought possible to protect more and more children from  abuse. It’s an amazing and  fascinating tool , because it helps show us what a predator looks like.” Casteix  explained that these new advances in machine learning and AI are allowing researchers to identify patterns in data sets never before seen.In the US, referrals to state child protective services involve  around 6.6 million children each year and around 3.2 million of those children are investigated.


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