Hype about artificial intelligence is reaching its apex. The media has raised awareness and advanced acceptance, but as fears are set aside, expectations rise. Tim Estes discusses two customer use cases at Digital Reasoning that use AI to help fight two extremely destructive problems: Nasdaq, which found a way to use AI to help safeguard financial markets, and Thorn, which found a way to use AI to combat human trafficking and rescue children. Their stories stand in stark contrast to the unfulfilled claims of other AI companies and pundits, settling the question of whether or not the technology can truly deliver on its promise of a better world.
Nasdaq, best known as an operator of financial markets, is also the leading provider of technology used to protect the integrity of marketplaces around the globe. Determined to help ensure the credibility of the markets, Nasdaq wanted a better way of identifying the perpetrators of financial fraud and market fixing. The solution lay in the revealing language of trader’s communications. Using AI to analyze the company’s communications in context made sense of its coded language. Combining these insights with analysis of trading activity means intentions as well as actions can be monitored and understood.
Now, financial scandals, from the fixing of the Libor to the “London Whale” and the rigging of the forex markets, can be quickly uncovered, stopped, and prosecuted, without putting the financial markets at risk. The new approach has set the benchmark for the next generation of surveillance technology, but Nasdaq believes the impact will be even more pervasive, explaining, “Holistic surveillance means corrupt traders will know they are likely to be caught, dissuading them from committing crimes and, potentially, taking them out of the industry.”
Thorn, a nonprofit that combats human trafficking, is committed to helping law enforcement rescue sexually exploited children. The challenge confronting Thorn was how to identify and rescue children posted within the 150,000 escort ads that are produced online every day in the United States. The task of sifting through this information exceeds human capacity, so Digital Reasoning used AI to read the online ads with human-like skill but at vast scale to see past concealed and obfuscated meanings. Built into a tool called Spotlight, now used in all 50 US states, AI identifies exploitative ads by identifying indicative language, connecting disparate data sources, and providing deep investigative tools that help to clarify the historical and full geographical reach of a victim’s trafficking situation.
This approach has reduced investigation times by 60% and contributed to the identification of 6,325 victims nationally. Thorn is clear that AI has empowered law enforcement to identify and assist trafficked children by turning huge volumes of data into an asset. Amy, an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security, commented, “The makers of Spotlight are exceptional human beings who have done a great thing for humanity.”
Tim Estes is the president and founder of Digital Reasoning, a leader in trusted cognitive computing. Driven by the belief that all software can learn and that all people should have access to it, Tim and his team work closely with leaders in government and industry to solve extraordinarily valuable and morally compelling problems in national security, finance, healthcare, and other markets by automating the understanding of human communication.
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