It is easy to think that slavery has been consigned to the pages of history but unfortunately that is far from the truth. According to the International Labour Organization, almost 21 million people are currently victims of forced labour.
There are people and NGOs out there trying to free them, however, and they have a brand new space based weapon to help them out. A project called Slavery from Space based at the University of Nottingham, in the UK, is teaming up with online volunteers to fight a particular type of slavery. They want to teach AI how to spot Asian brick kilns from satellite imagery.
Across South Asia there could be as many as 50,000 brick kilns employing an estimated 5,000,000 workers. Almost 70% of these workers are working under force.
The hope is that this machine learning approach will lead to more accurate reports being passed to local NGOs who can then investigate the supposed sites for slavery. Volunteers are presented with images taken from Google earth and so far over 5,000 potential slavery sites have been discovered. Once the project is complete the AI will be set to detect the kilns automatically.
Work has already begun on the next stage of the project, which will see a similar technique being used to root out open pit mines in countries like the Democratic republic of Congo. These are also notorious for being sites of forced labour.
Slavery is still very much a modern problem but it seems that there are plenty of modern solutions out there to fight it. If you want to join that fight and start fighting slavery from space you can check out the project’s website here.
Via: New Scientist