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Human Trafficking

Justin Simonds


As many of your readers might know, I have been on a campaign to get HPE and specifically the High Performance Computing (HPC) Artificial Intelligence (AI) organizations to work with NonStop to discover and start to eliminate this horrible crime.  Maybe some background first.

Stopping human trafficking will require a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach that addresses the root causes of this crime, protects and supports victims, and holds traffickers accountable. Some of the key strategies to stop human trafficking include:

  1. Prevention: Raising awareness about the issue, identifying and addressing the root causes of trafficking, and strengthening laws and policies that prevent trafficking from occurring.
  2. Protection: Providing support and services to victims of trafficking, including legal, medical, financial and mental health services.
  3. Prosecution: Holding traffickers accountable by enforcing laws and increasing criminal prosecutions of traffickers.
  4. Partnership: Collaborating with a wide range of organizations, including governments, law enforcement, non-government organizations, and the private sector, to develop and implement effective strategies to combat human trafficking.
  5. Data collection and research: Collecting and analyzing data on human trafficking to better understand the problem and develop evidence-based solutions.
  6. Addressing demand: Targeting and reducing the demand for goods and services produced through forced labor and sexual exploitation.

It is important to note that stopping human trafficking requires sustained and coordinated efforts from government agencies, non-government organizations, Business, especially financial services and communities, as well as individuals, to create any lasting change.

How big a problem is this? Estimating the amount of money generated by human trafficking is difficult due to the illegal and covert nature of the crime. However, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that human trafficking generates billions of dollars in profits each year, with estimates ranging from $150 billion to $180 billion. I have heard the $150 billion number, which seems to come up often and is the default figure but that estimate was done back in 2011 and I haven’t seen any subsequent estimate performed.  Assuming linear growth I suspect the amount is closer to $300 billion annually. The majority of this revenue comes from commercial sexual exploitation, with forced labor and other forms of exploitation accounting for the rest. If you see charts you will see that forced labor exceeds the sexual portion by percentage but more money is made on the commercial sex side because the ‘product’ can be sold multiple times a day. These estimates do highlight the scale and scope of human trafficking and the need for continued efforts to prevent and combat this crime.

HPE had executives, including Antonio Neri, at this year’s WEF (World Economic Forum).  The theme of this year’s annual meeting was “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” the event often focused on the role of technology in addressing global challenges, and data and AI were at the center of these discussions, according to some internal briefings we had.

According to a senior executive at HPE, Artificial Intelligence was one of the most talked-about technologies at Davos. HPE was promoting our leadership capabilities and global directions. From fighting wildfires and climate modelling to accelerating renewables or helping law enforcement reduce crime/human trafficking, AI-at scale can help. HPE wants to take part in opportunities linked to these global challenges.

I certainly was glad to see that human trafficking had been discussed at Davos and by HPE since I have been promoting this for almost a year.  Just to recap a bit NonStop, according to HPE market analysis has 65% of the payments market worldwide.  You can’t keep hundreds of billions of dollars under your mattress.  That money is going through banking systems.  Unfortunately that means it’s going through NonStop systems.  This is where NonStop can be a reliable and indispensable source of data for AI systems attempting to detect money laundering, and specifically human trafficking.  There are both known patterns and developing patterns that need to be discovered as we fight this worldwide pandemic of slavery, which is what human trafficking is at its core.

In the United States, several government agencies are involved in combating human trafficking, including:

  1. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): This agency is responsible for investigating and enforcing federal laws related to human trafficking.
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): The FBI plays a key role in investigating human trafficking cases, particularly those involving minors and forced labor.
  3. Department of Justice (DOJ): The DOJ provides resources and support for law enforcement agencies and victim service providers, and it is responsible for prosecuting human trafficking cases.
  4. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): HHS provides services to victims of human trafficking, including medical care and counseling.
  5. Department of State (DOS): The DOS works to combat human trafficking through international cooperation and partnerships, and it also provides support to foreign governments and organizations working on anti-trafficking efforts.

These agencies often collaborate with non-government organizations, such as NGOs and community-based organizations, in the efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking.

I’m hoping in the coming year to explore possibilities with these agencies from our federal group and to continue pushing for a complete solution which may involve several of our partners.  So thank you for reading and stay tuned.

Justin Simonds,
HPE Master Technologist