There has been a recent awareness into the scale of the human trafficking problem in Canada and multiple police task forces have started in 2017 across the different provinces to target human traffickers. The multi-million online “escort” advertisement markets are operated on classified advertising websites and social media platforms. These platforms are easy-to-use and low-risk for human traffickers, allowing them to remain anonymous and operate on a wide geographical range. On the other hand, it is possible to develop data-driven techniques for tracking human trafficking in these platforms. In this talk, Reihaneh will overview the recent efforts in this direction including work on automating the case building process, where they help an investigator to connect the dots more efficiently when analyzing millions of ads. She will continue by discussing the current challenges we face in this domain, and discuss the future work directions towards designing an AI system that proactively searches and analyzes the available data and help us in combating this global problem.
Reihaneh Rabbany is an Assistant Professor at the School of Computer Science, McGill University. She is a member of Mila— Quebec’s artificial intelligence institute, and a Canada CIFAR AI Chair. Her research is at the intersection of network science, data mining and machine learning, with a focus on analyzing real-world interconnected data, and social good applications. She has contributed to more than 20 peer-reviewed research papers, published in top-tier conferences and journals. Before joining McGill, she was a Postdoctoral fellow at the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, and completed her Ph.D. in the Computing Science Department at the University of Alberta.