Relativity, a global legal and compliance technology company, kicks off the first day of its annual Relativity Fest conference with the debut of its documentary On the Merits: Labour Trafficking, which explores the role of data and AI in disrupting human trafficking in supply chains examine.
The documentary aims to help viewers understand the motivations of human traffickers, the role of data in enabling and preventing abuse, and how AI and public-private partnerships can curb human trafficking. The Relativity film, in collaboration with the Human Trafficking Institute (HTI) and SaaS company Supply Chain Risk Management, and Relativity partner Exiger, features in-depth interviews with technologists, labour representatives, supply chain experts, prosecutors and human trafficking survivors.
Forced labour in the global supply chain
According to the International Labour Organization, approximately 21.2 million people were trafficked in 2021. Forced labour has long been an endemic problem in global supply chains. Suppliers, contractors and subcontractors create a complex web that makes it difficult to detect labour trafficking.
The documentary tells the story of human trafficking survivor Ronny Marty, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic with a promise that he would get a good job. However, he soon found out that he was being misled. While working in the manufacturing company that employed him, he was intimidated, wages withheld, and threatened with deportation and violence against his family, which tied him to inhumane working conditions. In the documentary, Marty shares his harrowing story of how he escaped and is now campaigning for human trafficking awareness.
“Ronny’s story of escaping human trafficking is extremely inspiring, but unfortunately unless we move upstream to stop the traffickers, they will prey on more and more victims,” said Victor Boutros, CEO of the Human Trafficking Institute. “People sometimes think that trafficking victims need to be physically restrained or coerced by traffickers, but traffickers use a variety of threats and tactics to coerce trafficking victims and create a climate of fear that scares them or it makes it difficult for them to report human trafficking crimes to the authorities. That’s why it’s imperative that we create specialized anti-trafficking law enforcement units and arm them with the skills and data they need to more effectively proactively find and arrest traffickers and protect their victims.”
Using AI to fight human trafficking
Public-private partnerships increase the quantity and quality of data used to train AI, exponentially accelerating the ability of law enforcement agencies or consultants like HTI to find critical patterns in a sea of data that could indicate human trafficking. In some cases, HTI reported that it can take her team up to six months to comb through data that AI could weed out in seconds.
“With a problem as large and widespread as human trafficking, time is of the essence,” said Brandon Daniels, CEO of Exiger. “The use of AI to provide real-time supply chain visibility to identify labour trafficking is a game changer. We’re revolutionizing the previously unmanageable process of uncovering red flags of modern slavery in a sea of commercial activity, ultimately helping to save lives. It inspires our work to know that we have concrete examples where we have worked with our clients and stopped traffickers.”
Exiger works with the world’s largest corporations, banks, government agencies and NGOs like HTI to use AI processes like machine learning and natural computing to discover insightful patterns and find the signal in the noise. Models created by running open-source data through AI algorithms help find outliers in business practices or patterns that may indicate abuse, allowing investigators to infer potential trade practices and prevent them before they happen.
“Many companies are thinking about taking risk management a step further,” said Daniels. “Partnering with NGOs like HTI is a moral good that we as a company – which are just a collection of people – believe in. It’s not just the risk of financial loss that needs to be considered