Mark III Systems Blog

NVIDIA GTC in DC Life Saving Technology

The Nvidia GTC conferences – my favorite times of the year!  Some of the greatest minds in AI come together to show off the work they are doing on Nvidia GPUs or the research into AI that they are conducting.  For an AI fanatic, it’s a brain overload!

In November, I attend the GTC conference in Washington, DC.  Though this conference is significantly smaller than its sister conference in San Jose, it was still packed full of fantastic presentations.  The main terms I heard over and over were BERT and PyTorch.  BERT is taking the NLP world by storm and PyTorch is quickly gaining momentum and market share among AI/ML/DL frameworks.  In this post, I’m going to highlight one of the sessions that stood out to me. In fact, it was possibly the most meaningful and even life-changing presentation I have ever seen at a conference.

Robert Pless, Department Chair & Patrick & Donna Martin Professor of Computer Science at George Washington University, presented a talk entitled “Explainable Deep Learning to Fight Sex Trafficking.”  In the talk, he discussed a project he is conducting with the FBI and that is currently in use by the National Center for Missing and Exploited.  The project is very simple and elegant, and is having a major impact in helping to stop or prevent crimes against children.

The goal of the project is to be able to identify, down to the specific hotel room, locations where sex trafficking is happening.  His team has developed an app called “TraffickCam.”  With the app, you can take 4 pictures of a hotel room that are then stored in an image database.  These images can then be compared to images that law enforcement officials gather from the Internet or other sources in their trafficking investigations.  By identifying distinctive regions that occur in both images, they can identify the specific room where the photograph was taken.  From this information, law enforcement can target their investigation much more specifically.  As of the presentation time, there are ~356,000 images from ~32,000 hotels in the database and this number is growing.  However, this dataset is only able to identify the correct hotel room in 8-35% of the searches.  How can this number increase -- more data!  I have already added images of 3 hotel rooms since I heard the talk.  You can help increase the number, too.

While this topic is quite disturbing, I am incredibly excited to see AI being used in such a helpful and life-changing manner.  AI sometimes gets a bad rap, particularly about privacy, but this project is proof that it can change the world for the better.  If you haven’t already, please download the app from the App Store or Google Play.  It takes less than one minute to take the photos of your hotel room.  This one minute can change someone’s life forever.  For more information on the project, you can click here or visit their Facebook page.

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