Today’s Solutions: November 26, 2022

In the age of the internet, online drug sales are a major factor in the opioid crisis which kills 130 Americans every day. Now, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is using artificial intelligence to crack down on online drug trafficking. 

As you can imagine, this system is more complex than simply searching for keywords. UC San Diego professor Timothy Mackey was commissioned to create the technology which uses what he calls “deep learning” to track the behaviors and techniques of online sellers including popular hashtags, misspelled drug names, and code words. 

The technology can also be expanded to locate illegal wildlife traffickers, vaping products, counterfeit luxury products, and gun sales. AI allows the government and companies to find patterns within immense data sets and begin to filter through the haystack of the internet to find the needle of illegal activity. Companies such as Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have also said they are beginning to alter their algorithms to minimize illegal activity through their platforms. 

While the internet can be a beneficial information system, it also houses dark, illegal activity. Solutions in AI like this are making it easier than ever to track and stop illegal online activity earlier and even save lives in the process. 

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