Media ReleaseWalk Free15 Jun 2020

Artificial intelligence to assist in the fight against modern slavery

Walk Free is partnering with The Future Society to harness the power of artificial intelligence and develop a new tool to fight modern slavery.

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Project AIMS (Artificial Intelligence against Modern Slavery), funded by Walk Free, will produce a tool to analyse statements produced by businesses under the UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA), and, once reporting begins, the Australian Modern Slavery Act.

The tool will build on the work of Walk Free, WikiRate and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) to speed up the statement review process and increase transparency for consumers and businesses.

Walk Free’s European engagement lead, Katharine Bryant welcomed the collaboration with The Future Society.

“This tool will be an innovative way to hold companies to account,” Ms Bryant said.

“It means our teams can speed up the analysis of company statements and it will allow us to focus on the investigation of different sectors and highlight areas that require improvement.

“Going forward, this will lead to better disclosure of company action to tackle modern slavery in global supply chains.” Ms Bryant said.

Since 2015, the UK Modern Slavery Act has required companies making over 36 million pounds per annum, to report on the steps they are taking to eradicate modern slavery from their direct operations and supply chains.

From December 2020, under the Australian Modern Slavery Act, Australian companies making over AU $100 million per annum will also be required to produce a MSA statement.

According to the BHRRC Modern Slavery Registry, there are now over 16,000 published MSA statements in the UK. To date, Walk Free, WikiRate, and BHRRC have conducted analysis of these statements manually.

Nicolas Miailhe, co-founder and president of The Future Society, believes this new tool, once developed, will help increase efficiency, while being aligned with the best practices in terms of ethics-by-design.

“Project AIMS seeks to capture the potential of artificial intelligence to help solve pressing social issues in new ways, to ultimately uphold human dignity,” Mr Miailhe said.

“With this innovative machine learning tool, our goal is two-fold: empower civil society and legislators to hold businesses and governments to account; and pave the way for a new type of public policy and legislation, which embraces the full power of data mining and processing”.

Project AIMS will use the BHRRC Modern Slavery Registry to develop an algorithm to ‘read’ the statements produced by companies under the Modern Slavery Act. This algorithm will use metrics designed by Walk Free in line with the UK Government guidance. The new tool will be integrated with the WikiRate platform to enable ongoing human verification of the automated data collection.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation
Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with eight key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.
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