Much of the illegal trade in apes now takes place online, with traffickers posting pictures of baby animals for sale. ChimpFace, a newly developed software, uses an algorithm to determine if chimpanzee faces in images posted by traffickers match up with images later posted to social media accounts. Its creators hope the matches the program turns up will aid Interpol or local law enforcement in tracking and prosecuting people illegally buying and selling wildlife. The global spread of social media has created unparalleled opportunities for wildlife traffickers to advertise their illicit wares to potential buyers around the world. Traffickers can use platforms like Facebook or Instagram not only to post pictures of animals for sale, but also to expand their networks thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven algorithms that suggest friends and groups. Social media, and AI, can also be valuable tools for conservationists and law enforcement. Networks of algorithms trained to spot patterns can mine data, identify objects, or even spot signs of sex trafficking and other crimes in images. One of the best-known, and most controversial uses of the technology is facial recognition, in which programs use biometric markers to identify people in digital images. In conservation, AI […]

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