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Meet Susie Hargreaves and her team.
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) hunts down child sexual abuse images online and helps identify children involved so that law enforcement can intervene. While the recent pandemic has triggered greater numbers of child abuse images, CEO Susie Hargreaves and her team are fighting back with a new piece of tech.
Defenders of Digital episode one: Internet Watch Foundation
COVID-19 has fuelled a disturbing increase in child sex abuse material online. Our latest Defenders of Digital series begins by introducing Susie Hargreaves's team at Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and explores their mission to make children safer. It also looks at how the pandemic has moved the goalposts and the new tech making a difference.
Where it all began
Formed in 1996 in response to a fast-growing number of online child abuse cases, IWF's 155 members include tech's biggest names, such as Microsoft and Google. They're united by the common goal to rid the internet of child sexual abuse images and videos.
Online child abuse is a growing issue
The pandemic has made the issue of online child sexual abuse material more acute. During lockdown in the UK alone, IWF says 300,000 people were looking at online child sexual abuse images at any one time. What's worse, the material is always changing.
Self-generated content: A dark twist
IWF has recently seen a worrying rise in self-generated sexual abuse material, chiefly among girls age 11 to 13. The victim is groomed or coerced into photographing or filming themselves, which the sexual predator captures and distributes online. In the past year alone, the proportion of online content they're removing that is self-generated has risen from 33 to 40 percent.
New tech making the difference
There are encouraging developments helping IWF with their work. Microsoft's PhotoDNA analyzes known child exploitation images, finds copies elsewhere on the internet, and reports them for removal. It helped IWF remove 132,700 web pages showing child sexual abuse images in 2019. How does it work?
PhotoDNA scours the web for matching images
First, PhotoDNA creates a unique digital fingerprint of a known child abuse image, called a 'hash.' It compares that fingerprint against other hashes across the internet to find copies. It reports copies it finds to the site's host. It's a fast and ingenious way to shut down child exploitation.
Help stop child sexual exploitation: Report abuse images
Internet users who have stumbled across suspected child abuse images and reported them to IWF have been instrumental in starting a process that's led to many children in abusive situations receiving help. If you see an image or video you think may show child sexual exploitation, report it anonymously to IWF.
Because they know what they're talking about.
The prevailing wisdom is that the fast pace of automation, digital change and AI (artificial intelligence) will soon leave most of us jobless. Talking with some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs around the world, not one agreed with this dark premonition. Rather, they pointed to a different kind of future we should prepare for.
Breaking our addiction to devices and social media<p><a href="https://simby.com/" target="_blank">Simby</a> is a fully personalized, wearable AI technology that aims to break our addictions to our devices and social media while still giving us all the benefits of being digitally connected. Co-founder and head of product Andrew Doherty believes technology should benefit our lives and do no harm, and that users should have full control of their data. This 'sassy best friend' is still under development but coming soon.<strong></strong></p>
The buzz around Beep<p>Organizations can be as buggy as bad software, with minor frustrations putting a damper on everyone's concentration and creativity. Doing something about these problems can feel like swimming upstream, especially when management doesn't understand how much energy small annoyances suck out of their staff.</p><p>Katz Kiely is part of the team behind <a href="https://wearebeep.com/" target="_blank">Beep</a>, a system that rewards and recognizes people for raising problems and finding solutions in their business. It puts leaders in touch with their employees' real challenges, flattening the hierarchy and reconnecting people with meaning in their work.</p>
Growing a business like a garden<p>Author and tech entrepreneur Aaron Dignan knows exactly how hierarchy and bureaucracy hold back progress in business. He gleaned this wisdom from in-depth study of organizations known for adapting to change and getting fast results, like Spotify, Burning Man and Basecamp.</p><p>He's not only published these findings for the benefit of other entrepreneurs in his popular 2019 book <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brave-New-Work-Reinvent-Organization/dp/024136180X/" target="_blank">Brave new work: Are you ready to reinvent your organization</a>? He's also founder of <a href="https://theready.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Ready</a>: An 'operating system' that helps businesses change their culture and see themselves <a href="https://medium.com/the-ready/the-operating-system-canvas-420b8b4df062" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more as a garden than a machine</a>.</p>
Smartening up the factory<p><a href="https://cloudnc.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CloudNC</a> is bringing safety and accuracy to factories with AI and autonomous manufacturing. Their clients manufacture parts for air travel, space exploration and defense, among other industries, where perfection is necessary every time.</p><p>Full automation in manufacturing also allows for on-demand production. This option is in high demand since COVID-19 has made the global market and labor supply hard to predict. Co-founder Theo Saville says <a href="https://cloudnc.com/an-interview-with-theo-saville-forbes-europe-2019-manufacturing-industry/" target="_blank">making manufacturing more environmentally sustainable is also top of CloudNC's agenda</a>.</p>
Blockchain on the farm<p>Agriculture is one of the fastest-changing industries on the planet, while soil depletion, habitat loss and methane emissions come to the fore in the public consciousness. Farmers often face little choice in how they operate because they're time-poor, isolated and face high set-up costs for change.</p><p><a href="http://www.agriledger.io/home/" target="_blank">AgriLedger</a> Founder and CEO Genevieve Leveille wants farmers to get the best price for their hard work, giving them more choice and making sure doing better for people, animals and the environment pays dividends. Using blockchain, AgriLedger brings users benefits like supply chain traceability, market information and access to finance.</p>
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