Researchers create new software help prevent online sexual predators

The artificial intelligence program will help keep predators from reaching children in person.

Posted: Sep 26, 2018 6:11 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The fight against child sex crimes frequently circles back to technology and the internet. Now, a pair of Purdue researchers are creating a new way to prevent online sexual predators. The artificial intelligence program will help keep predators from reaching children in person.

The program helps determine who would most likely be a contact offender. These are individuals aiming to eventually meet children in person.

1 in 25 children in the US received an online sexual solicitation where offline contact was attempted. That's according to the National Online Sex Predator Website.

A group of Purdue researchers and students are starting to develop a computer software to prevent this from happening. It's called Chat Analysis Triage Tool, or CATT. They hope it helps police find these types of predators.

Purdue Professor and creator Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar explains the concept. "If an agency has ten cases they're going to be able to quickly run our analysis and it's going to tell them which chat has a more dangerous predator,” said Seigfried-Spellar.

CATT uses a term called natural language processing. Purdue Professor and co-creator Julia Rayz explains the concept. "It takes communication and natural language between humans and attempts to help the modules where a computer can understand what the conversation is all about,” said Rayz.

The technology looks into online interactions between children and adults when needed. "It's going to be a specific case where a CATT is bought into an agency. Say a parent walks into a police station and says "I found out my child has been chatting with someone online,” said Seigfried-Spellar.

The tool can guide police in the right direction. "If a police officer has a case that they are working on with these chats, the tool will make classification based on whatever the police officer is interested in,” explained Rayz.

CATT is expected to provide self-suggestions such as key words. The researchers hope to have this tool become readily available to police departments nationwide. "They do need help, they are overwhelmed with all of these cases. Whatever we can give them to assist is great,” said Rayz.

The researchers will present more on the tool at Purdue's Dawn or Doom conference in November.

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