Ethical AI technology funded to support modern slavery survivors

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Trilateral Research |

Date: 13 April 2023

Researchers on project RESTART (Reporting Experiences of Survivors to Analyse in Real-Time) have been given the opportunity to work directly with survivors of modern slavery in a research project to better understand their support needs in the UK.

RESTART will use innovative AI technology to generate insights to better support people affected by modern slavery through advising on policy recommendations to the government to improve support for survivors and the legal, health, welfare, and housing system in the UK. It is funded by the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy & Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC), which in turn is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

RESTART uses AI technology, including natural language processing capabilities, to analyse statements made by survivors in real-time. The information used in the AI solution comes from two different sources, the first is from a pre-existing database of survivor testimonies and case notes held by national survivor support charity Causeway. The second is a mobile app developed specifically for this research project, to which modern slavery survivors will input their insights on their well-being and support needs including the type of provisions received through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – which identifies and supports people with lived experience of modern slavery in the UK.

“Even though we as survivors have been through a lot, having opportunities like this to use what we went through to improve the current system and help others is very important and empowering.”

Modern slavery survivor

The survivor testimonies will be analysed by a web-based application called ‘Honeycomb’, which has been developed by Trilateral Research. Honeycomb will analyse large quantities of data to find key patterns, trends and insights into survivors’ recovery to produce robust recommendations for policymakers.

The research team is a collaboration between Aberystwyth University, survivor support charity Causeway, Ethical AI company Trilateral Research (TRI) and FiftyEight, which addresses modern slavery in business supply chains. The close collaboration and expertise of survivors in RESTART is central to the research project’s success and relevancy.

”We’re delighted to be funded for RESTART together with our partners. The AI technology will allow us to provide crucial and accurate data on how to tackle modern slavery and advise on best policies and practices in the UK. Significantly, it will allow us to identify the current and evolving needs that people with lived experience of modern slavery tell us they need to recover and thrive”.

Prof. Ryszard Piotrowicz, Principal Investigator, Aberystwyth University

“Policymakers need high-quality evidence to make the changes needed in policies to protect people from modern slavery in the UK. RESTART will bring together leading researchers, technology specialists and, importantly the expertise of people with lived experience to provide data that is robust, accurate and innovative to drive forward and at pace the solutions we need to address modern slavery in the UK.”

Prof. Alex Balch, Director of Research, Modern Slavery PEC

“The project has the potential to create a paradigm shift in engagement with those with lived experience of slavery, empowering marginalised and vulnerable people to simultaneously have greater influence over their own path to recovery and wider policy change.”

Phillip Clayton, Head of Research and Development, Causeway

Research team: Prof. Ryszard Piotrowicz, Principal Investigator (Aberystwyth University), Phillip Clayton, Head of Research and Development (Causeway), Dr Julia Muraszkiewicz, Head of Programme for Human Trafficking and Human Rights (Trilateral), Quintin Lake, Co-founder, and Director (FiftyEight).

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