The tool, codenamed Project Artemis, is designed to look for patterns of communication used by predators to target children. If these patterns are detected, the system flags the conversation to a content reviewer who can determine whether to contact law enforcement.
Microsoft's chief digital safety officer, who oversaw the project, Courtney Gregoire wrote in her blog that Artemis was a "significant step forward" but "by no means a panacea". Of course not, Artemis was a goddess of hunting and the moon and panacea was a goddess of healing. Mess those two up and you will get turned into a wild boar, shot with an arrow, or get a nasty rash.
Gregoire said: "Child sexual exploitation and abuse online and the detection of online child grooming are weighty problems. But we are not deterred by the complexity and intricacy of such issues."
Microsoft has been testing Artemis on Xbox Live and the chat feature of Skype. Starting Jan. 10, it will be licensed for free to other companies through the nonprofit Thorn, which builds tools to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. The tool comes as technology companies are developing artificial intelligence programs to combat a variety of challenges posed by both the scale and the anonymity of the internet. Facebook has worked on AI to stop revenge porn, while Google has used it to find extremism on YouTube.