AI chatbot poses as a young girl to trap pedophiles

Unless they relish the thought of being outed by a computer, pedophiles may want to stop searching for victims on Internet chat rooms.

Meet "Negobot," a bot created by Spanish researchers to detect online sexual predators by posing as a 14-year-old girl in chat rooms, Australia's Herald Sun reported.

"Chatbots tend to be very predictable. Their behavior and interest in a conversation are flat, which is a problem when attempting to detect untrustworthy targets like paedophiles. We have managed to produce a bot that varies its behavior over time and the course of the conversation," it quoted Carlos Laorden, a researcher at DeustoTech, as saying.

Initiated by the University of Deusto, the project stemmed from concerns about the growing online presence of children and limited success of traditional ways to track sex offenders.

The report said the bot may already have its first job this early, with the Basque Country police force showing interest in adopting it.

Up to seven "personalities" can be programmed into the bot, and it adjusts its behavior as conversations become more intimate or suggestive.

However, the report said the AI is not quite perfect yet: it may have trouble detecting human quirks such as irony.

Conversational agent

The software uses game theory to simulate a young girl, and even remembers what it had discussed previously, so chatmates think "she" is real.

It even uses typos on occasion to convince others that it is human.

The Herald Sun said Negobot starts out as a fairly passive and neutral participant in an online chatroom where a suspected pedophile is believed to be lurking.

It will choose tactics like appearing offended or insistent to attract attention. A suspect who tries to get personal information from Negobot will prompt it to attempt to find out more about them.

Laorden said the most dangerous pedophiles are very careful about giving out information.

"These days it is sufficient to obtain a social network profile, mobile number or email address, information that is provided to authorities in order to open an investigation," he said. — TJD, GMA News

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