Artificial intelligence helps abducted child reunite with family 27 years late
Artificial intelligence was responsible for something a little unexpected this week: It helped an abducted child reunite with his family … 27 years later.
Source: Fu Gui
The man, Fu Gui, only had limited memories of his childhood. Suspecting something might be amiss, he uploaded a photo of himself as a 10-year-old to the Chinese site Baobeihuijia, which translated into English means “Baby Come Home.” At first, there wasn’t a match. A few months later; however, his birth parents uploaded a photo of him as well, and the site’s AI was able to connect the dots and determine that the pictures were of the same person.
Tens of thousands of children are abducted in China each year. In the case of Fu Gui, he was abducted on his way home from school when he was six, trafficked to another town, and then sold to his foster parents. The site he used has been around for quite some time to help connect those children with their parents; however, the artificial intelligence feature was added just a few months ago.
A receptionist works behind the logo for Baidu.com, a Chinese language search engine, at the company’s office in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Powered by AI developed by China’s Baidu, which is in many ways the Chinese equivalent of Google,    the software is able to sort through all of the photos on the site and surface potential matches much faster and more accurately than a human could do. Baidu has been testing the technology since November of last year.    Before it was implemented, the site had to rely on volunteers who would look at the images and analyze similarities.
The technology is currently only able to connect the dots between photos that have been taken roughly six years apart. So, in this case, the key was that both Fu Gui and his parents uploaded photos of him as a child. Had he uploaded a picture of himself today instead, the software likely would not have worked. Since he uploaded a photo when he was 10, and his father used an image from where he was four, a match was able to be made.
After being matched on Baobeihuija, Fu Gui did a DNA test along with his birth parents to confirm the AI was correct, and he’s not the only one that has been reunited with their family thanks to the technology. Baidu says the technology is 99.77-percent accurate, which means there’s still a tiny bit of room for error, but a huge chance of success.    When it comes to finding a long-lost child, that increased speed and accuracy in pouring over thousands of photos can be invaluable.