Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Eliza Bleu went to the Vans Warped Tour with some friends. After meeting a photographer, she set her sights on the big city of Los Angeles, a far cry from her humble beginnings in rural Illinois.
When she got to LA, her visit wasn’t exactly what she expected it to be. It turned out that the photographer she had met was actually a recruiter for a human trafficking ring, and Bleu found herself in the middle of a trap, not knowing how she would get out.
Eliza was sex trafficked for nine years total before gaining the courage to attempt an escape one night from her apartment. Now, she is a survivor advocate and a voice for those who don’t have one. Her primary focus is fighting to alleviate the highly-concentrated number of websites that harbor child sexual abuse and human trafficking materials. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, in 2019, there were nearly 17 million reported cases of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), 94% of which were found on Facebook and its platforms. According to The New York Times, there were over 45 million photos and videos of children being abused online in 2018, doubled from the previous year. Big Tech has a major problem with human trafficking material shared on social media websites, she says.
Fighting human trafficking imagery and videos isn’t going to be successful through human intervention alone; things move too quickly. Human intervention and current technology are not capable of tackling a problem of this scale. Bleu, who came across Tesla and Elon Musk a few years ago, believes that the key to ending online exploitation lies within a company with cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence capabilities, brilliant engineers, and software that can filter harmful imagery faster than it can be uploaded. She believes that company could be Tesla.
“AI can save people from being trafficked,” Bleu says. “Human trafficking has moved predominately to a digital platform, and the tech space needs to get involved in the fight.”
“If traffickers saw Elon working on this issue, they would be terrified of the possibilities,” Bleu said in an interview with Teslarati.
While many websites have filters that try to remove some of the content once it’s been uploaded, it isn’t a 100% fix because most content slips through the cracks. Since so many sites with massive amounts of traffic have accessible imagery, it will be a difficult fix. However, Bleu believes that some real progress can be made if the right team is working on the issue. It starts with software and AI development that would have the ability to filter out harmful content. Once child sexual abuse and sex trafficking material are reduced online, it may lead to the beginning of the end of human trafficking as resources can be refocused to the fight on the ground.
Bleu knows it’s an uphill climb, and she knows that it will be difficult. But, her motto is a quote of Elon Musk’s, and every day she reminds herself that just because the odds aren’t in your favor doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”
“I think about Elon a lot because my mission, to me, is the equivalent of getting to Mars,” she adds. “It seems impossible, and I know the odds aren’t in my favor. But, I think it’s important, and I think it’s worth fighting for.”
Bleu was a speaker at a recent Tesla rally in Atlanta, Georgia, which raised money for the fight against human trafficking. She traveled to the event on her own dime and took time away from her day job as a human trafficking survivor advocate to speak at the event to raise awareness for this important issue.
Tesla has always been a draw to Eliza because of how brilliant the company is. Its research has culminated into an automotive empire that goes far beyond building a car frame and putting wheels and a motor on it. It’s about the brain of the vehicle, and Bleu thinks that there is enough talent at Tesla to take on the task. Additionally, AI is already being used to combat human trafficking, as described in the article from Forbes. Survivors are also learning to code through the Annie Cannons nonprofit program, and many choose to work on solving this problem (Wired).
Even after survivors of human trafficking are given the opportunity to be set free, the battle doesn’t end there. They may still be harassed or trafficked through images and video.
WHAT CAN TESLA DO?
The possibilities of what Tesla can do, Bleu says, are endless. “I know that Tesla employs some of the most brilliant people in the world. That is who we need to fight this problem. It is our children we are talking about here,” she says. Some of the things that Eliza described to me during this interview were jaw-dropping and wouldn’t be suitable to include in this piece. But trust me, it would be enough to influence you to get involved as well.
“There are so many forms of human trafficking, too. It’s not just about sex,” she says. “I see people with Nike shoes and Apple products, and I think, ‘Whoever made that was exploited for cheap labor.’” There is no limit to who Bleu wants to help, but she needs assistance in her journey to overcome the predators, the pimps, and the evildoers who use trafficking as a means of living.
Tesla can certainly help with code writing and AI work. It is a company that learns fast. It’s evident through several things: accelerating scalability, the constantly improving Full Self-Driving suite, and the company’s overwhelming domination as a software entity. All of these things speak to Bleu in a way where she was able to put 2 and 2 together and make 4. Tesla could be the answer to all of her prayers and is exactly the company she was looking for.
“I know Elon has held Hack-a-Thons in the past, and I think that could be very beneficial,” she says. “Putting a bunch of sharp minds in a room to figure out some of the world’s biggest problems seems like a great idea.”
WHAT HAS BROUGHT ELIZA BLEU’S MISSION TO LIGHT?
The fight against human trafficking became a household conversation with the high-profile arrests of Jeffrey Epstein and later Ghislaine Maxwell. Bleu’s mission started to gain some momentum when survivors of Epstein, who she now works with as a part of Victims Refuse Silence, started to come forward. “That was a huge step in the right direction,” she says. “But we have to keep going, and people won’t know the truth about human trafficking unless you tell them.”
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Bleu wants the world’s brightest minds to come together and work on a solution to this problem. While she is a firm supporter of AI because it has been proven to help in the past, there is no boundary on what she will do to end human trafficking. Nevertheless, she is looking at her hero, Elon Musk, who she has gained inspiration from, to help find a solution.
So, Elon, if you are reading this, consider talking to Eliza Bleu. She believes your help, and your mind, along with all of the brilliant minds at Tesla, could finally help solve the issue of human trafficking before it gets worse.
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