Code 8.7 Organizing Committee Meeting

Setting the Agenda for a Community of Intent

10-11 June 2019

Key Takeaways


The Code 8.7 Organizing Committee was kindly hosted at the offices of The Alan Turing Institute in London on 10-11 June 2019. It met to set an agenda for Code 8.7 as a community of intent, and to consider how to institutionalize and organize Code 8.7.

Participants are listed in the Annex. The group deliberated for two days on questions of mission, goals, strategy, activities, resourcing and governance. It had VTC conversations with Maxar (a satellite imagery company) and Harry Cook (IOM / CTDC), and considered written inputs from the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery and the Minderoo Foundation. Representatives of AnnieCannons were invited but were unable to attend.

Orientation and approach

The Organizing Committee reached the following 10 decisions:

1. The tagline of Code 8.7 shall be: Fighting slavery with survivor-informed AI techniques.

This shall normally be accompanied by a mission statement: Code 8.7 is a community that researches, develops and applies AI-powered anti-slavery strategies, directly informed by survivors. We engage practitioners to combine state-of-the-art AI with novel data streams to advance the field through cutting-edge research.

2. Code 8.7 is led by a core group of organizers aiming to foster a community of intent focused on using AI and novel non-traditional data streams to develop and accelerate anti-slavery solutions. Further work is needed to determine the size of this group, or groups (as discussed further below under ‘governance’).

3. The community will be drawn and bound together through action. Code 8.7 does not aim to be a convener, first and foremost, but only where that serves efforts to generate action.

4. Accordingly, from its formalization in early 2020 (on which, more below), Code 8.7 will undertake a series of flagship activities:

a. Agenda setting and research roadmapfocal point: Computing Community Consortium

CCC will take the lead on an inclusive participatory process engaging the Code 8.7 and computing research communities, aimed at producing a Research Roadmap for Code 8.7.  This will draw from CCC’s recent involvement in developing a comprehensive Research Roadmap for AI, both in terms of process and in terms of some shared themes.  Input and participation by other Code 8.7 partners with computing research missions (The Alan Turing Institute, Rights Lab) will be enthusiastically encouraged.

The Code 8.7 Research Roadmap will adopt a long-term (10+ year) time horizon, with embedded shorter-term goals, laying out challenges that are both relevant to the computing and AI research community and whose solution will enable significant strides in the fight against modern slavery. The research vision will be driven in part by vignettes contributed by end-users: law enforcement officials, policy experts, NGOs operating in the space, and survivors. The Roadmap will help catalyze the AI and anti-slavery communities around shared research questions and action, and will be designed in continuous dialogue with both survivor and practitioner communities, ensuring that advances in research are transitioning into practice.

Over the coming year, CCC and its council members will directly support certain activities, facilitate the participation by members of the computing research community in others, and provide visibility for Code 8.7 in a variety of venues. These will include:

  • Soliciting proposals for CCC “Blue Sky” tracks on Code 8.7 research themes at existing technical conferences and meetings to help inform the broader computing research community.
  • Supporting participation by computing research community members at conferences and meetings focused on issues of modern slavery, including consultations with survivors and those approaching the problem both from support and law enforcement perspectives.
  • CCC whitepaper-writing activities targeted at the research community, policy makers, funding agencies, foundations, and popular media, and leading toward the ultimate Research Roadmap writing activity.
  • Organizing a CCC “Visioning” workshop to be held in Washington DC, most likely in Spring 2020, to bring together leading voices in the effort to produce the final version of the Code 8.7 Research Roadmap, including researchers, practitioners, survivors, funding agencies and foundations.

b. Code 8.7 Challenges focal point: The Alan Turing Institute

Turing will take forward the development of a set of stretch research challenges, intended to incentivize the field to develop collective knowledge through work on a set of critical research questions and mobilize resources for innovation. Guidance may be sought from specialist organizations with experience running such research challenges. The challenges are likely to reflect the research questions identified through the Agenda Setting and Research Roadmap process discussed above.

c. Code 8.7 anti-slavery observation platform focal point: Rights Lab

Rights Lab will take the lead in mobilizing the Code 8.7 community to build a global anti-slavery observation platform – a digital platform that combines novel, non-traditional data streams to allow AI-based and other related analyses of modern slavery. The development of this platform will require:

  • Identification of available novel, non-traditional data-streams, commencing with earth observation imagery, but expanding to potentially include telco, transport, energy, commercial and other data;
  • Consideration of data trust issues – access, legal arrangements, privacy and more;
  • Identification of specific use cases, ranging from pure research to supply-chain risk analysis to financial uses, and an articulation of the underlying theory of change towards Code 8.7’s mission in each case.

d. Brazil sandbox focal point: UNU

Meanwhile, UNU will lead the development of an innovation ‘sandbox’ in Brazil, through Code 8.7 collaboration with Experian DataLabs, Repórter Brasil, Hope for Justice and Stanford University. A planning meeting for this sandbox will take place in São Paulo on 20-21 August 2019.

The sandbox may serve as an innovation testbed and piloting framework for the Rights-Lab-led observation platform, and/or for testing new use cases. It will operate in an environment (Brazil) with high levels of access to governmental, commercial, consumer, satellite, health and other non-traditional data streams; strong interest from government and the private sector; and highly reliable incidence data (through the lista suja).

5. Additionally, the group expressed interest in considering how to develop other activities, at a later date:

a. AI application solutions roster in the future – UNU as initial focal point

In time, it may be feasible to explore Code 8.7 organizing a roster of coders, AI developers, data and computational science experts available to solve technical problems for modern slavery researchers and practitioners. The business model for this arrangement will require careful development over an extended (1-2 year) period and may depend on how successful Code 8.7 is in pursuing its other activities.

b. Pedagogyin the future – no focal point as yet

The group considered that Code 8.7 members may well want to develop trainings, webinars, workshops, fellowships or other educational opportunities, to help the anti-slavery movement understand the potential and limitations of AI, and the AI and data science community engage with anti-slavery. The form and shape of this will depend greatly on how Code 8.7 is structured and resourced.

c. Annual report and/or annual conference in the future – no focal point as yet

The coalition may aim to provide a flagship Annual Report detailing Code 8.7 activities, surveying the relevant research landscape, highlighting important research developments and gaps, and monitoring progress towards the Research Roadmap goals.

This may be presented at an annual conference, which would offer an opportunity for the Code 8.7 community to come together and reinvigorate its commitment to its mission.

6. Across all these activities Survivor Alliance will lead on ensuring and promoting survivor interests, including survivor agency at every level of Code 8.7 activities.

Governance and next steps

7. The group agreed to institute a transitional stand-up period, running until the end of 2019. During that period, the group shall continue to operate informally. It will convene by VTC every 4 weeks, with each focal point reporting on progress in developing their area. During this period, UNU’s Centre for Policy Research will serve as the secretariat to the group and take the lead on developing options for more formal governance arrangements.

8. The group aims to stand up a formal Code 8.7 coalition in early 2020. How this is governed will depend on factors such as:

  • Location and jurisdiction (with implications for board structures, non-profit status, etc.)
  • How consortium members (such as CCC and Tech Against Trafficking) participate, and what rights and responsibilities this entails
  • Whether we anticipate extensive commercial activities (e.g. by the AI solutions roster)
  • (Other) resourcing arrangements – grant funding, subscription funding, pay-per-use funding from shared resources?
  • The anticipated size of the coalition – whether it is limited to a group of 5-10 active institutions, or offers, in addition, a ‘community membership’ status for individuals (operating more like an association)

9. The group envisions Code 8.7 having a central secretariat of some kind, which will:

  • Manage the coalition
  • Provide an Annual Report detailing Code 8.7 activities and progress towards the Research Roadmap goals
  • Communicate externally on behalf of the coalition
  • Possibly convene an annual conference

10. The Organizing Committee will convene again by VTC on 16 July.

James Cockayne


Annex – Meeting Participants 

Phil Bennett (Tech Against Trafficking)
Doreen Boyd (Rights Lab)
Mark Briers (The Alan Turing Institute)
James Cockayne (UNU-CPR)
Minh Dang (Survivor Alliance)
Ann Drobnis (Computing Community Consortium) – by phone
James Goulding (Rights Lab)
Dan Lopresti (Computing Community Consortium)
Anjali Mazumder (The Alan Turing Institute)
Justin Strong (Survivor Alliance)
Zoe Trodd (Rights Lab)


Can New US Law Help Increase Financial Recovery and Reintegration of Survivors of Human Trafficking?

Professor Barry Koch, Dr Leona Vaughn, Sarah Byrne
Continue Reading

Gendered Understandings of Forced Sexual Exploitation

Ellie Newman-Granger
Continue Reading

Forced Labour Import Bans: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?

Owain Johnstone
Continue Reading

Gendered Understandings of Forced Sexual Exploitation

Ellie Newman-Granger
Continue Reading

Domestic Slave Labour in Brazil

Maurício Krepsky Fagundes
Continue Reading

Indigenous Peoples and the Anti-Trafficking Sector’s Blind Spot

Miriam Karmali, Krysta Bisnauth
Continue Reading