Emerj Shares AI Best Practices at United Nations Counterterrorism Event

Dylan Azulay

Dylan is Senior Analyst of Financial Services at Emerj, conducting research on AI use-cases across banking, insurance, and wealth management.

Emerj Shares AI Best Practices at United Nations Counterterrorism Event

Event Title: Countering Terrorism Through Innovative Approaches and the Use of New and Emerging Technologies

Event Host: Republic of Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and United Nations Office of Counterterrorism

Date: September 3 – 4, 2019

Team Member: Daniel Faggella, Emerj Founder and CEO

What Happened

The Belarusian government worked together with the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT) to put on a conference in Belarus. They called on diplomats, law enforcement leaders, human rights leaders, and other parties from around the world to focus on preventing terrorism, with a large emphasis on the use of technology for counterterrorism.

The event was opened by the president of Belarus, who spoke about terrorist threats in the past and in the future and shared some of his thoughts on how the internet and technology tools are being used by terrorists.

There were a lot of other interesting presentations and topics brought up by experts around the world. Most of them were put on by diplomats and counterterrorism experts from the public sector. Emerj was honored to be e called in as one of the few private sector contributors to the discussion. Emerj CEO Daniel Fagella gave a presentation about two major challenges to overcome for applying AI successfully to counterterrorism:

  1. In-house data science talent: Daniel made it clear to the audience that even some of the largest enterprises in the world are struggling to bring on board the right data science talent to truly master their internal systems. Most cutting-edge AI tools are not as simple as software. Organizations need specially trained people to deal with data, to deal with algorithms, to grapple with the business problems from the perspective from an actual data scientist.
  2. Counterterrorism leaders need to be familiar with data science concepts: They need to understand what AI can be applied to and not, including the fundamental use-cases in law enforcement. They also need some basic knowledge about data, building algorithms, and building functional data science teams.

These were some of the most important lessons from our report, Getting Started with AI: Proven Best Practices of Adoption, and our previous articles about security and law enforcement.

What We Learned

  • There is a big focus in the global counterterrorism community on how to prevent the malicious use of social media. There’s a lot of concern that terrorist groups are using social media to target vulnerable people who are likely to join their cause and that terrorist groups are building audiences and directly messaging people through social media. The counterterrorism community is really struggling to handle this.
  • Financial crime seems to be very impotant, particularly the funding of terrorist movements. There is a lot of interest now on how we can use AI to prevent money-laundering and the funding of terrorist groups. Here at Emerj, we hope to continue to collaborate with the UN and similar groups because financial crime is one of our strongest areas of focus. We’re excited to see AI not only be able to help banks but be able to stop the funding of terrorist activity.
  • Even diplomats like a presentation that has a little bit of character and energy. At a large, formal international event, a lot of the presentations have to be pre-scripted, put together by whatever organization is giving the presentation. Emerj’s less formal, direct style of communicating to leaders was something that was really appreciated at the event itself and spurned conversation on the topic. We were happy to serve that role in an environment where sometimes communication has to be more conservative and pre-scripted.


Header image credit: UNOCT

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