How AI Can be Used to Curb Synthetic Opioid Production?

How AI Can be Used to Curb Synthetic Opioid Production?

By Gov CIO Outlook | Thursday, October 17, 2019

The incorporation of AI technology will enable law enforcement agencies to root out the manufacturers of synthetic opioids strategically and efficiently.

FREMONT, CA: The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the technological landscapes across various sectors, both private and public. The technology is being leveraged by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to monitor the production and distribution networks of synthetic drugs. Synthetic opioids claim the lives of over 45,000 people each year in the US. The military and law enforcement divisions are preparing to harness the capabilities of AI to control the opioid crisis.

Various factors have hindered the fight against opioids. Synthetic drugs such as fentanyl can be manufactured anywhere, as a result of which, it is challenging to track them. In comparison, cocaine is produced by established cartels across South America. The extensive data on cocaine collected over the last few decades enable the estimation in the case of cocaine production.

The annual Department of Defense Intelligence Information System (DoDIIS) Worldwide Conference addressed the recent trends in the opioid crisis. Unlike cocaine, the production of synthetic drugs is not held back by geographical limits. The production process can be customized, enabling the manufacturers to develop specific quantities.

The DIA aims to leverage AI to power its massive correlation analysis. SABLE SPEAR, a robust program developed under Brian Drake, the Director of Artificial Intelligence for Future Capabilities and Innovations for the DIA, can process date from over 43 million websites, 8 million cargo receipts, a billion satellite images, and more than 20 other data sources. It can analyze the data and identify patterns.

The data often contains clues regarding the raw materials imported for the production of synthetic drugs. The AI system can extract emails, phone numbers, physical addresses, business records, and so on. The information can be compared with the satellite data to track the manufacturing locations.

The locations indicated as vacant fields by the system often indicate deception, which is a big red flag. Legal pharmaceutical vendors require maximum publicity, and hence, they want to be found by as many people as possible. However, it is not the case with illegal dealers. They will take every measure to mislead the authorities.

AI will enable the DIA to process the data and develop crucial insights, which can be shared with federal law enforcement agencies such as DHS, FBI, and other relevant departments. The algorithms enable an exhaustive analysis of data in short periods. It also provides insight regarding the users in flagged networks. The data will not only allow the enforcement agencies to battle the opioid problem in a strategic way but also target the heads of the networks, thus effectively bringing it down.

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