Google think tank tackles traffickers and terrorists

Google Ideas aims to use technology to solve tough problems like trafficking in humans, organs, drugs, and arms.

Google Ideas is bringing people together to help fight illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, humans and organs.
Google Ideas is bringing people together to help fight illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, humans and organs. Google Ideas

Google doesn't just want to just "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," as its mission statement says. It also wants to figure out how to use technology to improve the world under the auspices of its think tank, Google Ideas.

Google Ideas, which launched 18 months ago, is working with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival to sponsor a conference, "Illicit Networks: Forces in Opposition" in Los Angeles this week. The aim is to bring together government officials, tech leaders, researchers and victims to explore how best to use the Internet to cut down on trafficking in humans, organs, drugs, and arms.

"Violent illicit networks represent a trillion-dollar problem that affects every society in the world and claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year. For example, more than 50,000 people have died in the past five years as a result of the ongoing war in Mexico between rival drug cartels," Google Ideas said in a blog post yesterday. "It's clear that illicit networks--particularly those that are violent and coercive like drug smugglers, arms dealers and human traffickers--have a devastating human and financial impact on every nation."

Conference attendees will hear stories from a former Ugandan child soldier, a woman who was seven when she was sold into slavery, other forced laborers and sex workers, and former arms dealers, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The think tank partnered last year with other groups to organize the Summit Against Violent Extremism and launch an online platform called Against Violent Extremism.

Meanwhile, Google's philanthropic arm,, has given millions in grants to organizations working to eradicate slavery, improve education and other challenges.

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