Microsoft employees built the bot in a philanthropic initiative called Project Intercept, in collaboration with nonprofits that hope it can reduce demand for sex workers, and the incentives for criminals to coerce people into the sex trade.
The technology is not a product of Microsoft itself.
But if a would-be buyer signals an intent to purchase sex, the bot pivots sharply into a stern message.“Buying sex from anyone is illegal and can cause serious long term harm to the victim, as well as further the cycle of human trafficking,” goes one such message.
“Details of this incident will be reviewed further and you may be contacted by law enforcement for questioning.” The warning can vary based on the conversation, if, for example, a potential buyer expresses an interest in someone underage.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline received more than 5,000 reports of sex trafficking in 2016, but most cases are believed to go unreported.