AI helps family reunite with son abducted 25 years ago


An AI program that uses a facial comparison algorithm has reportedly helped a family in China reunite with their long-lost son.

The reunion: In a Weibo post on Dec. 3, Beijing-based Geling Shentong Information Technology Co. Ltd., which developed the AI program, reported the reunion of the Xie family with Qingshuai, who is now 25. The technology involved "cross-age and kinship face comparison" algorithm, the company said.

About the abduction: On Jan. 20 1999, Xie Kefeng’s wife went out to buy vegetables, leaving 10-month-old Qingshuai inside their unlocked home in Xingtai, Hebei province. At the time, she allegedly noticed two "suspicious" men going around the house. Somehow, she still decided to ignore them. She returned 10 minutes later to find her baby and the pair of men missing.

With the help of their family, friends and local authorities, Xie and his wife searched for the boy in multiple cities and provinces, including Beijing, Tianjin and Henan. The search cost Xie almost all his savings. Meanwhile, his wife sunk into depression and underwent medication for 10 years. Xie remained hopeful and continued to work to give their son a better life upon his return.

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How he was found: Geling Shentong said they used pictures of the boy’s parents and his older brother to narrow down the search to five people. According to the company, the Xie family was the fourth abduction case they helped police solve using their AI technology in the past six months.

Police notified Xie in late November about the match, which was later confirmed accurate through DNA analysis.

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The suspects: Shortly after Qingshuai was found, authorities learned that two people had been involved in his abduction. One of them was already dead, but the other was located and is now in police custody.

A third person — an intermediary who allegedly sold Qingshuai to a couple in Handan, Hebei province — was also arrested.


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