How Many Slaves Work for You?


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If someone came up to you and randomly asked you, "How many slaves work for you?" maybe you'd think, "Slavery ended a long time ago, Bro." Or maybe you would take the question seriously. With 20 million to 46 million people enslaved in the world, it is a serious question, and while we don't see it daily, some of these enslaved people make things for us. Even if we're judicious about what we buy, we would be surprised just how much global slavery goes into producing the goods we do buy. But how can we quantify it? How can we solve this? Justin Dillon, who has worked with the U.S. State Department and hundreds of businesses, thinks he has the answer. Transcript: Ginette: “Our world today is an extremely vast, complicated, and interconnected web of 7.5 billion people. We’re directly connected to some, and it’s really easy to see those connections on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. But there’s a whole other group of people we are much more subtly connected to—people who are basically (who are essentially working for us) invisible to us, 20 to 46 million of them. “Our guest today deals with this invisible web every day.” Ginette: “I’m Ginette.” Curtis: “And I’m Curtis.” Ginette: “And you are listening to Data Crunch.” Curtis: “A podcast about how data and prediction shape our world.” Ginette: “A Vault Analytics production . . .” Ginette: “Today’s episode is brought to you by, the social network for data people. Discover and share cool data, connect with interesting people, and work together to solve problems faster at Quickly locating data, understanding it, and combining it with other sources can be difficult. The Python library allows you to bring datasets straight into your workflow. Easily work with data and metadata in your Python scripts and Jupyter notebooks. Ready to dive in? Learn how to use’s Python library at Curtis: “Before we get going, one other note about—starting today until May 5th, we are hosting a data competition on their site, and we’d love your participation. Donald Trump’s tweets have been the source of a lot of media attention recently—many high profile news outlets have asserted his tweets show signs of authoritarianism, some say he’s using his twitter account to shape the new cycle, and some have even built algorithms to make stock market decisions based on his tweets. Whatever your stance is on the subject, we’ve uploaded a dataset of every single one of his Tweets up to, and we want to see what you can make of the data. This is a create competition by nature—submissions can be of any format, but the point is we want to see what you can learn, assert, or create with this data set. It’s easy to participate—just go to, and you’ll find the dataset and all of the details. Submit by May 5, and we’re going to take all the submissions that tell the most compelling stories, we want to feature them on a future podcast episode.” Ginette: “Now back to the story. A few months ago, I ran across a website. It sucked me in. It asked me a provocative question, which we’ll get to in just a second, but first, we’ll introduce you to the man who’ll situate the story for you—the main person behind the website.” Justin: “My name’s Justin Dillon. I’m the founder and CEO of Made in a Free World. We started off years ago. I would say probably the genesis for us was me getting a call from the State Department in about 2010. I’d already been doing some projects, a few websites and, films that I was producing, around human trafficking and modern-day slavery.” Curtis: “Justin directed a documentary he released in 2008 called ‘Call + Response,’ which ranked as one of the top documentaries in 2011.” Justin: “And the State Department called and said, we would like to do a project with you, we like the way that you use data and tell stories,

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