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A Face Search Engine Anyone Can Use Is Alarmingly Accurate

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He kept in contact with the founders, he said, and watched as PimEyes began getting increasingly more attention within the media, mostly of the scathing variety. In 2020, PimEyes claimed to have a latest owner, who wished to remain anonymous, and the company headquarters were moved from Poland to Seychelles, a well-liked African offshore tax haven.

Mr. Gobronidze said he “heard” sometime last yr that this latest owner of the positioning desired to sell it. So he quickly set about gathering funds to make a suggestion, selling a seaside villa he had inherited from his grandparents and borrowing a big sum from his younger brother, Shalva Gobronidze, a software engineer at a bank. The professor wouldn’t reveal how much he had paid.

“It wasn’t as big an amount as someone might expect,” Mr. Gobronidze said.

In December, Mr. Gobronidze created a company, EMEARobotics, to accumulate PimEyes and registered it in Dubai due to United Arab Emirates’ low tax rate. He said he had retained most of the positioning’s small tech and support team, and hired a consulting firm in Belize to handle inquiries and regulatory questions.

Mr. Gobronidze has rented office space for PimEyes in a tower in downtown Tbilisi. It continues to be being renovated, lighting fixtures hanging loose from the ceiling.

Tatia Dolidze, a colleague of Mr. Gobronidze’s at European University, described him as “curious” and “stubborn,” and said she had been surprised when he told her that he was buying a face search engine.

“It was difficult to assume Giorgi as a businessman,” Ms. Dolidze said by email.

Now he’s a businessman who owns an organization steeped in controversy, primarily around whether we’ve any special right of control over images of us that we never expected to be found this manner. Mr. Gobronidze said facial recognition technology can be used to manage people if governments and massive firms had the one access to it.

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