A face search engine anyone can use is alarmingly accurate

He stayed in touch with the founders, he said, and saw PimEyes start to get more and more media attention, most of the scathing variety. In 2020, PimEyes claimed to have a new owner, who wished to remain anonymous, and the headquarters moved from Poland to Seychelles, a popular offshore tax haven in Africa.

Mr. Gobronidze says he “heard” last year that this new owner of the site wanted to sell it. So he quickly set about raising money to make an offer, selling a seaside villa inherited from his grandparents and borrowing a large sum from his younger brother, Shalva Gobronidze, a software engineer at a bank. The professor would not reveal how much he had paid.

“It was not as large an amount as one would expect,” Mr Gobronidze said.

In December, Gobronidze set up a company, EMEARobotics, to acquire PimEyes and registered it in Dubai due to the UAE’s low tax rate. He said he retained most of the site’s small technical and support team and hired a consultancy firm in Belize to handle inquiries and regulatory issues.

Mr. Gobronidze has rented office space for PimEyes in a tower block in downtown Tbilisi. It is still under renovation, light fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

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

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

Now he’s a businessman who owns a business steeped in controversy, mostly over whether we have a special right of control over images of us that we never imagined would find this way. Mr Gobronidze said facial recognition technology would be used to screen people if governments and big companies had access to it.

Amanda J. Marsh