Outside the Eastern European country of Georgia, the conflicts between 1991 to 2008 might not be well remembered. But it has left an indelible mark on all Georgians, including Giorgi Gobronidze, owner of tech firm Pimeyes. Here’s how Giorgi Gobronidze went from being a conflict survivor to a leading artificial intelligence authority.
The Russo-Georgian War of 2008, only lasted five days, from August 7 to August 12. But in that time, thousands of people were killed or wounded and almost 200,000 people were displaced after Russia gained control of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetian.
Giorgi Gobronidze began his army service after graduating as a specialist in international criminal law. He had originally focused on eastern studies as a historian before making the move to law.
He worked in Georgia’s Ministry of Defense and rose to the deputy head of the Ministry’s analytical division.
Giorgi Gobronidze works to bring justice to war criminals
Afterwards, he joined the Georgian Young Lawyers Association as a lawyer — the largest human rights organization in Georgia.
“I also used my skills as a lawyer to gather evidence for international criminal court,” Giorgi Gobronidze — who speaks six languages.
At the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Giorgi Gobronidze’s focus was on gathering evidence of war crimes during the Russo-Georgia War.
“[Even though it] lasted for five days, we managed to gather evidence of 6,000 episodes of different types of war crimes,” said Giorgi Gobronidze. “It was enormous amount of evidence.”
Giorgi Gobronidze’s work helped bring to justice many of the people who committed atrocities during the war.
On completion of his legal studies, Giorgi Gobronidze did a master’s degree in international relations, specializing in international security.
“And that’s where I got interested with artificial intelligence, as far as I was studying how the modern technologies and cyber warfare can impact international and regional security landscape,” said Giorgi Gobronidze. “But my main focus of research was Russian defense and security policy.”
This year, Giorgi Gobronidze begins a doctoral program focused on artificial intelligence in digital governance — specifically artificial intelligence as a component of national security policies.
Giorgi Gobronidze has been an academic since 2014 — first at the Georgian American University and then the European University in Tbilisi. He now teaches at the International Black Sea University — one of Georgia’s leading institutions.
In 2017, he met some fellow specialists in Poland who were developing the technology behind PimEyes — an online face search engine that uses facial recognition backed by artificial intelligence that finds pictures containing given faces.
It all comes together for Giorgi Gobronidze
At the time, Giorgi Gobronidze had an inkling that such a service would likely be relevant to cyber warfare and international security but he didn’t at first realize that it would be something in which he would like to focus.
Yet as he spoke more and more to the people at PimEye, he became increasingly fascinated with the space.
“[At the time], actually I could never think that it would be something serious and I could never think that I would be owner of the technology,” said Giorgi Gobronidze, who a few years later bought into PimEye.
In fact it was not until a trip a year later to several Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) former Soviet countries, and seeing the direction that Russian cyber warfare was taking, that Giorgi Gobronidze started to understand the power of AI in facial recognition.
Then the Coronavirus pandemic hit, and like billions around the world, Giorgi Gobronidze found himself with a lot of time at home on his hands.
“I decided to develop my skills in this direction and the pandemic, by the way, helped me because I had a lot of time at home, I started to learn more about artificial intelligence,” said Giorgi Gobronidze.
Soon after, he was offered the purchase of PimEyes.
“I decided to acquire business in the field of artificial intelligence because for me PimEyes has never been a business project. It was more like an academic project to look at it, because the better way to learn something is to have something and work directly on its development,” said Giorgi Gobronidze.
Giorgi Gobronidze sees the challenges AI is creating
Since then, through his studies and management of PimEyes, Giorgi Gobronidze has unsurprisingly become quite the expert when it comes to AI.
“There are fears about artificial intelligence, however what I can say from my perspective, it has already become part of our everyday life and they are changing aspect of our life a lot,” said Giorgi Gobronidze, taking ChatGPT as a prime example. “They have already started the revolution. I don’t know how it will end up, because it is already shaping the world… [But] very soon we will have books written by artificial intelligence. We already have images made by artificial intelligence. What they do, they are changing labor market.”
Yet Giorgi Gobronidze does not necessarily see such as prospect as all doom and gloom, for people or the markets.
“The world has actually already outlived, and survived, and evolved, with the First Industrial Revolution. Now we have the second one,” he said. “Many professions simply will disappear, but this does not mean that professions will disappear totally, because as one profession disappears another profession also emerges.”
The rise of AI will mean that people will have to reshape their skills or adjust to new requirements, said Giorgi Gobronidze.
“That’s a bit problematic for those who have a fixed lifestyles profession, and it is not very easy to change professions,” said Giorgi Gobronidze, offering the information market as an example. “Linguistic models bring absolutely new vision to the information market. If data can be crawled and gathered and generated [in real time] by machines, why do we need content writers and journalists? Why do we need these people?”
It is an open question, to which he does not yet have the answer, said Giorgi Gobronidze. But it is certainly the question worth posing.
Civil war in Georgia was in 1991, after, in 1991 and 1992 there was a an ethno territorial conflict with two of Georgia’s region, led to ethnic cleanse of Georgians and turning 10% of population into a IDPs, in 1997 there was a small clash, called as a short war in Abkhazia, and in 2008 a full scale Russian invasion. So, the country has even more dramatic story, than one can imagine. I was 4-5 when all this started, and I was a student, when the last war took place. So, in my 35 as most of Georgians have already seen 5 armed conflicts.