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This Royal Wedding AI is a reverse image search for rich people

Sky News is using artificial intelligence to help identify all of the attendees at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. This may raise privacy concerns.

This Royal Wedding AI is a reverse image search for rich people
[Photo: Flickr user Last Night of Freedom]

All you peasants planning to get up at the crack of dawn to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married may wonder who all the people at the event are. Lucky for you, Sky News has cobbled together a new app called “Who’s Who” to tell you who all those probably extremely rich people are at the extremely opulent wedding.

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The application uses machine learning and, by extension, artificial intelligence, to properly identify people’s faces and surface relevant factoids.

Users can access Who’s Who either through Sky News’s mobile app or its website. The idea is to provide digital onlookers second-screen content to fill in gaps during the event. The app will, in real time, identify the faces of people at the wedding.

According to a press release, the app uses Amazon Rekognition tools to name people in the crowd and then surface biographical information about them.

As Sky News explains it, Who’s Who will “[name] wedding guests as they arrive for the ceremony and tells people about their connection to the royal couple.” Users will also be able to watch video replays of wedding entrances and gain even more information about the attendees.

This does, however, raise some concerns. Specifically, real-time facial recognition certainly brings up many questions about privacy and digital rights. These issues are heightened by the fact that there likely will be people milling near the event who could end up being inadvertently recorded by Sky News. If their faces get videotaped, it’s possible the Who’s Who app could automatically detect who they are.

The Observer notes that this sort application likely won’t be available for use in the U.K. after GDPR takes effect on May 25. This is because GDPR requires explicit consent for facial recognition–something Sky News certainly does not have from all the passers-by.

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Still, Who’s Who does provide an interesting antidote to on-the-ground television reporters roving an event and attempting to identify and glimpse important people in attendance. Instead of having a personality à la E at the Oscars, Sky News is having a computer do that work automatically.

We’ll have to wait until Saturday to see if A) the Who’s Who application works, and B) if a bodiless face-identifying application comes across as extremely creepy.

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About the author

Cale is a Brooklyn-based reporter. He writes about business, technology, leadership, and anything else that piques his interest

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