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AI & Machine Learning

Celebrity Recognition now available to approved media & entertainment customers

October 30, 2019
Parker Barnes

Product Manager

Andrew Schwartz

Product Manager

The streaming era has brought about an explosion of video content. New movies, documentaries and series are being created at an unprecedented rate, joining decades of existing libraries, sports broadcasts and a vibrant influx of international works.

There’s just one problem: video is all but unsearchable without an expensive, labor-intensive tagging process. This makes it difficult for creators and platforms to organize their content, cater to the increasing demand for personalized experiences, or even fully understand the contents of their catalogs. For such a quickly expanding medium, this can be a considerable challenge.

Today we’re announcing Celebrity Recognition for our Cloud Vision and Video Intelligence products, a limited-availability tool that builds on the power of our image and video understanding capabilities to recognize an international roster of widely-known actors and athletes. In addition to searching photos and video footage for basic visual concepts like “city street” or “railroad crossing”, approved customers can now search professionally-produced content for celebrities.

As always, we want to ensure our products are aligned with our AI Principles. And from the beginning of the planning process, we took a thoughtful approach before making Celebrity Recognition available to media & entertainment customers. For example, we enlisted human rights experts at non-profit organization BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) to conduct a formal assessment of this technology’s potential impact on human rights. Using the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a framework, BSR worked closely with the product team to understand our vision and consider its implications across numerous dimensions including privacy, discrimination, freedom of expression and many others. Their input played an essential role in shaping the API’s capabilities and the policies established around them. For more information, please see BSR’s blog post and summary.

We have implemented a number of safeguards, including:

  • “Celebrity” is carefully defined and restricted to a predefined list. Among other criteria, this means actors or athletes who make their primary living by voluntarily appearing on TV or in movies. Using this definition, we’ve pre-loaded the model to recognize a list of thousands of figures from across the world, based on licensed images. And to ensure this feature can’t be expanded to behave more generally, customers do not have the ability to add individuals to the list—even for private use. For celebrities who would like assurances that they will not be recognized by the API, we offer an opt out request process. An opt-out request form is available as part of the API documentation.

  • This is not a generally available feature. Instead, an interested customer must pass a manual review process to ensure they’re an established media or entertainment company or partner with an approved use case applying only to professionally-produced video content like movies, TV shows and sporting events.

  • Expanded terms of service apply. We’ve drafted additional guidelines to specifically address the unique concerns raised by this capability, and to ensure each of our customers follow the same principles that guide our own approach to AI.

We know the landscape is evolving fast, with skyrocketing demand for personalized, searchable video experiences putting unique pressures on industries like sports and entertainment. With the Celebrity Recognition API, we’re helping our customers thrive in an era of change.

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