Lil Miquela (@lilmiquela) is not your average influencer. The nineteen-year-old Spanish-Brazilian American is politically aware, owns a wardrobe that is out of this world and has over a million followers on Instagram. She’s got real talent too; her debut single “Not Mine” made it to Spotify’s viral chart. Prada hired her to promote their fall show in Milan and she has modeled for both Highsnobiety and V Magazine. However, what’s truly extraordinary about her is the fact that she doesn’t exist -- At least not in any physical form. Her DNA is entirely made of code created by the AI start-up Brud.
Lil Miquela is not the only extremely humanlike avatar that’s taking over Instagram. Another computer generated influencer, Shudu (@shudu.gram), fooled users into believing that she was a real person for a long time until her creator, the British photographer Cameron-James Wilson, came clean and named her “the world’s first digital supermodel”.
Naturally, this phenomenon raises a ton of questions. How do we decide what’s real and what’s fake on social media? Does it even matter? Miquela regularly refers to physical locations (art galleries, clubs etc.) and posts pictures where she’s posing with human musicians and models. This results in blurred lines between the digital world, where she lives, and reality. At the same time, human influencers tend to invent a fantasy of their lives, contributing to the merge of the two worlds. Furthermore, what responsibility do the creators have towards the avatars’ followers? And will these avatars replace models? They sure are less expensive and will look great in any outfit. Whatever the future brings, it definitely won’t be boring.
If real models in action are more to your taste check out our profile on Anastacia Ponomar, live and in the flesh in our spring campaign.