AI Influencers Will Replace You. (Sort of)

We’re living in some wild times.

The opportunity to make millions with an AI influencer is here.

An influencer with no feeling, and no judgement. An entity that can do no wrong.

And most importantly, make tons of money without the need of an actual person.

This means you can make infinitely generatable content for promotions, content, games, shows and any other content you can think of. This is the age of AI influencers and it is here to stay.

Or is it?

In this article Im going to give some thoughts on AI influencers and do some digging into seeing if they are really worth paying attention to.

Miquela is an AI influencer that reportedly makes over 10M a year.

Whats The Deal?

Nowadays everyone wants to become an influencer. The money the admiration, the opportunities, it seems like the ultimate career path.

But theres one thing about being an influencer thats haunted the likes of many of the greats when it comes to internet personalities — cancelation.

Cancelation comes in many forms but for the sake of this article it’s mostly classified as controversy, and not the good kind. It could be a poorly worded joke to a an unsolicited photo. Whatever form this takes, it ultimately leaves the influencer on the end of negative press.

This bad press can ruin an entire influencers sponsorship presence and could potentially erase a bulk of their earnings as brand deals make up the most of what these online entertainers make.

From the influencer POV they lose out on the brand deal — from the brand perspective they don’t seem “brand safe”. Therefore brands are less likely to sponsor their future content, and any current content from the influencer with the brand could be tainted. (As in the brand does not want their identity attached to this person anymore due to recent events)

Enter AI influencers.

AI influencers have all the upside of marketing, reach, and publicity with none of the downsides of mistakes. Everything can be carefully calculated to ensure only the most highly engaging positive pieces of content. Constantly. Forever.

Because everything is digital, and now with the power of tools like Dall-E 3 and Midjourney, we can craft infinite digital content to scale and grow a brand with.

Thus we have the rise of AI influencers. Meet Miquela.

lilmiquelas current instagram account page.

She is one of the hot topics as it relates to AI influencers. A “19-year old robot living in LA” is what she classifies herself as. A 19 year old that will stay 19.

Miquela reported makes over 10M a year. Whether or not that true, its’ safe to say she has some bargaining power when it comes to the attention economy.

BMW x Miquela Ad.

Miquela as of recently has been known for being at the cutting edge of this AI influencer wave. She has over 2.7M followers on instagram and has become a micro celebrity in the digital space.

What makes her different from others is her hyperrealistic aesthetic and integration into the real world. I mean she looks like a real person from a distant glance.

But she isn’t, and it’s important to keep this distinction.

Her rise to fame seemingly comes from the novelty of this new type of influence. And the media attention creates a flywheel to actually becoming a contender in online attention.

But who cares about some dumb robot on instagram?

Why would people want to follow someone that isn’t real?

Let’s unpack these questions.

Its Not Entirely AI

While it may come off right now that these accounts seem automatically generated, they are not. While the posts themselves may be augmented its not completely AI. (At least what we think AI Is now where its all done automatically)

What Miquela and many other AI influencers are, are a carefully crafted fictional public persona augmented by AI technology. As in the founder of this avatar has a set of ideals and values they want to convey, and Miquela is the avatar they use to describe those values.

The appeal and reason for her success (in part due to the novelty as well) is that her brand appeals to a young gen-z demographic that likes the hipster rebel type attributes of being a young 19 year old in LA.

This fantasy land crafted by the creators is what makes these AI pictures come to life. It paints a story, a story greater than the images themselves. A story thats connected with over 2.7M people whether it be from the novelty or the utility of her message.

But at the end of the day it’s no different that your favorite fictional cartoon character having their own instagram page. Just in this case it’s a hyperrealistic reskin.

Just imagine if Spongebob had his own instagram account and posted memes about Patrick and Squidward…

Oh wait he does.

Spongebobs instagram account.

In this case with Spongebob, the content isn’t directly about the character but more-so the context of the character, i.e. content around the Spongebob universe.

Spongebob is a fictional character thats been plastered over everywhere and anything, so why can’t Miquela or other fictional influencers do the same. Besides, who cares if it was AI generated or not?

The point is, the term “AI influencer” is just another buzzword to describe these fictional avatars as they become more lifelike and relatable.

What Makes AI Influencers Different

You could argue that my examples of Spongebob and Miquela are two completely unique entities and dont share similarities.

To that, I’d somewhat agree.

Miquela represents a new form of digital connection.

AI Influencers are the new versions of Spongebob. They are representations for jokes memes and ideas that appeal to the modern age. An age where everything is more digitally connected than ever.

They are different from things like Spongebob in that they are on a different level of connection and relatability.

A level that can attract more eyeballs and make more money with less work.

Will AI Influencers Last?

Yes and no, so maybe.

AI is here to stay and were only at the beginning for its creative use cases. Virtual AI avatars will be around to stay, but will they remain popular? That’s another question.

Whether or not these fictional avatars stay relevant is really up to the people that choose to support them. And those factors go beyond anything AI can produce. This is at least for the long term, as I mentioned, Miquela had a massive boost from the novelty and I imagine it will wear off once this kind of thing becomes easier to replicate.

So while the novelty of the tech will wear off, the use of using AI to draft up relatable characters will not.

And the scariest part, there may even be characters we create with AI that we love and appreciate more than real ones.

It’s not the AI thats the issue, it’s the relationship the people have with the personality of the AI.

And thats where things get freaky.

Becoming Star Wars

R2-D2, C3PO. Robots.

I’d guess we are 5–10 years away, maybe even less, from being able to buy something like a C3PO robot at Walmart. The tech is all there it just needs to be bundled up in a way to make it a commercialized product.

But the point of this is that augmented personality tech is here. Character.AI is a very popular website for interacting with personalities as AI chatbots.

Replika AI recently was in the spotlight for being an emotional support chatbot. And when it dialed back the unique responses (or temperature) of the chatbot people got upset when it wasn’t “as good as it once was”.

It’s clear that people are starting to see AI as an aid in their everyday life. Either for work or emotional support.

We are increasingly headed to a future where everything is reliant on some form of augmented technology. From the AI influencers you look up to for an unrealistic imaginative world to ponder upon, to your day to day life working to sustain your well being.

But Where It Gets Dark

I don’t want to go too deep but it is important to be aware of the impact these AI characters will have on society.

Being reliant on fictional characters in the long run can (at least personally) have a sense of voidness of connection. When your’ only fulfillment comes from a dopamine hit from a screen it’s easy to see where things start to become bleak. Not to say Miquela is this case, but this is the tip of the iceberg for people starting to become emotionally connected to these fictional personalities.

One area that will for certain have a negative impact is romantic relationships and pornography. AI porn is one of the most popular use cases for image generation tech (shocking).

When your perfect girlfriend can be automatically generated on demand and always please you in any way you want. Sounds like the life. (this is sarcastic)

Its out of the scope of this article but this is an area where I have my worries.

Will people become attached to these generated objects and relationships? Would it be bad if your AI girlfriend made you the happiest person all the time forever?

What does this do to your mental health if all you consume on a day to day basis is AI generated content?

All questions that will become increasingly prevalent as we march towards a wild future.

The point is that people will become increasingly connected to AI characters whether it be for entertainment or romantic reasons.

But this is an issue of whether or not we want to live in a reality where this option becomes the preferred method of interaction.

Where everything becomes fake and simulated. Much like the AI influencers you (potentially) look up to.

The Future Of Para-social Relationships

This article was kinda all over the place but its been a topic that been on my mind.

I want to end it with this.

This stuff is here to stay. So get used to it. These chatbots allow us to access information in infinitely unique ways, so it’s important to always stay focused on the things that matter.

I can respect the ideas of Miquela and her fictional digital presence, but it’s not a character I resonate with. But maybe for others they do resonate with her.

At the end of the day it all comes down to the genuine connection and story of the character, whether it was made with AI or not. AI is a means to an end, not the product itself.

AI Influencers will take on shapes, sizes, and forms, and become something unimaginable 10 years time from now. But the ones that do succeed will be the fictional characters that create a reality, universe, or dystopia that the human mind wants to participate in.

And as the trend goes, these connections with digital entities are only going to become more attractive as they become fine tuned to be the most appealing avatar for you.

And one day might even be your best friend.

(This post was NOT written with ChatGPT)

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