#Instafamous: How CGI Influencers Will Soon Replace Humans on Social Media

Monday, 07 May 2018 - 11:47AM
Technology
Dystopias
Monday, 07 May 2018 - 11:47AM
#Instafamous: How CGI Influencers Will Soon Replace Humans on Social Media
< >
Lil Miquela
If you think being conditioned to talk to Alexa or Siri like human beings is vaguely unsettling, you haven't seen anything yet.

This is going to start out like a hashtagged version of Mean Girls, so stick with us until the end. Recently, the Instagram influencer known as "Bermuda" hacked the account of another influencer named Lil Miquela, who has about 1.1 million followers. Bermuda then revealed that Lil Miquela – an advocate for trans rights and black youth – was actually a CGI model created by a shadowy LA-based company called Brud. Things kicked into high gear when Lil Miquela took a page out of the Kanye West playbook and declared that she's "no longer working with [her] managers at Brud," and suddenly it reads more like the work of a Black Mirror writers' room.

Has Lil Miquela gone rogue? Or is this Brud's weird attempt at damage-control now that they've been outed as "the man behind the curtain?"

Neither.

It's all part of the game. The whole hack was staged – because Bermuda isn't real, either. Like Miquela, she's a rising wave of computer-generated influencers-slash-fashion-models that companies are molding to become the next big advance in digital marketing.

But the real twist?

All of their followers knew they weren't real. It's the kind of dystopian techno-theater that'll soon be par for the course as digital celebrities become more and more commonplace, says Wired.

And we're not just talking about fictional CGI characters, like Miku Hatsune or the Gorillaz, either. Soon we might see CGI recreations of real-life celebrities being used in commercials and movies. According to Quantum Capture CEO Morgan Young, "There's a really interesting revenue model built around that, wherein you might not get access to the talent themselves, but you might get access to their digital avatar, and the actual human being will make money off of the use of their avatar."

We're entering a brave new world: soon companies won't have to go through real-life celebrities to access the buying power of their fans – they can just manufacture their own suite of digital celebrities that are always on-message and never have to go to rehab. Most people have never seen Johnny Depp outside of TV and magazines, so will it really be that different if celebrities aren't real people to begin with?

And will it be that different when the question is turned on us?
Science
Science News
Technology
Dystopias
No