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Virtual Influencers

May 4, 2018

 

Technology is advancing more quickly than ever. This is a given fact, and, most recently, technological advancements have changed our world in previously unthought of, or perhaps concerning, or helpful, ways.

 

The biggest example of technology influencing our mainstream, is the rise of virtual instagram models such as Lil Miquela and Shudu, CGI-created models realistic enough to pass as real people, and to have much the same online presence as real people. There is, of course, a real person behind these models, but they often do not have any credits or representation, and act as if they are the model themself. Some of these “virtual influencers”, such as Lil Miquela, have also taken stands for political and social reasons, including encouraging followers to donate to Black Girls Code, a nonprofit dedicated to technology education for African American women, and to be better transgender allies. Companies selling things from clothing to makeup have begun using virtual models in addition to real people for advertising.

 

While this development provides opportunities for companies to advertise their products with limited costs and control over the appearance of their models down to minute details, it has been criticized for numerous reasons including,putting models out of work, especially those that already have little representation, such as models of color. In addition, it poses a concern over dystopian overtones associated with Artificial Intelligence posing as and passing as real people. Ultimately, it will likely take computer-generated influencing becoming mainstream to see the true effects of this trend on our society, but, regardless, this development presents a unique use for technology in mimicking human life.

 

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