LONDON: Miquela Sousa is a success story for the modern age. She is a 19-year-old fashion-world influencer from LA with over 1 million followers.
She posts selfies on Instagram “wearing” labels like Diesel, Stussy and Prada and “hanging out” with various musicians and fashion industry figures at restaurants in New York City and LA, and has released a handful of popular singles.
However, she doesn’t cast a shadow in any of her photos, because to have a shadow, you have to exist. And Miquela doesn’t exist.
Lil Miquela, as she is known, is a computer-generated image, the work of an LA-based artificial intelligence firm called Brud.
She’s been in “photoshoots” in magazines like Interview and Highsnobiety, but it’s not clear how those images are created.
She has given interviews — via email — before, though her PR people, a New York City advertising firm, declined to make her, or Brud, available to the media to explain exactly what is going on here.
Is it an attempt to manufacture an influencer, someone with a lot of social media followers who can spruik brands’ products? Is it a branding exercise for an AI firm?
To Ryan Shelley, a social media expert from the firm Pepper IT, the fact that interest has piqued recently around Miquela’s existence suggests the power of this particular piece of storytelling.
“Some people tune in and watch the Kardashians on TV,” he said. “People are tuning into Instagram and they are watching the self-realization of a robot.”
Instagram trades on the idea of authenticity — you follow someone because you want that behind-the-scenes insight into their life, but the arrival of Lil Miquela has resulted in a redrafting of the script.