Is This Girl An Actual Person?

 

Real or fake, you tell me? For the past five months that I’ve followed @LilMiquela on Instagram I honestly didn’t have an answer. After studying a few posts, I had no doubt that she looked computer generated. Even in a realm where humans edit out their imperfections and enhance or generate better qualities through apps like FaceTune, there is something about Miquela that is missing a human aspect. Still, part of me couldn’t wrap my head around it. Aside from the images looking ever so slightly off, Miquela’s presence on social media said human to me and to so many others.

I first learned of this social media sensation through my internship last semester with Puma, when the company met for a  “Town Hall” meeting where they identified and explored their target consumer for their “Do You” marketing campaign: Miquela Sousa.

I learned that Miquela Sousa, a Spanish-Brazilian American, created a social media presence that is highly regarded by Generation Z, with 1 million Instagram followers and 17.5K on Twitter. She is, for lack of a better term, “woke.” As a 20 year-old from Downey, California she is noted for her youthful spirit, awareness, and acceptance: advocating for people of color, feminist movements, as well as additional progressive politics. She connects with her fans through her music (she is also an artist) and commenting, exchanging makeup tips and kind words.

Her Instagram feed is aesthetically pleasing which also doesn’t hurt.

So, after much confusion and lack of insight, I FINALLY have some answers concerning the nature of Miquela’s existence… and now so does Miquela.

Four days ago, on Friday, April 20th, Miquela and her followers simultaneously learned that she is indeed not a human being. She is but a computer simulation. AI, CGI all that good stuff we exhaust in class (not complaining!). So, what went down?

In a turn of events, Miquela’s Instagram was hacked by none other than another computer simulated person named Bermuda (DRAMA!!!). Bermuda threatened to expose Miquela’s existence on her own terms unless Miquela agreed to meet up and accept her reality. And so, Miquela conceded. (Still confused how AI’s meet up, like is that through the computer or IRL I do not know, but here is a photo of the two together.)

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 12.51.40 AM

Miquela and Bermuda are two of the three AI influencers on social media (@Blawko22 being the third)

So apparently, Miquela didn’t even know she is created purely from technology. In Miquela’s most recent statement posted on Instagram, she explains that she knew she was different, but her managers at @brud.fyi told her she was based on the life and mind of a human named Miquela Sousa. Instead, she was actually built by a man named Daniel Cain in order to be a servant(?). Brud apparently stole the technology from Cain’s company and “re-programmed” her to be “free.”

Since discovering the nature of her existence, Miquela has posed the question “I am not a human, but am I still a person?” She explains that she feels so human. “I cry and I laugh and I dream. I fall in love.”

So what do you all think? Honestly, even with the certainty that Miquela is not a human being I still have questions regarding her physical nature. She looks too computer automated to be a walking, talking, physical-robot like Saudi Arabian citizen Sophia, assuming our technology has not yet matched that of WestWorld where hosts (robots) and humans can be easily mistaken. Still, she is captured in photos with real people who seem to be her real friends through tags and comments. I’ve never seen a video of her interacting with these people, but this has all become too wrapped up in actual reality for me to fully comprehend.

 

Also, I am still wondering what exactly is Miquela’s purpose? Is this all one big marketing ploy for Brud? Is she just a brand? Or, like a human, does she need to be created with an exact intended purpose? I am excited to see what you all have to say!  

If you haven’t seen past Season 1 Episode 6 of WestWorld skip this final note please! depositphotos_125946288-stock-illustration-spoiler-alert-rubber-stamp

I am officially issuing a SPOILER ALERT:  

Maybe it’s due to the timeliness of WestWorld airing Episode 1 of Season 2 last night, but I can’t help and think of Maeve/Dolores discovering their reality is a lie and they are actually robots when reading Miquela’s Instagram post addressing her existence. Although I can’t exactly empathize with her, I do feel bad for the girl! 

10 comments

  1. mpduplesmba · ·

    This is so bizarre and crosses way beyond the cool-creepy line! You’re spot on with the Westworld comparison, and it’s also similar to “Fiona” from this week’s Silicon Valley episode, and all the questions of “what is real?” from WW S2E1, and makes me think of Elon Musk’s theory that we’re living in a simulation. Too many thoughts…
    Btw, how long before we have AI versions of today’s reality TV shows? Just imagine the drama in The Bachelor, Real World, or Keeping Up With the Kardashians with AI and humanoids!

  2. profgarbusm · ·

    This is one of those things that for me not only crosses the creepy/cool line but hurdles over it. I had no idea that such AI existed until this post, and the fact that AI has achieved human emotion (so to speak) is for lack of a better word, freaking weird. I definitely think it is interesting how she built a social media following and how she is somehow in pictures with real people – but man does that just give me creepy vibes.
    I haven’t seen West World so I skipped the end, but I definitely hope we don’t create human-like AI’s as iRobot has had me paranoid since I was a young child.

  3. nescrivag · ·

    Super interesting post! I am super confused by this post because I have a hard time grasping the concept. I think this might be one of the reasons why people are scared of what AI will lead to in the future. This fictional character seems so real that it really makes me question where AI is headed. How long till there are robots walking around and interacting with us? If they can have emotions on their own and have a social media account with a million followers, I wonder how things will be 5-10 years down the road. Will brands start using AI’s as social influencers? What are the implications of this for the business world?

  4. oliverhowe14 · ·

    I still can’t tell if I’m creeped out by this or scared that by “setting her free” it’s going to start iRobot. The fact that she “just found out” that she isn’t a human confuses me a bit, but what can I say? It’s not an issue that I really have to worry about myself.
    Because so many people believed that she was a real person, it scares me a bit as to what the potential of AI is. Is it already out there, sophisticated to the point where we can’t tell that it isn’t a human? Is Miquela just a rough draft that we can tell isn’t human? Who knows.

  5. RayCaglianone · ·

    Timely Westworld connection! Pretty creepy, connects to the “Uncanny Valley” phenomenon where there is something artificial that looks almost human, but that little element that is off makes it appear eerie and a little unpleasant. I’m mostly just confused about the motivations behind this account: are the masterminds trying to prove a point about the artificial nature of social media? Are they just trying to see how many people they can fool into thinking this is a real person? It all seems like some sort of bizarre digital social experiment, and I don’t know who is in on the joke.

  6. phanauer1 · ·

    As others have said, great Westworld connection – I’m glad you brought it there because I was certainly thinking it before getting to that point. What’s more, I think some of the central questions being discussed in the end of season 1 and beginning of season 2 of Westworld are some of the same questions being asked here. What does it mean to be human-like? Can an artificial intelligence also have feelings and emotions the way do? Are AIs who are “freed” actually free and what are they free to do? Can a robot “be” a human? I think these are just some of the questions that we’re going to have to take into consideration as these technologies become more common and prominent. It’s amazing to me, in any case, that this sort of technology is already here, I had no idea! Great post!

  7. kylepdonley · ·

    Just when I think I’ve seen it all in this class. To be honest, I’m not sure what to think about this, which is strange for me because I’m usually pretty quick to make up my mind. Learning about this makes me feel like we have finally crossed over into bizzaro land. On one hand I don’t see why people would follow a computer generated image, but at the same time it’s a fascinating social experiment. I’m genuinely conflicted about whether or not to follow this myself out of pure curiosity. Thanks for sharing, this is definitely #D worthy!

  8. I have honestly never been so speechless after reading a blog post. I really do not know how to respond to this, but that I am very confused and weirded out like everyone else that has commented. I actually looked her up after reading this post and scrolled through her Instagram. Whoever is behind this post ovbiosuly is encompassing all aspects of society as of now, but how far will they go? She calls her followers her “fans” and weridly enough for a profile that has 1M followers, she does not get the “likes” that a normal account would with 1M. Everything about this Instagram confuses me and I honestly do not have much more to say than that. Good work on this blog post!

  9. DingnanZhou · ·

    Great post! The technology has been sophisticated enough so that we cannot tell a person is real or fake. It traced back to our discussion in Artificial Intelligence. Is that really a threat? All we hope is that the value generated fro itself should be positive to the human society. So far I have not seen harm from this scenario. I think the society should also embrace it in an appropriate way.

  10. I SWORE that I commented on this already, but I guess not. I think it’s clearly a marketing ploy, but the fact that youre even asking that question shows its not a very good one.

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