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.)
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!
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!