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The Making of a Computer-Generated Influencer

By The Wall Street Journal

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  • Kara Nortman
    Kara NortmanproPartner at Upfront Ventures

    First, virtual characters emerge to entertain us.

    Next, look for virtual characters to (1) inspire us as role models + (2) allow us to try on different virtual identities in the future FB, IG...

  • Parker Spitzer
    Parker SpitzerStudent at University of South Dakota

    “You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human,”

    In the end, human-created algorithms contain human bias, therefore human-related issues.

    I can’t wait to observe a PR crisis of a CGI influencer.

  • Max Lockie
    Max LockiePlatform Editor at Quartz

    I think I disagree with their investors thesis:

    “You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human."

    they act like they've invented the idea of an animated character. they have not. The Geico gecko and the talking M&Ms come to mind.

    The lifelike appearance of Miquela is an innovation. I will give them that. and placing her in real-life influencer situations is very creative.

    but not unproblematic. in many ways this is another chapter in the long history

    I think I disagree with their investors thesis:

    “You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human."

    they act like they've invented the idea of an animated character. they have not. The Geico gecko and the talking M&Ms come to mind.

    The lifelike appearance of Miquela is an innovation. I will give them that. and placing her in real-life influencer situations is very creative.

    but not unproblematic. in many ways this is another chapter in the long history of advertising firms creating unrealistic characters to engage young girls (to say nothing of the racial dynamic)

    But hey can 1.5M Instagram followers be wrong?

  • Naveen Jain
    Naveen JainproFounder & CEO at Viome

    Computer games have had these digital influencers for a decade or more. I think we are now seeing digital avatars and digital influencers entering in all walks of our life. We will be seeing them in marketing, banking, airport check ins etc.

  • Steven Rodas
    Steven RodasReporter at machineByte

    I think said computer-generated influencer actually changing the course of a person (or people’s lives) in regard to where they point their followers is where we get into tricky territory.

    Ends up becoming native advertising, no?

  • Helen Edwards
    Helen EdwardsAlways curious at Koru Ventures

    Origin story of a authentic human - rags-to-riches or a epiphany moment or an unusual talent or just something interesting that enables us to empathize and connect and admire. Origin story of a fake social media - an AI pivot and a whole ton of venture money.

  • Bill Quillin
    Bill QuillinCEO at Q&R

    I always think of Max Headroom.

  • I wonder what the goals of their influence would be? To get people to buy or consume more stuff? To inspire people to be hateful, close-minded and regressive? Or to inspire people to be more socially and environmentally conscious, open minded, principled, disciplined and responsible?

    Yeah, probably not the latter.

  • The magic Miquela isn't that she's a product of a cgi but that she delivers on the storytelling. Now that the truth is out, why wouldn't people follow her? Don't we go to the movies and watch CGI characters too? Don't we chat and engage with robotic caregivers in Japan? Assuming humans won't interact or follow an artificial entity just because it's not human is not realistic. I predict that we'll see this more often than not during the next decade. Also keep in mind the rise of VR will bring many

    The magic Miquela isn't that she's a product of a cgi but that she delivers on the storytelling. Now that the truth is out, why wouldn't people follow her? Don't we go to the movies and watch CGI characters too? Don't we chat and engage with robotic caregivers in Japan? Assuming humans won't interact or follow an artificial entity just because it's not human is not realistic. I predict that we'll see this more often than not during the next decade. Also keep in mind the rise of VR will bring many of these protagonists to life. Brud is very well positioned to deal with this.

  • Silicon Valley wants us to believe that its dystopian vision is inevitable. We can and must force change. Technology used to be a bicycle for the mind. It can be again.

  • Patrick deHahn
    Patrick deHahnNews curator at Quartz

    My best friends and my brother know how deep a hole I got into researching Lil'Miquela. (Shameless follower of them on Instagram.)

    It's really quite a fascinating concept and story that will only balloon up in the decades and centuries to come.

  • William Wood
    William WoodOwner at William Wood

    Just another step into Vance Packard’s Generation of Vipers

  • Ben Ellis
    Ben Ellis

    This is extremely interesting. The struggle will be, as is hinted at in yhe article, a balance between consumers knowledge of these characters as fake and their willingness to identify with these characters. The most surprising thing will probably be that the characters level self awarness as fictional characters will actually raise their level of "authenticity " with consumers. As if somehow their knowledge of their own fiction will make them more real. This article further depicts our cultures

    This is extremely interesting. The struggle will be, as is hinted at in yhe article, a balance between consumers knowledge of these characters as fake and their willingness to identify with these characters. The most surprising thing will probably be that the characters level self awarness as fictional characters will actually raise their level of "authenticity " with consumers. As if somehow their knowledge of their own fiction will make them more real. This article further depicts our cultures willingness to buy into fake celebrities and idolize that witch has no substance.

  • Wendy Marais
    Wendy MaraisCEO and Creative Director at Jazzled Inc

    It’s an important part or our new games and literary work to use these type of characters to provide social direction for our youth. One of the reasons for using this technology in my app - website and book the book is Harmony at Balboa Press look for it for your teen!

  • Yuni Wakamatu
    Yuni Wakamatu

    Ninja comic came back after reading this article:

    Shadow clone technique.It means you create the entity of the copy of yourself.What Intrigued me about this skill is that you can "double experience"as you and your copy do something respectively in that comic world.

    Scientifically speaking,the mind is only belonging to you but your copy has the possibility of monetizing better than the original.

    My question is what will happen to our identities if perfect projections get around?

  • “You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human.”

    Yes I’m sure that’s what the creators of Westworld thought, too...

    There may still be a gap between avatars and AI, but they will eventually converge. I predict in my life time, Avatar Agent or AI Defense Attorney will be lucrative jobs.

  • Dustin Blake
    Dustin BlakeRaconteur at Making Government Smarter

    After reading this article, and the gushing reactions posted here, I decided to check out “her” Instagram. I was expecting to be amazed by lifelike computer graphics, but instead was shocked at how un-lifelike it all was. Not sure how anyone might confuse this made up character with real life, but Brud does seem to be pulling off a real life performance art act by proving just how clueless some VCs are, and how willing they are to just throw tons of money at anything in hopes that they won’t be the

    After reading this article, and the gushing reactions posted here, I decided to check out “her” Instagram. I was expecting to be amazed by lifelike computer graphics, but instead was shocked at how un-lifelike it all was. Not sure how anyone might confuse this made up character with real life, but Brud does seem to be pulling off a real life performance art act by proving just how clueless some VCs are, and how willing they are to just throw tons of money at anything in hopes that they won’t be the one to miss the next Google or Facebook. News to VCs - this one isn’t even Snapchat.

  • John Whyte
    John Whyte

    Trump hopes within 20 months we’ll be able to have them vote for us because they know us so well.

  • Yikes: “You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human...” What could go wrong?

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