One fine morning, "myfriendsylvia started following you" read the notification on my Instagram account.
Sylvia claims to be a virtual model. The unique feature of this CGI model is that it portrays the figure of an aged woman with fine-lined wrinkles. Hence, breaking the stereotype that 'robots ain't aging'.
She currently has over 1k followers on her Instagram account.
Human dependency on technology has been increasing over the recent few years. COVID-19 introduced the world to a new normal, virtual normal. We were able to witness an interesting chain of events during the pandemic which showed us the various technological feats that humans have achieved to date, be it a virtual character attending your graduation ceremony or be it the robot cheerleaders dancing at a baseball match in Japan.
This reminds me of a phrase from the book 'Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology' by Ray Kurzweil in which he stated: "By the end of this decade, computers will disappear as distinct physical objects, with displays built in our eyeglasses, and electronics woven in our clothing, providing full-immersion visual virtual reality."
"Machines will soon take over the world" is the common tagline that we get to hear every day.
Today, robots are not merely representations of the wonders of the science but they have also successfully turned into social media influencers.
On September 6th, 2019, Sophia made an appearance in NY Fashion Week. Sophia is the first humanoid Robot Citizen who was developed by Hanson Robotics in 2016. In a recent interview, Sophia expressed her willingness to represent brands that are socially responsible.
Miquela Sousa aka lilmiquela
With 2.7 million Instagram followers, Miquela remains one of the most popular CGI influencers. She was listed as the "Most Influential People on the Internet 2018" by Time Magazine. She has her own YouTube channel and she is known to have taken interviews of famous personalities such as J Balwin and for her kiss scene with Bella Hadid for a Calvin Klein ad campaign. Miquela has also been releasing songs for over a year now. Miquela's latest single "Hard Feelings" over 2.4 million views.
Imma aka imma.gram
In a recent Ad Campaign, IKEA used a CGI influencer Imma as their model. In the ad, she can be seen leading a normal life just like a human. Imma can be seen doing yoga, walking her dog, dancing to her favorite music, all in while being socially active on Instagram, and posting about her life.
Shudu aka shudu.gram
Shudu claims to be the World's First Digital Model. The CGI influencer has over 200k followers on Instagram. In 2019, Shudu appeared in the September issue of Vogue Australia. Shudu has been successfully able to draw the attention of her followers towards the beauty of 'Women of Color'.
One of the breakthrough events of her career was when Rihanna's brand 'Fenty Beauty' noticed her and decided to repost her post displaying the brand's lipstick. Since then, the CGI supermodel's career has been successfully on the right track.
Blawko aka blawko22
Blawko made his first appearance on the internet in 2017. Blawko has his own YouTube channel where he answers questions about his 'Robot Life'. He also gives real-life pieces of advice. His YouTube channel is diverse and he has even successfully addressed issues such as Sex education. Some news channels have addressed him as the 'Robot Sex Symbol'.
Bermuda aka bermudaisbae
Bermuda is another widely popular CGI model influencer who has gained widespread popularity due to her cheeky personality. From Supporting Donald Trump to hacking Miquela's account and calling her out to confess that she's a CGI model, Bermuda has successfully garnered attention from the public.
Bermuda also claims to have dated Blawko.
The two have reportedly been separated for quite some time now. Bermuda has been successful in creating her own life that seems so real to be fake. Bermuda is a versatile woman and she represents women who are open to sharing their views with no fear of hatred. She claims to be interested in beauty, wellness, and economics.
How are 'real' people from the real world reacting to the uprising of the virtual models?
The people have shown mixed feelings towards the uprising of these models.
On one hand, it's now easier for brands to connect with the creators of these CGI influencers directly and tell them about their requirements. It's easy to make adjustments and meet the desired outcome on time without having to re-do everything again. The models can now be shown to portray scenes that are sometimes difficult for human models to pull off.
On the other hand, some spectators are in fear that these virtual models will soon replace the human models. The models are in fear that they might lose their jobs to the virtual characters. They're also being accused of imposing unrealistic beauty standards in society.
Some are in fear of the negative values that are being promoted by these CGI models. In one of his YouTube videos, Blawko claimed that his original name is "Ronald Fucking Blawko". Some of the viewers reacted to this as insensitive and vulgar.
Bermuda is the most controversial CGI influencer so far and some people have commented on her as being problematic. Over the years, she has gained a lot of love and hatred from the people.
What can we expect in the next few years?
According to reports by Business Insider, the influencer marketing value is expected to rise by $15 billion by 2022. Although, CGI influencer marketing has only gained traction in the last few years, the market value of CGI influencer is expected to rise in the upcoming years mainly due to an increase in competition in the market.
The brands are continuously in a struggle to search models with the least controversy, more productivity, and more uniqueness.
We are soon about to hit a point when there will be the least differentiation between a human and a machine.
The researchers are constantly working towards making our life more simple by introducing new machinery in our everyday life.
Currently, the development in the AI sector has made it possible for us to experience the never before seen side of machines.