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Linus Larson talks AI influencers on Instagram

You must really excuse me, because what I’m going to tell you about first is so predictable that it hurts my fingers to write about it. When AI systems that generate images began to approach realism a few years ago, a group of AI influencers quickly emerged. Virtual women who do not exist in real life travel to Provence and Bora Bora. They jump around, wear bikinis and write things like they love life and feel unstoppable. They do everything, except exist.

So, the most predictable AI and influencer lifetime thing imaginable happened. “It was inevitable,” writes the Futurism website.

Take the “Mila Sophia” to Example. She’s a 19-year-old blonde girl from Finland who has a taste for travel, palm trees, and not really being there. Other than that last one, her social media profiles are strikingly normal for her Instagram type. All photos are taken in charter-book environments, and the situation is about the same in all of them. The annotations tell us that the sun on the yacht is life and that it takes it on a magical journey. On Instagram she has 27,000 followers, on Tiktok 72,000.

One could point out that social media images are so fake and embellished that they are not authentic either, and that a person created entirely by AI embodies the essence of the influencer phenomenon.

But I’m more intrigued by the comments below the photos.

Because the thing is that Mela Sophia and her ilk make no secret of the fact that they are creations of artificial intelligence. On Twitter, her username is “AiModelMilla” and she describes herself as a “19-year-old hypothetical girl from Helsinki”. And if that wasn’t clear enough: “I am created by AI.” Many images contain tags such as #ai and #virtualinfluencer.

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However, the followers didn’t seem to take it. Every photo you post gets a long string of comments. Compliments and flirts from people who seem to think a pile of ones and zeros appreciate it. An elderly Danish gentleman invites the missing girl on a love trip to Copenhagen. Her uncle in Tunis reminds her to protect herself from the sun (but wishes her a happy holiday). Someone named Thomas sends a picture of a bunch of roses and asks her to call him. No one—no one—of the hundreds of men who commented seemed to understand that they were dealing with an artificial intelligence. Or they don’t want to understand.

The only hint Rationality is represented by a woman named Angela. For some incomprehensible reason, she took it upon herself to explain to the most sensitive of people that it was a bot on which they surfed the Internet. She rambles like a traffic cop into the comments section: “Oh my God, don’t you realize it’s a fictional photo?” As you say to the Tunisian.

He doesn’t answer, but a completely different person steps in and says perhaps the truest thing: “To this guy, she’s basically as real as you are in every way. He’ll never meet either of you. He only knows you as pictures.”

The uncle from Tunisia does not reply. He found new AI-generated images to talk to. He writes to another apparently non-existent woman: “I hope your morning is as bright as yours.”

is reading More texts by Linus Larssonfor example if What can skateboarder Tony Hawk’s uncle teach us about parting.