Miquela Sousa, or Lil Miquela as she’s often called, is a 19-year-old model who’s amassed nearly 3 million fans. She’s worked with fashion companies like Uggs, Supreme, and Chanel and released two pop singles which she crafted alongside Sarah Aarons, Whethan, and Jordan Palmer— a collective of talents whose writing credits include Zedd, Dua Lipa, and Carly Rae Jepsen. This is one up and coming young lady you may or may not have heard of.
But here’s what’s interesting. Miquela Sousa is not a single flesh and blood human being. She is, in fact, an avatar—a robot with 2.7 million Instagram followers who relish seeing the many shots of Miquela hanging out with her friends.
Do we really care she’s not a single human entity?
Miquela responds to fan comments, posts lengthy notes describing exactly where her head is at in regards to feuds, gives interviews, and has even posed for selfies with a string of flesh-and-blood celebrities. Viewed through computer screens and touch screens, Miquela’s journey has all the hallmarks of a real human coming-of-age story. Yes, it’s all CGI and within the next year or two, will be completely AI controlled.
I know this makes many feel uncomfortable. I was forced for many years to deal with these uncomfortable feelings as I developed the world’s first polyphonic music synthesizer in the early 70s.
“Synthesized music will never be accepted”. These were the typical attitudes I had to battle some 45 years ago. Today, synths are accepted by nearly everyone—not as a substitute for traditional instruments, but as a legitimate musical instrument on its own.
What does it matter to Miquela’s fans that she’s not flesh and blood? Do they love her any less?
She is as real as her creators, just as synths are as real as a violin.
*Ht to Reid Hoffman for the riff