Your favourite Instagram face might not be a human. How AI is taking over influencer roles
South Korean influencer Rozy has over 130,000 followers on Instagram. She posts photos of globetrotting adventures, she sings, dances and models. The interesting fact is, unlike most popular faces on the medium, Rozy is not a real human. However, this digitally rendered being looks so real that it’s often mistaken for flesh and blood.
How Rozy was designed?
Seoul-based company that created Rozy describes her as a blended personality – part human, part AI, and part robot. She is “able to do everything that humans cannot … in the most human-like form,” Sidus Studio X says on its website.
Sidus Studio X explains sometimes they create an image of Rozy from head to toe while other times it is just a superimposed photo where they put her head onto the body of a human model.
Rozy was launched in 2020 and since then, she pegged several brand deals and sponsorships, and participated in several virtual fashion shows and also released two singles.
And a CNN report claims, that Rozy is not alone, there are several others like her. Facebook and Instagram together have more than 200 virtual influencers on their platforms
The CGI (computer-generated imagery) technology behind Rozy isn’t new. It is ubiquitous in today’s entertainment industry, where artists use it to craft realistic nonhuman characters in movies, computer games and music videos. But it has only recently been used to make influencers, the report reads.
South Korean retail brand Lotte Home Shopping created its virtual influencer — Lucy, who now has 78,000 Instagram followers.
Lee Bo-hyun, Lotte representative, said that Lucy’s image is more than a pretty face. She studied industrial design, and works in car design. She posts about her job and interests, such as her love for animals and kimbap — rice rolls wrapped in seaweed.
There is a risk attached
However, there is always a risk attached to it. Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta has acknowledged the risks.
In a blog post, it said, “Like any disruptive technology, synthetic media has the potential for both good and harm. Issues of representation, cultural appropriation and expressive liberty are already a growing concern,” the company said in a blog post.
“To help brands navigate the ethical quandaries of this emerging medium and avoid potential hazards, (Meta) is working with partners to develop an ethical framework to guide the use of (virtual influencers).”
However, even though the elder generation is quite skeptical, the younger lot is comfortable communicating with virtual influencers.
Lee Na-kyoung, a 23-year-old living in Incheon, began following Rozy about two years ago thinking she was a real person. Rozy followed her back, sometimes commenting on her posts, and a virtual friendship blossomed — one that has endured even after Lee found out the truth, CNN report said.
“We communicated like friends and I felt comfortable with her — so I don’t think of her as an AI but a real friend,” Lee said.
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