92 | Društvenemreže » Social media FENOMENI / PHENOMENA F U T UR E AT T HE DOOR Has the bell tolled for living influencers? The new rules of influence on social networks come from the virtual world of digital people who are generated by artificial intelligence and have frighteningly realistic qualities that are carefully designed to ensure their characteristics satisfy broad demographics More than a year before the pandemic changed the way we perceive (and use) digital media forever, a futuristic trend brought a completely new kind of impact to social networks – virtual influencers.These fictive, computer-generated individuals continued their tireless infiltration of the market under the conditions of lockdown, collaborating with prestigious brands and marketing agencies that enable them to earn money and make new lucrative engagements. Oh yes, virtual influencers make money just like those that are made of flesh and blood. And that income is expected to grow year on year. By definition, a virtual influencer is a fictional ‘person’ generated by artificial intelligence and carefully designed to ensure its characteristics satisfy the broad demographics of social networks. And they have what some would call ‘frighteningly realistic’ features. They behave like real-life influencers: they talk “candidly” in front of the camera, post selfies, and don't hide their thoughts and feelings. The only difference is the content. And, of course, themost obvious difference - their speech is pre-generated. Nor do they age. They can remain teenagers forever, if someone wants to program them in such a way. Themost famous example is @lilmiquela -Miquela Sousa, in every sense the first AI (artificial intelligence) influencer. She is a 19-year-old of Brazilian-Spanish origin: a fashion model and singer who was created in 2016 by creative agency Brud. Since making her debut, she has amassed three million followers on Instagram, and in 2018 she even made it onto Time magazine’s esteemed list of “Most Influential People on Instagram”. Miquela regularly joins forces with prestigious bands like Prada, Nike, Calvin Klein, Samsung and Mini. She recently signed a contract with agency Creative Artists, becoming their first virtual client, and will earn more than 10 million dollars this year. Like most 19-year-olds, Miquela has friends (robots, of course). And they represent the fruit of the work of Brud as an agency. Blawko is a self-proclaimed “low-life who identifies as a robot man,” and Bermuda is an “It girl” from Los Angeles who aims to inspire young entrepreneurs to engage in businesses that combine the latest advances in technology and the seductive world of the beauty industry. However, the story doesn’t end there. Around the same time that Miquela appeared, developers brought together within the start-up Riot Games (known for its mega-successful League of Legends project) created a virtual pop band, K/DA - because robots love music too, right? The girl power group disbanded, but that also happens with all such bands in “real life”. In the domain of fashion, Parisian fashion house Balmain quickly implemented this trend with the introduction of its own “Balmain Virtual Army".This was an ingenious endeavour launched by Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing with the aim of promoting the current collection available online, but also the long-term representation of the brand in stylish AI circles. Judging by all accounts, the story of virtual influence is on the rise. Should we worry about such a projection of the future? Probably not – with numerous filters and the carefully controlled narrative that’s used by “real” influencers, it is unlikely that to date, in the endless scroll of social networks, anything has had even the slightest thing in common with reality. Developeri udruženi u startupu Riot Games stvorili su virtuelni pop bend K/DA – jer i roboti vole muziku Developers brought together within the startup Riot Games have created a virtual pop band, K/DA - because robots also love music