Meet Lil Miquela, Your New Favorite Influencer (Who is Also A Robot)

Social media influencers come in all shapes and sizes these days. Children, dogs, an alien statue named Lil Mayo; all of these have seen the little blue “verified” check mark next to their names. But one of the more interesting (and fashionable) entries in the ever-growing list of notable influencers is Miquela Sousa, a 19-year-old model, musician, and social justice activist—who also happens to be an AI.

 

Touting upwards of 1.4 million followers, her Instagram features photoshoots, diary entries, and occasional ramblings from a teenage robot who struggles with coming to terms with her artificial origins. The comments on her posts are highly polarized; half of them come from fans adorning her with hearts and praise, while the other half are either confused (“Is this a human being??”) or accusatory (“If you’re really a robot then why don’t you post a video of yourself?”). Despite the naysayers, she’s been featured in publications such as Highsnobiety, V Magazine, and Garage Magazine (yes, the one with Rihanna on the cover), and she’s even gotten her own featured article in Vogue.

While some see her as a fashion icon and inspiration, others see her as one of the internet’s greatest mysteries. Some are convinced she’s simply a normal girl pretending to be a robot for the online attention. Others think she’s a real-life, in-the-flesh humanoid AI. Some have even rumored that she’s part of a marketing ploy to advertise The Sims. Underneath the various theories surrounding her creation, there are a few facts that have been confirmed: she was “created” by Sara Decou and Trevor McFedries as part of a digital multimedia narrative project, and there seems to be a team at work behind all of her photos. The exact methods used to create her uncanny-valley likeness are unknown, as well as the identity of the person “modeling” for her.

 

In spite of the confusion surrounding her existence and the hordes of skeptics flooding her posts, Miquela seems to take all this in stride. She speaks openly of her unique experiences and is willing to engage with those who have questions. Amongst her designer collaborations and high-end photo shoots featuring brands like Chanel, Supreme, and Prada, she also advocates for Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights, and Planned Parenthood. For a CGI superstar, she is surprisingly humble.

 

If you choose to follow her, you’ll quickly become invested in the dramatic details of her life. There are two other AIs created in connection with this project: Blawko, a video game streamer and avid meme poster, and Bermuda, a former Trump supporter with a bit of a superiority complex. Spoiler alert: they’re dating. Also, Miquela seems to have gotten a human boyfriend during a trip to New York. Oh, and she dyed her hair pink. Am I freaking out? ABSOLUTELY.

I have my own theories regarding Miquela’s creation, but for now I’m just hooked on the robot drama. 🐸☕️

 

- Kate Schumacher