Do digital influencers dream of electric sheep? No. They have virtual fantasies of Bella Hadid.
“I dream about crushes,” said Lil Miquela. The 19 year old AI ‘it girl’ often writes about crushes in her popular Instagram posts.
Lil Miquela is a virtual being (she actually refers to herself as a “robot. Like, beep boop and all that.”) and she recently shared an on screen kiss with human model Bella Hadid in a 30 second advert for Calvin Klein.
“Life is about opening doors. Creating new dreams that you never knew could exist,” narrates the voice over. The YouTube caption asks, “Is this a dream or real?”
Akihiko Kondo made that dream a reality by marrying virtual celebrity Hatsune Miku in a ceremony in Japan last November. "Society pressures you to follow a certain formula for love, but it might not make you happy," Kondo told CNN. "I want people to be able to figure out what works for them."
Kondo owns a Gatebox device (described as “a cross between a coffee maker and a bell jar”) that houses a holographic image of Miku floating inside. Japanese startup Vinclu developed the device for anime fans to be able to "live with" their favourite characters.
Yesterday my friend Tom Emrich (AR and VR investor, community builder, and “man from the future”) shared the trending Twitter hashtag #1stVideoGameCrush with me. I also noticed #1stAnimeCrush begin to appear in my timeline.
The trending tweets branched off from Comic book writer Gail Simone’s tweet earlier this week with #1stCartoonCrush: "Name the first animated character you ever had a crush on. Which animated character did you first think was super kissable, even if it sounds weird now?" Soon Twitter users began to swap out cartoons for video game and anime characters (Kondo got lucky: he married his).
The rise of digital humans was a theme at this week’s Collision Conference in Toronto. Darren Hendler of Digital Domain gave a talk on the main stage exploring how what we believe to be real will never be the same. “In the future when you look at a celebrity, you may not be able to tell that they are not real,” he said. “Soon digital humans will permeate every aspect of your life.”