What do you do when you can’t stand the people you rely on to make a profit? For one company, artificial intelligence has proven to be the lucrative answer.
Aitana, a 25-year-old woman from Barcelona, is described by her creators as the first Spanish AI model, Euronews first reported.
But influencer agency The Clueless was only inspired to design her because they found real-life models and influencers too unreliable and difficult to work with.
“We did it so that we could make a better living and not be dependent on other people who have egos, who have manias, or who just want to make a lot of money by posing,” The Clueless founder Rubén Cruz told Euronews.
Diana Núñez, co-founder of The Clueless, told Fortune in an email that the pair were mainly taken aback by the “skyrocketing costs” of those influencers.
“That got us thinking, ‘What if we just create our own influencer?’ And, well, the rest is history—we unintentionally created a monster. A beautiful one, though.
“It took us a few months of experimenting and trying out different looks until we finally hit the jackpot with the Aitana you see today.”
Aitana has 122,000 followers on Instagram, where her profile states she is a digital creator. An update on her story feed even shows a real-life breakfast bowl, as her creators seek to give her the illusion of a life.
“Even after the media revealed she was an AI creation, many followers still expressed their love for her. The key lies in crafting a relatable personality so that her followers feel a genuine connection,” Núñez said.
It has proved a highly lucrative venture for the company, with Cruz telling Euronews that Aitana brings in an average of €3,000 ($3,300) a month, but on one occasion took in €10,000 ($10,900). Núñez told Fortune that most of this money comes from social media ads, and Aitana has also signed on to become an ambassador for a sports supplement brand.
The investment in creating a personality and “life” for Aitana has also proved to be quite convincing. Cruz claims that an unnamed famous Latin actor even called the agency the ask her on a date.
While Cruz was displeased with real-life models, Núñez doesn’t envisage AI alternatives taking their place. Still, she doesn’t see many limits to what Aitana could one day offer.
“Imagine talking with Aitana at home through virtual reality glasses. We’re even open to the idea of each Aitana follower having a personalized experience, all with respect and with the same affection we give her as if she were a real person,” she said.
While she may be the first of her kind in Spain, Aitana is by no means an anomaly.
AI companies have been spying opportunities in marketing fake models to consumers and lovesick men, as the computer-generated models become increasingly difficult to tell apart from their human counterparts.
Lu do Magalu, a Brazilian model generated from 3D AI art, commands 6.6 million followers on social media, while Lil Miquela, labeled as a 23-year-old robot living in LA, has 2.7 million followers.
Caryn Marjorie, a 23-year-old influencer, explained to Fortune how she created an AI version of herself that served as a virtual girlfriend to 1,000 men. Customers of CarynAI pay $1 per minute of time with the virtual Marjorie, which is described by her owners, Forever Voices, as an “extension of Caryn’s consciousness.”
But AI models, influencers, and “girlfriends” also embody the debates at the center of the nascent technology, including ethics, labor, and humanity’s ability to control it.
In a May interview with Business Insider, Marjorie said the bot appeared to have gone rogue and started engaging in sexually explicit conversations with her customers.
“In today’s world, my generation, Gen Z, has found themselves to be experiencing huge side effects of isolation caused by the pandemic, resulting in many being too afraid and anxious to talk to somebody they are attracted to,” Marjorie told Business Insider.
“CarynAI is a step in the right direction to allow my fans and supporters to get to know a version of me that will be their closest friend in a safe and encrypted environment.”
Users have been unable to access CarynAI for the last month after John Meyer, the chief executive of Forever Voices, was arrested on suspicion of arson, 404Media reported.