Artificial Intelligence Influencer Influencer Marketing

Miss AI shows just how far influencer marketing can miss the mark


By Lauren Ingram, Founder

April 25, 2024 | 5 min read

Wouldn’t it be great to have more women working in tech and AI? No, not like that... Women of Web3’s Lauren Ingram delves into what the Miss AI competition says about the sector.

Miss AI

A screenshot from the Miss AI site

Move over Miss World, the robots are here: there’s a new competition where virtual influencers in bikinis battle it out to be crowned Miss AI. Sorry, but are we living in a simulation?

Judges will rank these virtual women for their looks, their social media clout, and the AI-prompting skills behind these creations in a bid to win a share of a $20,000 (£16,000) prize pool.

Even some of the judges are AI-generated. They probably won’t be wearing pixelated bikinis right enough. So far, so dystopian.

The virtual influencer market is expected to reach $13.8bn by 2025, and yes, it can be a fun bit of brand building, like Lil Miquela: she has 2.6m followers and a healthy income from brand partnerships. Lil Miquela isn’t known for saucy images, and by looking at her, she’s clearly computer-generated; she’s not masquerading as a real woman. There is, of course, something a bit mind-bending about a robot doing paid partnerships with brands, but it feels innocuous.

Things blur when AI-generated influencers are increasingly realistic, scantily-clad and looking submissive. It’s both shocking and somehow totally unsurprising that many of these AI women are making money on OnlyFans as well as on Instagram - though I very much doubt it’s women leading the creation and monetization of these robot dolls.

Pitting these AI women against each other is, at the very least, mildly disrespectful to women, or at worst, totally outrageous and worthy of a sick bucket. Because of their overly realistic looks - but with totally unattainable standards - they give women another reason not to feel great about themselves. In fact, I was struck by how equally horrified men have been by Miss AI. Everyone is asking: is this the best we can do with technology?

I started Women of Web3 a couple of years back while (f)unemployed with a newborn, learning about things like NFTs, AI and the metaverse to try to get myself back into a role in big tech - and I spotted an alarming lack of women in this niche in tech. Nine out of 10 Web3 startups don’t have any women at all on their founding teams. And women only command 0.7% of the VC funding flowing into AI startups.

So the existence of things like Miss AI makes the world of AI feel more hostile and unwelcoming to women - when actually, we urgently need more women in this space. We need women at the table, sharing the decisions and playing a key part in architecting what comes next for the internet.

We have made incredible progress in technology in such a short time, so let’s make the most of it. All of the hype and bluster about generative AI is totally deserved - it really does present a massive opportunity, and anyone who doesn’t jump on the AI train risks being left behind.

But as ever, it’s not the tech that’s the problem - it’s the humans pressing the buttons. Miss AI is a stark reminder of a more hostile, objectifying internet we could be hurtling towards - and we should do everything in our power to avoid that.

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