Let’s Get Real: Lil Miquela and the Dawn of Artificial Intelligence


Today we start a conversation on artificial intelligence. The discussion will, like the possibilities of the technology itself, take many forms.  As always, the discussion is improved when you join us.  

We are going to begin with Lil Miquela.  Maybe you’ve heard of her – but possibly not. She is a social media celebrity. Like new world pioneers Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian (tongue in cheek) her celebrity is a fame is built upon nothing except popularity itself.  As surprising as that is, it really shouldn’t be.  After all, we all went to high school and did popularity really make sense then?  

Anyway, back to Lil Miquela. As we said she is popular like the Kardashians. But unlike them, she is not real – whatever reality means to a Kardashian.  Let that reality sink in a little deeper.  A celebrity who is a daily part of the lives of over one million people is a computer generated entity.

Here is a key factor in the situation.  Lil Miquela is what ‘experts’ entitle an influencer.  It is term used by social media to indicate someone whose ideas, style, and/or art affects trends and impacts people.  This title is conferred upon the likes of Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, Elon Musk, Taylor Swift, and other titans of art and industry.  The marketing world picked up on this concept and used it their advantage.  They pay influencers to wear their clothes, drink their whiskey, drive their cars, or whatever. 

Yoga Pose Rachel Brathan
Yoga Pose Rachel Brathan

Rachel Brathen is one the most successful influencers, who – unless you are really into yoga -is completely unknown to you.  She makes in excess of five figures for a single Instagram post.  That is 100 Benjamin Franklins – who is known to you – per post.

For decades we have had celebrities as spokespersons for particular products. For example Mila Kunis doing commercials for Jim Beam.  Since the pioneering moment when E.T. ate Reese’s Pieces, we have had product placement. Now we have these influencers doing product placement through their life, well at least their life as portrayed by social media.  The idea has always been that if you want to be like your favorite celebrity then use the products they use and you will be.  That was always untrue.

But what does it mean if that celebrity is not a real person?

Does it really matter?

We have our favorite actors, musicians, writers, artists, athletes, leaders, or whatever famous person we appreciate, follow, or want to emulate. We watch their movies, read their blogs, follow the news about them, read their memoirs.  On some level we feel like we know them. Let’s be honest: we don’t.  No matter how endearingly folksy Ellen Degeneres is on television, we don’t know her.  To an even greater degree, she doesn’t know us.  Ellen, Denzel Washington, Arianna they are no more real to us than Lil Miquela.

But they are real.   

Does it matter?

These are questions for an age that is on the verge of the very real presence of Artificial Intelligence.

While those questions loom in uncertainty, Tabanero Cigars is certain that everything we do is very real.  Our cigars are made entirely by hand, the hands of artisans at our very real shop in the very real Ybor City.  Our founder and spokesperson is the very real and really relatable Yanko Maceda. He invites you to come down to our boutique to get a cup of coffee, light a cigar, sit down in our leather chairs, and discuss all these future possibilities.

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