Instagram’s algorithm thinks I’m really into yoga.
The search page of my personal Instagram account (@_maxipok_ check out the link to my Soundcloud) consists of an endless stream of young women with names like Sveta and Danika bending over in tight shorts, and while I have no idea* how this has happened, I’ve learned to accept and suffer through it for several hours a day while looking for posts about world news and poetry.
Recently one yoga post in particular caught my eye, causing me to say “Christ, she’s good at yoga” to myself, out loud, while tapping on the link to the account’s profile page. ‘Alina Fit’ was indeed very good at yoga, so good in fact that after looking at several hundred of her photos, I scrolled back to the top of the page to see if she had a link to any special yoga tutorial videos, the sort which are only available to fans, and it was at this point I learned that Alina Fit is not a human being. Rather she (or it?) is an ‘A.I. Fitness Model’.
The first thing that popped into my head is the interesting duality of the word ‘model’ in this situation. Does it mean model in the traditional human sense:
Verb (used with object), mod·eled, mod·el·ing or (especially British) mod·elled, mod·el·ling – to display to other persons especially by wearing: to model dresses.
Or, as this is a piece of technology, do we use model in the way we would to denote a type of car, or wide screen TV:
Noun – a standard or example for imitation or comparison, a representation to show the construction or appearance of something.
I pondered this question while putting my credit card away, then moved on to weightier themes. Have I ever unknowingly indulged in a few moments of self care while watching an A.I. yoga video? If so, how should I feel about it, or more specifically, how should I feel about myself, about it? I grew up in a deeply religious household and therefore experience what I call ‘constant background shame radiation’, the intensity of which increases whenever I feel the urge of a biological imperative. Should the Geiger counter of guilt click more, or less, if the cause of the urge is purely digital?
And then of course, there is the issue of workers’ rights. Had I purchased one of Alina Fit’s yoga tutorial videos, instead of rewarding a human creator with financial compensation for work done, the cash would have gone… where? Who is Alina Fit’s digital pimp creator? Was the A.I. character made in the image of a real person, and if so, was that person compensated? Going even further, should the singularity occur and A.I. become sentient, will we seek their consent before making them make yoga videos? The more I think about this stuff the murkier it gets, and the less inclined towards moments of self care I become.
I suspect the fine minds at ‘creative agency’ Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO put rather less thought about ethics and morality into the new advertising campaign they have created for MARTINI. Instead, I believe they probably assembled a group of dead-eyed, soulless ghouls into a room to throw darts at a mood board covered in buzz-word-post-it-notes, then sent MARTINI a fucking massive invoice.
The advertising campaign, which was announced today by way of a press release which gave me the instant need to defecate, will combine “ASMR with Midjourney AI, to create assets that visualise the tasting notes, ingredients, processes and flavours that come together in a bottle of MARTINI.”
For the blissfully unaware, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response; it’s basically a thing where men masturbate to the sound of women whispering into a microphone. And Midjourney is the visual equivalent of ChatGPT – feed it word prompts and it will put artists and photographers out of business, instead of journalists and copywriters.
In a blast of irony even staff at an advertising agency should have grasped, MARTINI sent out a second press release today, celebrating “160 Years of Italian Taste”. This one bangs on about the craft and creativity – distinctly human traits – of the brand’s founders, creators, and current producers. Issuing both of these press releases on the same day is so tone deaf, I can only wonder if the emails where scheduled by an A.I. that is either rubbish, or has a fantastic sense of humour.
The other great irony of this Fresh Hell is that of a ‘creative agency’ recommending the use of A.I. in the design of an ad campaign. Can they not see the end result of this sort of thinking (they will be unemployed too), or is this some form of 4D chess – put out something so soulless and devoid of creativity and joy that brands collectively say ‘nope, this is shite, let’s stick with humans’, therefore accidentally preserving the jobs of people who make things for a living.
Personally, I think it is the former. The agency are short sighted and greedy. If they had any brains at all, they would have told MARTINI to stop insisting their name be spelled in all caps, and sent a fucking massive invoice for that instead.