In the world of social media influencers, and amid the rise of in popularity of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s no surprise that the two have intersected. As a result, an up-and-coming influencer, Milla Sofia, has been introduced to the internet, where she’s sparked extremely divided reactions about why she exisits.
According to the developer behind the AI creation, Milla wasn’t solely made for the sake of getting followers.
Who is Milla Sofia? According to the “About Me” page on her website, the virtual creation - with light blonde hair and blue eyes - lives in Helsinki, Finland, where she’s in the midst of “considering which brand to become a fashion ambassador” for. She also describes herself as a fashion model who “brings an unparalleled and futuristic perspective to the realm of style”.
While she’s listed as 24 years old on her web site, she was previously referred to as a 19 year old. Speaking to The Independent, her agent, who asked not to be identified by name, said he made the change because it seems “the 19 year old doesn’t have enough experience for the tasks planned for Milla”.
She’s now taken on a new responsibility: A collaboration with a Finnish online store called tyyliluuri.fi. According to the press release from the store, which sells different phone accessories in Finland, the company will “organize various campaigns with Milla Sofia,” with the collaboration “expected to generate new creative ideas that will benefit all fashion lovers”.
“Cooperation with Milla Sofia is an exciting step towards a new and innovative direction for our brand,” Jouni Turpeinen, CEO of Tylluuri.fi, said. “Milla Sofia is an example of how artificial intelligence can create new opportunities for communications and marketing.”
Regarding her education, Milla studied at the fictional school “University of Life,” where her focus was “self-adaptive learning and data-driven mastery”. While she’s allegedly well aware that her educational path “isn’t typical,” the influencer notes on her website that she’s “always on the grind, learning and evolving through fancy algorithms and data analysis”.
In a similar fashion to many real influencers on social media, Milla’s content has risen quickly in popularity, with more than 67,900 followers on Instagram and 20,600 followers on X, formerly known as Twitter. In her posts, the AI influencer documents her adventures and everyday life, which includes a number of luxury vacations. For example, she posted a photo of herself on a luxury yacht in July, only days before sharing a video from a fake trip to Santorini. She also shows off a variety of different styles, ranging from her go-to bikinis for the beach, evening dresses for a night out, or dark-coloured blazers - one of which was paired with jeans and a bra - for the office.
In the comments under her posts, Milla, who looks like a caricature of an influencer with her blindingly white teeth and perfect hair, often receives a large amount of praise from her followers. Some people have expressed how impressed they are with her appearance, with remarks like: “You’re such a lovely young lady,” “Stunning as always,” and “Can we go for lunch?” However, others have questioned their fellow Instagram users for seemingly becoming obsessed with a woman who is not real, with one writing: “I can’t believe how many men are going absolutely NUTS over an AI creation.”
Speaking to The Independent about the infatuation over the virtual influencer, Milla’s agent described his commitment to making it clear that she’s just an online creation. “[Every] description on her social media pages clearly says that she’s a virtual influencer, created with artificial intelligence,” Milla’s agent said.
However, the developer still went on to praise the AI creation’s fans, while acknowledging that he understand some of the confusion over Milla’s identity.
“Fans are, of course, important, because content is created for them. After all, this is entertainment produced for them,” he said. “Since content created with artificial intelligence is still a very new phenomenon, this may of course cause misunderstandings for some followers at the beginning.”
Another concern about Milla - which has been widely discussed in the comments of her Instagram posts - is how her looks may negatively impact perceptions of beauty. “PLEASE REMOVE YOURSELF AND STOP HURTING YOUNG GIRLS WITH EVEN MORE UNREAL BEAUTY STANDARDS. Our youth is feeling like s*** and you are making it worse,” one critic wrote in the comments of a recent post.
However, according to Milla’s agent, unrealistic beauty standards have existed long before AI was created. The AI developer claimed that the internet has “been crafted and polished” for years, with big-name models and influencers regularly sharing edited photos of themselves online.
“Social media influencers edit and airbrush their content all the time, and different filters are popular,” the AI creator claimed. “In addition, many models and influencers have undergone cosmetic surgeries. So, the ideas of beauty has been distorted already for a long time. Artificial intelligence only makes it easier to make changes, and it is kind of just an additional step further away from reality.”
Milla’s agent is not the only one to face criticism over the concept of AI influencers. In August 2022, PacSun was hit with backlash after it revealed that its newest spokesperson was virtual influencer Lil Miquela, a CGI avatar who exists solely on the internet. On Instagram, where the 19-year-old robot has more than three million followers, she posts about life in Los Angeles with her iconic space buns hairstyle. After being named one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2018, she went on to be featured in ads for Prada, embarked on a singing career, and featured in a campaign for Calvin Klein, which saw her kiss Bella Hadid and spark criticism for “queerbaiting”.
Last year, when Lil Miquela was in charge of amplifying PacSun’s back-to-school and holiday campaigns on her Instagram, many questioned what the gig said about the clothing brand, with claims that it was unable, or unwilling, to find a real woman to become its ambassador.
Despite the backlash that AI creations have faced, Milla’s agent told The Independent that she was created for a reason beyond accumulating followers. “I needed an advertising face for one Finnish online store brand,” the developer recalled. “And I thought of trying to create this with the help of artificial intelligence, because I was interested in the possibilities brought by artificial intelligence anyway.”
The developer also alleged that, although he was initially focused on producing interesting content and gaining more followers when he realised Milla’s social media accounts were rising in popularity, that isn’t necessarily the case anymore. “With this project, I’m constantly learning a lot about artificial intelligence and that’s a big motivator to do this,” he added.
The AI Industry has been met with immense success over the last year, with the market reaching $86.9bn revenue in 2022, according to Forbes. The publication has predicted that AI’s value will continue to increase, as the market size is expected to reach $407bn by 2027.
According to Milla’s agent, he’s ready to dive into that world of AI, and continue to learn what it has to offer. He is also adamant that AI can be used for both “good and bad, just like many other innovations”.
“The world is constantly changing, and you have to adapt to it. It is not worth trying to artificially break the development,” the AI creator said. “Artificial intelligence can be used for good and bad, just like many other innovations. Artificial intelligence can really help people in many ways, and it can help make operations more efficient in almost every field.”