No camera, no model: Could pixel perfect AI models replace the real thing?

Sharing the food she eats, the bands she listens to and the video games she plays, Aitana could be just another influencer. Credit: Instagram/fit_aitana

By Daniel Boal, ITV News Multimedia Producer

This is Aitana Lopez - described as a strong determined 25-year-old woman with a "complicated sense of humour".

Sharing the food she eats, the bands she listens to and the video games she plays, she could be just another influencer.

And with a following of over 265,000 on Instagram, and earning around £9,000 a month for her modelling work, she essentially is.

She is "bold" and "authentic", or so the bio on the modelling agency website that represents her says.

You'll never know if that is true, because she isn't a real person. The Clueless 'aigency' is one of many modelling agencies that employ a host of models, none of which are real people.

Aitana is potentially the most popular AI influencer in the world. She never needs a day off, never gets sick and doesn't even need to be paid.

And for brands wanting to advertise their products online, all of that is a very attractive prospect.

But how likely is it that real life models and influencers get replaced by their AI counterparts?

For her modelling work, Aitana reportedly makes up to £9,000. And for fans who want more private content from Aitana, they can subscribe to her private channel, and for a monthly fee they can exchange messages with her.

Her creators, Spanish company The Clueless, invented her as a solution to the inefficiencies of working with human models.

Speaking to ITV News, founder Luca Arrigo said: "Attention to this side of the industry really started to grow around a year ago. People can see with the advances in technology there are benefits in scalability, usability and longevity."

And, while the pick up in popularity for AI influencers and models looks set to continue, Mr Arrigo insists that it won't replace real life talent.

AI model built by the AImodelling agency for Romanian dress brand Stefaneea. Credit:

He added: "The comparison I like to make is with the synthetic diamond business, people panicked that there would be no appetite for real diamonds and the industry would collapse.

"But that wasn't the case.

"It is just a new medium for expression and artistry. When polaroid's came up against digital photography, things changed, but it didn't end polaroid's. I think this is the same, we are moving from photography to synthography."

Svein Clouston that without regulation AI could lead the fashion industry down a 'dangerous road'. Credit: Rationale

However, AI expert Svein Clouston from brand strategy agency Rationale, believes AI models could not just replace the real thing, but also make-up artists, photographers and location scouts.

He said: "There is no need for personnel time. The model is there whenever needed and they are already picture perfect."

Alongside the potential job losses, Clouston fears the inclusion of AI models could erode brand trustworthiness and authenticity.

He added: "A big part of what makes adverts attractive is their relatability. And at the end of the day these aren't real people, who have real personalities and interests - they are data sets inputted by the people behind them.

"Ultimately it all comes down to money, but as the technology gets more advanced it could leave people behind."

AI model Aitana Lopez wishing her followers a Merry Christmas. Credit: Instagram/fit_aitana

Speaking to Euronews, The Clueless agency founder Ruben Cruz said: "We started analysing how we were working and realised that many projects were being put on hold or cancelled due to problems beyond our control.

"Often it was the fault of the influencer or model and not due to design issues.” The logic is clear: why deal with a temperamental reality when you can rely on a perfect image?

“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."

Do AI models skew beauty standards and shift diversity boundaries?

Levi's partnership with to promote diversity through the use of AI models came under fire last year. Credit:

Studies have shown that social media already has a marked impact on body image concerns and self-objectification - something that could be exacerbated by AI.

Mr Clouston said: "Studies have shown that a third of women already feel bad after going on social media due to unrealistic beauty standards. I think AI could potentially make this worse.

"Another problem I feel we could encounter is diverse models being replaced.

"Already we have had campaigns from Levi jeans using AI models. Now that campaign was aimed at promoting diversity, but the AI model is an idealised version of what someone else thinks diversity looks like.

"So it isn't really representative at all.

"Ultimately AI models are data sets that have been inputted by other humans and will represent their idealised version of another person.

"And, as they aren't real, and are easy to make, there is the potential for infinite models that are promoting impossible standards."

Rise in AI images 'reducing trust' in what people see online

The rise of AI-generated images is eroding public trust in online information, a leading fact-checking group has warned.

Full Fact said the increase in misleading images circulating online – and being shared by thousands of people – highlights how many struggle to spot such pictures.

The organisation has expressed concerns about the adequacy of the new Online Safety Act in combatting harmful misinformation on the internet, including the growing amount of AI-generated content, and called on the government to increase media literacy funding to teach the public to better identify fake content.

Fake images of the Pope in a puffer jacket and Trump's 'arrest' circulating on social media last year. Credit: X @skyferrori / X @EliotHiggins

The campaign group points to a number of recent incidents, including fake mugshots of former US president Donald Trump and an image of Pope Francis wearing a puffer jacket, as clear instances where many users were fooled into sharing fake content and therefore misinformation.

Full Fact’s fact-checking work has also highlighted fake photographs of the Duke of Sussex and Prince of Wales together at the coronation, which it says were shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook, and an image of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pulling a pint of beer, which was edited to look worse and viewed thousands of times on X, formerly Twitter.

The charity said it believes most of the influx of low-quality content flagged by fact-checkers is not necessarily intended to get people to believe an individual claim but to reduce trust in information generally.

It also says the large volume of fake or manipulated content could have an impact on the availability of good information online by flooding search results.

The recent, rapid evolution of AI apps means capable, AI-powered image generation or manipulation tools are now readily available online.

Chris Morris, Full Fact chief executive, said: “This year, we have seen repeated instances of fake AI images being shared and spreading rapidly online, with many people unsuspectingly being duped into sharing bad information.

“A great example is the viral AI-generated image of the Pope wearing a puffer jacket, which was shared by tens of thousands of people online before being debunked by fact-checkers and news outlets alike.

“It is unfair to expect the public to rely on news outlets or fact-checkers alone to tackle this growing problem.

“Anyone can now access AI imaging tools, and unless the government ramps up its resourcing to improve media literacy, and addresses the fact that the Online Safety Act fails to cover many foreseeable harms from content generated with AI tools, the information environment will be more difficult for people to navigate.

“A lack of action risks reducing trust in what people see online. This risks weakening our democracy, especially during elections.”

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