Earlier this week, the Guardian published a piece on how Chinese influencers are using AI digital clones of themselves to pump out content. The demand for AI character clones has led a number of AI startups to begin selling digital avatars and characters to influencers and media companies. “Silicon Intelligence, based in Nanjing, can generate a basic AI clone for as little as 8,000 yuan (a little over $1,000),” per the Guardian. “The company only needs one minute of footage of a human being to train a virtual livestreamer.”
The focus of that piece was on Taiwanese influencer Chen Yiru, who live streamed footage of himself eating chicken feet for 15 hours. Chen has nearly nine million fans on the social media platform Weibo. Many of them were impressed with the feat until some started to question if it was even possible. Once they learned that the video was AI, Chen reportedly lost more than 7,000 followers in two days. But this was hardly the first time a creator has turned to AI clones to help them generate content.
In July of this year, gaming creator Jordi van den Bussche, better known as Kwebbelkop, announced on Instagram that he’d trained an AI character to make YouTube videos for him. He told Wired that the labor of creating content for his YouTube channel — coming up with video ideas, shooting them, distributing them — had made it so that he could never take a vacation. Otherwise, van den Bussche said, “my entire business would stop.”
In short, like Chen, van den Bussche had come up against the inevitable burnout that plagues all creators, and he needed to find a solution…