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James Brockbank

1 year ago

Canonical URLs for Beginners

More on Technology

Sukhad Anand

Sukhad Anand

1 year ago

How Do Discord's Trillions Of Messages Get Indexed?

They depend heavily on open source..

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Discord users send billions of messages daily. Users wish to search these messages. How do we index these to search by message keywords?

Let’s find out.

  1. Discord utilizes Elasticsearch. Elasticsearch is a free, open search engine for textual, numerical, geographical, structured, and unstructured data. Apache Lucene powers Elasticsearch.

  2. How does elastic search store data? It stores it as numerous key-value pairs in JSON documents.

  3. How does elastic search index? Elastic search's index is inverted. An inverted index lists every unique word in every page and where it appears.

4. Elasticsearch indexes documents and generates an inverted index to make data searchable in near real-time. The index API adds or updates JSON documents in a given index.

  1. Let's examine how discord uses Elastic Search. Elasticsearch prefers bulk indexing. Discord couldn't index real-time messages. You can't search posted messages. You want outdated messages.

6. Let's check what bulk indexing requires.
1. A temporary queue for incoming communications.
2. Indexer workers that index messages into elastic search.

  1. Discord's queue is Celery. The queue is open-source. Elastic search won't run on a single server. It's clustered. Where should a message go? Where?

8. A shard allocator decides where to put the message. Nevertheless. Shattered? A shard combines elastic search and index on. So, these two form a shard which is used as a unit by discord. The elastic search itself has some shards. But this is different, so don’t get confused.

  1. Now, the final part is service discovery — to discover the elastic search clusters and the hosts within that cluster. This, they do with the help of etcd another open source tool.

A great thing to notice here is that discord relies heavily on open source systems and their base implementations which is very different from a lot of other products.

Will Lockett

Will Lockett

1 year ago

The World Will Change With MIT's New Battery

MIT’s new battery is made from only aluminium (left), sulphur (middle) and salt (left) — MIT

It's cheaper, faster charging, longer lasting, safer, and better for the environment.

Batteries are the future. Next-gen and planet-saving technology, including solar power and EVs, require batteries. As these smart technologies become more popular, we find that our batteries can't keep up. Lithium-ion batteries are expensive, slow to charge, big, fast to decay, flammable, and not environmentally friendly. MIT just created a new battery that eliminates all of these problems.  So, is this the battery of the future? Or is there a catch?

When I say entirely new, I mean it. This battery employs no currently available materials. Its electrodes are constructed of aluminium and pure sulfur instead of lithium-complicated ion's metals and graphite. Its electrolyte is formed of molten chloro-aluminate salts, not an organic solution with lithium salts like lithium-ion batteries.

How does this change in materials help?

Aluminum, sulfur, and chloro-aluminate salts are abundant, easy to acquire, and cheap. This battery might be six times cheaper than a lithium-ion battery and use less hazardous mining. The world and our wallets will benefit.

But don’t go thinking this means it lacks performance.

This battery charged in under a minute in tests. At 25 degrees Celsius, the battery will charge 25 times slower than at 110 degrees Celsius. This is because the salt, which has a very low melting point, is in an ideal state at 110 degrees and can carry a charge incredibly quickly. Unlike lithium-ion, this battery self-heats when charging and discharging, therefore no external heating is needed.

Anyone who's seen a lithium-ion battery burst might be surprised. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, none of the components in this new battery can catch fire. Thus, high-temperature charging and discharging speeds pose no concern.

These batteries are long-lasting. Lithium-ion batteries don't last long, as any iPhone owner can attest. During charging, metal forms a dendrite on the electrode. This metal spike will keep growing until it reaches the other end of the battery, short-circuiting it. This is why phone batteries only last a few years and why electric car range decreases over time. This new battery's molten salt slows deposition, extending its life. This helps the environment and our wallets.

These batteries are also energy dense. Some lithium-ion batteries have 270 Wh/kg energy density (volume and mass). Aluminum-sulfur batteries could have 1392 Wh/kg, according to calculations. They'd be 5x more energy dense. Tesla's Model 3 battery would weigh 96 kg instead of 480 kg if this battery were used. This would improve the car's efficiency and handling.

These calculations were for batteries without molten salt electrolyte. Because they don't reflect the exact battery chemistry, they aren't a surefire prediction.

This battery seems great. It will take years, maybe decades, before it reaches the market and makes a difference. Right?

Nope. The project's scientists founded Avanti to develop and market this technology.

So we'll soon be driving cheap, durable, eco-friendly, lightweight, and ultra-safe EVs? Nope.

This battery must be kept hot to keep the salt molten; otherwise, it won't work and will expand and contract, causing damage. This issue could be solved by packs that can rapidly pre-heat, but that project is far off.

Rapid and constant charge-discharge cycles make these batteries ideal for solar farms, homes, and EV charging stations. The battery is constantly being charged or discharged, allowing it to self-heat and maintain an ideal temperature.

These batteries aren't as sexy as those making EVs faster, more efficient, and cheaper. Grid batteries are crucial to our net-zero transition because they allow us to use more low-carbon energy. As we move away from fossil fuels, we'll need millions of these batteries, so the fact that they're cheap, safe, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly will be huge. Who knows, maybe EVs will use this technology one day. MIT has created another world-changing technology.

Dmitrii Eliuseev

Dmitrii Eliuseev

1 year ago

Creating Images on Your Local PC Using Stable Diffusion AI

Deep learning-based generative art is being researched. As usual, self-learning is better. Some models, like OpenAI's DALL-E 2, require registration and can only be used online, but others can be used locally, which is usually more enjoyable for curious users. I'll demonstrate the Stable Diffusion model's operation on a standard PC.

Image generated by Stable Diffusion 2.1

Let’s get started.

What It Does

Stable Diffusion uses numerous components:

  • A generative model trained to produce images is called a diffusion model. The model is incrementally improving the starting data, which is only random noise. The model has an image, and while it is being trained, the reversed process is being used to add noise to the image. Being able to reverse this procedure and create images from noise is where the true magic is (more details and samples can be found in the paper).

  • An internal compressed representation of a latent diffusion model, which may be altered to produce the desired images, is used (more details can be found in the paper). The capacity to fine-tune the generation process is essential because producing pictures at random is not very attractive (as we can see, for instance, in Generative Adversarial Networks).

  • A neural network model called CLIP (Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training) is used to translate natural language prompts into vector representations. This model, which was trained on 400,000,000 image-text pairs, enables the transformation of a text prompt into a latent space for the diffusion model in the scenario of stable diffusion (more details in that paper).

This figure shows all data flow:

Model architecture, Source © https://arxiv.org/pdf/2112.10752.pdf

The weights file size for Stable Diffusion model v1 is 4 GB and v2 is 5 GB, making the model quite huge. The v1 model was trained on 256x256 and 512x512 LAION-5B pictures on a 4,000 GPU cluster using over 150.000 NVIDIA A100 GPU hours. The open-source pre-trained model is helpful for us. And we will.

Install

Before utilizing the Python sources for Stable Diffusion v1 on GitHub, we must install Miniconda (assuming Git and Python are already installed):

wget https://repo.anaconda.com/miniconda/Miniconda3-py39_4.12.0-Linux-x86_64.sh
chmod +x Miniconda3-py39_4.12.0-Linux-x86_64.sh
./Miniconda3-py39_4.12.0-Linux-x86_64.sh
conda update -n base -c defaults conda

Install the source and prepare the environment:

git clone https://github.com/CompVis/stable-diffusion
cd stable-diffusion
conda env create -f environment.yaml
conda activate ldm
pip3 install transformers --upgrade

Download the pre-trained model weights next. HiggingFace has the newest checkpoint sd-v14.ckpt (a download is free but registration is required). Put the file in the project folder and have fun:

python3 scripts/txt2img.py --prompt "hello world" --plms --ckpt sd-v1-4.ckpt --skip_grid --n_samples 1

Almost. The installation is complete for happy users of current GPUs with 12 GB or more VRAM. RuntimeError: CUDA out of memory will occur otherwise. Two solutions exist.

Running the optimized version

Try optimizing first. After cloning the repository and enabling the environment (as previously), we can run the command:

python3 optimizedSD/optimized_txt2img.py --prompt "hello world" --ckpt sd-v1-4.ckpt --skip_grid --n_samples 1

Stable Diffusion worked on my visual card with 8 GB RAM (alas, I did not behave well enough to get NVIDIA A100 for Christmas, so 8 GB GPU is the maximum I have;).

Running Stable Diffusion without GPU

If the GPU does not have enough RAM or is not CUDA-compatible, running the code on a CPU will be 20x slower but better than nothing. This unauthorized CPU-only branch from GitHub is easiest to obtain. We may easily edit the source code to use the latest version. It's strange that a pull request for that was made six months ago and still hasn't been approved, as the changes are simple. Readers can finish in 5 minutes:

  • Replace if attr.device!= torch.device(cuda) with if attr.device!= torch.device(cuda) and torch.cuda.is available at line 20 of ldm/models/diffusion/ddim.py ().

  • Replace if attr.device!= torch.device(cuda) with if attr.device!= torch.device(cuda) and torch.cuda.is available in line 20 of ldm/models/diffusion/plms.py ().

  • Replace device=cuda in lines 38, 55, 83, and 142 of ldm/modules/encoders/modules.py with device=cuda if torch.cuda.is available(), otherwise cpu.

  • Replace model.cuda() in scripts/txt2img.py line 28 and scripts/img2img.py line 43 with if torch.cuda.is available(): model.cuda ().

Run the script again.

Testing

Test the model. Text-to-image is the first choice. Test the command line example again:

python3 scripts/txt2img.py --prompt "hello world" --plms --ckpt sd-v1-4.ckpt --skip_grid --n_samples 1

The slow generation takes 10 seconds on a GPU and 10 minutes on a CPU. Final image:

The SD V1.4 first example, Image by the author

Hello world is dull and abstract. Try a brush-wielding hamster. Why? Because we can, and it's not as insane as Napoleon's cat. Another image:

The SD V1.4 second example, Image by the author

Generating an image from a text prompt and another image is interesting. I made this picture in two minutes using the image editor (sorry, drawing wasn't my strong suit):

An image sketch, Image by the author

I can create an image from this drawing:

python3 scripts/img2img.py --prompt "A bird is sitting on a tree branch" --ckpt sd-v1-4.ckpt --init-img bird.png --strength 0.8

It was far better than my initial drawing:

The SD V1.4 third example, Image by the author

I hope readers understand and experiment.

Stable Diffusion UI

Developers love the command line, but regular users may struggle. Stable Diffusion UI projects simplify image generation and installation. Simple usage:

  • Unpack the ZIP after downloading it from https://github.com/cmdr2/stable-diffusion-ui/releases. Linux and Windows are compatible with Stable Diffusion UI (sorry for Mac users, but those machines are not well-suitable for heavy machine learning tasks anyway;).

  • Start the script.

Done. The web browser UI makes configuring various Stable Diffusion features (upscaling, filtering, etc.) easy:

Stable Diffusion UI © Image by author

V2.1 of Stable Diffusion

I noticed the notification about releasing version 2.1 while writing this essay, and it was intriguing to test it. First, compare version 2 to version 1:

  • alternative text encoding. The Contrastive LanguageImage Pre-training (CLIP) deep learning model, which was trained on a significant number of text-image pairs, is used in Stable Diffusion 1. The open-source CLIP implementation used in Stable Diffusion 2 is called OpenCLIP. It is difficult to determine whether there have been any technical advancements or if legal concerns were the main focus. However, because the training datasets for the two text encoders were different, the output results from V1 and V2 will differ for the identical text prompts.

  • a new depth model that may be used to the output of image-to-image generation.

  • a revolutionary upscaling technique that can quadruple the resolution of an image.

  • Generally higher resolution Stable Diffusion 2 has the ability to produce both 512x512 and 768x768 pictures.

The Hugging Face website offers a free online demo of Stable Diffusion 2.1 for code testing. The process is the same as for version 1.4. Download a fresh version and activate the environment:

conda deactivate  
conda env remove -n ldm  # Use this if version 1 was previously installed
git clone https://github.com/Stability-AI/stablediffusion
cd stablediffusion
conda env create -f environment.yaml
conda activate ldm

Hugging Face offers a new weights ckpt file.

The Out of memory error prevented me from running this version on my 8 GB GPU. Version 2.1 fails on CPUs with the slow conv2d cpu not implemented for Half error (according to this GitHub issue, the CPU support for this algorithm and data type will not be added). The model can be modified from half to full precision (float16 instead of float32), however it doesn't make sense since v1 runs up to 10 minutes on the CPU and v2.1 should be much slower. The online demo results are visible. The same hamster painting with a brush prompt yielded this result:

A Stable Diffusion 2.1 example

It looks different from v1, but it functions and has a higher resolution.

The superresolution.py script can run the 4x Stable Diffusion upscaler locally (the x4-upscaler-ema.ckpt weights file should be in the same folder):

python3 scripts/gradio/superresolution.py configs/stable-diffusion/x4-upscaling.yaml x4-upscaler-ema.ckpt

This code allows the web browser UI to select the image to upscale:

The copy-paste strategy may explain why the upscaler needs a text prompt (and the Hugging Face code snippet does not have any text input as well). I got a GPU out of memory error again, although CUDA can be disabled like v1. However, processing an image for more than two hours is unlikely:

Stable Diffusion 4X upscaler running on CPU © Image by author

Stable Diffusion Limitations

When we use the model, it's fun to see what it can and can't do. Generative models produce abstract visuals but not photorealistic ones. This fundamentally limits The generative neural network was trained on text and image pairs, but humans have a lot of background knowledge about the world. The neural network model knows nothing. If someone asks me to draw a Chinese text, I can draw something that looks like Chinese but is actually gibberish because I never learnt it. Generative AI does too! Humans can learn new languages, but the Stable Diffusion AI model includes only language and image decoder brain components. For instance, the Stable Diffusion model will pull NO WAR banner-bearers like this:

V1:

V2.1:

The shot shows text, although the model never learned to read or write. The model's string tokenizer automatically converts letters to lowercase before generating the image, so typing NO WAR banner or no war banner is the same.

I can also ask the model to draw a gorgeous woman:

V1:

V2.1:

The first image is gorgeous but physically incorrect. A second one is better, although it has an Uncanny valley feel. BTW, v2 has a lifehack to add a negative prompt and define what we don't want on the image. Readers might try adding horrible anatomy to the gorgeous woman request.

If we ask for a cartoon attractive woman, the results are nice, but accuracy doesn't matter:

V1:

V2.1:

Another example: I ordered a model to sketch a mouse, which looks beautiful but has too many legs, ears, and fingers:

V1:

V2.1: improved but not perfect.

V1 produces a fun cartoon flying mouse if I want something more abstract:

I tried multiple times with V2.1 but only received this:

The image is OK, but the first version is closer to the request.

Stable Diffusion struggles to draw letters, fingers, etc. However, abstract images yield interesting outcomes. A rural landscape with a modern metropolis in the background turned out well:

V1:

V2.1:

Generative models help make paintings too (at least, abstract ones). I searched Google Image Search for modern art painting to see works by real artists, and this was the first image:

“Modern art painting” © Google’s Image search result

I typed "abstract oil painting of people dancing" and got this:

V1:

V2.1:

It's a different style, but I don't think the AI-generated graphics are worse than the human-drawn ones.

The AI model cannot think like humans. It thinks nothing. A stable diffusion model is a billion-parameter matrix trained on millions of text-image pairs. I input "robot is creating a picture with a pen" to create an image for this post. Humans understand requests immediately. I tried Stable Diffusion multiple times and got this:

This great artwork has a pen, robot, and sketch, however it was not asked. Maybe it was because the tokenizer deleted is and a words from a statement, but I tried other requests such robot painting picture with pen without success. It's harder to prompt a model than a person.

I hope Stable Diffusion's general effects are evident. Despite its limitations, it can produce beautiful photographs in some settings. Readers who want to use Stable Diffusion results should be warned. Source code examination demonstrates that Stable Diffusion images feature a concealed watermark (text StableDiffusionV1 and SDV2) encoded using the invisible-watermark Python package. It's not a secret, because the official Stable Diffusion repository's test watermark.py file contains a decoding snippet. The put watermark line in the txt2img.py source code can be removed if desired. I didn't discover this watermark on photographs made by the online Hugging Face demo. Maybe I did something incorrectly (but maybe they are just not using the txt2img script on their backend at all).

Conclusion

The Stable Diffusion model was fascinating. As I mentioned before, trying something yourself is always better than taking someone else's word, so I encourage readers to do the same (including this article as well;).

Is Generative AI a game-changer? My humble experience tells me:

  • I think that place has a lot of potential. For designers and artists, generative AI can be a truly useful and innovative tool. Unfortunately, it can also pose a threat to some of them since if users can enter a text field to obtain a picture or a website logo in a matter of clicks, why would they pay more to a different party? Is it possible right now? unquestionably not yet. Images still have a very poor quality and are erroneous in minute details. And after viewing the image of the stunning woman above, models and fashion photographers may also unwind because it is highly unlikely that AI will replace them in the upcoming years.

  • Today, generative AI is still in its infancy. Even 768x768 images are considered to be of a high resolution when using neural networks, which are computationally highly expensive. There isn't an AI model that can generate high-resolution photographs natively without upscaling or other methods, at least not as of the time this article was written, but it will happen eventually.

  • It is still a challenge to accurately represent knowledge in neural networks (information like how many legs a cat has or the year Napoleon was born). Consequently, AI models struggle to create photorealistic photos, at least where little details are important (on the other side, when I searched Google for modern art paintings, the results are often even worse;).

  • When compared to the carefully chosen images from official web pages or YouTube reviews, the average output quality of a Stable Diffusion generation process is actually less attractive because to its high degree of randomness. When using the same technique on their own, consumers will theoretically only view those images as 1% of the results.

Anyway, it's exciting to witness this area's advancement, especially because the project is open source. Google's Imagen and DALL-E 2 can also produce remarkable findings. It will be interesting to see how they progress.

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Ben Chino

Ben Chino

1 year ago

100-day SaaS buildout.

We're opening up Maki through a series of Medium posts. We'll describe what Maki is building and how. We'll explain how we built a SaaS in 100 days. This isn't a step-by-step guide to starting a business, but a product philosophy to help you build quickly.

Focus on end-users.

This may seem obvious, but it's important to talk to users first. When we started thinking about Maki, we interviewed 100 HR directors from SMBs, Next40 scale-ups, and major Enterprises to understand their concerns. We initially thought about the future of employment, but most of their worries centered on Recruitment. We don't have a clear recruiting process, it's time-consuming, we recruit clones, we don't support diversity, etc. And as hiring managers, we couldn't help but agree.

Co-create your product with your end-users.

We went to the drawing board, read as many books as possible (here, here, and here), and when we started getting a sense for a solution, we questioned 100 more operational HR specialists to corroborate the idea and get a feel for our potential answer. This confirmed our direction to help hire more objectively and efficiently.

Survey findings

Back to the drawing board, we designed our first flows and screens. We organized sessions with certain survey respondents to show them our early work and get comments. We got great input that helped us build Maki, and we met some consumers. Obsess about users and execute alongside them.

Using whiteboards

Don’t shoot for the moon, yet. Make pragmatic choices first.

Once we were convinced, we began building. To launch a SaaS in 100 days, we needed an operating principle that allowed us to accelerate while still providing a reliable, secure, scalable experience. We focused on adding value and outsourced everything else. Example:

Concentrate on adding value. Reuse existing bricks.

When determining which technology to use, we looked at our strengths and the future to see what would last. Node.js for backend, React for frontend, both with typescript. We thought this technique would scale well since it would attract more talent and the surrounding mature ecosystem would help us go quicker.

Maki's tech

We explored for ways to bootstrap services while setting down strong foundations that might support millions of users. We built our backend services on NestJS so we could extend into microservices later. Hasura, a GraphQL APIs engine, automates Postgres data exposing through a graphQL layer. MUI's ready-to-use components powered our design-system. We used well-maintained open-source projects to speed up certain tasks.

We outsourced important components of our platform (Auth0 for authentication, Stripe for billing, SendGrid for notifications) because, let's face it, we couldn't do better. We choose to host our complete infrastructure (SQL, Cloud run, Logs, Monitoring) on GCP to simplify our work between numerous providers.

Focus on your business, use existing bricks for the rest. For the curious, we'll shortly publish articles detailing each stage.

Most importantly, empower people and step back.

We couldn't have done this without the incredible people who have supported us from the start. Since Powership is one of our key values, we provided our staff the power to make autonomous decisions from day one. Because we believe our firm is its people, we hired smart builders and let them build.

Maki Camp 2 team

Nicolas left Spendesk to create scalable interfaces using react-router, react-queries, and MUI. JD joined Swile and chose Hasura as our GraphQL engine. Jérôme chose NestJS to build our backend services. Since then, Justin, Ben, Anas, Yann, Benoit, and others have followed suit.

If you consider your team a collective brain, you should let them make decisions instead of directing them what to do. You'll make mistakes, but you'll go faster and learn faster overall.

Invest in great talent and develop a strong culture from the start. Here's how to establish a SaaS in 100 days.

Dung Claire Tran

Dung Claire Tran

1 year ago

Is the future of brand marketing with virtual influencers?

Digital influences that mimic humans are rising.

Lil Miquela has 3M Instagram followers, 3.6M TikTok followers, and 30K Twitter followers. She's been on the covers of Prada, Dior, and Calvin Klein magazines. Miquela released Not Mine in 2017 and launched Hard Feelings at Lollapazoolas this year. This isn't surprising, given the rise of influencer marketing.

This may be unexpected. Miquela's fake. Brud, a Los Angeles startup, produced her in 2016.

Lil Miquela is one of many rising virtual influencers in the new era of social media marketing. She acts like a real person and performs the same tasks as sports stars and models.

The emergence of online influencers

Before 2018, computer-generated characters were rare. Since the virtual human industry boomed, they've appeared in marketing efforts worldwide.

In 2020, the WHO partnered up with Atlanta-based virtual influencer Knox Frost (@knoxfrost) to gather contributions for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Lu do Magalu (@magazineluiza) has been the virtual spokeswoman for Magalu since 2009, using social media to promote reviews, product recommendations, unboxing videos, and brand updates. Magalu's 10-year profit was $552M.

In 2020, PUMA partnered with Southeast Asia's first virtual model, Maya (@mayaaa.gram). She joined Singaporean actor Tosh Zhang in the PUMA campaign. Local virtual influencer Ava Lee-Graham (@avagram.ai) partnered with retail firm BHG to promote their in-house labels.

Maya and Tosh Zhang in PUMA Rider campaign. Credits to Vulcan Post

In Japan, Imma (@imma.gram) is the face of Nike, PUMA, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, and Valentino. Imma's bubblegum pink bob and ultra-fine fashion landed her on the cover of Grazia magazine.

Imma on Grazia cover. Credits to aww.tokyo

Lotte Home Shopping created Lucy (@here.me.lucy) in September 2020. She made her TV debut as a Christmas show host in 2021. Since then, she has 100K Instagram followers and 13K TikTok followers.

Liu Yiexi gained 3 million fans in five days on Douyin, China's TikTok, in 2021. Her two-minute video went viral overnight. She's posted 6 videos and has 830 million Douyin followers.

Liu Yiexi’s video on Douyin. Credits to Ji Yuqiao on Global Times

China's virtual human industry was worth $487 million in 2020, up 70% year over year, and is expected to reach $875.9 million in 2021.

Investors worldwide are interested. Immas creator Aww Inc. raised $1 million from Coral Capital in September 2020, according to Bloomberg. Superplastic Inc., the Vermont-based startup behind influencers Janky and Guggimon, raised $16 million by 2020. Craft Ventures, SV Angels, and Scooter Braun invested. Crunchbase shows the company has raised $47 million.

The industries they represent, including Augmented and Virtual reality, were worth $14.84 billion in 2020 and are projected to reach $454.73 billion by 2030, a CAGR of 40.7%, according to PR Newswire.

Advantages for brands

Forbes suggests brands embrace computer-generated influencers. Examples:

  1. Unlimited creative opportunities: Because brands can personalize everything—from a person's look and activities to the style of their content—virtual influencers may be suited to a brand's needs and personalities.

  2. 100% brand control: Brand managers now have more influence over virtual influencers, so they no longer have to give up and rely on content creators to include brands into their storytelling and style. Virtual influencers can constantly produce social media content to promote a brand's identity and ideals because they are completely scandal-free.

  3. Long-term cost savings: Because virtual influencers are made of pixels, they may be reused endlessly and never lose their beauty. Additionally, they can move anywhere around the world and even into space to fit a brand notion. They are also always available. Additionally, the expense of creating their content will not rise in step with their expanding fan base.

  4. Introduction to the metaverse: Statista reports that 75% of American consumers between the ages of 18 and 25 follow at least one virtual influencer. As a result, marketers that support virtual celebrities may now interact with younger audiences that are more tech-savvy and accustomed to the digital world. Virtual influencers can be included into any digital space, including the metaverse, as they are entirely computer-generated 3D personas. Virtual influencers can provide brands with a smooth transition into this new digital universe to increase brand trust and develop emotional ties, in addition to the young generations' rapid adoption of the metaverse.

  5. Better engagement than in-person influencers: A Hype Auditor study found that online influencers have roughly three times the engagement of their conventional counterparts. Virtual influencers should be used to boost brand engagement even though the data might not accurately reflect the entire sector.

Concerns about influencers created by computers

Virtual influencers could encourage excessive beauty standards in South Korea, which has a $10.7 billion plastic surgery industry.

A classic Korean beauty has a small face, huge eyes, and pale, immaculate skin. Virtual influencers like Lucy have these traits. According to Lee Eun-hee, a professor at Inha University's Department of Consumer Science, this could make national beauty standards more unrealistic, increasing demand for plastic surgery or cosmetic items.

Lucy by Lotte Home Shopping. Credits to Lotte Home Shopping on CNN

Other parts of the world raise issues regarding selling items to consumers who don't recognize the models aren't human and the potential of cultural appropriation when generating influencers of other ethnicities, called digital blackface by some.

Meta, Facebook and Instagram's parent corporation, acknowledges this risk.

“Like any disruptive technology, synthetic media has the potential for both good and harm. Issues of representation, cultural appropriation and expressive liberty are already a growing concern,” the company stated in a blog post. “To help brands navigate the ethical quandaries of this emerging medium and avoid potential hazards, (Meta) is working with partners to develop an ethical framework to guide the use of (virtual influencers).”

Despite theoretical controversies, the industry will likely survive. Companies think virtual influencers are the next frontier in the digital world, which includes the metaverse, virtual reality, and digital currency.

In conclusion

Virtual influencers may garner millions of followers online and help marketers reach youthful audiences. According to a YouGov survey, the real impact of computer-generated influencers is yet unknown because people prefer genuine connections. Virtual characters can supplement brand marketing methods. When brands are metaverse-ready, the author predicts virtual influencer endorsement will continue to expand.

Victoria Kurichenko

Victoria Kurichenko

1 year ago

What Happened After I Posted an AI-Generated Post on My Website

This could cost you.

Image credit: istockphoto

Content creators may have heard about Google's "Helpful content upgrade."

This change is another Google effort to remove low-quality, repetitive, and AI-generated content.

Why should content creators care?

Because too much content manipulates search results.

My experience includes the following.

Website admins seek high-quality guest posts from me. They send me AI-generated text after I say "yes." My readers are irrelevant. Backlinks are needed.

Companies copy high-ranking content to boost their Google rankings. Unfortunately, it's common.

What does this content offer?

Nothing.

Despite Google's updates and efforts to clean search results, webmasters create manipulative content.

As a marketer, I knew about AI-powered content generation tools. However, I've never tried them.

I use old-fashioned content creation methods to grow my website from 0 to 3,000 monthly views in one year.

Last year, I launched a niche website.

I do keyword research, analyze search intent and competitors' content, write an article, proofread it, and then optimize it.

This strategy is time-consuming.

But it yields results!

Here's proof from Google Analytics:

Traffic report August 2021 — August 2022

Proven strategies yield promising results.

To validate my assumptions and find new strategies, I run many experiments.

I tested an AI-powered content generator.

I used a tool to write this Google-optimized article about SEO for startups.

I wanted to analyze AI-generated content's Google performance.

Here are the outcomes of my test.

First, quality.

I dislike "meh" content. I expect articles to answer my questions. If not, I've wasted my time.

My essays usually include research, personal anecdotes, and what I accomplished and achieved.

AI-generated articles aren't as good because they lack individuality.

Read my AI-generated article about startup SEO to see what I mean.

An excerpt from my AI-generated article.

It's dry and shallow, IMO.

It seems robotic.

I'd use quotes and personal experience to show how SEO for startups is different.

My article paraphrases top-ranked articles on a certain topic.

It's readable but useless. Similar articles abound online. Why read it?

AI-generated content is low-quality.

Let me show you how this content ranks on Google.

The Google Search Console report shows impressions, clicks, and average position.

The AI-generated article performance

Low numbers.

No one opens the 5th Google search result page to read the article. Too far!

You may say the new article will improve.

Marketing-wise, I doubt it.

This article is shorter and less comprehensive than top-ranking pages. It's unlikely to win because of this.

AI-generated content's terrible reality.

I'll compare how this content I wrote for readers and SEO performs.

Both the AI and my article are fresh, but trends are emerging.

Here is how my article written with SEO and users in mind, performs

My article's CTR and average position are higher.

I spent a week researching and producing that piece, unlike AI-generated content. My expert perspective and unique consequences make it interesting to read.

Human-made.

In summary

No content generator can duplicate a human's tone, writing style, or creativity. Artificial content is always inferior.

Not "bad," but inferior.

Demand for content production tools will rise despite Google's efforts to eradicate thin content.

Most won't spend hours producing link-building articles. Costly.

As guest and sponsored posts, artificial content will thrive.

Before accepting a new arrangement, content creators and website owners should consider this.