This project will examine emerging artificial intelligence technologies and how they use queer narratives to raise questions about the nature of identity and personhood itself. We plan to tackle this question through the lense of a digital influencer and self-identifying queer robot called Lil Miquela, who emerged as a digital presence in 2016 and whose narrative is controlled by a California startup. It’s important that we approach our research of this topic from two angles: the journalistic think-pieces that provide context and commentary surrounding Lil Miquela, and academic sources such as the cyborg manifesto, which provide a larger history and context to the study of artificial personhood.
We want to present our conclusions about artificial personhood and queerness in a zine format. Zines are already associated with queer media, and digitalizing this format aligns with our project’s theme of digitalizing queerness itself. We want to present scholarly information such as Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto in an interactive and accessible way. Scholarly sources should be in direct, side-by-side conversation with journalistic sources on Lil Miquela and AI startups using queer narratives. By using a zine format, we also hope to open this discussion to people outside of the world of GSS and academia.
In order to convey our message, we could include:
- Examples of Lil Miquela’s tweets, vlog entries, and Instagram posts that demonstrate her borrowing of queer narratives.
- A place for viewers to enter the discussion via live chat, where they can comment on our input as well as the sources.
- Artistic breakdown of background information from both journalistic and scholarly sources, animation of key quotes to introduce the viewer to the world of queer AI.
We are researching the implications of artificial personhood on queer identities because we want to know what the future of this technology means for LGBTQ+ people. We want our audience to question the ways in which companies use queer stories and bodies for profit, how an artificial identity is created through coding and storytelling, and how these ideas could evolve in the future.
Some questions we plan to explore are:
- How does artificial intelligence challenge our assumptions about identity and personhood?
- Why does someone like Lil Miquela, who claims multiple marginalized identities despite being a robot, attract profit for ad companies?
- How do robots and artificial beings bring out a fear of the “other” in society and how might this be compared to fear of actual queer people?
- What does it mean that Lil Miquela’s content is written by a team of creators rather than by coding? How does this make her different than a fictional character?