Miquela Sousa – or Lil Miquela to her friends – is a beautiful American model with Spanish and Brazilian features. Aged around 20, she loves fashion and rap music. She also likes playing sports and spending her free time with her numerous friends. She can often be found taking a dip in the pool, enjoying the pleasures of the palate – including junk food at times – and making appearances at many of the coolest events on the planet, such as the Prada show during Milan Fashion Week. Her face is everywhere: her Instagram profile has more than 1.5 million followers and she has been pictured on the covers of the world’s top fashion magazines.

All of this is par for the course for an up-and-coming model.

However, the difference in this case is that Lil Miquela does not exist.

Or at least she does not exist in the real world: Miquela Sousa is a digital creation produced by a robotics company that works in the field of artificial intelligence.

Lil Miquela was put together by graphic designers to be the first star influencer 3.0.

She has become a real phenomenon and attracted widespread attention from companies all over the world: fashion, technology, food and lifestyle brands vie for the opportunity to work with her and appear in her posts, as well as those of all of her colleagues.

That’s right: she is not the only one. More and more Artificial Influencers are springing up at an incredible rate.

One of the most noteworthy is Shudu Gram, a South African supermodel with a doll-like face, ebony skin and deep set eyes. She has been causing a social media stir ever since she first popped up on Instagram.

Don’t underestimate her just because she is new to the game: in one of her recent posts, the super-influencer posed for none other than Vogue Australia. She was wearing a dress by an emerging designer and sporting a creation by Tiffany & Co. around her neck.

The army of Artificial Influencers are reprogramming the operating system of reality. The real and the virtual are being blended and fused to make a world with no boundaries and distinctions.

The followers of Artificial Influencers adore them. It doesn’t matter that they are produced by programmers and blatantly fake: fascinating, engaging appeal is held by their social lives full of experiences, adventures, emotions and spare moments.

Brands revere them. They have an edge over living, breathing social media influencers because there is no need to deal with the fickle, extravagant behaviour often associated with celebrities, so companies can concentrate on showcasing the products that they want to promote.

The last obstacle to overcome is building up real trust. Things may soon change, but right now it is hard to have faith in the advice of an influencer with neither a body nor a soul and take on board her tips for choosing the longest-lasting lipstick or the most comfortable dress.

Social media influencers made of flesh and blood are safe for now. However, it is only a matter of time before they face some serious competition in the battle for the hearts of the online world.