Remember when the Lensa app had social media users in a proverbial chokehold? Almost everyone was giving us looks into a reimagined version of themselves through the power of artificial intelligence (AI).
From retro outfits to futuristic ideas, people posted portraits that gave them a range of possibilities for how they show up in art mediums. And while not every single image was spot on, it did show the greater potential of what the technology can do.
Lensa is just one example. Other emerging platforms such as AI chatbot ChatGPT and AIVA — an AI music generator — provide a world of possibilities for tech enthusiasts and casual users alike.
With AI’s increased use and advancement, many companies are figuring out how to incorporate the technology into their work streams. But how much AI is too much?
According to Now This News, Levi Strauss & Co. announced a new partnership with Lalaland.ai for a more sustainable approach to diversity among its product models.
The company’s press release explains that the AI models will supplement real-life people later in 2023.
“While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us, we are excited for the potential capabilities this may afford us for the consumer experience,” said Dr. Amy Gershkoff Bolles, Global Head Of Digital And Emerging Technology Strategy at Levi Strauss & Co.
What’s alarming is that Levi Strauss & Co. (Levi’s) believes this move is the next step toward diversity and inclusivity related to body positivity and racial diversity.
“We see fashion and technology as both an art and a science, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Lalaland.ai, a company with such high-quality technology that can help us continue on our journey for a more diverse and inclusive customer experience,” Bolles explained.
While it’s alarming, the concept is not new.
AfroTech previously reported that the first AI model was a Black woman, Shudu. However, the “booked and busy” model was not the work of a Black creator.
“Within the first two years of her career, she was featured in Vogue, Hypebeast, V Magazine, and WWD, fronted campaigns for Balmain and Ellesse, graced the red carpet at BAFTA 2019 awards wearing a bespoke gown by Swarovski, released her own record and was named one of the most influential people on the internet by Time,” The Outlet reported March 2021.
While Levi’s may or may not have taken notes from Shudu’s creator, it may have truly believed its move was innovative and trendsetting. However, on the other hand, Twitter users seem to disagree, describing it as “lazy” and “performative.”
Do you guys know we’re actually real, @LEVIS ? You don’t have to use AI, you HIRE ACTUALLY DIVERSE PEOPLE.
— Cipher of the Golden Spatula (@snarkylicious) March 25, 2023
Genuinely curious what Levi’s thinks the point of diversity is if it doesn’t actually include a diverse group of people
— big belly gorgon (@pr0fiteer) March 24, 2023
This appears to be just another example of big corporations tapping into performative methods to champion DEI efforts without doing actual work that positively impacts the people they are intending to reach.