In “Looker,” a 1981 science fiction thriller starring Albert Finney, James Coburn and Susan Dey, involves a high tech research firm that concludes that real, live models, even after cosmetic surgery, can’t approach the physical perfection that will optimally influence consumers. Models are offered a contracts to have their faces and figures scanned to create 3D computer-generated avatars, indistinguishable from them, which are animated for use in commercials. Once their bodies duplicated digitally, they get lifetime paychecks (though not for as much as Miguel Cabrera, currently at $400,410,623 and counting, gets) and can retire, since their computer-generated, more perfect dopplegangers will be doing their work for them. For some reason, the evil tech firms has all of the models murdered, but that part of the plot is irrelevant here.
42 years later, Levi Strauss & Co. announced in a press release yesterday that it is partnering with an AI company to “increase the number and diversity of our models for our products in a sustainable way.” Yeah, those digital models in “Looker” were also “sustainable,” even though the models’ flesh and blood models were disposable. Levi’s will test the use of AI models to “supplement” real-life models later in 2023.
“While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us”, “—-yeah, tell it to Susan Dey—-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, sounding a lot like James Coburn, the evil advertising genius in “Looker.”
Meanwhile, in arguably related news, Levi Strauss & Co. will be laying off 800 employees — almost 20% of its corporate jobs.