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Insight of the Day: AI-generated models could bring more diversity to the fashion industry — or leave it with less

AI-generated models in the fashion industry present a complex situation that could either bring more diversity to the field or result in less. This potential for increased diversity stems from the fact that AI models can be designed in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and appearances, potentially offering more inclusive representation for consumers. This in turn can allow shoppers to make better-informed purchasing decisions and may help reduce fashion waste from product returns. Additionally, digital modeling could lead to cost savings for companies and offer new opportunities for those interested in working with AI technology.

However, critics argue that AI models may displace human models and other professionals in the fashion industry, such as makeup artists and photographers. The use of AI-generated models also raises concerns about authenticity and ethics. Consumers could be misled into believing AI models are real, and companies might use them to appear more diverse without actually employing diverse human models. This could be particularly concerning for underrepresented groups such as women and people of color, who have traditionally faced higher barriers to entry in modeling.

Despite these criticisms, some proponents of AI-generated models see potential benefits. For instance, the technology could supplement traditional photo shoots, allowing shoppers to see products modeled by different body types and ethnic backgrounds. AI companies also argue that their technology creates new jobs by paying humans to train their algorithms.

The ethical use of AI-generated models remains a significant issue. Models may be used to train AI systems without their consent or fair compensation, and companies could exploit them without proper labor protections. To address these challenges, legal regulations, such as those being considered in New York state, could require companies to obtain models' consent and provide fair compensation for their AI replicas.

In the end, the impact of AI-generated models on diversity in the fashion industry will depend on how the technology is implemented and regulated, as well as the industry's commitment to genuine diversity and inclusion efforts.

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