Walter Mercado’s Family ‘Honors’ Legacy by Launching AI Avatar on Cameo
While getting some “celestial wisdom” from Mercado for $99 seems fun enough, we’re also conflicted. The iconic television astrólogo died back in 2019, and we’re wondering if the “Walter Mercado Avatar Experience” is keeping him from… you know, eternal rest.
Mercado’s AI avatar dropped today, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of his death as well as Día de Muertos. One look at his Cameo webpage shows the biography, “Latin Icon Astrologer/TV Star known for messages of positivity and empowerment.” It also allows fans to order a personalized video birthday greeting, piece of advice, a pep talk, or interestingly enough, a roast.
Who is ordering Walter Mercado’s AI avatar to roast their friends? It’s just a question!
24 hours later, you will have the deceased astrologer’s AI avatar ghost talking to you in your inbox. As you can see in the example video on the site, Mercado’s AI avatar is creepily realistic, saying: “I can provide personalized messages, filled with hope and self-empowerment. Use your power to support those around you with encouraging energy and love… Mucho, mucho, mucho amor.”
Of course, all of this begs many questions. What would Mercado think about this AI avatar of his likeness after death? As the astrologer’s family backs the enterprise, is it right to essentially make Mercado work from the grave? Where does consent play into all of this?
And why does all of this feel like a very-Latino “Black Mirror” episode?
Mercado’s family-backed AI avatar dropped today on the anniversary of his death
As per a press release about Mercado’s new avatar, it can send messages in both English and Spanish. The avatar also seems like it can answer questions, giving guidance to fans much in the way Mercado touted his spiritual predictions on television.
According to the release, the AI project will send “messages of love, peace, and inclusion.”
Interestingly, Walter Mercado’s eerily-real avatar is powered by the company DeepReel, which makes AI videos from text. It also seems like the astrologer’s AI avatar isn’t just stopping at Cameo. In fact, as per the press release, Mercado’s AI likeness will soon inhabit his social media channels, including Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and X.
Meaning, that you’ll soon see Mercado’s avatar on social media revealing horoscopes— just like he did on television while he was alive.
Mercado’s great-nephew Miguel Benet explained the family’s purpose in creating the AI avatar. “My family’s mission is to honor and celebrate the enduring legacy of our uncle Walter.”
He also added that they did it for the fans: “Through this amazing technology, we found a new way for those who cherish the memory of Walter to connect with him once again.”
Benet also described to Despierta América that he felt “very excited” when he first saw the avatar in action. “When you see Walter come back to his form, in his voice, with his message, and knowing him so well, we connected and cried a little.”
“We miss him,” Benet said. The great-nephew also hinted that Mercado may have wanted this— or at least for his message to live on forever. “It was always Walter’s wish to maintain his positive message for his public. He was always a person that gave a lot of self-esteem to the people he spoke with.”
Continuing, “To be able to continue that message years after he left us, is an important legacy for him and the family.”
While Mercado may have wanted his “mucho, mucho amor” message to live on forever, it is unlikely that he ever expressed a dying wish to live on forever as an AI avatar. Of course, the astrologer’s $99 Cameos could be funding his estate as we speak. In this way, the entire business model has become another way for heirs to profit off celebrity success after their death.
Back in 2021, one X user seemed to predict the future. “The days of putting dead celebrities on like, Cameo, to sell AI generated compliment audio laid to a deepfake video… are not far off.” They were right:
Another person this year wrote that they thought Cameo should “pivot to consented [celebrity] deep fakes” to stay profitable:
While yet another recently wrote how AI avatars of deceased stars will surely appear in movies soon:
While the news is still fresh, few people on social media have yet reacted to Mercado’s new AI avatar reincarnation. However, one X user did write, “AI of Walter Mercado isn’t cool.”
All we know is that the real Walter Mercado’s “mucho, mucho amor” message will live on forever… in our hearts:
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