AI image generator Midjourney ends free trials after deepfakes of Trump and the Pope go viral

Robotic hand using laptop.

Midjourney may have built too good of a product before being ready to handle the consequences of what happens when people use it.

As reported by The Washington Post, the company has stopped giving out free trials to new users, citing “extraordinary demand and trial abuse." David Holz, the founder and CEO of Midjourney, made the announcement on Discord, admitting that the company's “new safeties for abuse … didn’t seem to be sufficient.”

“We just want to minimize drama,” the company’s founder and CEO, David Holz, said last year in a post on the chat service Discord. “Political satire in china is pretty not-okay,” he added, and “the ability for people in China to use this tech is more important than your ability to generate satire.”

In addition to the announcement on Discord, Holz held a live session on the service where he admitted that the company was unsure how to handle how good the tool it created was. The CEO said that, at this point, the company could either go "full Disney or go full Wild West" when it comes to the realism of the images.

And on a Midjourney “office hours” session on Wednesday, Holz told a live audience of about 2,000 on Discord that he was struggling to determine content rules, especially for depicting real people, “as the images get more and more realistic and as the tools get more and more powerful.” “There’s an argument to go full Disney or go full Wild West, and everything in the middle is kind of painful,” he said. “We’re kind of in the middle right now, and I don’t know how to feel about that.”

For those who still want to use Midjourney, you'll need to now pay to do so. The monthly subscription cost ranges from $10 to $60 per month.

Midjourney is responding due to the recent viral deepfakes that have come from the service. If you've seen photos of former President Donald Trump getting arrested or Pope Francis wearing a stylish white coat, you've seen an AI-generated image that was created using Midjourney.

As the realism of these images, many of which were created simply by typing text as to what you want the image to depict, comes into everyday life, it's going to be even harder to distinguish between what is an AI-generated image and what is actually real. Some companies like Runway are already working to create realistic AI-generated videos, which will make things even more challenging.

The AI race is accelerating so fast that, this week, a group of experts, including notable names like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, signed an open letter to immediately halt the development of more advanced AI than OpenAI's GPT-4. The group says that not doing so before the proper guard rails can be put in place poses “profound risks to society and humanity.”

The post AI image generator Midjourney ends free trials after deepfakes of Trump and the Pope go viral appeared first on BGR.

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