Midjourney halts free trials after fake AI images go viral
Midjourney has temporarily cancelled free trials of the AI art service after a series of AI-generated fake images went viral, according to the company’s founder David Holz.
Holz announced the changes on Discord (and noted by The Verge) which is the platform that Midjourney uses as its default interface. The reason? “Due to a combination of extraordinary demand and trial abuse we are temporarily disabling free trials until we have our next improvements to the system deployed,” Holz said.
While Holz didn’t go into specifics, the subtext may have been that users have rediscovered Midjourney again. The AI art service recently deployed what it calls Midjourney v5, a new update that allows for some incredibly lifelike AI creations. “Photos” of Pope Francis went viral, appearing to show the pontiff in a stylish white puffy jacket, like something a rapper might wear. Similar “photos” of former president Donald Trump decked out in gladiator gear and other macho costumes can also be found on Discord via its search function.
Midjourney’s previous free trial required users to create a new Discord account, which is free, and then sign up for the trial. (Midjourney doesn’t quite state how many image generations come with the free trial, but they’ve typically been about 40. Users can “spend” their image generation credits either with new prompts or else via variations on the existing image or upscaling them to larger sizes.) Midjourney’s paid Basic tier begins at $10 per month.
On the other hand, Holz also announced an upgrade to the Midjourney algorithm Wednesday night, which should be twice as fast. Since Midjourney measures its subscriptions not by the number of images generated but on the GPU load they place on the server, that means that users will be able to essentially double their amount of images that the service will generate before their allotment runs out. Midjourney also allows users to place their requests in a “relaxed” queue, which allows for unlimited generations but at the cost of a delay of about ten minutes.
Ironically, that also means that if a user is willing to pay Midjourney $10 or $30 per month for its paid tiers, they can generate even more images—and fake photos, too.
Midjourney has also taken a somewhat laissez-faire attitude toward publishing images that depict public figures. Others, like Bing Chat, do not—forget trying to depict Bill Gates juggling chainsaws, for example. We’ll have to see what prompts Midjourney restricts…or not.