Midjourney image generator

Released: July 2022
Occurred:
September 2022

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Midjourney is a subscription-based AI programme created by a company of the same name that creates images from textual descriptions. Similar to OpenAI's DALL-E and Stable Diffusion, it is currently available in open beta via a Discord bot on its official Discord.

Reaction

Midjourney has been praised for the variety and quality of the images it produces and, according to its CEO David Holz, is already profitable. But it has also met with criticism and resistance:

  • Copyright: Midjourney and similar AI image generation tools have been heavily criticised for being trained on human-made art scraped from the web, and copied or remixed without attribution. The San Francisco Ballet was accused of IP theft after it had used a Midjourney-generated image to promote its annual Nutcracker production. Ammaar Reeshi drew the ire of artists and illustrators for creating childrens book Alice and Sparkle over a single weekend using Midjourney. Midjourney and similar services faced public backlashes from prominent art communities and artists.

  • Employment: Artists lamented Jason Allen's first place at the Colorado State Fair's fine art competition, seeing his use of Midjourney as accelerating the death of creative jobs. Atlantic journalist Charlie Warzel's use of a Midjourney-created image of InfoWars provocateur Alex Jones prompted people to accuse the magazine of eliminating the need for illustrators and cutting costs.

  • Privacy: David Holz outraged artists, illustrators and photographers by confessing to using hundreds of millions of images Midjourney didn’t have permission for to train its AI image generator.

Transparency

Artists can request their work to be removed from the dataset if they believe their copyright has been infringed. However, Midjourney only introduced this feature after artists complained, and then made it challenging for artists to remove their work by burying the information in the app terms of service.

Operator: Midjourney
Developer:
Midjourney

Country: USA; Global

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Generate images

Technology: Text-to-image; Neural network; Deep learning
Issue: Copyright; Ethics; Employment - jobs; Privacy

Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing; Privacy

System


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Published: December 2022