Midjourney AI Image Generator Ends Free Trials As Deepfakes And Abuse Run Rampant

Since being launched into the public spotlight in 2022, AI image generators, like Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion, have all faced a number of criticisms from detractors of the technology and skeptics alike. While some of the biggest issues with these AI image generators have been related to copyright and art ethics, the issue of fake news and misinformation has also been high on the list of issues. 

While earlier iterations of the technology generated images that were easily spotted as being AI-generated, they've gotten good enough in recent months that someone with a knack for writing the text prompts can easily generate an image convincing enough to get your uncle on Facebook riled up about events that never happened. One particularly charged example that's been doing the rounds lately involves images of former president Donald Trump being taken into police custody. 

Midjourney, one of the more popular AI image generators has decided to clamp down on the potential for misinformation by removing its free trial, potentially reducing the user base drastically. 

No trials for Midjourney the latest in a hiccup for AI tech

According to Midjourney CEO, David Holz, on Discord, trials have been suspended indefinitely "due to a combination of extraordinary demand and trial abuse." That is not to say that the trials will never resume, as he later mentions that trials will be implemented again after changes have been made to the deployed system. The CEO did not specify what was meant by abuse, but it could very easily be a combination of things. 

The mounting body of AI-generated political images propagating fake news could easily be part of the reason Midjourney is shutting down, but the other side of the shutdown involves high demand. David Holz mentions further in the Discord discussion that part of the reason for suspending trials was to maintain service for paying customers. This is backed up by the fact that Midjourney has had a few issues with server availability in recent weeks, evidenced by messages in the Discord server referencing delays due to high demand. 

This is just the latest in a bit of a negative spell for A.I. tools, following an open letter signed by tech industry figureheads requesting a pause on AI development. Getty also opened a lawsuit against Stability AI earlier in February 2023.