Freeloaders excommunicated.

No Free Clout

The swagged out Pope was just too much to handle. Not long after AI-generated images of Pope Francis in immaculate white drip went viral, Midjourney — which was used to create the images — has announced that it's pulling the plug on free trials, as spotted by The Washington Post. Temporarily, anyway.

"Due to a combination of extraordinary demand and trial abuse," CEO and founder David Holz wrote in the official Midjourney Discord, "we are temporarily disabling free trials until we have our next improvements to the system deployed."

According to Holz, Midjourney staff experimented with adding new safety measures to combat abuse, but "they didn't seem to be sufficient," he wrote.

Its paid service, which costs as little as $10 per month, remains untouched.

Misinformation Machines

When the pictures of the Pope clad in Balenciaga garb made rounds over the past week — not to mention comical depictions of former president Donald Trump getting arrested — many expressed equal parts alarm and bemusement at how convincing they appeared. These images were, to many, the viral harbingers of a new era of effortlessly generated misinformation.

And you can probably thank Midjourney's latest V5 update from earlier this month for their prowess. Midjourney is now capable of being a little too convincing to the uncritical eye, finally (almost) nailing human hands. Overall, its output simply appears far more coherent and lifelike than before.

Money's the Game

But Holz claims the discontinuation of free trials actually has nothing to do with the viral disinformation ticking time bombs. The main motivator, according to him, was profit.

"We stopped trials because of massive amounts of people making throwaway accounts to get free images," Holz told Gizmodo.

"This happened at the same time as a temporary [graphics card] shortage," he added. "The two things came together and it was bringing down the service for paid users."

Holz says that Midjourney is trying to iron out its moderation, but so far, little has been done beyond banning the word "arrested" in its prompts, according to The Verge.

"I think we’re still trying to figure out what the right moderation policies are," Holz told Gizmodo. "We already have some new systems coming which should ship soon."

Midjourney V5 has barely been out for two weeks, so if the recent crop of convincing images of celebrities are anything to go by, those "new systems" can't come soon enough.

More on AI: GPT-4 Was Deeply Racist Before OpenAI Muzzled It

Share This Article