Midjourney, an AI image generator company, has suspended free trials for its AI image generator after witnessing “extraordinary demand” and a rise in “trial abuse.” The announcement came from Founder David Holz, who addressed the issue on the company’s Discord channel on March 28.
Holz stated, “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.” The decision came following a series of viral synthetic images created by the company’s latest model, Midjourney v5, gaining massive traction online.
However, in an email to The Verge, Holz clarified that the suspension is “because of massive amounts of people making throwaway accounts to get free images.”
“We think the culprit was probably a viral how-to video in china,” said Holz further adding “this happened at the same time as a temporary gpu shortage. The two things came together and it was bringing down the service for paid users.”
Among the high-profile deepfake images circulating the internet were those of former President Donald Trump being arrested, a reference to his potential indictment by a Manhattan Grand Jury. These images were seen by millions of people and were, reportedly, created by Elliot Higgins, the founder of the Bellingcat website, who has since been banned from Midjourney.
Another instance of AI-generated images going viral involved a picture of Pope Francis in a white puffer jacket, which fooled many into believing it was genuine. The image’s creator, Pablo Xavier, shared the photos on a Facebook group called AI Art Universe and then on Reddit, where they gained massive traction.
The rapid advancements in AI technology have raised concerns among experts and industry leaders. Recently, Elon Musk and other prominent tech figures signed a public letter calling for a “pause” on “dangerous” AI experiments to develop shared safety protocols among key stakeholders.
Following the suspension of free trials, users will now have to pay a minimum of $10 per month to access Midjourney’s AI image generator. The company has admitted to facing difficulties in establishing content policies as AI-generated images become increasingly realistic. Midjourney hopes to improve AI moderation to better screen for abuse, according to its founder.