The Rise of AI Image Generators

Midjourney is a 10-person research lab responsible for the eponymous AI image generator accessed through a Discord chat server. The Verge interviews the founder, David Holz.

AI-generated artwork is quietly beginning to reshape culture. Over the last few years, the ability of machine learning systems to generate imagery from text prompts has increased dramatically in quality, accuracy, and expression. Now, these tools are moving out of research labs and into the hands of everyday users, where they’re creating new visual languages of expression and — most likely — new types of trouble.

There are only thought to be a few dozen top-flight image-generating AI in existence right now. They’re tricky and expensive to create, requiring access to millions of images used to train the system (it looks for patterns in the pictures and copies them) and a great deal of computational grunt (for which costs vary, but a million-dollar price tag isn’t out of the question).

Right now, the output of these systems is mostly treated as novelty when it gets splashed on a magazine cover or used to generate memes. But as we speak, artists and designers are integrating this software into their workflow, and in a short amount of time, AI-generated and AI-augmented art will be everywhere. Questions about copyright (who owns the image? Who made it?) and about potential dangers (like biased output or AI-generated misinformation) will have to be dealt with quickly.

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