Photos of this world leader banned on AI image generator Midjourney. Here's why

By, New Delhi
Apr 04, 2023 10:08 AM IST

Recently, Midjourney was put to use to create pictures of Pope Francis wearing a puffer jacket, and Donald Trump's ‘arrest.’

Recently, pictures of Pope Francis in a swaggy puffer jacket, and Donald Trump’s ‘arrest,’ went viral on social media. Though the images turned out to be AI-generated, people were left marvelling at how authentic these looked. These were created on Midjourney, an AI image generator developed by San Francisco-based independent research lab Midjourney Inc, and the company allows users to generate real-looking fake pictures of world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, among others.

This image of Trump's 'arrest' went viral on social media (Image courtesy: Twitter/@Johny_mera_name)
This image of Trump's 'arrest' went viral on social media (Image courtesy: Twitter/@Johny_mera_name)

There is, however, one leader whose images people are not permitted to create on the platform: China’s Xi Jinping.

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This was addressed last year itself by David Holz, the co-founder and CEO of Midjourney; the issue, however, came up again after photos of Pope Francis and Donald Trump surfaced on the internet.

What did Midjourney CEO say?

In a Discord post, Holz had attributed the company’s decision on Xi Jinping to political satire being ‘pretty not-okay’ in China.

“We want to minimise the drama…letting people in China use our technology would have a more significant positive effect on the world than allowing people to make Chinese political satire. Having a ton of individuals troll that country with our system does not help anyone,” Holz had explained.

Though Midjourney’s decision has left users upset, with many accusing it of ‘giving in’ to Xi’s ‘wishes,’ the rule on Chinese President continues to be applicable to all users, not just those in the Asian giant.

About Midjourney

Founded in San Francisco and launched in July last year, Midjourney is a creation of Holz, who also co-founded Leap Motion. The platform generates images using natural language descriptions called ‘prompts,’ also used in both DALL-E (OpenAI) and Stable Diffusion (Stability AI).

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