David Holz discussed the philosophy of Midjourney.
Midjourney – an "artistic" AI-powered text-to-image tool – is getting more popular every day, with the community creating awesome (and often really weird) pictures on Discord. But what is Midjourney from the creator's standpoint? The tool's founder David Holz answered this question in a recent interview with The Verge, talking about Midjourney's art style, copyright issues, and what AI is.
Midjourney creators see their tool "as an engine for the imagination," "a very positive and humanistic thing." Holz answered the most popular question asked by artists when they deal with such technology: won't AI replace human art one day?
"What does it mean when computers are better at visual imagination than 99 percent of humans? That doesn’t mean we will stop imagining. Cars are faster than humans, but that doesn’t mean we stopped walking. When we’re moving huge amounts of stuff over huge distances, we need engines, whether that’s airplanes or boats or cars."
Moreover, Midjourney is a social product with its huge Discord server created because "people really like imagining together."
This social aspect, however, could potentially cause problems for the AI due to copyright, and while you can’t copyright AI-generated art, some artists might not be happy about technology taking their unique style to train on. So far though, Holz said there hadn't been any complaints, what's more, some famous artists who use the platform say, “I feel like Midjourney is an art student, and it has its own style, and when you invoke my name to create an image, it’s like asking an art student to make something inspired by my art. And generally, as an artist, I want people to be inspired by the things that I make.”
But if the problem does arise, Holz said the team is open to it, although they don’t have a process for that yet.
Speaking of art style, Midjourney has some distinguishing features no other tool like this has. It's "artistic" in a way that the generated images look like paintings and never like photos.
"We definitely want it to not look like photos. We might make a realistic version at one point, but we wouldn’t want it to be the default. Perfect photos make me a little uncomfortable right now, though I could see legitimate reasons why you might want something more realistic."
Midjourney's style is "whimsical and abstract and weird." Holz shared that it has favorite colors (it uses a lot of blues and oranges) and faces. The developers don’t know why it happens, "but there’s a particular woman’s face it likes to draw" – people call it “Miss Journey.” There is also a man's face, "which is kind of square and imposing, and he also shows up some time, but he doesn’t have a name yet." So seems like AI can have its own vision.
In conclusion, Holz discussed the essence of AI, saying that now, people misunderstand what it is and comparing Midjourney to water.
"They see it as a tiger. A tiger is dangerous. It might eat me. It’s an adversary. And there’s danger in water, too – you can drown in it – but the danger of a flowing river of water is very different to the danger of a tiger. Water is dangerous, yes, but you can also swim in it, you can make boats, you can dam it and make electricity. Water is dangerous, but it’s also a driver of civilization, and we are better off as humans who know how to live with and work with water. It’s an opportunity. It has no will, it has no spite, and yes, you can drown in it, but that doesn’t mean we should ban water. And when you discover a new source of water, it’s a really good thing."