Having played around a lot with Midjourney these past few days, I can now confidently say: we have reached the stage of what I would consider “weapons grade” generative AI images. Where they are good enough to use for disinformation campaigns, or essentially information warfare.

Here are a couple more recent examples:

Now, I’ve seen the tendency of audiences who are in the know to point out foibles or imperfections in these images. But honestly, one of the main complaints I’ve heard from people actually has been they look “too perfect” and in focus.

In the case of Hippy Putin, someone pointed out why would he have all these extremely high quality photos of him, etc. etc. It’s not that these complaints are technically wrong, but that they don’t matter. We can now with an extremely high degree of fidelity depict basically anyone doing anything (or anything that doesn’t butt up against MJ’s extremely weak keyword filtering). Who cares if it looks perfect or not perfect, or somewhere in between?

Because of one single Medium post (and a Reddit link to it) after only a couple days, I now control 4 of the top 11 image results for “Hippy Putin” in Google image search:

That’s without any promotion apart from Google simply crawling Medium & Reddit regularly. That’s without the images having gone viral on any social platforms, or getting picked up and re-used in any YouTube/Tiktok videos, FB posts, etc. And without any “official” debunks or fact-checks. There’s a high likelihood of all of those occurring, given the subject and treatment.

What I want to say is: this is now the new normal. This is hyperreality.

There is no going back to “the way things were.” There is no legislation that is going to stop or slow this down. There is no moratorium signed by X number of bigshots that will make even the slightest dent. There is no amount of hand-wringing and pearl-clutching about harms and labeling, and and and etc. etc. etc. that will undo this present and the future(s) that will spring from it.

And I just want to say actually, I’m not scared anymore. I’m glad. Midjourney v5 stripped away any lingering doubts for me. Now it’s just pedal to the metal. Full force. Whole hog. All the way, all the time. If you can’t keep up, get the hell out of the way. Because this is power, not just as an artist, but as a person with a voice, with a vision, with questions, with anger, with excitement, with stories. In short, a human. This is one step further toward the Imagination Ladder, the mythical place where physical reality and imaginal/experiential reality merge once and for all.

Just like how coding a series of apps in ChatGPT (v4) turned down the noise for me completely on people worrying endlessly about the model yielding “confidently wrong” results, so has using MJ v5 obliterated my reservations. It’s also made me fine to stop using Stable Diffusion, Dall-E and feeling the need to test every new model and service that comes out. This is good enough. This is great. This means war. Let’s go.