So far, the Midjourney image set imagining American conservatives fleeing to Russia is doing better than expected on Reddit.

I’ve noticed r/midjourney has a somewhat confusing rule around political content which reads:

4) No extraneous political discussion. Political images are okay, as long as they don’t fall under rules 2 and 3 (don’t be an edgelord or post anything agains MJ’s TOS). Discussion however will be moderated at our discretion.

Rule 3 regards NSFW content, which this is not. Rule 2 is also somewhat vague, like so many community-enforced rules on Reddit:

Don’t be a jerk. Be kind and respectful to each other. Don’t post inflammatory or edgelord posts– aka lets try and avoid toxicity. This will be enforced at moderators discretion.

I personally don’t think this post contains “toxicity” but perhaps it could be considered “edgelord.” Anyway, it wasn’t intended in a mean spirit; it was a genuine exploration of an alternative reality that is already being reported on in the news.

I get why people might not want to be constantly confronted with political content, but that is also the world we live in. Literally everything is political.

I’ve also seen extraordinarily vague “official” rules from the Midjourney bot in Discord, which include prohibitions against things such as:

Imagery that might be considered culturally insensitive

Sadly, Midjourney’s proposed “solution” to these extraordinarily complex speech issues is “let’s throw AI at it” – multiple layers of AI, without any human intervention. That is wrong.

Personally, I think political image-making is one of the most interesting and exciting uses of Midjourney, though I agree that image makers ought to be considerate and careful about what they produce and how it is distributed. But it’s not something which is going away, and we need to learn how to live with it.

I found recently an old interview with psychonaut Terence McKenna, part of which I thought neatly meshes with generative AI & what he claimed was a natural process of increasing complexity & novelty within the universe. I think his schtick on this starts at around 29:46 in the video, the timestamp is queued up below (but I recommend the whole video):

Via the transcript on YT:

what is man’s purpose to advance and preserve novelty. you know this is an ethical position it means you don’t replace rainforests with pastures you don’t censor books you don’t lean on people who make gender choices different from yours. no, the purpose of of being a human is to complexify reality. even more, to hand on a more diverse more complicated more multifaceted

He picks up the thread again later on, around 53:33:

as we go forward and the novelty continues to climax… well novelty is not necessarily good or nice novelty is complex that’s what it is and so I see really a concatenation of tendencies and forces. here at the end it’s only going to get weirder the level of contradiction is going to rise excruciatingly even beyond the excruciatingly present levels of contradiction.

so I think it’s just going to get weirder and weirder and weirder and finally it’s going to be so weird that people are going to have to talk about how weird it is. and at that point novelty Theory can come out of the woods because eventually people are going to say what the hell is going on it’s just too nuts it’s not enough to say it’s nuts you have to explain why…

I’ve tried to say something similar in my piece about using hyperreality as a new framework for multidimensional analysis of information artifacts, rather than simply trying to hammer them into “real” or “fake” – definitions will become increasingly convoluted as these technologies expand and what is “reality” in a technologically-mediated world becomes even further diluted.

Anyway, maybe this is all just apologia on my part for trolling, but I’m excited to re-discover this aspect of McKenna’s work, because it feels to some extent emotionally true, and is the first rationale I’ve landed on which actually offers some strange glimmer even of hope in this world of mixed up generative AI.