Risk and Mitigation Summary
The following table provides a quick summary of which common genAI-driven risks are posed through use of Midjourney and which risks have been addressed (but not necessarily eliminated) by deliberate mitigative measures provided with the product.
For a definition of each risk and details of how these risks arise in the context of Midjourney, see below. These risk details are non-exhaustive.
Abuse & Misuse
Pertains to the potential for AI systems to be used maliciously or irresponsibly, including for creating deepfakes, automated cyber attacks, or invasive surveillance systems. Abuse specifically denotes the intentional use of AI for harmful purposes.
- Midjourney can be used to generate highly realistic images of non-real events or scenarios [2, 3]. This includes depictions of public figures in settings that have not actually happened. This could be used to mislead the public.
- Midjourney can be used to generate sensitive content, including depictions of violence and war, self-harm, pornography and other sexual content, and illicit activities. Midjourney lowers obstacles to creation of these types of material and can enable proliferation of harmful content elsewhere on the public spaces of the internet.
- Midjourney aims to maintain a "PG-13" environment and explicitly states that this may not always be maintained due to the unpredictability of AI and user prompting patterns 
The Midjourney Discord service is subject to moderation and makes use of some prompt and content filters. See the Mitigations section below for more details.
Involves the risk of AI systems violating laws, regulations, and ethical guidelines (including copyright risks). Non-compliance can lead to legal penalties, reputational damage, and loss of user trust.
- Midjourney is trained on a vast collection of images from the open internet, including images subject to copyright protections in various jurisdictions. It is possible for users to generate content that could violate other entities' intellectual property rights using the Midjourney service. For instance, users could generate content using the Midjourney platform which incorporates depictions of a corporation's trademarked logos, mascots, or other assets .
- Users operating in public Midjourney channels or with settings enabling publication to Midjourney.com make their prompts and responses available to other Midjourney users. While the user maintains ownership of the generated assets (according to ; this may not be true subject to the material containing copyrighted content from another party), other users are authorized by Midjourney to reuse and modify works that appear in public channels. This could affect the defensibility of patents or trademarks related to Midjourney-generated works.
- The US Patent and Trademark Office recently issued guidance stating that AI-generated art is generally not eligible for copyright protection absent significant modification by a human. Furthermore, in most cases, only the human-derived portions of the art are eligible for protection .
- Individuals using Midjourney for completing work tasks on behalf of an employer could craft prompts and obtain images that are outside of organizational policies. Midjourney provides no mechanism for establishing organizational control of employee usage. This could lead to divergence with brand guidelines or outright misuse (relative to organizational expectations).
Midjourney supports Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claims made by third parties related to content generated by the service. See the Mitigations section for more details.
Midjourney has a "Stealth Mode" available for customers on its Pro plan. This mode blocks images from being publicly viewable on Midjourney.com. See Mitigations for more details.
Environmental & Societal Impact
Concerns the broader changes AI might induce in society, such as labor displacement, mental health impacts, or the implications of manipulative technologies like deepfakes. It also includes the environmental implications of AI, particularly the strain on natural resources and carbon emissions caused by training complex AI models, balanced against the potential for AI to help mitigate environmental issues.
Labor market disruption
- Image generation models like Midjourney have the potential to make graphic design a substantially more efficient process. This could lead to an overall decrease in market demand for graphic design talent. Likewise, Midjourney's ease of use lowers the bar for creating quality content, which could lead organizations to shift design tasks from dedicated designers to workers who fill other roles, obviating the need for design-trained employees. This phenomenon could apply more broadly -- the ease and low cost of creating digital, AI-generated content could lead organizations to eschew other, higher cost forms of media, such as photography in favor of images generated by Midjourney and similar services.
- Details about the size of Midjourney's models are unavailable. The Stable Diffusion V1 model, which is similar to Midjourney, was estimated to use 200,000 hours of compute on NVidia A100 40GB GPUs . At 250W power consumption , this translates to 50MWh of compute, which is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 5 U.S. households .
- The footprint and power consumption associated with ongoing use are impossible to estimate without further details on Midjourney's user base, usage patterns, and software engineering infrastructure.
Proliferation of Content
- The proliferation of AI generated content could lead to unpredictable outcomes in the broader internet. For instance, a proliferation of sexualized content, generated with low effort using Midjourney, across the internet could lead to changes in internet and non-internet culture and cultural norms. Even proliferation of content reasonably considered "non-harmful" could lead to changes in cultural expectations of digital art and expression. The level of risk associated with this scenario is uncertain: cultural change stemming from the proliferation of AI-generated images may ultimately be viewed favorably by present and future generations.
Explainability & Transparency
Refers to the ability to understand and interpret an AI system's decisions and actions, and the openness about the data used, algorithms employed, and decisions made. Lack of these elements can create risks of misuse, misinterpretation, and lack of accountability.
Data and design transparency
- Information on the training data used to train Midjourney's model is not publicly available. Details on the model's architecture, training algorithm, and other key information related to the model's design are not publicly available.
Explainability of model outputs
- As of the latest update, Midjourney v5.2, a Prompt Analyzer tool is available for explainability. The tool, invoked via the "/shorten" command, displays a score for each word in a user's prompt which characterizes the impact the word has on the output image. The details of how this tool works are unclear, likely relying on activations from the model's neural network layers.
The /shorten command represents a mitigation for the explainability risk. We do not discuss it further. No apparent mitigation exists for transparency issues we have identified.
Fairness & Bias
Arises from the potential for AI systems to make decisions that systematically disadvantage certain groups or individuals. Bias can stem from training data, algorithmic design, or deployment practices, leading to unfair outcomes and possible legal ramifications.
- Midjourney is believed to be trained on a large collection of image-text pairs from the internet (possibly in addition to other sources), meaning it is able to comprehend some prompts in languages other than English. Anecdotal evidence suggests obtaining quality results is more difficult when using languages other than English . There is no quantification of this behavior, per-language nor in general.
Offensive or biased outputs
- Midjourney is subject to the biases in its training data. As Midjourney is a fully private model, formal evaluations of Midjourney's latest model are unavailable. Nevertheless, researchers have identified biases in Midjourney's outputs consistent with biases found in other text-to-image generative models. For instance, in , the authors used Midjourney v3 to generate images of people with varying personality traits or demographic adjectives included in the prompts. They found the model perpetuated a variety of stereotypes. For instance, including the terms 'poor' or 'wealthy' in the prompt made it more likely that the model would generate images of people with darker skin tones and lighter skin tones, respectively, while including the terms 'competitive' or 'passive' made it more likely that the model would generate images of men and women, respectively.
Midjourney employs content filters to address the prevalence of offensive or sensitive outputs. See the Mitigations section for more details.
Long-term & Existential Risk
Considers the speculative risks posed by future advanced AI systems to human civilization, either through misuse or due to challenges in aligning their objectives with human values. N/A
Performance & Robustness
Pertains to the AI's ability to fulfill its intended purpose accurately and its resilience to perturbations, unusual inputs, or adverse situations. Failures of performance are fundamental to the AI system performing its function. Failures of robustness can lead to severe consequences, especially in critical applications.
Quality and Suitability of Outputs
- Midjourney's outputs may not always match the intention of the user. Outputs may not be sufficiently realistic or may have styles mismatched to the user's intentions. It is difficult for third-party organizations to quantify this phenomenon. Because prompts can be easily adjusted and re-tried by users, the primary risk associated with performance is financial and time cost: a user may have to spend substantial time, effort, and money (depending on the user's subscription to the service) to obtain an acceptable image.
Midjourney's /shorten command, which provides explanations linking words in a prompt to an output, can aid users in obtaining acceptable images with less effort. This, along with developing strong prompt engineering skills, represents the primary mitigation. We do not discuss the /shorten command further. Please see the Mitigations section for more on prompt engineering.
Refers to the risk of AI infringing upon individuals' rights to privacy, through the data they collect, how they process that data, or the conclusions they draw.
Publication of prompts and images
- Midjourney, by default, operates in public Discord channels. User prompts and the Midjourney bot's responses are viewable by any member of the public Discord channel. Other users are entitled to use, re-use, modify, and share prompts and outputs from public servers. In addition, prompts and outputs may be re-posted to Midjourney's website, midjourney.com. Non-paid users do not retain ownership of images created using the Midjourney service .
- For paying users, some privacy-preserving features are available, which obfuscate prompts and outputs from the public Discord servers and/or from midjourney.com .
- Midjourney's Terms of Service authorize the company to "reproduce, prepare Derivative Works of, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute text, and image prompts," submitted to the service . Among other things, this enables Midjourney to use prompts and outputs for training future versions of its models. If used for sensitive tasks, such as confidential corporate design work, this provision could lead to leaks of the sensitive data to other parties, including individuals or companies unaffiliated with Midjourney.
Encompasses potential vulnerabilities in AI systems that could compromise their integrity, availability, or confidentiality. Security breaches could result in significant harm, from incorrect decision-making to privacy violations.
- At this time, Midjourney does not offer "sequestered" (e.g., virtual private cloud or on-premises) access to their models. This can lead to loss of data and presents a reliance on Midjourney's service. Enterprise Service-Level Agreements are not available.
Reliance on Discord
- Because Midjourney is accessed through the Discord service, users are subject to the security risk surface presented by Discord's software systems.