Los Angeles-based video editor and political satirist Justin T. Brown has found himself at the center of a contentious debate thanks to his AI-generated images that portray prominent politicians such as Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden engaged in fictional infidelities.

His provocative series, christened “AI will revolutionize the blackmail industry,” quickly came under fire, leading to Brown’s banishment from the Midjourney AI art platform, which he used to generate the pictures.

Brown said the images were envisioned as a stark warning about the potential misuse of artificial intelligence.

This isn't the first time that AI-generated imagery has sparked controversy. Decrypt had previously rendered humorous images of Joe Biden with remarkable accuracy, but was spared punitive action by the Midjourney team. However, other users generating images of high-profile figures like the Pope and China's president were not so lucky, promptly earning themselves bans.


Brown's project was conceived with a single goal in mind: catapult the potential threats of AI misuse into mainstream discourse.

"I created the series with the goal of dragging some of the most influential people in America into the conversation about the dangers of AI, and reach[ing] the biggest possible audience,” Brown elaborated in a Twitter thread.

The fallout from Brown's controversial AI series was swift. After the images were posted on Reddit, Midjourney slapped a ban on Brown, an action he correlates directly with the Reddit release.


“After gaining some traction on Reddit, the series was removed by moderators and the Midjourney ban followed almost immediately,” he remarked.

The ban promped Brown to express mixed emotions. On one hand, he felt the sanction was an indicator of some level of accountability enforced on users generating harmful content. Conversely, he raised a poignant question: “I was banned months after I first made the images, so by the time harmful content is generated, isn't it already too late?”

This is especially important in politics, as Brown further warned.

"An AI disinfo campaign just before election day could definitely swing an election. The right AI images or video at the right time could tank the market, cause a riot, or send someone into a pizza shop with a gun."

The potential of artificial intelligence to spread disinformation was Brown's main concern. "This kind of disinformation will continue to happen, next time by bad guys with bad intent, so we better start getting a handle on it now,” he pointed out, acknowledging the need for an international conversation on the technology.

The New York Times also spotlighted this issue, revealing that campaign regulations allowed politicians to use AI-generated images ahead of the 2024 presidential election. It also reported that existing defenses and services claiming to identify AI content have been largely ineffective.

One of Brown's followers replied with his concerns, expressing apprehension about the potential misuse of AI.

"I think you're right about the dangers. GOP already used AI in an ad. Not as blackmail, but shows AI can be used for quick ops. Best if social media had universal moderation against misinformation and verified accounts for all reputable press, govt orgs, pols."


He was referring to a series of political advertisements in which the U.S. Republican party used MidJourney to “imagine” a future with Biden reelected as president. There were also rumors of AI being used to tweak a campaign ad by Ron de Santis, but his campaign revealed this was not the case.

For his part, Donald Trump also created a whole fake conversation between Elon Musk, Adolf Hitler, and Ron de Santis to mock the latter’s announcement that he was aspiring to become the GOP’s presidential candidate.

In a digital age fraught with disinformation and rampant misuse of technology, Brown's words ring eerily true,

"I guess just brace for impact. Maybe do something useful with it," he said.

In this whirlpool of AI, art, and ethics, there's one certainty: the line between reality and AI-generated images is blurring faster than we can say "Photoshop."

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