Midjourney founder and CEO David Holz has some truly inspiring thoughts on how AI imaging will transform the gaming industry. During the brief time we spoke this week, I had to restrain myself from falling too far down the AI rabbit hole. In the process, I discovered Holz’s take on how this kind of technology will develop and how it’s likely to benefit the gaming industry, as well as human creativity in general.
Holz believes that someday in the near future “you will be able to buy a console with a giant AI chip and all games will be dreams.”
It’s certainly a beautiful sentiment, but it’s the physics of today’s technology that prevents us from exploring the full potential of AI in games. Right now, these kinds of AI generators use excruciating amounts of graphics power. (opens in a new tab)and it’s just not practical for the kind of utopian visions Holz and I have dreamed of.
He tells me that Midjourney’s produces images (opens in a new tab) using algorithms that “all run in the cloud, and run on very large GPUs, like $40,000 GPU servers… I think it’s fair to say that it’s the most compute-intensive consumer application that’s ever existed.”
That’s a lot of energy and a lot of money to spend on anything, but Holz truly believes in the benefits of the technology that Midjourney is pioneering.
He tells me that it is already used as a way to calm down after a traumatic event. “Some of them are actually using AI in a purely therapeutic process. And it’s hard to understand that, but you’ll see strange images and ask them ‘why are you making Maltese dogs in the sky?’ And they’ll be like, ‘That’s because my dogs just died.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh my God, are you okay?'”
Of course, there is always the looming fear that AI will replace humans, but Holz has a much more positive outlook.
“We’re not trying to build God, we’re trying to amplify the imaginative powers of the human species,” he says.
He makes it clear that it’s not about designing technology to replace people, it’s about the “proliferation of visual means of expressing themselves. It just means that people will become more visual in our culture and more appreciative of that sort of thing.” . There will be more opportunities around that than before.”
I’m of the same opinion, and having come from a game art and design background, I can certainly see its potential in generating ideas for concept artists.
“Before you see video games being generated on the fly, you’ll see the technologies that are used at every step of the asset generation pipeline, to increase content creativity, content quality, and content quantity.” Holz says. “…you’re going to have game studios that use AI to help create a lot of assets, textures, terrain, designs, and characters. Even if it takes ten minutes to create a high-quality character, it’s much faster than it would take during the normal production process.
“You would hope that ten years from now there will be no more static content because everything is generated on the fly. So, in theory, the barriers between consuming something and creating something come crashing down, and it becomes a liquid imagination flowing around the room.
“Everything between now and then is a combination of increasing quality, being able to do things like 3D, doing things faster, doing things with higher resolution, and having smaller and smaller chips to do more and more things.”
So it seems we just have to wait for the technology to catch up. And it’s catching up, fast. There are, albeit less powerful, AI imagers that run on consumer hardware. (opens in a new tab)and it’s only a matter of time before these algorithms become even more efficient and involved, so that we can start generating full triple-A games as we play.