The newest version of Midjourney created this image with the prompt, "photograph of a woman artist in an artist's studio holding her hands up." (all edits Elaine Velie/Hyperallergic using Midjourney)

The newest version of the artificial intelligence (AI) image generator Midjourney can finally depict human-like hands with a full set of five fingers. Midjourney’s Version 5 was released yesterday, March 16, and while the update is not consistently perfect, it marks a stark improvement for the emerging technology. It also eliminates one of the last telltale signs of an image being created by AI.

For all their mind-boggling abilities, AI image generators just couldn’t seem to figure out hands. Articles popped up explaining the phenomenon and teaching users how to fix it. Other people online made jokes about the problem (“Generative AI not being able to draw hands is the most relatable thing it has going for it,” wrote @MNateShyamalan on Twitter). While Version 5 still churns out a fair number of anatomically impossible arms and fingers, the update has rendered the hand discourse largely obsolete.

A viral Tweet yesterday, March 16, took a more sinister approach. “Just a heads-up — Midjourney’s AI can now do hands correctly. Be extra critical of any political imagery (especially photography) you see online that is trying to incite a reaction,” wrote @TheCartelDel, a self-described 3-D character specialist.

The newest version of Midjourney created these images from the prompt “a color digital camera photo of two Caucasian politicians shaking hands and smiling outside of the White House.” The program rendered a portrait of George H.W. Bush.

Many viewers have already proven themselves unable to discern AI-generated artwork from the real deal. A few weeks ago, a popular Instagram account revealed its “photographs” — said to have been taken with a Nikon D810 — were actually created with AI prompts. (Those portraits, notably, did not picture hands.)

In response to @TheCartelDel’s tweet, one commenter pointed out that Midjourney’s new version five images are still “in the uncanny valley.” Hyperallergic encountered a few unsettling traits while testing the new update, such as the appearance of rubbery skin, but overall the results looked much more realistic than their version-four counterparts.

Fear over deceitful misuse of AI-generated images is only the latest controversy surrounding the technology. Artists have pushed back against programs such as Midjourney, citing the fact that they “scrape” the internet for existing imagery to create new works. Creators have cited plagiarism concerns, and big companies have fought the new technology, too. Getty Images, for example, is suing Stable Diffusion (another popular AI image generator) alleging a breach of intellectual property rights.

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.

One reply on “AI Image Generators Finally Figured Out Hands”

  1. except look at the difference between her two hands and how the fingers on the left (from our POV) hand are much longer than the right.
    all those tiny ways in which this stuff is such fakery.

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