The Ethics of AI-Generated Maps: DALL·E 2 and AI’s Implications for Cartography (Short Paper)

Authors Qianheng Zhang, Yuhao Kang , Robert Roth

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Author Details

Qianheng Zhang
  • HGIS Lab, Department of Geography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Yuhao Kang
  • GeoDS Lab, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, USA
Robert Roth
  • Cartography Lab, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, USA


The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude for the support received from Dr. Song Gao at the GeoDS Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Bo Zhao, and Yifan Sun at the HGIS Lab, University of Washington.

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Qianheng Zhang, Yuhao Kang, and Robert Roth. The Ethics of AI-Generated Maps: DALL·E 2 and AI’s Implications for Cartography (Short Paper). In 12th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 277, pp. 93:1-93:6, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) such as the emergence of large language models ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 has brought both opportunities for improving productivity and raised ethical concerns. This paper investigates the ethics of using artificial intelligence (AI) in cartography, with a particular focus on the generation of maps using DALL·E 2. To accomplish this, we first created an open-sourced dataset that includes synthetic (AI-generated) and real-world (human-designed) maps at multiple scales with a variety of settings. We subsequently examined four potential ethical concerns that may arise from the characteristics of DALL·E 2 generated maps, namely inaccuracies, misleading information, unanticipated features, and irreproducibility. We then developed a deep learning-based model to identify those AI-generated maps. Our research emphasizes the importance of ethical considerations in the development and use of AI techniques in cartography, contributing to the growing body of work on trustworthy maps. We aim to raise public awareness of the potential risks associated with AI-generated maps and support the development of ethical guidelines for their future use.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Human-centered computing → Human computer interaction (HCI)
  • Ethics
  • GeoAI
  • DALL-E
  • Cartography


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