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How widespread use of generative AI for images and video can affect the environment and the science of ecology
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  • Matthias C. Rillig,
  • India Mansour,
  • Stefan Hempel,
  • Mohan Bi,
  • Birgitta König-Ries,
  • Atoosa Kasirzadeh
Matthias C. Rillig
Free University of Berlin

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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India Mansour
Free University of Berlin
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Stefan Hempel
Freie Universität Berlin
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Mohan Bi
Free University of Berlin
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Birgitta König-Ries
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
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Atoosa Kasirzadeh
The Alan Turing Institute
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Generative artificial intelligence (AI) models will have broad impacts on society including the scientific enterprise; ecology and environmental science will be no exception. Here we discuss the potential opportunities and risks of advanced generative AI for visual material (images and video) for ecology and the environment. There are clearly opportunities for positive impacts, related to improved communication, for example; we also see possibilities for ecological research to profit from generative AI (e.g., image gap filling, biodiversity surveys, and improved citizen science). However, there are also risks, threatening to undermine the credibility of our science, mostly related to actions of bad actors, for example in terms of spreading fake information or committing fraud. Risks need to be mitigated at the level of government regulatory measures, but we also highlight what can be done right now, including discussing issues with the next generation of ecologists, and transforming towards radically open science workflows.
Submitted to Ecology Letters
27 Jan 20241st Revision Received
27 Jan 2024Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
29 Jan 2024Assigned to Editor
29 Jan 2024Submission Checks Completed
01 Feb 2024Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Feb 2024Editorial Decision: Accept