I asked DALL-E 3 to create a portrait of every US state, and the results were gloriously strange

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And yes, we know that the Golden Gate Bridge is in Canada, the Statue of Liberty looks admire it is somewhere in Kansas, and the Capitol Building is somewhere in Idaho. See the end of the article for comments on this behavior.

David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge

While it feels admire generative AI has been with us for years, the reality is we’ve been exploring this new technology for just roughly the last 12 months or so. As such, I’m very curious about the strengths and weaknesses of the technology as it stands today, even as I look forward to where the technology might take us in the coming years.

In this article, I’ll showcase how I used ChatGPT and DALL-E 3 to create fun educational content about America’s 50 individual states. This little project gave me the opportunity to examine new AI technology, tinker with ChatGPT’s ability to create accurate succinct state descriptions, and experiment with how an AI can synthesize and convey complex information concisely and effectively.

Also: I spent a weekend with Amazon’s free AI courses, and highly propose you do too

At the same time, I used DALL-E 3 to create images representative of the compelling characteristics of each individual state. This project allowed me to see how AI technology interprets and visualizes diverse landscapes and cultural symbols from training data.

My goal in conducting this experiment was not only to furnish some educational and visual content, but also to conduct a bit of a case research evaluating the evolving capabilities and potential applications of AI in an educational and creative environment.

The prompt

Because I needed to create 50 individual images and descriptions, I wanted to create one prompt that could be repeated over and over again. After some trial and error, I landed on the following prompt, which was used to create all the images and facts for each state.

Draw a 16 x 9 picturesque view of STATE-NAME, showcasing the diverse landscapes and landmarks of the state. Fill the entire frame with the picture, do not leave any border.

Then, explain the three most interesting facts you know about the state in 10 words or less for each point. Format this as a 2 to 4 word headline, followed by 10 words or less of a description. List each point as a bullet, and format the headlines in sentence case capitalizing only proper nouns, and the first word of the headline. Do not capitalize any words that are not proper nouns.

For each state, I simply ran the same prompt, substituting STATE-NAME with the name of the state I was working on. Results were somewhat mixed, as one might expect with a project of this size, and with generative AI at today’s quality level. But after a bunch of tries, I was able to get the following results.

Also: ChatGPT can leak training data, violate privacy, says Google’s DeepMind

After you see the list of states and facts, I will close this article with my observations. And with that, let’s travel across the USA on the wings of generative AI.

Alabama

alabama.png

David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Rocket science birthplace: Huntsville, home to US space exploration.
  • Rich civil rights history: Key sites in the civil rights movement.
  • Biodiversity hotspot: Among the top in US for species diversity.

Alaska

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge  
  • Largest US state: Over twice the size of Texas.
  • Midnight sun phenomenon: Continuous daylight during summer in some parts.
  • Wildlife haven: Home to diverse and unique wildlife species.

Arizona

arizona.png

David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Grand Canyon state: Home to the majestic Grand Canyon.
  • Sunniest city: Yuma, one of the sunniest places on earth.
  • Rich native history: Numerous well-preserved Native American archaeological sites.

Arkansas

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Diamond state: Only state with a public diamond mine.
  • Hot Springs National Park: Features naturally heated springs.
  • Rich in quartz crystal: Renowned for abundant quartz crystal deposits.

California

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Tech innovation hub: Home to Silicon Valley and tech giants.
  • Diverse landscapes: Beaches, mountains, forests, and deserts.
  • World’s fifth largest economy: Rivals many countries in economic power.

Colorado

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Rocky Mountain state: Home to the majestic Rocky Mountains.
  • Highest elevation state: Contains the highest average elevation in the US.
  • Ancient cliff dwellings: Features the historic Mesa Verde National Park.

Connecticut

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • First constitution: Adopted the first constitution in America.
  • Submarine birthplace: First nuclear-powered submarine built here.
  • Insurance capital: Known as the insurance capital of the world.

Delaware

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • First state to ratify: First to ratify the US Constitution.
  • Corporate haven: Known for business-friendly corporate laws.
  • Coastal beauty: Home to scenic beaches and coastal towns.

Florida

florida.png

David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Space launch site: Home to Kennedy Space Center.
  • Longest coastline: Extensive coastline in the contiguous US.
  • Everglades ecosystem: Unique wetland of international importance.

Georgia

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Peach state: Famous for its delicious peaches.
  • Oldest state university: University of Georgia, founded in 1785.
  • Vidalia onions: Unique sweet onions grown only in Georgia.

Hawaii

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Island chain state: Consists of 137 volcanic islands.
  • Endemic species galore: High number of unique plant and animal species.
  • Active volcanoes: Home to some of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Idaho

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Famous potatoes: Known for its high-quality potatoes.
  • River of no return: Salmon River’s unique nickname.
  • Gem state: Rich in various gemstones.

Illinois

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Land of Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln lived here from 1830 to 1861.
  • First skyscraper: Home to the world’s first skyscraper in Chicago.
  • Illinois river convergence: Meeting point of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

Indiana

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Crossroads of America: Known for its extensive highway and railway networks.
  • Basketball heartland: Historically significant in American basketball culture.
  • Limestone capital: Major source of high-quality building limestone.

Iowa

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Corn state: Leading US state in corn production.
  • First caucus: Hosts the first presidential caucus in the US.
  • River boundaries: Bordered by the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

Kansas

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Sunflower state: Known for its vast fields of sunflowers.
  • Geographic center: Home to the geographic center of the contiguous US.
  • Aeronautics hub: Major center for aviation and aeronautics industries.

Kentucky

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Horse racing capital: World-famous for its horse racing and breeding.
  • Bluegrass region: Named for the native blue-tinted grass.
  • Bourbon production: Largest producer of bourbon in the world.

Louisiana

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Mardi Gras magic: World’s largest free party held annually.
  • Bayou diversity: Home to America’s largest swamp land.
  • Jazz birthplace: Origin of jazz music in New Orleans.

Maine

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Lobster capital: Over 90% of US lobsters caught here.
  • Toothpick king: Once world’s largest toothpick producer.
  • First sunrise: Earliest US sunrise at West Quoddy Head.

Maryland

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Chesapeake Bay: Largest US estuary, rich in biodiversity.
  • Historic Annapolis: US Naval Academy, colonial architecture.
  • Diverse climate: Ranging from sandy dunes to mountain forests.

Massachusetts

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Cradle of liberty: Birthplace of the American Revolution.
  • Innovative education: Home to world-renowned universities.
  • Historic firsts: First American lighthouse established.

Michigan

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Automotive lead: Birthplace of modern car industry.
  • Great Lakes state: Bordered by four of the five Great Lakes.
  • Mackinac Bridge: One of the world’s longest suspension bridges.

Minnesota

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Land of 10,000 lakes: Actually has over 11,000 lakes.
  • Mall of America: Nation’s largest shopping and entertainment complex.
  • Vibrant arts scene: Home to numerous theaters and museums.

Mississippi

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Birthplace of blues: Origin of the blues music genre.
  • Catfish capital: World’s highest production of farm-raised catfish.
  • Mound builders: Ancient Native American mound-building cultures.

Missouri

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Gateway Arch: Tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Missouri River: Longest river in North America.
  • Barbecue hub: Known for unique Kansas City-style barbecue.

Montana

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Big Sky Country: Home to expansive, stunning skies.
  • Yellowstone’s Birthplace: First national park established here.
  • Largest Grizzly Population: Most grizzlies in the lower 48 states.

Nebraska

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Homestead Act birthplace: Gave settlers 160-acre plots.
  • Arbor Day origins: First celebrated in Nebraska City, 1872.
  • Kool-Aid invention: Created in Hastings during 1920s.

Nevada

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Area 51 mysteries: Top-secret military base, rumored UFO sightings.
  • Silver wealth: Historic silver boom, economic cornerstone.
  • Lake Tahoe beauty: Crystal-clear waters, scenic mountain backdrop.

New Hampshire

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • First in primary: Hosts the first US presidential primary.
  • Mount Washington: Home to the highest peak in northeastern US.
  • Live free or die: State motto emphasizing independence and liberty.

New Jersey

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Inventor’s playground: Home to Thomas Edison’s famous laboratory.
  • Diner capital: Highest number of diners in the world.
  • First boardwalk: Atlantic City, established in 1870.

New Mexico

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Atomic history: Birthplace of the Atomic Bomb.
  • Cultural fusion: Blend of Native American and Hispanic cultures.
  • Hot air balloons: Home to the largest balloon festival worldwide.

New York

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Empire State Building: Iconic 102-story skyscraper.
  • Niagara Falls: Majestic waterfalls straddling international border.
  • Adirondack Park: Larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon combined.

North Carolina

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • First in flight: Wright Brothers’ first powered flight in 1903.
  • Biltmore Estate grandeur: America’s largest private home.
  • Blue Ridge beauty: Part of the scenic Appalachian Mountains.

North Dakota

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Legendary skies: Home to vibrant Northern Lights displays.
  • Agricultural powerhouse: Leads US in sunflower and flaxseed production.
  • Rich fossil beds: World-renowned for dinosaur discoveries.

Ohio

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Birthplace of aviation: Wright brothers, pioneers of powered flight.
  • Rock and roll roots: Home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Presidential state: Birthplace of seven US Presidents.

Oklahoma

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Native American heritage: Home to 39 tribal nations.
  • Route 66: Birthplace of the historic highway.
  • Severe weather: Known for tornadoes and extreme conditions.

Oregon

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Diverse climates: From rainy forests to high desert.
  • Crater Lake depth: Deepest lake in the USA, stunningly blue.
  • Trailblazing history: End of the Oregon Trail, rich lead heritage.

Pennsylvania

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Liberty Bell legacy: Symbol of American independence.
  • Chocolate capital: Home to Hershey’s chocolate.
  • First computer: Birthplace of the ENIAC computer.

Rhode Island

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Oldest tavern: White Horse Tavern since 1673.
  • Smallest state: Just 1,214 square miles in size.
  • First circus: In Newport, 1774.

South Carolina

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • First to secede: Led the way in secession from the Union.
  • Tea cultivation: Only state in the US to grow tea.
  • Oldest landscaped garden: Middleton Place, America’s oldest landscaped gardens.

South Dakota

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Mount Rushmore’s majesty: Sculpted heads of four US Presidents.
  • Badlands’ geologic wonders: Striking landscapes shaped over millions of years.
  • Sioux Nation heritage: Rich Native American cultural history.

Tennessee

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Music heritage: Birthplace of country, blues, and rock’n’roll.
  • Natural beauty: Home to the Great Smoky Mountains.
  • Historical landmarks: Site of significant Civil War battles.

Texas

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Size matters: Larger than any European country.
  • Energy capital: Leads US in oil and wind power production.
  • Cultural melting pot: Rich blend of Hispanic and American cultures.

Utah

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Unique geology: Home to five national parks.
  • Historical significance: Site of first transcontinental railroad.
  • Cultural diversity: Rich Native American heritage.

Vermont

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Maple syrup capital: Produces over 40% of US maple syrup.
  • First to abolish slavery: Did so in 1777, a national lead.
  • Birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s: Iconic ice cream started here in 1978.

Virginia

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Birthplace of presidents: 8 US Presidents were born in Virginia.
  • Historic Jamestown: Site of the first permanent English settlement.
  • Natural beauty: Home to the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.

Washington

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Diverse climate: Rainforest in west, desert in east.
  • Volcanic peaks: Home to Mount Rainier, an active volcano.
  • Innovative technology: Birthplace of Microsoft and Amazon.

West Virginia

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Mountain state: Highest average elevation east of Mississippi.
  • New River Gorge: One of America’s oldest rivers.
  • Coal history: Once led nation in coal production.

Wisconsin

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Cheese capital: World-renowned for its cheese varieties.
  • Lake abundance: Home to over 15,000 lakes.
  • Dairy dominance: Leading US state in dairy production. 

Wyoming

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David Gewirtz via DALL-E 3/ZDNET, tap the square to enlarge
  • Old Faithful: Erupts around every 90 minutes. 
  • First national park: Yellowstone was established in 1872. 
  • Large pronghorn population: More pronghorns than people. 

Project observations

I’m sure you noticed that the picture of New York included two Statues of Liberty and two Empire State Buildings. And of course, Lady Liberty was not on her own island.

This project took a lot longer than I expected, almost five days from start to finish. Individual state images took anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes to create. Some state images took five to 10 retries in order to get the AI to pay attention to the proper parameters. Initially, I tried rewriting and coaching the AI via individual prompts in order to attempt to get it to pay attention. Eventually, I realized that just asking ChatGPT to regenerate would roll another rendering, which would often give me more of what I was hoping for.

Also: A startling thing happened when a neural net got to select its own neurons

The AI had a particular problem with the 16 x 9 ratio, with not putting borders around everything, with not doing a bunch of abstract images in the middle of the main image, and with not planting maps on top of just about everything. I did feel admire I was working with a talented but purposely stubborn intern in my quest to complete this project.

The AI did capture the overall “vibe” of most states, but was both selective in what it chose to spotlight, and even what and where to place established landmarks. It’s much more of an artistic interpretation of the 50 states than a detailed documentary rendering. I consider that a fairly successful result, given I asked for a picturesque view showcasing the diverse landscapes and landmarks of each state.

And that brings us back to the image for New York. No amount of cajoling or negotiating would convince ChatGPT to get any closer to a more rational image of New York than the one it gave me with two Statues of Liberty and two Empire State Buildings.

Also: How to write better ChatGPT prompts for the best generative AI results

I wanted to do a assess about what a project admire this would be admire, and that’s what this project was admire. Sometimes we got extra landmarks.

One relatively reliable technique that I used was starting a new session once ChatGPT started to go off the rails. I was generally able to get two or three images generated correctly before it lost the thread.

For some reason, at the beginning of a session it tends to behave, but as the session progresses it tends to get more and more fussy. Starting a new session and invoking my master prompt seemed to put things back on track most of the time.

Also, I did not do any fact-checking, either about the individual facts for each state or about the actual geography. I am fairly good with US geography, and nothing stood out to me as blatantly wrong (except for the placement of landmarks, of course), but I didn’t take the time to carefully vet anything the AI provided. My goal was mostly to simply see what the AI would do.

Also: Generative AI can easily be made malicious despite guardrails, say scholars

If you see anything wrong, definitely let us know in the comments below. Also, let me know what you think of this project in the comments below. It was a whole lot of fun to do this little bit of AI performance art.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly update newsletter on Substack, and follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.


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