AI and Pictures – Will it Enhance your Genealogical Research?

Created by ChatGPT

Happy New Year! Hard to believe this is my last blog of 2023. I’ve been writing about using Artificial Intelligence in family history research for the past few weeks. I hope it has been helpful and taken the fear out of the tech. Whenever I’ve talked about it with my personal FAN Club, I get the same reaction which is either a sign of the cross and the question, Haven’t you seen the terminator movie? to Oh, I want to learn how to do that. Absolutely no reactions in between!

Which I think is quite interesting because I’m a middle of the roader. I love the time saving aspect and the assistance in handling large amounts of data to analyze but I also am very cognizant that this tech is still in it’s infancy, makes mistakes (like people do), and due to lack of transparency from the companies involved, we have no idea what training information was used. So, it could have been an item that was under copywrite, it could have been biased information, or it could have been false information.

That said, I still think it can be useful. I really miss an early Google AI attempt called Picasa. I had saved all of my family photos there and it could identify family members that were infants I could not. I have two sets of twin cousins and in some of the photos I can’t tell them apart. Picasa was able to separate them out individually.

Today, AI can also create pictures. I haven’t tried to input photos from say, 1890, and ask it to take the person in the photo and create a new picture in 1820 period clothes but I suspect that can be done. Sounds interesting and want to get started?

Through ChatGPT I use Dall-E. It has become one in the same since November. Before that, Dall-E was Beta but now they are joined. Here’s how to use AI to get a picture.

  1. In the chat box, ask to “Create a picture or photo of” whatever. You can be specific or not.
  2. When you get a response you might want to edit the picture. You can have the AI do that by specifically stating what you want altered. In the photo above, I asked to update the first image with the word “2024” added. I never told it where to add but perhaps you wanted it front and center. You can then tell it to add a calendar showing the month of January and the year 2024 displayed.

I will be one of seven professional genealogists giving a lecture at an upcoming genealogical conference later in 2024. I will be using AI to create some of the slide pics. For some slides, I had an idea but for others, I let AI create for me with only the slide title as the instruction.

Ethically, I believe that I need to credit AI for the pictures, just as I would source any photo that I use.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays with family and friends. I look forward to 2024 and providing you with more heartfelt and informative blogs. All the best to you and yours!

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