Digital | Future concept | Research

Deforestation poses a significant risk to our planet’s health. As a big contributor to climate change and the cause of 10% of global warming, the gradual loss of our forests due to human activity has dire consequences for the world and our future.

To highlight the devastating scale of forest depletion on our planet in the last few centuries, we created an experiment using global deforestation data from the year 1450 until today. Inspired by the fantastical works of the painter Hieronymus Bosch, whose name means “forest” in Dutch, we visualized almost 600 years of tree and woodland habitat loss with the help of generative AI. The experiment was conducted internally on our annual Prototype Day as part of our efforts to explore how new AI tools can be utilized in design and data visualization.

The inspiration for this experiment came from Bosch’s painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. The triptych illustrates the interaction between humans and nature, and depicts a paradise-like world devolving into a hellscape through human destruction.

With Advanced Data Analysis through ChatGPT-4, we categorized the deforestation dataset into five different ranges based on tree density. Next, we generated 30 images per range in the style of Bosch using Midjourney, and tagged each image with specific keywords in Stable Diffusion based on the amount of trees and other notable elements, in order to train our own submodel. We also used these keywords to generate prompts on ChatGPT for each year from 1450 to 2023. The prompts were then fed into the submodel to create a corresponding image for each year. Using these, we made a morphing video animation in Deforum on Stable Diffusion to highlight the gradual change our environment has gone through due to global deforestation.

After multiple iterations and continuous improvements to the process, we’ve arrived at this final version. With the help of AI tools we can showcase data on urgent topics like deforestation in a refreshing and visually striking way. We are thrilled by the possibilities offered by generative AI, and are eager to investigate new ways in which designers can incorporate its creative potential into their work.

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