DALL-E image generator

Released: January 2021

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DALL-E is a software programme that automatically generates images from natural-language text descriptions (or 'prompts'). Trained on text-image pairs culled from the Internet, DALL-E claims to create 'realistic imagery and art' in multiple styles and compositions.

Developed by OpenAI and first revealed in January 2021, DALL-E uses a modified version of large language model GTP-3 to generate images. DALLE-2, which generates more diverse, higher resolution images faster, was released in May 2022.


DALL-E has been praised by researchers and commentators for the ease with which it makes it possible to create highly realistic, if surprising and weird, images and artwork at high speed. 

Others, however, have pointed out the software's technical limitations, and ethical and legal risks, including:

These limitations and risks broadly reflect those published by OpenAI upon DALL-E's launch and DALLE-2 upgrade.


Some commentators complain that OpenAI's refusal to let third parties assess its algorithm makes it difficult to understand how it works, and how its risks can be managed.

Given the variety and nature of the risks of DALL-E, and its potential negative impacts, OpenAI's decision to restrict user access to DALL-E has mostly been welcomed, even if some users complain that Stable Diffusion, Midjourney and other image generation tools are open to everyone and can be used with few, if any, restrictions.

In July 2022, OpenAI announced DALL-E 2 would be made available to up to one million users as part of a large-scale beta test. An API for the system was released in November 2022.

Operator: OpenAI; Microsoft
Developer: OpenAI
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Generate images
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Computer vision; Text-to-image; Neural network; Deep learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity, gender; Copyright; Employment - jobs; Environment;  Mis/disinformation; Privacy; Safety
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing; Privacy


Research, advocacy

News, commentary, analysis

Page info
Type: System
Published: November 2022