New Scientist: Computer learns "mapmaking"

New Scientist is carrying a report that a computer can learn mapmaking:

Walter Bischof and Jun Zhou, computer scientists at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and Terry Caelli from the Australian National University in Canberra, created the new computer program, which learns to detect and track new features such as roads on standard aerial photographs.

Initially, a human mapmaker proceeds manually, using mouse clicks to trace a road on a photograph. The computer program tracks the operator's steps and compares them to its own analysis of the aerial image.
It's interesting that the report calls what is essentially digitizing "mapmaking"! Whatever happened to all the other aspects of mapping, such as design, projection choice, scale, generalization, etc, just to name a few of the technical issues?

Also, if maps are essentially propositions, as John Krygier and Denis Wood argued at last week's NACIS meeting, can a completely computer-made map still be a proposition? A little devil's advocate question for Halloween!

1 comment:

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