Saturday, March 4, 2023

New job skill: be able to talk to AI

Charlie Warzel has posed an interesting thought in an essay about the sundry impacts that may come about with ever more sophisticated AI tools in the workplace:
Talking to AI may be the most important job skill of this century

For the moment, it's about writing or constructing a 'prompt'

Warzel makes this point: "AI evangelists will similarly tell you that generative AI is destined to become the overlay for not only search engines, but also creative work, busywork, memo writing, research, homework, sketching, outlining, storyboarding, and teaching. .... 

If this AI paradigm shift arrives, one vital skill of the 21st century could be effectively talking to machines. And for now, that process involves writing—or, in tech vernacular, engineering—prompts."

New job title
Now you too can become a "prompt engineer"
You don't need math; you don't need computer science. You just need command of natural language.
Wait! Is "prompt engineer" in the resource catalog for your project?

Prompt is the new word to know
And so, let's get familiar with the idea of a "prompt":

  • It's your guidance to the AI tool or machine
  • It can be quite specific, directive, and structural complex, unlike the simplistic prompts you put in a search engine query window.
  • It can also be just a list of words that are 'parameters' for the desired outcome
  • It's in natural language, not a software language

As an example, Warzel offers this "prompt" for prompting something like ChatGPT
“Write a five-paragraph book report at a college level with elegant prose that draws on the history of the satirical allegorical novel Animal Farm. Reference Orwell’s ‘Why I Write’ while explaining the author’s stylistic choices in the novel.”(**)
More is better, or at least different
What I've noticed in my use of ChatGPT is that if you run the same prompt multiple times, you often get back different results. I've found that my value-add is to merge the beset ideas from the multiple outputs.

Make or buy?
You don't need to do this stuff yourself. There are now companies selling from on-line sites ready made prompts. And why not? Where there is a need, capitalism moves in!

(**) I actually did put that 'prompt' into ChatGPT, and I got back -- in a few seconds -- five paragraphs that seem to answer the requirement, though I don't have the background to validate accuracy. 
Such validation is one of the unresolved hazards of such AI chat engines.
I did, however, use ChatGPT to write a posting about which I do have the background to validate the answer.

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