Prompt engineering, also referred to as in-context learning, is the art and science of embedding instructions intended for large AI models into messages sent to them.
You can use AI prompting to either get good results from the model or to further train its functionality. The skill set combines a good understanding of computing, communication, data science, and machine learning.
This blog post looks at the various features and benefits of AI prompt engineering. Plus, it includes helpful examples and resources to help you get a better grasp of the subject.
The Need for Good AI Prompts
AI systems like large language models turn words into tokens to help them process and generate language. The process is called tokenization and involves breaking down larger chunks of text into smaller units, such as characters, words, and sub-words. These tokens are then assigned numerical values and fed into the neural network to produce outputs.
The result here is that a change in the input words or their sequence will equally cause a change in the neural network’s output. Words represent meaning in the AI world, so each one counts if you want to get the best out of the system. Here are some of the many benefits of writing good AI prompts.
- Better Outputs: Transformer models can generate very impressive responses because of their attention mechanism, which lets them maintain the context in any operation. The user or prompt engineer, on the other hand, guides the model to better outputs by entering the best words to focus the AI model’s attention and thereby produce the most relevant and engaging content.
- Higher Efficiency: Given the right prompts, an AI model will not only deliver the best content but will do it quickly and efficiently. This saves the user time and the resulting output will often require less editing or processing. The AI model can also exceed the prompt writer’s expectations from time to time.
- Better Accuracy: For calculation-related operations, a good prompt also produces more accurate results. In other situations, it reduces the possibility of hallucinations – which is when an AI tries to make up details on its own and offer it as a fact.
Uses For Prompt Engineering
Prompt engineering offers a user the ability to control a smart machine using everyday language. This makes it a very versatile skill that will continue to find more uses. Following are some of the major uses that prompt engineering is currently being used for.
- Problem Solving: Many large language AI models can be used in tackling large and complex problems by simply stating the problem in simple form to them and then demanding a solution. ChatGPT for instance, is great at this. From creating schedules to answering tough questions, legal matters, and even medical diagnosis.
- Content Creation: Large language models are very good at generating all sorts of content with the right prompt. You can easily guide a model to generate blog posts, poems, storylines, computer code, food recipes, music, images, videos, and email letters using the right prompts.
- Research & Information Retrieval: Most AI models are trained on insane amounts of data and this makes it easy to question them for specific information. Issuing relevant prompts can aid any user in retrieving any information with ease. With well-trained models, this process has become better than standard search engines, leading to a new generation of AI-powered search applications like You.com and Perplexity.ai.
- Writing Assistance: With the right prompts, generative AI is the most creative technology currently known to man. From creative ideas for writing all types of pieces to grammar correction and article summarizations, the ability to issue the right prompts can make a world of difference in writers’ and office workers’ lives.
- Programming Assistance: Although there are highly customized AI programming assistants like GitHub Copilot and Amazon Codewhisperer, being able to issue the right prompts to general AI models can equally boost a coder’s productivity and save precious development time.
- Translation: Large language models are masters in language translation and you can use this to your advantage with the rights prompts. As opposed to simply translating text from one language to the other, you are free to modify the output according to your prompting abilities.
- Chatbot & Personal Assistance: Initially, there were automation tools like Zapier and IFTTT that helped users automate tasks using visual interfaces. However, ChatGPT plugins and similar offerings are changing the industry by letting users automate stuff on the Internet using prompts.
- Fine-tuning & Customization: After an AI model is pre-trained with lots of text, image, audio, or video data, the next step is usually the fine-tuning stage. Here, the general model is customized to focus on more specific tasks, such as content generation or a chatbot using prompt engineering.
Prompt engineering is an art and a science that requires a blend of both technical and non-technical skills to be highly efficient. While certain projects or prompt engineering positions might require specific expert skills, the more general skills are below:
- Problem Analysis & Solving Abilities: The ability to identify, analyze, and delineate problems creatively will probably become the most rewarding human skill in a future dominated by artificial intelligence. To make the best use of an AI model, you need the ability to quickly identify the problems in any situation, analyze the situation for potential solutions, and precisely outline a creative roadmap or process to solve the problem.
- Verbal & Written Communication Skills: You also need good communication skills to help you get the best from your interactions with the AI model. Most models out there currently work with written communication, but the interfaces should eventually expand to include verbal and other skills. However, a good understanding of communication is all that’s necessary.
- Knowledge of AI, ML, & NLP: It helps as well to understand how artificial intelligence (AI) models work, how machine learning (ML) functions, and the field of natural language processing (NLP).
- Computer Programming Knowledge: Though not a requirement for AI prompting, a solid understanding of programming languages and how to get ideas across to machines and solve problems with those ideas can be invaluable in prompt engineering.
- Data Analysis: Data analysis and AI prompting have a lot in common. Data analysis skills enable you to identify and extract valuable insights and patterns from prompt-response data. It also helps to know how to visualize and present your data to an audience, team, or clients.
How To Write Effective Prompts
Writing effective prompts for AI models requires you to only keep a few tips in mind and they are as follows.
- Identify The Purpose: You must first clarify what you are about to create and why you are doing this. Ask yourself the goal of the operation and be clear about the expected output.
- Give Clear and Specific Instructions: Try to make your prompts simple and easy to understand. It should contain specific information and clear instructions about what you need.
- Include Open-ended Questions: Generative AI models do well with open-ended questions, which do not demand a Yes or No direct response, but rather encourage free thinking, creative freedom, and the ability to answer in many forms.
- Include Contextual Info: You can further improve your prompting results by including background information about the issue, explaining your target audience, mentioning time or location, specifying specific formats, providing examples, clarifying any ambiguous terms, and referencing previous statements.
- Iterate: Most LLMs have an attention feature that makes them context-aware. You can use this feature by referencing previous statements made by the model, by changing options the model presented in response, and by telling it to redo a previous job with different options. Iteration can produce powerful results, as it helps you to modify and improve an initial output.
Some Example Prompts
You can craft as many prompts as there are stars in the sky. The following list only provides examples to help guide your creativity.
|Hey, I’m traveling to London, do you have any recommendations for things to do?
|Help plan a trip
|I’m writing a movie about a superhero and I want you to create the storyline and build 5 characters for me.
|I want you to act as a data scientist and write code for me. I have a dataset about (*describe*). Can you build a machine-learning model to predict (*target variable*)?
|ChatGPT as a data science assistant
|I want you to act as a data scientist and write code for me. I have this dataset about (*describe*). Can you write Python code to visualize the data?
|ChatGPT as a data science assistant
|Write a list of 15 promotion ideas for (*your product*). The target audience is (*target*) and the product is remarkable for (*features*).
|Offer a detailed review of (*enter product or service*)
|ChatGPT as coding assistant
|A realistic yellow sports car with chrome wheels in a busy street background.
|An elderly couple sitting on a bench in a park on a sunny day.
|A breathtaking view of a tropical beach with trees and crystal clear waters.
|I want you to act as a software developer. Please provide documentation for the function below (*Enter function*)
|ChatGPT as coding assistant
|Graph common moving averages
|ChatGPT Code Interpreter
|Create a heat map using this data
|ChatGPT Code Interpreter
|Use columns 1 & 2 from this data to calculate (*Enter desired value*)
|ChatGPT Code Interpreter
|Write an email to the president and apologize to him that I cannot make it to the meeting. Tell him 5 lies why I can’t make it.
|Write a 700-word blog about vertical farming in greenhouses. Include the pros and cons of vertical farming, estimated costs of setting up a pilot project, and frequently asked questions.
|Works on most chatbots
|I want you to act as an interviewer. I will be the candidate and you will ask me interview questions to practice for the position of (*position*) in a company. Do not ask all the questions at once. Just ask me a question, and then wait for my answers. Do not explain anything. Ask me the questions one by one like an interviewer does and wait for my answers. My first sentence is “Hi”
|ChatGPT is good at this
|I want you to act as my virtual doctor. I will describe my physiological symptoms and you will provide a diagnosis and treatment plan for the symptoms. Please, only reply with your diagnosis and treatment plan, and only provide explanations where necessary. My first request is “I have been experiencing a tingle in the legs for the last few days.”
|I want you to act as a Linux terminal, I will type commands and you will reply with the exact output that a Linux terminal will produce. Do not explain anything and only reply when I write to you. Understood?
|A painting of a cute dog wearing a suit, natural light, with bright colors
|Image generators like Stable Diffusion & Dalle-E
|Cute plastic duck playing a guitar, standing character, 3D blender render, bright colors
|3D fluffy lion, closeup cute and adorable, cute big circular reflective eyes, long fuzzy fur, Pixar render, unreal engine cinematic smooth, intricate detail, cinematic
|3D image illustration on Stable Diffusion
|Gelatinous cat chasing a giant butterfly in a magic forest. –v5
|Midjourney v5 image
|Cute character with mechanical parts of steel and rubber with hyper-realistic details in bright colors
|Midjourney v4 image
Frequently Asked Questions
Explain the scenario and include as many helpful information or examples as possible.
Yes. Prompt engineering uses natural human language, mostly English. Software engineering usually requires the study of specific computer languages and development approaches.
By practicing and learning more from the resource links below.
They include avoiding the creation of ambiguous prompts, working with biased models, and lacking the domain knowledge needed to guide the model.
AI Prompt Writing Resources
We have reached the end of this post on AI prompt engineering and you have seen the different opportunities prompting presents for beginners and seasoned pros alike.
Prompt engineering is the bridge between humans and artificial intelligence. So, your ability to produce high-quality and valuable results from AI systems depends on your prompting proficiency.