'Prompt engineering' is one of the hottest jobs in generative AI. Here's how it works.

 Prompt engineers are critical for building and improving 
human-machine interaction, especially as chatbots like OpenAI's ChatGPT become increasingly popular. In this role, engineers focus on asking AI chatbot questions to produce desired responses. Unlike traditional computer engineers, prompt engineers test AI systems for any quirks by writing prose. Alex Shoop, an expert in AI systems design, told Venture Beat that prompt engineers help ensure that chatbots are functioning properly, their responses are repeatable, and safety measures are in place. Though chatbots can be useful for various tasks, such as writing cover letters or providing answers on dating apps, there is a risk that they can generate misinformation or bias. Therefore, it is important for prompt engineers to understand the capabilities of AI and why it may make mistakes.

Sam Altman, the CEO of Open AI, recently tweeted about how writing a great prompt for a chatbot is a high-leverage skill that can be seen as a form of programming in natural language. According to a report on Dataconomy, the day-to-day job of a prompt engineer involves asking the AI to "think step by step" to test its logical reasoning or continuously tweaking prompts like "write an essay about AI" to determine which words generate the best response. Prompt engineers can also identify AI faults as they are presented with chatbot responses that can be eyebrow-raising. Riley Goodside, a prompt engineer at the AI startup Scale AI, explained to the Post how he worked through incorrect answers with AI systems. Goodside has also attempted to get AI to ignore previous instructions for new ones in order to constrain the AI's behavior. However, some academics are skeptical of how effective prompt engineers really are in testing AI, citing that it is not a science. Shane Steinert-Threlkeld, a linguistics professor at the University of Washington, stated that prompt engineers cannot actually predict what the bots will say, as it is more akin to “let's poke the bear in different ways and see how it roars back”.

Ethan Mollick, a professor from Wharton School, has made ChatGPT a requirement for his classwork and believes that the role of the prompt engineer is an ephemeral trend. He tweeted in February that he is sure "prompt engineering" is not going to be a major factor in the future, and that prompt engineer will not be a job of the future. Despite Mollick's opinion, many companies are still hiring prompt engineers. BoardingArea, a frequent flyer news website, is looking for a part-time ChatGPT specialist to develop and refine prompts, while Upwork is searching for prompt engineers who could get paid up to $40 an hour to create website content such as blog posts and FAQs. Klarity, an AI contract review firm, is recruiting for a prompt engineer who can earn up to $230,000 per year. Various marketplaces such as Krea, PromptHero, and Promptist are also available for people who want to buy prompts to generate a specific outcome. Additionally, there are multiple video lessons and a book related to the usage of ChatGPT. As Andrej Karpathy, a former chief of AI at Tesla, tweeted in January, "The hottest new programming language is English."

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