Futurist Mark Pesce helps Leaders unlock the Transformative Power of AI by Mastering the Art of Prompt Engineering
According to a report by McKinsey, AI adoption in business operations has more than doubled since 2017, with 63% of surveyed companies utilising AI technologies to improve their competitive advantage. (1)
With ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing, Google AI and more conversational platforms entering the market, leaders and their employees are rushing to understand how these technologies fit into their business operations, how to get the most out of them and critically; how to keep sensitive data safe.
At our masterclass with futurist and machine learning guru Mark Pesce, attendees explored the power of ChatGPT, the OpenAI large language model released in December 2022 that was widely reported to have over 100 million downloads within the first 90 days – making it more popular than TikTok!
ChatGPT undoubtedly kickstarted a new technology revolution. If digital transformation was the 4th Industrial Revolution, have we now entered 4.1? With an estimated 20-30 trillion bits of data in GPT4, the newest iteration and paid version of the program, we need to understand how these tools work to make the best of them.
Put simply explained Mark, “humans provide prompts, AI chatbots generate completions by predicting the correct way to reply”, and the more your feed your AI, the better the model and the more concise the output.
One of the most common themes of questioning for Mark during the masterclass was data protection, and his advice for anyone using large language AI models, “never share confidential data with an AI, we are all still learning about this technology, even the people making it”.
“Think carefully” he says, “if you are worried about privacy, don’t use that data with ChatGPT”.
He went on to explain that AI chatbots aren't thinking, despite what many of us assume. “They are just doing their best to provide the most statistically correct completion to your question.” And it’s best not to ask for them references, especially if you want them to hold up in court, he added, in reference to a recent story in the US of a lawyer using ChatGPT created cases in court, because the AI will likely make them up.
In one of our most interactive masterclasses, rated 9.1/10 by attendees, Mark led the class through three exercises to engineer the best prompts, using ChatGPT.
To get warmed up, the first exercise used short questions, followed by prompts. Examples from the masterclass included:
- What is the capital of Venezuela (question): be brief / answer in 10 words or less / be concise (prompts)
- What is the average temperature of Hyderabad, India?
- What language is spoken in Canada?
- How are stress balls made?
- What is Covid-19?
- What is the population of Germany?
- Why is soy wax better than paraffin wax?
Then, participants asked the same questions, but requested a detailed answer. The outcome? Often different results, for example, the short answer to “What is the population of Germany” referenced 2019 data, the detailed answer pulled 2022 statistics.
And while ChatGPT provided a detailed explanation of Covid-19, Google Bard couldn’t generate an answer.
This prompted (pun intended), discussion about the validity of responses. When you can’t fact check the tried and tested way – through subject matter experts or library’s – Mark recommends comparing responses with another tool like Bing or Bard.
“There’s an old adage that computers will do only what you tell them to do”, said Mark. But with AI, chuck that advice out of the window.
Making ChatGPT your co-pilot, structure your prompts like short stories. “A great prompt sits halfway between an instruction and a story” explained Mark. In this exercise, participants learned how to tell a yarn that would convince ChatGPT to work for them using the 3 C’s”
- Character: Describe the person, role and their motivation (Who?)
- Context: Place them within a scene (Where?)
- Conflict: (Why?)
A great ‘story’ prompt has at least 100 words. Give it a try!
Using persona prompts, masterclass attendees were able to generate responses for all kinds of problems:
- First chapter of a new children’s book
- Developing a mentoring program for women
- Interview questions for new employees focused on values
- Writing a report into workplace bullying
- Marketing campaign ideas for meat-free products
- Discussions with financial institutions about mortgage and loan payments
- Ways to resolve workplace conflict and have difficult conversations
- How to apologise in a letter without saying ‘sorry’
COMPLEX PROMPTS ‘CHAIN OF THOUGHT’
In the final exercise, Mark taught attendees to problem solve using ChatGPT, his example leveraged algebra, and but participants came up with non-mathematical prompts too.
- Describe the problem
- Solve the problem
- Show your work
- Do this multiple times.
- Then, ask the chatbot to solve the same type of problem
An example from the masterclass:
Rico speaks Italian, and I need to know where his is from. If he speaks Italian, his is probably from Italy. Language can indicate someone’s origins, but it’s not guaranteed. Based on this, if Jono speaks French, where is he possibly from?
If Jono speaks French, it is possible that he is from France. However, it's important to note that language alone cannot guarantee someone's origin. While speaking a particular language may indicate a person's cultural or geographical background, it does not provide definitive proof of their nationality or birthplace. People can learn and speak languages for various reasons, including education, travel, or personal interest, which means that someone speaking a certain language does not always correspond to their place of origin.
And there you have it, three ways to engineer the best prompts for ChatGPT.
Machine learning and conversational AI tools are evolving rapidly, and it’s likely you will have a lot more questions before we have all the answers. “It’s new, poorly understood and doesn’t feel rational” says Mark.
His advice as we embark on this journey into the future “Come, play and explore. That’s the best way to harness these systems to do amazing things.”
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1. McKinsey Global Institute. (2020)