Friday, April 21, 2023

The art of rich prompting in writing with AI

In the brave new world of AI-assisted writing, or "wraiting," mastering the art of crafting rich prompts is the key to unlocking engaging, thought-provoking content. Rich prompts set the stage with originality, supporting elements, connectivity, detail, and a clear objective. To excel at creating these powerful prompts, one must commit to practice, experimentation, and continuous refinement.

The world of AI-generated content can be a wild ride, offering profound insights that leave us in awe or underwhelming results that disappoint. Embracing the unpredictability of AI-generated content and adjusting our expectations accordingly is essential to harnessing AI's full potential as a writing partner while preserving our individuality as writers.

Let's dive into two prompts—one poor and one rich—within the realm of philosophy:

Poor prompt: "Write about dialogue and relation."

Rich prompt: "Turn this into a part of a scholarly book chapter. Provide supporting arguments and examples. Do not use subheadings: The ontological understanding of dialogue (Buber) is both powerful and limited. Powerful because it focuses on relations rather than entities or actions. Limited because dialogue is not culturally universal and excludes people with disabilities. Relation is a better category for educational philosophy than dialogue."

Try both, especially if you have access to GPT-4, and appreciate the difference. The poor prompt is vague and generic, while the rich prompt has enough original thought and instructions to invite a nuanced, in-depth exploration of a specific aspect of existentialism, providing context and direction for the AI to generate meaningful content.

When AI-generated content falls short of our expectations, this may indicate one of two things: one is that your prompt is too poor, and another is that you've stumbled upon a unique idea. AI does not understand unique ideas well because it has not encountered them before. Take this opportunity to engage in old-fashioned original writing and then reintroduce AI into the mix to enhance your work with its vast knowledge and pattern recognition capabilities.

In other words, wraiting still involves thinking and generating ideas. All it does is turn compressed, rough ideas into more comprehensible text output. Many people, but not all, start their process by jotting down on paper the initial thoughts, brief arguments, and short thesis statements. This is the most exciting part of brainstorming. Turning it into a coherent text is not necessarily the most rewarding part of the writing process, so we should use AI to assist with that. The synergy between human creativity and artificial intelligence promises to lead us to new intellectual heights.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

We are not as complex as we'd like to think

Stephen Wolfram says tha AI demonstrated: “that human language (and the patterns of thinking behind it) are somehow simpler and more “law like” in their structure than we thought.” His observation is both insightful and thought-provoking. The advent of advanced AI, like ChatGPT, has exposed the limitations of human intellect and language. Our initial encounters with such artificial intellect can be both disturbing and humbling, not because the AI is exceedingly intelligent, but because we, as humans, may not be as exceptional as we once believed.

For centuries, humans have marveled at their own intellect and linguistic abilities, often attributing these capabilities to divine origins. This self-amazement led to the concept of being created in the image of a deity. However, over recent decades, zoologists and zoo-psychologists have been gradually dismantling this grandiose self-image by demonstrating that animals share many traits and abilities with humans.

For instance, chimpanzees exhibit tool usage, problem-solving skills, and even rudimentary communication through gestures and vocalizations. Similarly, dolphins have been observed to possess complex social structures and use unique signature whistles to communicate with one another, while African Grey parrots can mimic human speech and understand a variety of words and phrases.

Now, it is the turn of software engineers to further deflate our pride. The ability to generate language, once considered a unique and sophisticated human trait, is now being replicated by AI algorithms like ChatGPT. This demonstrates that our linguistic prowess is not as mysterious or complex as we once thought. In fact, we often recycle and rephrase what we've heard or read before, which diminishes the perceived essence of our humanity.

This realization, although humbling, can lead to a healthier perspective on our place in the world. The true essence of humanity may be smaller than we initially believed, possibly encompassing higher-level creative thinking and advanced ethical reasoning. These are attributes that, so far, neither animals nor machines have been able to fully replicate.

As we come to terms with the diminishing divide between humans, animals, and machines, it may be time to shift our focus from trying to prove our uniqueness to embracing our similarities. By recognizing that we share many traits and abilities with other beings, we can foster a greater sense of empathy and understanding, ultimately benefiting both our own species and the world around us.

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