How to get better outputs from generative AI
- 06 October 2023
CIM’s Laura Bracher interviews AI expert, Dave Birss and Saurabh Wani, content and growth marketer at AI generation platform Writesonic, about how you can maximise the use of your AI tools. In this article, we outline different ways to approach and pinpoint your prompts for stronger outputs.
Unless you've been living under a rock these past six months, you'll have heard all about how AI will take our jobs (300 million of them, apparently), the roof over our heads, and perhaps even plan for world domination.
As a copywriter, I admit I was a little alarmed the first time I used ChatGPT. There's no denying that it's groundbreaking with the potential to change the anatomy of work.
Plenty claim to have experienced amazing productivity gains from AI. A recent study by researchers at MIT found that ChatGPT lowered the time taken to complete a mid-level professional writing task by 40%, and overall output quality rose by 18%.
I can't say that's been my experience.
Generative AI is clearly a powerful tool, but my encounters haven't been particularly fruitful, and there are a few good reasons for that.
Firstly, much of the content I write is ghostwritten articles for thought leaders, which requires original ideas that AI can’t currently predict. Secondly, for the work where AI might assist me, like article research, preparation, and creating sales copy, I suspected my prompts needed some work.
I spoke with two AI experts about how I might increase my productivity using it.
What are AI prompts and prompt engineering?
AI prompts refer to specific input instructions or queries given to a language model to generate desired outputs. These prompts are used to interact with the likes of ChatGPT and Bard to receive text-based responses. The quality and relevance of the generated responses depend on the specificity and clarity of the prompts given.
This rise in generative artificial intelligence has caused some companies to hire "prompt engineers" who are responsible for training AI tools to deliver better, more relevant responses. But prompts aren't just for training specific language models. Even I act as a prompt engineer when I ask ChatGPT to write something for me.
How can marketers benefit from learning better AI prompts?
According to Dave Birss, who helps organisations use AI more effectively, we need to change our thinking.
"The best way to use AI is to augment your skills rather than simply using it to reduce effort. When you use it well, it can make you capable of previously unachievable things. It can help you plan and build a prototype of a digital tool. It can help you analyse complex data. It can help you understand your audience better.
"Yes, you can use it to answer emails faster. But it's so much better when it gives you superpowers."
Likewise, Saurabh Wani, content and growth marketer at AI generation platform Writesonic, supports this view that the real advantage of generative AI is its ability to help us think outside the box.
"Diversifying the usage of AI platforms and experimenting with various prompt types means marketers can find new strategies for customer experience that are smarter and better equipped to address customer concerns. Ultimately, improving proficiency in using AI prompts allows marketers to elevate their marketing endeavours and maintain a competitive edge in the industry."
Garbage in, garbage out
As mentioned before, my experiences with generative AI haven’t been great. Most of the time, the answers have been far from perfect. They often miss the mark, but I will hold my hands up and admit my prompt writing has been pretty poor so far. So, how am I getting it so wrong? According to Birss, I need to be more specific.
"One of the mistakes that people often make is thinking of tools like ChatGPT as a knowledge machine rather than a thinking machine. It has a heck of a lot of knowledge, but you can't rely on that information to give you the best output," he says.
"The information it has is general knowledge. But to solve your problem, you need to feed it with specific knowledge. That means writing a more thorough prompt that gives the bot all the information and context to provide the best response.
"The rule you should remember is that you can't give the AI less information than you'd give a human to do the same job and expect excellence. The age-old law of “Garbage In, Garbage Out” applies here."
How to write better generative AI prompts...
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