The boom of artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked talk of a new industrial revolution that could make millions of workers obsolete. One job it’s creating, however, could pay up to €300,000 a year - and it doesn’t even require a tech background.
AI prompt engineering is a hot new job on the tech market driven by the rise of AI-powered chatbots such as GPT-4, the latest version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
The job involves taking advantage of the full potential of AI by effectively communicating with the algorithm and gradually teaching it how to respond and follow specific guidelines.
Those skills are in high demand right now. San Francisco-based AI start-up Anthropic currently has a job opening for a "prompt engineer and librarian" with a salary range of $175,000 to $335,000 (€160,000 to €308,000).
“Prompt engineering is like teaching a robot to talk to you. Just like how we would use words to communicate with each other,” Michael Delcore, a self-employed AI prompt engineer and front-end developer, told Euronews Next.
“We need to give the robot the right words to understand what we want it to do. To do this, we have to think carefully about the words we use, so on and so forth”.
What are AI prompt engineering skills?
According to Delcore, prompt engineering is an artistic way of communicating with AI algorithms by using a mix of technical skills. However, no coding language is required, as prompt engineers simply need a decent level of language and grammar skills, data analysis, and critical thinking.
Andrej Karpathy, Tesla's former chief of AI, even said in a tweet in January that "the hottest new programming language is English".
In an interview with Euronews Next, Mairi Bruce, a UK-based prompt engineer and AI researcher at AutogenAI, explained that successful prompt engineering depends on the context and the user's intention.
She added that it should be direct, relevant, and unambiguous.
"You're just trying to make it as easy as possible, and it shouldn't be really open to interpretation. You've got to use your words with intention," Bruce said.
According to her, prompt engineering is more of an art form than anything else. While there are roles that can guide someone in the right direction, there is no specific formula for it.
However, with the increasing demand for prompt engineers, this is a role that many people might have to upskill into.
How to become an AI prompt engineer
Despite being a relatively new job, prompt engineering is gaining popularity, and many companies are currently looking to hire prompt engineers.
According to Bruce, language capabilities, tech literacy, and an interest in AI are the key requirements for becoming a prompt engineer, regardless of one's educational or work background.
"I studied politics in university and I have no tech background," she said. "If you've got an interest in it, that's pretty much what you need. Just a capable person with an interest and a knowledge of language because you don't do any coding, you just write purely in prose. So there's no need to have any of that skill set".
Bruce also notes that previous work history wasn’t a requirement for her to become a prompt engineer: "I think basically the criteria was just, are they sort of smart and capable? Have they got this intimate understanding of prompt engineering and can they apply themselves?"
Regarding the recipe for the perfect prompt, Bruce encourages prompt engineers to play around with language to find what works best.
"Play around with words. Which words might work? What sentence structure might work? Because like I said, there's no specific formula to it. So, you know, this one form of punctuation might elicit a fantastic idea and another might not," she said.
While many people fear that AI may take over their jobs, AI prompt engineering shows that AI will eventually create new ones.
Bruce says AI could rather restructure the way that people work and, hopefully, increase their productivity.
"I do think that prompt engineering kind of speaks to the idea that new technology isn't just going to wipe out careers for people. It's going to create new jobs that we never even saw as possible," she said.