“Learn the basics in 2 hours”

AI Basics

If you are adept at understanding and using artificial intelligence platforms, you are currently a highly valued future employee for many companies.

If you're wondering where to start, Anant Agarwal has some advice: “The most important skill that everyone lists are these two words: 'prompt engineering,'” Agarwal, who is the chief platform officer at multi-million dollar education technology company 2U, tells CNBC Make It.

Prompt engineering is essentially the skill of refining and typing text commands for generative AI programs like ChatGPT. The better you get at this skill, the more effective you'll be at prompting for tasks like writing emails, writing reports, or even creating PowerPoint presentations.

How to ask for something [from a generative AI tool] “This is incredibly important,” said Agarwal, founder of edX, an online education platform that was acquired by 2U in 2021. He's also a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and has served on the advisory board of the CNBC Technology Executive Council.

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Let's say you want ChatGPT to analyze your data: you can tell it to “give me a data analysis report,” but the chatbot might interpret that in an unintended way (because numbers can be sliced ​​and diced in different ways) and give you a less-than-helpful answer.

According to a tutorial from AI education startup DataCamp, a Prompt engineer might try something like this: “As a data analyst, describe the process you would follow to analyze a dataset containing retail store sales data. Include steps to examine sales trends over time, identify top-selling products, and evaluate sales performance by region for the last quarter.”

Prompt engineering, in particular, helps prevent generative AI’s biggest current drawback: the frequent occurrence of mistakes, fabricated information, and other errors (all known as “hallucinations”).

A well-trained engineer: [AI] “Constraints prevent hallucinations and produce more accurate and efficient results,” Agarwal says.

How to turn your engineering skills into a high-paying job

Prompt engineers are in high demand: Some online freelancers are charging as much as $100 for five prompts, Make It reported last month. Full-time positions can carry six-figure salaries: One job posting at Google-backed AI safety startup Anthropic is offering a salary of as much as $375,000 a year, as first reported by Bloomberg.

According to a recent edX survey of 1,600 full-time employees, including 800 corporate leaders, 87% of U.S. CEOs and C-suite executives say they are struggling to find new hires with the AI ​​skills they need to be competitive in the future.

According to the survey, nearly half of executives surveyed said that the skills possessed by today's employees will be irrelevant by 2025.

“Everyone needs to learn [prompt engineering]You can learn the basics in two hours,” Agarwal said.

He points out that edX offers online training courses and certification programs that teach AI skills, including free instant engineering courses like “Advanced ChatGPT” and beginner classes offered in partnership with Davidson College.

Other educational institutions and e-learning platforms such as Coursera are similarly offering online training courses on leveraging generative AI technologies, as are companies such as Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn.

“Everybody is seeing a solution,” Agarwal said. “That's good news.”

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