Prompt Writing: A Skill, Not a Niche Profession

The excitement around AI has led some to propose "prompt engineering" as a new profession. However, prompt writing - providing instructions to language models - is a skill, It should not be inflated into an entire occupational specialty unto itself.
AI Prompt Writing

The Overhyped "Prompt Engineering" Profession

In the excitement around AI and large language models, some have tried to turn prompt writing into a specialized profession called "prompt engineering." Companies are hiring for this role, and consultants are branding themselves as prompt experts. However, this overhyped specialization may prove transitional.

Well-crafted prompts leverage core competencies like articulating requirements precisely, framing questions effectively, giving relevant context, and using clear language. These are foundational skills for any competent writer or subject matter expert.

While early language models required precise prompts to understand intent, modern AI can comprehend natural instructions better. As models advance, meticulously formatted prompts become less crucial.

Prompt Writing: A Complementary Skill

What is a prompt? Simply the text input that provides instructions or context to an AI language model. Well-crafted prompts steer the AI's responses in a desired direction by building on core skills like:

  • Articulating requirements precisely
  • Framing questions effectively
  • Providing relevant context and examples
  • Using clear language and proper grammar

These are foundational communication skills that any competent writer or researcher should already possess. Prompt writing is a skill that complements one's existing subject matter expertise and communication abilities.

Prompting: A Core Competency for Knowledge Workers

As AI proliferates across industries, prompting prowess will become an embedded part of subject matter expertise within each domain. Effective prompting will be a core competency, not a niche specialization.

The most adept professionals will be those who combine:

  1. Deep domain mastery of their field
  2. Knowledge of AI capabilities and limitations
  3. Strong communication skills to interface with AI assistants fluidly

For example, an experienced HR professional will likely craft better prompts for personnel matters than someone solely trained in AI without deep human resources experience. Similarly, a legal expert would be better-suited to provide prompts for law-related tasks.

So while the excessively specialized role of "prompt engineer" may prove transitional, the skill of prompting AI assistants will become indispensable for all knowledge workers. Rather than siloing it as a separate profession, prompting should be part of the core toolkit.

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