Developing skill with generative AI tools requires mastering creating effective prompts that produce the most useful outputs for completing a task or information search and then critically evaluating those prompts for accuracy, bias and misrepresentations. “As students increasingly turn to AI bots such as ChatGPT as a means of scaffolding and complementing their studies, training on the art of (a) constructing effective prompts and (b) critically navigating and evaluating outputs is becoming increasingly important” (Wallbank, 2023).

  • Prompts are the textual inputs you enter for the tool to produce outputs. The responses you get are only as good as the prompts you use.
  • When writing prompts, these tips are usually mentioned in some form or another to get the most useful AI outputs:
    • Be as specific as possible about the topic and contextualize it with audience, tone, and/or timeframe.
    • Use an iterative approach to refine the output for more useful information.
    • Add an action or task for generative AI to complete: Ask generative AI to summarize, outline, list, plan, compare, predict.
    • Set parameters: Word count, exclusions, text with subheadings, paragraphs etc.
    • Avoid Bias: Bias occurs due to people’s preferences, prejudices, and stereotypes and can emerge as a result of how you phrase your prompts. If you ask a question in a leading way, it will produce a biased answer. 

BIASED PROMPT: Explain in three sentences why organic food is clearly overrated and offers no advantages over conventional food.

BIASED OUTPUT: Organic food is often marketed as healthier and more nutritious than conventional food, but scientific evidence shows no consistent or significant differences in nutritional content. The use of organic farming methods, such as avoiding synthetic pesticides, can lead to lower crop yields and higher production costs, making organic food more expensive for consumers without clear benefits. Ultimately, consumers should make choices based on personal preferences and values rather than assuming that organic food is inherently superior.

This prompt does not offer a balanced view of the issue with only the downsides of organic food and can lead to confirmation bias where one only looks for information that confirms their beliefs.

A more unbiased prompt would ask for both sides of the issue.

UNBIASED PROMPT: In a paragraph, summarize the pros and cons of consuming organic food instead of conventional food.

UNBIASED OUTPUT: Consuming organic food offers several pros and cons compared to conventional food. On the positive side, organic food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or synthetic fertilizers. This makes it a healthier option, as it reduces the potential exposure to harmful chemicals and promotes environmental sustainability. Organic farming practices also prioritize soil and water conservation, biodiversity preservation, and animal welfare. However, organic food can be more expensive and may have a shorter shelf life due to the absence of certain preservatives. Additionally, the yield per acre in organic farming is generally lower, leading to higher production costs and potentially limited availability. Critics argue that the nutritional differences between organic and conventional food are minimal and not significant enough to justify the higher price. Overall, the decision to consume organic food depends on personal values, health considerations, and affordability.

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