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University Degrees in Generative AI Prompt Engineering (Mind Blown!)

I rarely publish press releases. To be honest, I rarely even read them. Every now and then, however, something piques my interest enough for me to slide my orbs over it. In this case, what I just read caused my ears to flap in excitement and made my eyebrows stand at attention.

Before I share this mindboggling news, let me set the scene a little. Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. During his lifetime, Asimov was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.

A dozen or so of Asimov’s short stories set in a futuristic America featured a government-run computer called Multivac. Asimov coined this name in imitation of the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), which was principally designed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. (Eckert and Mauchly were the inventors of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). Completed in 1945, ENIAC was the first programmable, electronic, general-purpose digital computer.)

The first UNIVAC was sold in 1951. The fifth machine (built for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission) was used by CBS to predict the result of the 1952 presidential election. With a sample of a mere 5.5% of the voter turnout, it famously predicted an Eisenhower landslide. Since the final Gallup Poll had predicted a close contest, the CBS crew was so certain that UNIVAC was wrong that they believed it was not working. As the election continued, however, it became clear that UNIVAC had been correct all along.

Possibly the most famous Multivac story is The Last Question, but the three stories that made the greatest impression on me are Franchise, All the Troubles of the World, and Jokester

In the case of Franchise, Multivac chooses a single “most representative” person from the population of the United States and then asks that person a series of questions. Multivac then uses the answers and other data to determine what the results of the election would be, thereby avoiding the need for an actual election to be held. (Asimov wrote this story as the logical culmination—and/or possibly the reductio ad absurdum—of UNIVAC’s ability to forecast election results from small samples.)

In All the Troubles of the World, Multivac has tired of carrying all of humanity’s problems, so it sets plans in motion to cause its own “death.” The problem is that one of Multivac’s functions is to predict crimes before they happen (think Minority Report), so while it’s giving instructions to its unsuspecting murderer, it’s also keeping the authorities informed as to what is going on.

I’m not going to tell you about Jokester here (you’ll have to read it yourself). The reason I’m waffling on about all this is that a common theme in many of the early Multivac stories is that only specialists know how to pose questions to Multivac in such a way as to obtain meaningful (or, at least, optimally useful) responses. This is especially the case in Jokester, in which Noel Meyerhof is a “Grand Master”—one of a small cadre of Earth’s recognized geniuses who have the insight to know what questions to ask Multivac.

“What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?” you may be asking yourself. Well, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS):

  • “Generative AI is an artificial intelligence solution that creates new content like stories, conversations, videos, images, and music. It’s powered by very large machine learning (ML) models that use deep neural networks that have been pretrained on vast amounts of data.”
  • Also, “A prompt is a natural language text that requests the generative AI to perform a specific task.”
  • Also, “Prompt engineering is the process where you guide generative artificial intelligence (generative AI) solutions to generate desired outputs. Even though generative AI attempts to mimic humans, it requires detailed instructions to create high-quality and relevant output. In prompt engineering, you choose the most appropriate formats, phrases, words, and symbols that guide the AI to interact with your users more meaningfully.”
  • Also, “Prompt engineers use creativity plus trial and error to create a collection of input texts, so an application’s generative AI works as expected.”

O-M-G! Shades of Asimov’s “Grand Masters,” is all I can say.

On the off chance you don’t know as much as you would like to about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a very brief summary is as follows. The UAE is formed from a federation of seven emirates—Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah—where an emirate is a territory ruled by an emir, which is a title used by monarchs or high officeholders in the Muslim world. I may be wrong, but I’m thinking “sheikh” and “sheikhdoms.”

The UAE’s economy is strongly dependent on oil and gas (85% of the economy was based on oil exports circa 2009), but the folks in charge can tell which way the wind is blowing with respect to climate change (no pun intended), and they are aggressively diversifying into other areas.

The UAE has a horrible track record with respect to human rights. According to the Wikipedia, “Human rights organizations consider the UAE substandard on human rights, citing reports of government critics being imprisoned and tortured, families harassed by the state security apparatus, and cases of forced disappearances. Individual rights such as the freedoms of assembly, association, the press, expression, and religion are also severely repressed.”

Having said this, it also has to be acknowledged that the UAE isn’t afraid to make long range plans, such as Mars 2117, whose goal is to establish the first inhabitable human settlement in Mars by 2117.

All of which leads us to the press release that sparked this column, which reads as follows (the press release reads as follows, not this column):

DUBAI BECOMES THE WORLD METROPOLIS FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

  • One million people will be trained with AI within three years
  • By 2031, 40% of GDP is to be generated with AI
  • Global giants such as Microsoft, Google and IBM are at the start 

Dubai is increasingly becoming a global center for artificial intelligence. To this end, the metropolis of the day after tomorrow on the Gulf has pledged to train one million people in AI prompting over the next three years. It is the first program of its kind in the world. 

“We want to be the most future-ready city and continue to prepare for the AI era by developing expertise and skills that support global technological change and put Dubai at the forefront of innovation,” said the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at the launch of the ‘One Million AI Prompters’ initiative in Dubai. DFF oversees the AI prompt program.

The United Arab Emirates, in which Dubai is the most important emirate alongside Abu Dhabi, is preparing for the post-oil era and wants to transform itself from an oil state into an AI power. By 2031, 40 percent of the gross domestic product is to be generated with artificial intelligence. To this end, the UAE is investing billions, has appointed the world’s first Minister of State for AI, is attracting scientists to the Gulf and is providing massive support for start-ups.

AI prompt engineering is critical to getting the best out of generative AI. It involves understanding the capabilities, limitations and nuances of AI models and is predicted to be one of the most important skills in the future workplace.

‘One Million AI Prompters’, the first-of-its-kind prompt engineering initiative, that prepares expertise and competencies in AI prompt engineering, which involves crafting precise and effective instructions for AI systems to achieve desired outcomes in various tasks, ranging from generating creative content to solving complex challenges.

“We want to show people that there is a full spectrum of use cases. Whether you are technical or non-technical, you can utilize these tools,” said Omar Al Olama, the UAE´s Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications. He also highlighted the importance of developing practical prompt engineering skills, as these are crucial for the workforce of tomorrow and for enhancing quality of life through AI. Al Olama was appointed as the world’s first AI Minister of State in the UAE in 2017.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN AI PROMPT IN DUBAI

To launch the ‘One Million AI Prompters’ initiative, the first Global Prompt Engineering Championship was recently held in Dubai. Participants competed in categories beyond traditional coding, such as literature and art, highlighting the broad applicability of AI tools. In AI, a prompt refers to a specific request to a language model (e.g. ChatGPT or others) that can provide the user with an answer or solution.

The Global Prompt Engineering Championship received thousands of entries from around 100 countries. Thirty finalists from 13 countries qualified to come to Dubai to compete for the title of best prompt engineer in the competition’s three categories. The winners were Australian Megan Fowkes in the art category and Indian Ajay Cyril, 33, for coding, and Aditya Nair, 34, in literature. The Dubai Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DCAI) provided one million dirhams, approximately 273,000 US dollars, in prize money for the three winners.

GLOBAL COMPETITION AROUND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The UAE is increasingly being courted as a strategic partner by global tech giants. Microsoft, Google and IBM already took part in the first championship with workshops. However, other companies and countries have also expressed interest in AI collaborations. There has been an AI university in the UAE since 2019 and the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala has set up a $100 billion AI fund. 

Microsoft recently invested $1.5 billion in G42, the leading UAE-based artificial intelligence (AI) technology holding company. The US software giant recognizes the Gulf state’s leading role in the development of artificial intelligence: “This strategic investment will enhance the UAE’s position as a global AI hub and provide further opportunities for partners and customers to innovate and grow”. 

For more information on the Global Prompt Engineering Championship, please visit: https://challenge.dub.ai/en/

I tell you; Every day it seems like something that seemed to be the stuff of science fiction just a few short years ago is becoming reality. I wonder what Asimov would have thought about generative AI, prompt engineering, and people training to be prompt engineers. How about you? What do you think about all this?

4 thoughts on “University Degrees in Generative AI Prompt Engineering (Mind Blown!)”

  1. Nice article!

    Just to follow up a bit on the 1952 UNIVAC election… this will be discussed in detail at a public lecture at the Computer History Museum on July 23: “Predicting the President,” with professor and investigative journalist Ira Chinoy. Amazingly, there was also a SECOND computer used in that election, on the competing NBC television network: the MONROBOT. That story seems almost lost to history. More info on the CHM lecture here: https://computerhistory.org/events/predicting-the-president/

    Dag Spicer
    Senior Curator
    Computer History Musuem

    1. Hi Dag, thanks for sharing this — I wish I could be there. I did attend when Konrad Zuse was made a fellow (posthumously) circa 1999

  2. Just read your article on AI in DubAI. It reminded me of a joke.

    The people in Dubai don’t like the Flintstones, but the people in Abu Dhabi Doo!

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