Asking Questions — The progression of a prompt

The importance of saying things correctly

Shaunak Inamdar
6 min readMar 26, 2023

“Language is not a mere instrument for communication; it is the very condition for the existence of the human mind.”
— Noam Chomsky

The Complete Human Experience

The human brain has an enormous computational capacity, estimated to consist of 86 billion neurons. These neurons are engaged in sharing information and forming connections from birth. Eventually we expose our brain to as much data as possible via the human experience. We train our brains through various forms of experiences, such as adventure sports, reading novels, watching movies, and listening to music. This training allows us to generate thoughts that combine our experiences and our imagination and help us better understand the world around us.

Generating Thoughts

With the advent of Large Language Models, machines are also learning to generate thoughts and ideas based on the data they are trained on. These models are designed to mimic the human brain’s ability to process language and generate human-like responses based on context and experience.

One of the most advanced AI language models currently available is ChatGPT, a large language model trained by OpenAI. ChatGPT can generate natural language responses to a wide range of prompts, from simple questions to complex statements, giving it a deep understanding of how language works.

Two Large Language Models

One of the key factors that influence the output of an AI language model is context. Context refers to the words and ideas that surround a prompt, and which help to shape the model’s understanding of what is being asked. For example, if the prompt is “What is the capital of France?”, the context might include information about geography and politics, as well as previous questions or statements that have been made.

The Context Window

To understand how context works in AI language models, it is important to understand the concept of a context window. A context window is a set of words or tokens that are considered by the model when generating a response. The size of the context window can vary, depending on the specific language model being used. For example, ChatGPT has a context window of up to 4000 tokens, allowing it to consider a large amount of information when generating a response.

While GPT-3 has a maximum context window of 4000 tokens, GPT-4 is expected to have a window of up to 32000 tokens. This will allow it to consider an even larger amount of information when generating a response from a prompt.

Bad Prompts and Good Prompts

So what makes a good prompt, and what makes a bad one? A good prompt is one that is specific and well-defined, and which provides enough context for the AI language model to generate a meaningful response. A bad prompt, on the other hand, might be too vague or ambiguous, or might lack the necessary context to allow the model to generate a useful response.

For example, a bad prompt might be “Tell me about history.” This prompt is too broad and open-ended, and lacks the necessary context to allow the model to generate a meaningful response. In contrast, a good prompt might be “What were the key factors influencing the second World War?” This prompt is specific and well-defined, and provides enough context for the model to generate a meaningful response.

Once the prompt has been processed and tokenized, it is time for the AI language model to do its job: generating an answer. The answer will be based on the context of the prompt and the model’s training data.

The AI language model uses complex algorithms and deep learning techniques to analyze the prompt and generate a response. These algorithms allow the model to understand the context and nuances of the language used in the prompt. They enable the model to recognize patterns, extract relevant information, and make logical connections between words and phrases.

How Attention Works

One key element in this process is the use of attention mechanisms. These mechanisms make the model concentrate on specific parts of the prompt, giving them more importance in generating the output. Through attention, the model can assign appropriate weights to different parts of the prompt, enabling it to extract the relevant information and generate accurate and appropriate responses. For example, in a prompt asking about the capital of France, the attention mechanism would give more weight to words like “France” and “capital” than to words like “the” or “is”. By using attention mechanisms, the model can generate more accurate and contextually relevant responses. This is particularly beneficial when dealing with longer prompts, where several pieces of information must be considered.

Another important factor in generating an answer is the model’s training data. The language model has been trained on a massive dataset of text, which it uses to learn patterns and relationships between words and phrases. The quality and relevance of the training data is essential in ensuring that the model generates accurate and meaningful responses.

Introspecting, Analysing, Thinking

Once the AI language model has analyzed the prompt and generated a response, it is then up to the user to evaluate the answer. In some cases, the answer may be exactly what the user was looking for, while in other cases, it may require further refinement or clarification.

It is important to note that AI language models are not perfect, and there are limitations to what they can do. While they are incredibly advanced and can generate impressive responses, they still have trouble with things like humor, sarcasm, and irony. Additionally, they cannot always recognize when they are making mistakes, so it is up to the user to be discerning when evaluating their responses.

AI is already changing the way we interact with technology. And with the advent of more advanced models like GPT-4, the possibilities are endless. Imagine a world where AI language models are integrated into every aspect of our daily lives. From helping us navigate complex medical diagnoses to composing art and music, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we live, work, and create. But with great power comes great responsibility. As AI becomes more integrated into our lives, it’s important to consider the ethical implications of relying on machines to make decisions for us.

Behind the Screen

The journey of a prompt in the mind of an AI language model is a complex and fascinating process, one that is only just beginning to be understood. As we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with AI, it’s important to remain mindful of the implications of our choices and to approach the technology with a spirit of curiosity, creativity, and responsibility.

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Shaunak Inamdar

Shaunak Inamdar is a CS undergrad with a passion for writing about technologies and making them accessible to a broader audience. www.shaunak.tech