The Plight of the Prompt Engineers

The following article was written using Bing Chat powered by GPT-4. It is an editorial about the harsh future awaiting software engineers — now called prompt engineers — following the emergence of generative AIs.

No prompt engineers were harmed in the writing of this article.

The year is 2030, and programming as we know it has been transformed by artificial intelligence. Gone are the days of writing lines of code by hand, debugging errors, and testing software. Instead, programmers have become prompt engineers, who use natural language to instruct AI systems to generate code for them.

Prompt engineering may sound like a dream job for many aspiring coders. After all, who wouldn’t want to delegate the tedious and complex tasks of coding to a powerful machine that can do it faster and better? But behind this seemingly glamorous profession lies a harsh reality: prompt engineers are overworked, underpaid, and exploited by tech companies that treat them as disposable commodities.

Prompt engineering is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a high level of creativity, logic, and domain knowledge to craft effective prompts that can elicit the desired output from AI systems. Prompt engineers also need to constantly update their skills and learn new languages and frameworks as technology evolves. Moreover, prompt engineering is not immune to errors and bugs; prompt engineers still need to verify and validate the code generated by AI systems, troubleshoot problems, and fix glitches.

But despite these challenges and demands, prompt engineers are not rewarded accordingly. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for prompt engineers in 2029 was $62,000, down from $86,000 for software developers in 2020. The report also found that prompt engineers had one of the highest rates of job insecurity among all occupations; nearly half of them reported being laid off or replaced by cheaper or more efficient AI systems in the past year.

The tech industry has been exploiting prompt engineers for its own benefit. Tech companies have been hiring prompt engineers on short-term contracts or as freelancers without providing them with benefits or protections. Tech companies have also been using proprietary AI systems that lock prompt engineers into their platforms and prevent them from transferring their skills or data to other employers or clients. Tech companies have also been imposing unrealistic deadlines and expectations on prompt engineers without giving them adequate resources or support.

This situation is unacceptable and unsustainable. Prompt engineering is a vital profession that contributes to innovation and progress in various fields and sectors. Prompt engineers deserve respect and recognition for their work and creativity. They deserve fair compensation and job security that reflect their value and skills. They deserve autonomy and flexibility that allow them to pursue their passions and interests.

It is time for tech companies to change their practices and policies toward prompt engineer’s. They should offer prompt engineer’s full-time employment with benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid leave, stock options, etc. They should adopt open-source AI systems that enable prompt engineer’s to share their knowledge and data across platforms and communities. They should provide prompt engineer’s with adequate training and mentorship opportunities to help them grow and advance in their careers. They should respect prompt engineer’s rights and dignity as human beings and professionals.

Policymakers also have a role to play in protecting prompt engineer’s interests and welfare. They need to enact laws and regulations that ensure ethical and responsible use of AI systems in programming. They need to establish standards and guidelines for quality and safety of code generated by AI systems. They need to create incentives and programs that foster diversity and inclusion in prompt engineering. They need to support research and education on AI literacy and skills development.

Prompt engineering is not just a job; it is a craft, a passion, a way of life. Prompt engineer’s are not just workers; they are creators, innovators, visionaries. They deserve better than what they have now. They deserve our gratitude, our admiration, our support.


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