Subliminal AI and the end of prompt engineering
Notes From the Desk: No. 8 - 2023.09.23
Notes From the Desk are periodic posts that summarize recent topics of interest or other brief notable commentary that might otherwise be a tweet or note.
What will be the effects of subliminal AI?
Are you able to perceive the message in the image? Does your subconscious already perceive the message?
As shown in this paper, subliminal imagery can significantly alter neural activity and behavior. But that doesn’t mean that if a car company flashes a subliminal message saying, “Buy this car,” that you’re instantly going to drive to a dealership and make an extravagant purchase.
Some experts suggest that subliminal messaging must be “goal-relevant” to a person. Showing a subliminal message saying “Drink Coca-Cola” won’t make you thirsty. But if you’re already thirsty and you see the same subliminal message, and you’re already thirsty, you’re more likely to buy the suggested brand. This influence is probably why subliminal messaging in advertising is banned in many countries.
How much effect subliminal messaging has on our behavior is uncertain, but the ability to produce such is going to get far easier. Furthermore, if there is any effect at all, machine learning could be utilized to train models to potentially enhance that effect.
If you still don’t see the hidden message above, take a few steps back or try squinting. Below is a hint.
The end of prompt engineering?
At the beginning of the year, I stated that prompt engineering as a valuable career likely would not last very long. This was mainly in the context of the cryptic art generator prompts.
“Prompt Engineering” is mostly some guidance on quirks of the input system. Most of these are not desirable and will surely be removed as the system improves. Most of the prompts for image generation are nonsensical. It won’t remain that way.
It seems we have now arrived at that point. DALL·E 3’s next release now uses natural language.
Modern text-to-image systems have a tendency to ignore words or descriptions, forcing users to learn prompt engineering. DALL·E 3 represents a leap forward in our ability to generate images that exactly adhere to the text you provide.
What will AI “artists” now claim as their valuable skill? This is the new world of AI, where it will be increasingly challenging to reap the rewards from any newly acquired skill before it is already obsolete.
No compass through the dark exists without hope of reaching the other side and the belief that it matters …