The Articulation Barrier: Prompt-Driven AI UX Hurts Usability

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Current generative AI systems like ChatGPT employ user interfaces driven by “prompts” entered by users in prose format. This intent-based outcome specification has excellent benefits, allowing skilled users to arrive at the desired outcome much faster than if they had to manually control the computer through a myriad of tedious commands, as was required by the traditional command-based UI paradigm, which ruled ever since we abandoned batch processing.

But one major usability downside is that users must be highly articulate to write the required prose text for the prompts. According to the latest literacy research, half of the population in rich countries like the United States and Germany are classified as low-literacy users.

This might explain why I enjoy using these tools so much.

Writing an effective prompt and convincing a human to do a task both require a similar skillset.

I keep thinking about how this article impacts the barefoot developer concept. When it comes to programming, sure, the command line barrier is real.

But if GUIs were the invention that made computers accessible to folks who couldn’t grasp the command line, how do we expect normal people to understand what to say to an unassuming text box?

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