Is natural language processing (NLP) the future of programming languages? This question arises from a discussion in the tech community about the limitations and potential of NLP and Language Model (LLM) systems. Many are excited at the prospect of greater rigor and precision in programming languages that NLP systems could provide. However, some feel that NLP is reinventing the concept of programming languages, with formal and precise syntax to perform specific tasks with guarantees.
Despite the excitement over NLP’s potential, concerns remain about the ease and flexibility of everyday language versus the precision of a formally specified language. It remains unclear where the balance will end up between the two. However, the use of LLMs to generate outputs that can be further processed in rigorous ways could be the way forward.
The discussion also highlights issues regarding prompt-injection exploits and the need to safeguard LLMs against misuse. Unlike humans, LLMs cannot “manipulate” language as they do not have agency. Their output is the result of applying the statistics harvested and distilled from existing uses of natural language. While LLMs may appear human-like, they cannot actively “manipulate” language.
Despite some concerns, NLP systems have already shown practical use in areas such as transcription and categorization. Additionally, structured prompt engineering is an excellent project that could have significant implications for LLM application development. It is essential to be cautious and mindful of the potential limitations and risks of NLP. However, the potential of NLP is a fascinating and promising area for continued exploration and development.
Overall, the reinvention of programming languages as NLP systems is an exciting development in the tech community. While some concerns remain, the potential applications of LLMs are vast and could revolutionize various industries. As the debate continues, it is clear that the future of programming languages and NLP is an area ripe for further exploration.
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Author Eliza Ng