Life on Mars - step by step

How to break down complex problems to get better responses out of ChatGPT

On Monday, I wrote a post about how to get better answers out of ChatGPT by tweaking your prompts to include specific words or phrases.

The plan for the next few posts is to give you some examples of some of the more interesting ones so you can get a practical view of how they work.

Today, I’m going to start with “think step by step”.

When you use the phrase “think step by step” in a prompt, you are asking the model to break down its answer into a sequence of individual, logical steps.

This is pretty useful when it comes to analysing complex tasks or solving problems that require a more methodical approach.

Not using “explain step by step” might result in a more general explanation without a detailed breakdown.

Prompt of the day

Design a sustainable, self-sufficient colony on Mars that can support a population of 1,000 people. Your plan must address the challenges of harsh Martian conditions, including but not limited to, sourcing water, producing food, generating power, maintaining a breathable atmosphere, and ensuring the psychological well-being of the colonists. Think step by step about how each component of the colony would be developed, from selecting the location to constructing the habitats and infrastructure, to the long-term sustainability of the colony. Consider the use of existing technologies and propose innovations where necessary. Provide a timeline for development, potential risks and their mitigation strategies, and how the colony could expand and evolve over time.

As you can see, this is a pretty complex prompt which covers a lot, and you can review the answers that ChatGPT has given me here (and side note: it doesn’t look like we’ll be on Mars before 2030…).

I added some further depth to this response by asking ChatGPT to “think in reverse, would you add anything if you were to now work backwards?” again, adding quite a bit more to the answer.

Let’s move over to a more real, real estate context now. 

This “step-by-step” approach might be good for working out complex processes - e.g. onboarding a new employee or creating a marketing plan for a particular property.

Design a sustainable on boarding program for new employees of our real estate firm. Your plan must address the challenges of the property management industry - including but not limited to, marketing property, tenant selection, property maintenance, dealing with difficult people and and ensuring the psychological well-being of our employees. Think step by step about how each component of the plan would be developed, from selecting a wow experience on their first day, to longer term career progression. Consider the use of existing technologies and propose innovations where necessary. Provide a timeline for development, potential risks and their mitigation strategies, and how the role might expand and evolve over time.

Here’s how the responses look to these prompts.

Remember, these are always first drafts but can provide a great basis for ideation and iterating to awesome over time.

Happy hunting 🚀

Modify the previous futuristic Mars colony scene to enhance the red and pink hues, emphasizing the iconic Martian landscape. The scene still includes modular habitats with regolith shielding, expansive greenhouses, compact nuclear reactors, and solar panel arrays. The architecture and design maintain a focus on sustainability and the mental well-being of colonists. The Martian surface now reflects a more vivid red and pink color palette, resonating with the planet's natural appearance. This adjustment aims to immerize the viewer further into the Martian environment, enhancing the overall aesthetic to match the red planet's unique ambiance, in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
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