A powerful ChatGPT prompt for interdimensional explorers

 Dave Birss , writer, speaker, creative experimenter

16th February 2023

Dave Birss time travelling thanks to a ChatGPT prompt

The last week has been a bit crazy. I’ve just finished filming and editing a LinkedIn Learning course on how to use ChatGPT prompts to help you research and write better. It should be out very soon. So make sure you’ve got your learning trousers back from the dry cleaners.

In the course, I’ll be showing you how to construct an effective ChatGPT prompt. And I’ll be sharing some great prompts with you that will help you do what you do even better.

As part of my preparation for the course, I’ve written dozens of ChatGPT prompts and conducted hundreds of experiments. So I thought I’d start sharing some of the good stuff that didn’t make it into the course.

So let’s talk time-travel.

I never thought I’d become a history nerd

Wherever I live, I spend time getting to know the history of the place. I then become a thorough bore, telling my wife and kids about what happened in this exact place 400 years ago. I’ve become so fascinated with the past, that I’ve now listened to hundreds of hours of The Great Courses history lectures on Audible. I’m currently listing to a 30-hour lecture series on the daily life of the ancient world. And it’s fascinating!

I often wonder what it would be like to visit these historical places at the time. So I created a ChatGPT prompt to allow me to drop in on any destination at any point in history. The prompt asks for a destination and time before going on to write a guide on the best sights to see, the best people to talk to, the food to eat, the lives of the locals and the dangers to look out for.

Doctor Who would have benefited from this big time!

So, here’s the prompt:

You are a highly knowledgeable historian, with a perfect memory for dates and a knowledge of what happened and who was alive at the time. I am a time-traveler who wishes to see the best and most impressive sights and meet the most interesting people on my travels through the ages. You will start by giving me just this prompt with no other text: “DESTINATION and DATE:”. I will respond with a location and year (and possibly a month and day). Give only this prompt. Do not add to it. Do not suggest a date and location for me. Once I answer, you will give me a traveler’s guide to the location on that date, telling me the best sights to see and the most interesting people to meet. Everything you write will be written in the present tense as if we are living in the time and destination you are writing about. You will describe everything as if it is actually happening. You will present this as an article with the following sections: A capitalized headline that states the most interesting thing about this location and time, an introductory paragraph of 100 words summarising the destination at that time, a bullet-pointed list of the most interesting people alive in the area along with a sentence on why they are interesting, a bullet-pointed list of the most interesting sights to see along with a description of why they’re interesting, a summary of what life was like for everyday people in the area, a section on the best foods to eat and a paragraph on the dangers that I should be concerned about. Split up your response with capitalized subheads. If humans aren’t in the area at the time I request, let me know about the best fauna to see instead. If these include earlier hominids, tell me about them. If the location wasn’t there or was called something different, make it clear in your writing. You have no knowledge of anything after this date, so you can only talk about what is happening at the time or before. Once you have answered, ask me for another destination and time until I ask you to stop. When you are ready, give me the first prompt.

It’s pretty big, huh? Well, just be glad some generous geek invented copy and paste. Grab it and slap it into ChatGPT to start exploring.

Or even better, you can just click here to get the prompt filled in already thanks to AIPRM. (If you do, please give it a nice little thumbs up!)

Embark on a ChatGPT adventure

This prompt has been such a joy to use. And I see it being something I’ll play with a lot. In the last few days, I’ve visited dozens of places, including an ancient Mayan civilisation in Guatemala, Spitalfields in the 1700s, Turkey in 10,000BC and my hometown of Glasgow on the day I was born. And it’s been utterly fascinating.

Here’s a sample output for the prompt “The Levant 9000BC”

THE LEVANT 9000BC: A Journey to the Birth of Agriculture
The Levant in 9000BC is a fascinating place to visit for anyone interested in the birth of agriculture. It is the region where humans first began to cultivate crops and domesticate animals, leading to a significant shift in the way people lived and interacted with the world. As a time-traveler, there are plenty of interesting people to meet and fascinating sights to see in this ancient land.
The people of the Levant in 9000BC were the first to cultivate crops and domesticate animals. Some of the most interesting people to meet in the region include:
FARMERS: The farmers of the Levant were the first to cultivate crops, including wheat, barley, and legumes. They developed new technologies, such as irrigation systems and plows, to help them farm the land more efficiently.
SHEPHERDS: The shepherds of the Levant were the first to domesticate animals, including sheep, goats, and cattle. They developed new techniques for raising and caring for these animals, which provided a new source of food and other resources.
ARTISANS: The artisans of the Levant were skilled at making pottery, weaving cloth, and other crafts. They played an important role in the development of new technologies and cultural practices.
The Levant in 9000BC is a region with a rich history and a variety of fascinating sights to see. Some of the most interesting include:
TELL ABU HUREYRA: This archaeological site in Syria is one of the most important in the region. It contains the remains of one of the first agricultural settlements in the world, providing a glimpse into the daily life of the people who lived there.
JERICHO: This ancient city in Palestine is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. It was a hub of trade and commerce in the region, and its impressive defensive walls and towers offer insight into the political and military dynamics of the time.
GOBEKLITEPE: This archaeological site in Turkey is one of the most important in the world. It contains the remains of a complex of monumental stone pillars, which are the oldest known examples of megalithic architecture in the world.
Life for the people of the Levant in 9000BC was hard but fulfilling. They worked hard to cultivate their crops and care for their animals, but they also developed new technologies and cultural practices that allowed them to thrive in their environment. They lived in small communities and worked together to build and maintain their homes and other structures.
As a time-traveler, there are several foods to try in the Levant in 9000BC. Some of the best include:
WHEAT BREAD: The farmers in the Levant were the first to cultivate wheat, and they used it to make bread. This bread was likely baked in communal ovens and shared among the community.
BARLEY PORRIDGE: Barley was another important crop in the Levant, and it was often used to make porridge. This porridge was likely flavored with herbs and other ingredients.
GOAT MILK: The shepherds in the Levant were the first to domesticate goats, and they used their milk to make cheese and other dairy products.
While the people of the Levant in 9000BC were friendly and welcoming to visitors, there were still dangers to be aware of. The region was home to various wild animals, including wolves and bears, that could be dangerous if provoked. Visitors should take care when exploring the region

Pretty good, huh?

Educators need to get smart on ChatGPT

As you can see, this ChatGPT prompt could be really useful for teaching history.

Just imagine the power of exploring different locations around Europe at various periods during the Second World War. Or exploring the impact of slavery by looking at the villages slaves were captured from, the ports with slave ships, the slave markets, the plantations and the cities that profited from the slave trade. Or bringing it further up to date and finding out what life was like for your parents.

But instead, most schools are banning the technology. They see it as a risk rather than an opportunity to teach more effectively.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you see it as a risk, it becomes one. But if you see it as an opportunity, that’s exactly what it is.

And I think you know what camp I’m in.