ChatBots vs AI: who wins?

June 4, 2024

It can be tricky to know when you are speaking to a real person, AI, or just a regular old robot. We are living in a real sci-fi future when a "robot" feels regular. What is the difference between ChatBots and AI? We unpack these two seemingly similar technologies that are often erroneously referenced interchangeably. 

Setting the baseline between ChatBots and AI

Before we can explore how ChatBots are different - and often work with - AI, let's dive into the base mechanics for each.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)is defined as having the capability of computer systems or algorithms to imitate intelligent human behavior. While artificial intelligence has been getting a lot of chatter recently, the term itself was actually first used way back in 1955.

ChatBots are defined as a bot (short for robot) designed to chat with human beings. The first chatbot, ELIZA, was developed by MIT professor and computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966 (that’s before the Internet was even around). 

Working in kitchen as a team

AI and chatbots are often referenced interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between the two. Artificial intelligence has broad capabilities and adaptability, whereas chatbots are more specialized, typically with predetermined functionality. 

Imagine AI as a chef. This chef is versed in various cooking techniques and culinary knowledge while working in a kitchen equipped with various ingredients. The chef can create a wide array of dishes, adapt recipes, and innovate based on feedback from their diners. This parallels the versatility and adaptability of AI systems, which can handle diverse tasks and learn from data.

Now, let’s think about a chatbot as a recipe - a predefined set of instructions for a specific dish. Like following a recipe, a chatbot executes predetermined actions or responses based on the input it receives. While it can serve its purpose effectively within its predefined scope, it lacks the chef's (AI) creativity and flexibility to handle novel situations or tasks.

The pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence

  • Pros: Efficiency and accuracy are two unquestionable benefits of artificial intelligence. Reduction of human error, increased productivity through AI based systems and automation, and faster decision making all stem from the various ways AI is being used today.
  • Challenges: As with any emerging tech working through kinks, artificial intelligence has been cited to have a myriad of challenges ranging from ethical issues, to bias, integration, and even computing power. Collaboration and education will be critical in overcoming these challenges and continuing to harness the benefits AI has to offer. 

Challenges and strengths with Chatbots

  • Pros: Increased quality of service and engagement of audience are two benefits organizations can expect to see through the use of chatbot technology. Reduction of operational costs is another that shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • Challenges: Coherent, engaging conversation is one notable challenge to chatbots. Sometimes referred to as “bot speak”, depending on how the chatbot is designed, interactions could come off as cold and…well…robotic, void of the personality or conversational flow you might ordinarily find with human interaction.. This can result in an inefficient or even frustrating user experience. At CommonAlly, we believe this is a vital focus to foster meaningful and insightful conversations with target audience members.

Types and uses for chatbots

As the list below shows, there are many different types of chatbots. 

We’re not going to get into the nitty-gritty details of each type, but note that artificial intelligence powers some but not all types of chatbots. This is where the nuance lives. AI is a tool that can be leveraged by chatbot technology, but they are not the same thing. 

Types of chatbots:

  • Menu or button-based
  • Rules-based (our sweet spot)
  • AI-powered
  • Voice
  • Generative AI

Let’s look at one use case where chatbot technology is commonly seen: customer service. Large companies with high service demands have turned to chatbot technology to keep up when strained capacity enters the chat. But how often, when interacting, does the participant simply feel “pawned off”? Remember the last time you needed to rebook your flight? Or exchange that pair of pants that was a little too tight? How did it go?

There’s no question that chatbot technology enables high-volume interactions, but what about quality interactions?

CommonAlly is using chatbot technology to have one-to-one conversations at scale. This is where we’ve seen massive impact in the market research space. Rather than answering a series of yes/no/true/false questions much like that of a quiz (make the high school flashbacks stop!), participants feel like they’re being talked to and heard. The ability to answer survey questions anonymously via chat is a bonus for some.

Aaron Lyles
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He
are typically doing important
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Founder + CEO
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