Generative Bots vs Rule-Based Bots: What to Choose?

Nikita Borisenko
CEO of Loqos AI
October 14, 2023
In an era where artificial intelligence continues to evolve at breakneck speed, businesses are increasingly turning to chatbots to streamline customer interactions, enhance user experiences, and provide efficient support. Within this realm of conversational AI, there are two main contenders: rule-based bots and generative bots. In this article, let's dive deep into the distinctions between these two ways of bots so you can better understand their capabilities and use cases and finally decide on what's best for your business.

Rule-Based Bots

Rule-based bots, as the name suggests, operate on predefined rules and patterns. They are essentially sets of instructions programmed to respond to specific keywords or phrases with predefined answers. The best way to imagine them is as decision trees, where each possible user input leads to a predetermined response. These bots excel in clear and structured scenarios, where user responses are straightforward.
Understanding how rule-based bots work requires exploring three key terms:

1. Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP, stemming from computational linguistics, employs techniques from computer science, AI, linguistics, and data science. It empowers computers to comprehend human language, whether written or spoken.

2. Natural Language Understanding (NLU): NLU, a subset of NLP, dissects text and speech through syntactic and semantic analysis. It deciphers both the grammatical structure (syntax) and intended meaning (semantics) of a sentence. In the case of voice messages, Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) first translates voice data to text, which then undergoes NLU.

3. Natural Language Generation (NLG): NLG, another NLP subset, focuses on computer-generated content. It transforms data input into human language text responses. These textual responses can further be converted into speech using text-to-speech services. Initially, NLG systems relied on templates for text generation. With evolution, they now offer dynamic real-time text generation.
How NLP, NLG and NLU relate to each other
Additionally, a dialog manager acts as the bot's brain, determining responses and retrieving data from external systems like knowledge bases. This interconnected system ensures seamless and meaningful interactions.
How rule-based chatbots work
Rule-based chatbots are commonly powered by AI. These bots utilise machine learning algorithms to enhance their understanding of human interactions and intentions. It's worth noting that Natural Language Processing, which deals with linguistic aspects, is also a branch of artificial intelligence. This places chatbots at the intersection of artificial intelligence and linguistics, highlighting their dual nature.

Advantages of Rule-Based Bots:

1. Reliability: Rule-based bots are highly predictable and consistent in their responses. They excel in tasks where accuracy and precision are paramount. Anything "legal” oriented is a good use case for them.

2. Speed: They are lightning-fast, as there is no need for complex natural language generation (NLG). Responses are retrieved instantly and allow for rapid problem-solving.

3. Easy start: Rule-based bots are relatively easy to set up and maintain. The complexity obviously depends on the volume of conversational trees, though if we're talking about FAQ bots or simple customer support automation, they're the ones to go with. Easy start and maintenance make rule-based bots suitable for businesses with limited resources.

Generative Bots

Since its launch in November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has amazed people with its ability to transform how we live and work. It's an example of generative bots.

Generative bots, unlike rule-based ones, create responses dynamically based on input. They excel in creativity, generating human-like responses without fixed rules. They can craft images, music, speech, code, video, or text while understanding and manipulating existing data.

True to its name, generative AI creates images, music, speech, code, video, or text while also interpreting and manipulating existing data.

Generative AI is based on Large Language Models. And what is it?

Advanced artificial intelligence models known as Large Language Models (LLMs) use deep learning techniques, specifically transformers, a subset of neural networks.
These models excel in natural language processing tasks such as translation, classification, sentiment analysis, text generation, and question-answering. Trained on vast datasets from diverse sources, LLMs boast immense sizes, some with billions of parameters, shaping their effectiveness.
Each model, whether BERT, GPT, or T5, possesses unique strengths. BERT understands bidirectional word relationships, perfect for tasks like classification and named entity recognition. GPT, a unidirectional transformer, shines in text generation tasks like translation and summarisation. T5, with its text-to-text approach, adapts for tasks ranging from translation to summarisation and question response.

Advantages of Generative Bots:

1. Adaptability: Generative bots are highly adaptable and can handle a wide range of conversations. Even those they haven't been explicitly programmed for. So anything creative is the best way to use them.

2. Context Awareness and Engagement: They easily maintain context throughout a conversation, making them adept at handling multi-turn dialogues and providing more engaging user experiences.

3. Continuous Learning: Generative bots can improve over time through machine learning, becoming smarter and more proficient with each interaction.

Choosing the Right Bot

So now that both terms are clear all that's left is to choose between rule-based and generative bots for your tasks. It ultimately depends on the specific use case and goals of the conversation. Here are some scenarios where each type shines:

Rule-Based Bots: Ideal for frequently asked questions (FAQs), straightforward tasks like appointment scheduling, and scenarios where strict adherence to predefined responses is crucial (e.g., legal or medical consultations).

Generative Bots: Suited for more complex and dynamic interactions, such as customer support inquiries that require context retention, personalised recommendations (e-com, lead generation), and situations where creativity and nuance are essential.

Hybrid Approach as a Solution

The choice between rule-based and generative bots should be driven by the specific requirements of the conversational context. Though my take on the matter is the following. A hybrid approach that combines the strengths of both rule-based and generative bots is the most beneficial. As they can be combined to provide the best of both worlds, why limit yourself to one or another?

And this is exactly what we do at Loqos AI at the stage of project analysis. We harness the power of both approaches to make our bots well-positioned to provide cutting-edge conversational experiences that meet the diverse needs of our clients. The future of conversational AI is bright, and its potential is limited only by the imagination of those who wield it.