Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots are being utilised regularly in daily life and in the workplace. Even if you don’t know what they are, it’s likely you’ve interacted with them. OpenAI’s ChatGPT recently hit 100 million users, making it the fastest growing internet application in history. 

With major tech companies developing more advanced AI chatbots, now is the time to learn about what they are, how they work and how you could be using them. 

What is a chatbot? 

Chatbots are computer programmes designed to simulate human conversation. They use AI and natural language processing (NLP) to understand questions input by text or audio, and automate responses. These responses are produced by drawing on a large pool of data, and by using AI to discern the user’s specific needs. 

Why are chatbots being used more frequently?

These AI tools streamline service for both user and provider, cutting out the middleman and enabling you to get the information you need quickly and efficiently. They can provide customer support 24/7 and remove the need for long wait times to speak to a human agent. They already play a key role in customer service, with many tasks being automated to improve efficiency. 

How do chatbots work?

There are two main types: rule-based and self-learning. 

  1. Rule-based chatbots follow a set of defined rules and pathways to produce their responses. They are designed to answer specific questions on defined topics, based on keywords. These can be programmed to respond to specific questions, but responses may be limited by the predefined rules they work within. 
  2. Self-learning chatbots use AI and deep learning algorithms to understand a user’s message and generate a response. They draw on large amounts of data and continually learn and improve over time. Therefore, they produce more contextually aware responses than rule-based chatbots. 

For example, if you were to ask a rule-based chatbot what the weather will be like on a given day, it would answer the specific question. An AI chatbot, however, might tell you it’s due to rain, remind you to pack an umbrella and suggest alternative modes of transport. 

Using NLP, AI chatbots understand the context of the conversation, enabling them to generate more accurate and relevant responses. They effectively mimic human conversation, meaning they can flow from one topic to another, producing an organic conversation every time. This is in contrast to more basic programmes which work from a set of predefined rules. 

What are chatbots used for?

Their main use is to enhance the information gathering process using conversational AI. Communicating with a chatbot enables users to find quick and easy answers to questions, and solutions to problems. This use can fit into a range of contexts, including customer service, sales and marketing, lead generation and personal assistant functions.

Chatbots provide an efficient and accessible way for users to get information or complete tasks without having to navigate a longer application or interact with a human employee. This is more convenient for both consumer and provider. 

Who uses chatbots? 

They are used by a range of people and entities; large and small companies, freelancers and individuals for non-work related purposes. Basically, anyone can use them. The most important thing is knowing what you need and tailoring your use to that purpose. 

For individuals, this could be using a virtual assistant to find local restaurants or get directions. You could interact with a chatbot when asking healthcare questions or booking appointments. You can use them to find summarised information easily, to ease daily tasks such as scheduling, making appointments and managing finances. 

As a business or service provider, you can use chatbots to improve your customer experience and make your workforce more efficient. Chatbots can answer customer questions, give product recommendations, compare costs and provide 24/7 customer support, without the need to hire additional staff. Companies may also create bots specifically tailored towards marketing campaigns by providing users with personalised offers based on their previous purchases.

What role will AI chatbots play in the future?

AI will have a fundamental role in the workplace, but its role will be assistive and integrative, rather than a substitute for human work. Whilst AI can mimic human capabilities, it cannot fully replace them. The key impact of AI chatbots will be assistance in or automation of mundane, repetitive tasks. This frees up time for more innovative work for humans. 

They will transform the way we work, collaborate and communicate. Take a moment to reflect: How could AI assist you in your work? Want to know more about AI? Dataconomy developed an in-depth glossary of AI-related terms, with a summary of the basics of all things Artificial Intelligence. This is a helpful tool if you’re wanting a deep-dive into the world of AI chatbots and don’t know where to start.


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