Extractive AI VS Generative AI — All You Need To Know

In this article, we'll discuss Extractive vs Generative AI. We'll explain each one, provide examples of popular applications in both categories and outline the benefits of each approach.

Extractive AI VS Generative AI

Introduction to AI and its Applications

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. These include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions) and self-correction.

AI technologies have already seen wide adoption across industries and are fundamentally changing how businesses operate. For example:

  • AI-powered chatbots are increasingly being used for customer service functions.

  • AI algorithms are analyzing huge volumes of data to gain valuable insights and make predictions.

  • AI assistants like Siri and Alexa are now a daily part of our lives.

Within the umbrella of AI, different approaches are based on the technique used. The two main categories are Extractive AI and Generative AI. While both are powerful technologies, they work in distinctly different ways with unique benefits.

In this article, we'll discuss Extractive vs Generative AI. We'll explain each one, provide examples of popular applications in both categories and outline the benefits of each approach.

Introduction to Extractive AI

Extractive AI uses AI techniques like natural language processing (NLP) to extract or retrieve information from existing sources like documents, databases, publications and other digital materials. It analyzes text, speech or other unstructured data to find and highlight relevant passages, facts or other pieces of information to answer queries or summarize content.

Extractive AI works by applying techniques like tokenization, named entity recognition, part-of-speech tagging and semantic analysis on large amounts of data.

For example, tokenization breaks down text into individual words and sentences. Named entity recognition identifies important entities such as names of people, organizations, locations, etc. Semantic analysis looks at the relationship between words to understand context and meaning.

By analyzing data using these techniques, extractive AI systems can identify patterns and connections between information to pinpoint the most relevant segments from their training datasets in response to user prompts.


Examples of Extractive AI

Let's look at some common examples of extractive AI:

(i) Text Summarization

A popular application of extractive AI is automatic text summarization. Tools like Quiltbot analyze lengthy documents, news articles or reports and extract the most important information to generate a concise summary. This saves readers time by highlighting only the key details.

(ii) Question Answering

Extractive AI powers intelligent question-answering systems. These systems can retrieve and extract the most relevant passages, facts or figures by analysing huge data repositories to provide direct, citation-backed answers to user questions.

(iii) Speech Recognition

Speech recognition systems apply extractive AI to recognize patterns in speech audio, transcribe it to text and identify semantic meaning. Popular tools include Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana digital assistants.

(iv) Document Classification

Extractive AI algorithms can classify folders, files and documents based on content. This enables enterprises to better organize large volumes of electronic documents and records.

The Benefits of Extractive AI

(i) Accuracy and Transparency

Since extractive AI directly retrieves information from existing sources, responses can be easily verified by viewing extracted segments in context. This provides accuracy and transparency that builds user trust.

(ii) Efficiency Gains

Tasks like document review, legal research, and medical transcription, which previously required human effort, can now be automated using extractive AI, freeing time for more strategic work.

(iii) Fast, Targeted Insights

When querying large repositories, extractive AI helps users quickly access only the key relevant details rather than wading through entire documents or datasets.

(iv) Control and Privacy

Unlike generative models, extractive AI only operates on pre-existing information, raising fewer data privacy or risks from inaccurate replies concerns for regulated industries.

Introduction to Generative AI

While extractive AI utilizes existing content sources, generative AI leverages machine learning to program AI systems capable of generating brand-new content based on patterns and relationships found in large datasets. This includes text, images, audio, and more, generated from scratch rather than drawn from existing materials.

Generative AI relies primarily on deep learning techniques like neural networks trained on vast amounts of digitized information. Popular examples of generative AI are ChatGPT (AI assistant that can engage in natural conversation) and DALL-E (AI imaging system that creates new visual content from text prompts).

Some core capabilities of generative AI models include:

  1. Creating coherent, human-like text from scratch in response to prompts.

  2. Using text descriptions as input to generate novel, photorealistic images.

  3. Converting text or concepts into natural-sounding audio without using pre-recorded human voices.

  4. Producing new video footage through computer animation from prompts.

Examples of Generative AI 


Let's take a closer look at some generative AI applications:

(i) Chatbots and Conversational Agents

Advanced generative language models fuel lifelike conversation in AI chatbots through natural language generation capabilities. Popular examples are Anthropic's Claude and OpenAI's ChatGPT.

(ii) Digital Content Creation

AI tools speed up workflows for designers, artists and content creators by generating prototypes, mockups, draft text and other materials for refinement. Social media profile pictures can also be auto-generated.

(iii) Personalization at Scale

E-commerce platforms use AI to mass customize website experiences and marketing collateral like emails for individuals based on their interests and past behaviors.

(iv) Drug Discovery

Generative AI methods analyze huge chemical libraries to propose new molecular structures with qualities like optimized absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity properties for testing.

The Benefits of Generative AI

(i) Speed and Scale

Generative systems can rapidly produce large volumes of content at scale compared to human capabilities, streamlining workflows and boosting productivity.

(ii) Creativity Unleashed

When paired with machine imagination, generative AI enables novel forms of art, writing, and designs that are impossible for people alone through emergent creativity.

(iii) Disruptive Innovation

By synthesizing ideas in new ways from data, generative AI drives groundbreaking technologies across industries like healthcare, materials science, energy and more.

(iv) Autonomous Systems

Generative AI helps realize self-driving technologies by powering simulation environments for training agents to safely navigate complex scenarios without human supervision.

Comparison of Extractive vs Generative AI

While both capabilities are powerful, their strengths lie in distinctly different areas depending on the goals, as highlighted below:


Extractive AI

Generative AI

Source of Content

Existing sources like text images etc.

Generates completely new content from scratch

Key Capabilities

Information retrieval summarization question answering

Creativity disruption autonomy simulation


Text summarization document search speech recognition

Chatbots digital art/media personalized experiences


Precise since based on verified sources

Potential for inaccuracies from novel generation


Higher since responses are citable

Lower for closed-domain models

Considerations for Choosing Between Them

Below are some factors to weigh when determining whether extractive or generative AI is best suited for your needs:

  1. Regulated Domains: For applications involving sensitive data in industries like healthcare, legal, or finance, extractive AI ensures responses are backed by verified sources.

  2. Accuracy Priority: Where precision is critical, extractive AI delivers transparent, directly attributable answers compared to generative models prone to inaccuracies.

  3. Content Needs: If novel content creation is important, generative AI abilities like customized experiences and autonomous systems are more applicable.

  4. Data Availability: Extractive AI performs better in data-rich environments where comprehensive training datasets exist compared to limited data.

  5. Control Requirements: Open-domain generative models raise IP and privacy risks; private implementation mitigates issues for regulated or commercial use cases.

  6. Cost Implications: While generative capabilities require more computing power initially, data extractive tools shine for automating human labor over the long run.

The Future of AI Technology

As both extractive and generative techniques continue advancing, powered by exponentially growing computing capabilities and data volumes, we can expect the distinction between the two to gradually blur. Future AI is likely to seamlessly combine the best of both worlds.

For example, generative models may first search and analyze related data sources to augment answers with verifiable factual context before replying. Meanwhile, extractive tools can gain abilities to propose innovative connections and perspectives beyond replicating existing materials.

Responsibility and confidence in AI will stem from explaining model decisions transparently based on citable evidence, whether generated from scratch or extracted – delivering insights augmented by, not independent of, humanity's accumulated knowledge. When guided sustainably, AI promises ever more insightful partners in our shared journey of progress.


Extractive and Generative AI are powerful and profoundly transformative technologies. While their underlying mechanisms differ, each offers uniquely valuable capabilities when applied suitably to maximize their strengths.

The future likely holds tighter integration, harnessing the best of both worlds. By demystifying their fundamental traits and considerations for diverse use cases, this guide aims to equip decision-makers with better clarity in navigating options in their AI adoption strategies.

Disclaimer: The above is a contributor post, the views expressed are those of the contributor and do not represent the stand and views of Outlook Editorial.