Thursday, 18 January, 2018

Facebook's killing its digital assistant M later this month

Facebook's killing its digital assistant M later this month Facebook's killing its digital assistant M later this month
Delores Daniels | 11 January, 2018, 08:24

But the shuttering of M does appear to be a scaling back of Facebook's vision for it. Messenger's chief David Marcus reportedly said in 2015 that Facebook had a "good chance" scaling the product. The human staff behind the service will be offered new jobs inside Facebook when M shuts down on January 19.

Facebook's M announced in 2015 is ending the human-assisted part of the service after two and a half years.

According to a report in The Verge, "M" which was available through a bot on Facebook Messenger and it was available to only about 2,000 people.

However, it would seem that Facebook was unimpressed with the direction M was going, so it will sing its swan song this January 19. Some of the technology will continue in the form of M suggestions, which pop up during Messenger chat to suggest stickers, booking a cab ride, and so on.

AdNews received access to M for a few weeks a year ago and found its restaurant suggestions helpful. It could cue important meetings or create events and it could even call rides from auto services like Uber.

Facebook's virtual assistant was pretty unique compared to the rest of the digital assistants on the market.

The idea behind Facebook M was that human beings will train an artificial intelligence system and while it did launch in beta, they had hopes it will be useful over time. And it would be able compete with Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant. In fact, what most users can now access through their Messenger app is a far simpler version of the assistant called M suggestions.

The lesson that should be learned from M is clear: it's 2018, and digital assistants still suck.

Of course, ith everyone betting hard on artificial intelligence, neural networks, smart context-aware services, and chatbots, it's childish to think that Facebook is out of the AI game - that's hardly the case.

The Silicon Valley biz has only told us that it launched the project to "learn what people needed and expected of an assistant, and [it] learned a lot".

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