Facebook to Shuts Down it's Virtual Assistant M

Cesar Mills
January 11, 2018

Facebook may have shuttered M, its artificial intelligence chatbot assistant, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Mark Zuckerberg's company's larger AI efforts are on the ropes.

However, it would seem that Facebook was unimpressed with the direction M was going, so it will sing its swan song this January 19. However, as of now, the company is ending the human side of its digital assistant. It added it will use what it's learnt from running M to "power other AI projects at Facebook".

A spokesperson for the social network told The Register on Monday: "Today we shared with the people who have access to our M closed beta project, first announced in August 2015, that January 19th is the last day the service will be available". This particular version of M was only released to around 2,000 people in California. Contractors who worked on this service will get other jobs at Facebook. At the time, Facebook tried to differentiate M from Cortana, Google Now, and Siri, by using a conversational question and answer format that would be "trained and supervised" by real people on the back-end.

So what this experiment basically did was allow Facebook to find out what tasks people would rely on a virtual assistant for and it automated the ones that it could. "We continue to be very pleased with the performance of M suggestions in Messenger, powered by our learnings from this experiment". Facebook cancelled its original plans to roll the service out broadly to all users.

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Facebook M let users create events, make payments, send stickers on Messenger among other tasks.

Facebook's virtual assistant was pretty unique compared to the rest of the digital assistants on the market. They'd also make suggestions that could search through third-party services like Spotify or GIF. There will be more to the story, so be sure to stay tuned in for more details.

Facebook said that complex AI and human interaction were going to fuel M's advancement. Share your views with us in the comments section below.

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