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Facebook’s personal M chatbot assistant is going to go


Facebook closes M, but maintains its "M Sugerencias" function.


The Facebook M is about to disappear.

The social network is closing its chatbot virtual assistant, which uses a combination of human contractors and artificial intelligence software to answer queries and perform tasks for people in the Facebook Messenger application.

The robot M, first announced in August 2015 and still in beta, will close on January 19, the company said Monday.

When someone asked M a question, the software AI produced an answer. The response was then reviewed by human contractors to see if the software generated answers that were on the right track. If the answer was sufficient, it was sent back to the user. Facebook has had contractors available for the M robot 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

While the virtual assistant service leaves, Facebook maintains its "M Sugerencias" function, which emerged from some of the ideas learned by the M project. The function appears in the Messenger chats and suggests answers and other actions based on the conversation you're having.

"We launched this project to learn what people needed and expected from an attendee, and we learned a lot," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We are taking these useful ideas to drive other artificial intelligence projects on Facebook."

The modus operandi of Facebook is to use human contractors to help train their algorithms. The company used the same method when it had contractors working on its controversial current issues feature. Facebook eventually got rid of the contractors and went on to rely on their algorithms to drive the product.

But M's formwork seems to be a reduction of Facebook's vision for him. According to reports, Messenger boss David Marcus said in 2015 that Facebook had a "good chance" to scale the product.

In recent years, Facebook has made large investments in AI. The company has two divisions dedicated to artificial intelligence: AML, Applied Machine Learning and FAIR, Facebook AI Research. But the company is not the only giant of technology that has made a big push for artificial intelligence. For example, rival Google has its DeepMind lab, famous for its AlphaGo software.

Facebook is also closing its M bot just as its competitors are increasing their own digital helpers. Both Amazon and Google are trying to get their Alexa and Assistant programs, respectively, in the hands and homes of more users.

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