Facebook pulls the plug on its virtual assistant 'M'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Spain

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.

The few people that used M will be disappointed, because Facebook is now shutting it down. The last day of M will be January 19, reports The Verge. The assistant digital assistant essentially stayed out of sight and watched the conversations users would have and then insert suggestions when it found something relevant. Behind the scenes, M relied on humans to answer more complex inquiries from users.

Facebook entered into the virtual assistant space with "M" back in 2015. It added it will use what it's learnt from running M to "power other AI projects at Facebook". This particular version of M was only released to around 2,000 people in California. Eventually it would be able compete with Google's Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Amazon's Alexa. Contractors who have been working on this side will be offered another job at the company. The service was first rolled out to 10,000 users on San Francisco. Some aspects of it will actually live on with M suggestions, which, as you guessed it, makes suggestions for payments, making plans with your friends or even something as simple as sending stickers appropriate to your conversations. "We continue to be very pleased with the performance of M suggestions in Messenger, powered by our learnings from this experiment".

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

AdNews received access to M for a few weeks past year and found its restaurant suggestions helpful. M could answer a Facebook user's queries on the Messenger app about gift recommendations and table reservations at restaurants, among other services. One of the prominent changes was the AI's ability to remind users to save content like articles, videos or photos to view them later or share them in message threads.

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