Facebook Kills Its Experimental Smart Assistant Inside Messenger

Posted on January 8, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Social with 5 Comments

Facebook’s AI-powered smart assistant, M, for Messenger is going away. Initially launched in 2015 as a beta for a very small group of users, M helped users get things done from within Messenger with the help of humans and artificial intelligence. On January 19, Facebook will be pulling the plug off M.

The social network giant says it “learned a lot” from M over the last 2 years, and the company will use some of M’s tech on its other AI projects going forward. “We launched this project to learn what people needed and expected of an assistant, and we learned a lot. We’re taking these useful insights to power other AI projects at Facebook. We continue to be very pleased with the performance of M suggestions in Messenger, powered by our learnings from this experiment,” a spokesperson told The Verge.

Facebook killing M at this point in time is exactly the opposite of current market trends — almost every tech giant now has a smart assistant that powers its smart speaker, and Facebook was even rumoured to be working on a smart display/speaker powered by M last year. Whether that will ever see the light of the day now remains to be seen, however.

It’s important to note that a small part of M, called M Suggestions, will continue to live on within Messenger after the retirement of the main smart assistant. M Suggestions shows context-aware suggestions within conversations in Messenger, helping users with things like making meeting plans, or just showing some simple stickers/emoji suggestions for replies.

When M launched as a beta, the smart assistant had a ton of potential when compared to other smart assistants at the time. That was mainly because M was partly supported by real humans, who helped users with incredibly complex tasks that simply couldn’t be accomplished by AI. But scaling M to work for its billions of users, Facebook would need a lot of new employees and a ton of cash.

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Comments (5)

5 responses to “Facebook Kills Its Experimental Smart Assistant Inside Messenger”

  1. chrisrut

    The optimist in me interprets this as recognition of the "poverty of riches" problem created by a plethora of assistants. Better to find a new tack; such as working on an "assistant" that can leverage other assistants as needed - and/or let the user access any assistant from one place.

  2. Chris_Kez

    I wonder how the usage of this varied around the world. Asian countries seem way ahead of the US in terms of using messaging as a platform in and of itself.

  3. Darekmeridian

    Funny thing is I remember seeing this logo pop-up in Messenger forever and thinking it was just an addon Gif or Emoji pack I had picked up at some point. With all the plugins and crap hanging off messenger apps now, even with iMessage having an assistant in the mix just confuses and muddles the whole thing. Having a dedicated assistant that you call upon when you actually need assistance seems more useful.

  4. Usman

    I actually liked how it would recommend the correct stickers for words and allow me to schedule meetings by reading the text (like how cortana does).

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