Facebook entered into the virtual assistant space with “M” back in 2015. It took a different approach, though, compared to the likes of Siri and Alexa. The Facebook Messenger service had a human-assisted part which meant that it was monitored regularly by humans to help grow the platform. This enabled M to person tasks like booking reservations, order gifts, and more. This particular version of M was only released to around 2,000 people in California. Facebook has now confirmed that it’s going to shut down the M virtual assistant on January 19th. Contractors who worked on this service will get other jobs at Facebook.

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“We launched this project to learn what people needed and expected of an assistant, and we learned a lot,” Facebook said in a statement, adding that it’s going to use these insights to develop other artificial intelligence projects.

The service is now going to live on through M suggestions. It’s fundamentally different in that it can only offer fully automated suggestions for making plans, sorting out payments, sending stickers through Messenger, and more.

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. The human-assisted service was just not a viable service for the long term and even Facebook itself describes it as an experiment.

If you’re one of the few people in California who got to try it out, just remember that this part of the service will be shut down on January 19th.

Filed in Cellphones. Read more about Facebook.

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