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Facebook’s Virtual Assistant M Lands in the UK

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Facebook’s virtual assistant M is finally launching in the UK.

The AI-powered smart helper will be able to interact with British users through a conversational interface built upon Facebook’s Messenger platform.

The agent is able to carry out basic tasks—such as make a purchase, or book a table—and retrieve information.

In addition, M uses natural language processing to analyse conversations and suggest relevant follow-up actions. For instance, if a user is chatting with their friends about splitting a bill, M could immediately recommend convenient payment methods; or, if  friends on a group chat are struggling to make a decisions, M could create a poll to make things easier. (Luckily, users will be able to turn off M in their Messenger settings. )

“M relies on AI machine learning techniques. It suggests relevant actions to help manage conversations or help get things done,” Facebook explained in a statement.

“We are bringing the power of M’s AI technology to support and enhance the Messenger experience and make it more useful, personal and seamless.”

Facebook’s smart chatbot had so far only been available to some test users in the US.

The UK debut comes just days after Facebook acquired Californian AI startup Ozlo. The firm, which Facebook purchased for an undisclosed amount, develops software that enables bots to answer questions on a vast array of topics—from restaurants’ locations, to TV shows, etc.— in natural language.If integrated with M, Ozlo’s technology could give Facebook’s AI assistant the boost it needs to catch up with the other players in the field.

By upping its M’s game, Facebook is barging into the rather crowded virtual assistant fray. As most of its competitor in the field—Amazon, Google, Apple— rely on voice-powered agents, the jury is still out on whether Facebook’s chatbot solution could eventually prevail.

Image via bit.ly/2hkJZXc

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BY SHACK15

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