Facebook Splashes Out On AI Startup To Boost Messenger Assistant

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Facebook will look to make use of Ozlo’s knowledge graph that reportedly contains over 2 billion entities

The online behemoth that is Facebook has decided to splash the cash on artificial intelligence (AI) company Ozlo, most likely in order to develop the virtual assistant in Facebook Messenger.

Palo Alto-based Ozlo specialises in developing conversational AI software that is able to carry out text-based conversations, using natural language processing to answer questions that require more than a simple ‘yes/no’ answer.

Although it hasn’t been confirmed exactly what the Ozlo team will work on, future plans are likely to include Facebook’s digital assistant ‘M’.

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Ozlo was founded by Charles Jolley, a former head of platform for Android at Facebook, with the aim of creating an “index of knowledge” about the world that forms the basis of conversational AI.

The company claims to have a knowledge graph containing over 2 billion entities and has been using this data to build intelligent software that is able to provide contextual answers to more complicated questions.

“When we started Ozlo, we saw a tremendous explosion of on-the-go communication,” says an announcement on the Ozlo site. “We wanted to build a new way for people to connect with each other, gather information and discover services.

“Now, we’re ready to take the next step in our journey with Messenger. By joining a team that shares our values and our vision, we will be able to continue to work on building experiences powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. There’s a lot more for us to explore ahead and we’re excited to bring our technology to the Messenger community.”

A Facebook spokesperson said the company is “excited to welcome the Ozlo team as we build compelling experiences within Messenger that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The acquisition is the latest in a series of AI projects that Facebook has been undertaking. For example, it is using the technology to help combat terrorism and is developing a system to monitor potentially offensive uploaded content.

However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently clashed with Elon Musk on the subject, with the latter accusing the former of not understanding the emergent technology.

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