Facebook’s standalone concierge bot M will soon be no more.
On Jan. 19, Facebook is sunsetting the initial version of M, which has been available in closed beta since fall 2015. M’s context-based suggestions will live on inside Messenger conversations, but the original concept for a personal, AI-powered assistant that can perform actions on your behalf appears finished.
The company says M — which was able to make restaurant reservations, book plane tickets and, for a short time, draw pictures — has largely served its purpose.
“We launched this project to learn what people needed and expected of an assistant, and we learned a lot,” Facebook said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “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.”
This is something of a change in course as Facebook clearly hoped to roll M out broadly when the feature first went into beta. “I think we have a good chance [at scaling], otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it,” Facebook Messenger head David Marcus told BuzzFeed News in November 2015.
Now, a few years later, the company seems content with a more dialed-back approach: “M suggestions,” an M-trained feature that hops into Messenger conversations and suggests certain actions based on context. It prods you to share your location when someone asks “Where are you?” or offers simple pre-written replies within conversations, and more. But while M could perform tasks (like arguing with your cable company) M suggestions is…