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article imageFacebook acquires AI startup Ozlo to boost Messenger bots

By James Walker     Aug 1, 2017 in Technology
Facebook has acquired Ozlo, a conversational AI service launched in October 2016. The company's platform offers rich intelligence capabilities that can interpret the meaning of textual conversations, making it a clear fit for Facebook's Messenger.
Chatbots are now one of Facebook's main focuses as it works to build out its Messenger ecosystem. The company has been concentrating on developing text-based AI because it has a narrower scope than spoken conversations.
Ozlo was created by Charles Jolly, Facebook's former head of Android development. TechCrunch reports Jolly will not be moving with Ozlo to Facebook. He has formerly advocated Ozlo's independent approach to conversational AI, an attribute that will now be lost as the company is acquired.
Ozlo offered developers a platform they could use to interpret information from text messages. Ozlo was based on a detailed knowledge graph containing simple facts about the world and common processes. It would match its rules against statements in the messages, allowing it to determine what was being said.
In a statement on its website, Ozlo said it started out during a "tremendous explosion" of mobile communication. Describing its service as "world-class," the company said it is joining Facebook's Messenger team so it can build more new experiences.
"We're ready to take the next step in our journey with Messenger," Ozlo said. "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."
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It's unclear what Ozlo's team and technology will be used for at Facebook. Facebook is rapidly developing its Messenger platform around artificial intelligence and automation. Its bot platform is growing and the company is also expanding its in-app digital assistant, M. There are several ways for Ozlo to be incorporated into the Messenger ecosystem but Facebook isn't providing any details.
Facebook may want access to Ozlo's knowledge graph, giving it new sources of information for its AI services. Information is fast becoming a commodity in the AI-driven cloud where new neural networks must be "trained" to comprehend the world using existing facts. Ozlo now has two billion data points in its graph, potentially making it an attractive target for Facebook.
Facebook hasn't disclosed how much it paid for Ozlo. The startup has previously raised $14 million from several investors. The company confirmed its existing services and APIs will be shut down as a result of the deal, leaving its customers looking for alternative AI platforms.
More about Facebook, facebook messenger, ozlo, Ai, Artificial intelligence
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