Facebook Inc on Tuesday extended its reach beyond online socializing by building artificial-intelligence (AI) powered “bots” into its Messenger application to allow businesses to have software engage in lifelike text exchanges.
The move announced at the leading online social network’s annual developers conference in San Francisco came as the number of monthly users of Messenger topped 900 million and the Silicon Valley company works to stay in tune with mobile Internet lifestyles.
“We think you should be able to text message a business like you would a friend, and get a quick response,” Facebook cofounder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said as he announced that developers can build bots that could be more efficient than people at natural language text conversations.
Bots are software infused with the ability to “learn” from conversations, improving their ability to figure out what people are telling them and how best to respond.
The bots could help Facebook over time monetize its messaging applications and get a start on what some see as a new way of interacting with the digital world, potentially shortcutting mobile applications and sidestepping search.
“Our goal with artificial intelligence is to build systems that are better than people at perception — seeing, hearing, language and so on,” Zuckerberg said, while laying out Facebook’s long-term vision.
Artificial intelligence is already used in Messenger to recognize faces in pictures, suggesting recipients for messages and for filtering out spam texts.
“Soon, we are going to be able to do even more,” Zuckerberg said.
He promised a future in which Facebook AI would be able to understand what is in pictures, video or news articles and use insights to recommend content members of the social network might like.
Bot-building capabilities are to be in a test mode, with Facebook approving creations before they are released. A list of partners launching Messenger bots includes Business Insider, which said it would use the technology to deliver news stories to people in real-time.
“We are excited about this new offering, because we know that messaging apps are exploding in popularity,” Business Insider said in a story on its Web site announcing the move.
Cloud-computing star Salesforce plans to use the platform to help businesses have “deeper, more personalized and one-to-one customer journeys within the chat experience,” Salesforce president and chief product officer Alex Dayon said.
Zuckerberg laid out a future for Facebook that, aside from Messenger, included ramping up live video streaming and diving into virtual reality.
“We think we are at the edge of the golden age of video,” Zuckerberg said.
Messenger and Live are to be built out further in coming years, along with virtual-reality technology at Facebook-owned Oculus, he said.
Zuckerberg said that when his daughter takes her first steps, he plans to record the moment using a 360° camera so that his family and friends can experience it in virtual reality as if they were there for the moment.
At one point, Zuckerberg’s comments took on a political tone, with the Facebook head maintaining that a mission to connect the world is more important than ever given rhetoric about building walls and fearing those who are different.
“If the world starts to turn inward, then our community will have to work even harder to bring people together,” Zuckerberg said.
“Instead of building walls, we can build bridges,” he added, in an apparent reference to the fiery rhetoric of Republican US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
’WHITE BOX’: The open platform would give local firms access to Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop 5G telecom equipment and tap into the global market The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday introduced a new 5G “open lab” in collaboration with US-based information technology and networking giant Cisco Systems Inc to address the rapidly growing “white box” 5G networking equipment market. The open lab will be a platform where Taiwanese manufacturers can access Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop their own 5G telecom equipment, such as small-cell base stations, network switches, modems and Internet of things (IoT) devices, a ministry statement said. The open platform would allow Taiwanese manufacturers to tap into the lucrative 5G telecom equipment market, which was previously monopolized by Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to