back to article Confirmed: Facebook shifts away from AI… and like a miracle, the bots start working

Facebook has revamped its Messenger bot platform that allows businesses to engage with the app's massive audience. The story is a lesson for anyone looking for practical applications of the AI and machine learning hype. If you believe the evangelists, "new advances in AI" will allow businesses to restructure their support and …

  1. Steve Button

    future isn't virtual robot buddies replacing humans?

    Well, it is.

    But we're not quite there yet. Years or decades at least. It's kind of inevitable this will happen in "the future"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This will be the 3rd time we've created an AI hype bubble

      And we've have become exceedingly efficient at it.

      Technological progress isn't linear, and nothing is inevitable. At the heart of this marketing bubble, there isn't an actual break-though that puts us any closer than before.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth

      Well, everyone knows...

      That "AI" really means Artificial Idiocy.

    3. NoneSuch Silver badge

      The way I see it...

      If you can't be bothered to have a human being talk to me, then I'll look elsewhere.

      If I wanted to talk to a robot, I'd look up my ex-wife.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        "If I wanted to talk to a robot, I'd look up my ex-wife."

        Don't you mean "hook up" you ex wife?

        As in re-boot her?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The way I see it...

        Just to be clear on your ex-wife. Did you marry an NPC in WoW by mistake or are we talking about a human person (presumably married in WoW)?

  2. MNGrrrl

    Facebook AI

    Maybe there's hope they'll get rid of AI where it matters next: The news feed. No, not the one that's filled up with pictures of your aunt's ugly kids. I mean the one that screwed up the US election and continues to tell people Elvis isn't dead (he just went home), lizard people secretly run the government, and the economy is doing great. Or that our GDP is negative. I can't keep up...

    AI is great for video games, research, analytics, manufacturing, and a host of other fields. It hasn't done so well when it's come to telling fact from fiction. Even something as simple as Amazon's algorithms to determine what you might like to buy frequently winds up telling me that people who bought the mary jane shoes* I was looking at also bought butt plugs and Matt Damon films. Which is silly, because we all know only lesbians buy comfortable shoes out of the women's clothing section. Drag queens only buy stilettos and knee-high boots. Comeon guys, get with the culture.

    *) For the boys, mary jane's isn't a brand name, but a kind of shoe that doesn't have nine feet of heel and toe-crushing tips. They go great with just about any kind of casual outfit and won't make a girl feel like committing suicide after walking a mile in them. Which is why lesbians love them, obviously. Comfortable shoes: Outing us since 1967.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook AI

      You've obviously never seen a pair of Goth Mary Jane's then...

    2. El Duderino

      Re: Facebook AI

      "lizard people secretly run the government"

      So Elvis *is* alive! (even though the reptilians aren't exactly secretive about their running the government)

    3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Facebook AI

      ?!? There's a lesbian who doesn't wear Doc Martens or a tidy Oxford lace-up? Standards are falling!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook AI

      "They go great with just about any kind of casual outfit and won't make a girl feel like committing suicide after walking a mile in them. Which is why lesbians love them, obviously. Comfortable shoes: Outing us since 1967."

      Technically, that in itself doesn't explain the "lesbians and comfortable shoes" stereotype though. I mean, I'm assuming the majority of heterosexual women aren't masochists either and would be very happy if all their shoes were comfortable.

      So- assuming there is some truth in the stereotype- I'm assuming it's more an issue of where one draws the line in trading off comfort vs. style (e.g. high heels on the latter extreme), either in terms of personal preference, culturally-influenced preference and (possibly) in making a deliberate statement about one's attitude towards such things.

    5. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: Facebook AI


      Ask any catholic school boy what black patent mary janes are for.

    6. mt_head

      Re: Facebook AI

      Your description of mary janes reminded me of Steve Martin's "Cruel Shoes", which blew my mind when I read it as a young'un:

      Anna knew she had to have some new shoes today, and Carlo had helped her try on every pair in the store. Carlo spoke wearily, "Well, that's every pair of shoes in the place."

      "Oh, you must have one more pair ..."

      "No, not one more pair...Well, we have the cruel shoes, but no one would want..."

      Anna interrupted, "Oh yes, let me see the cruel shoes!"

      Carlo looked incredulous. "No, Anna, you don't understand, you see, the cruel shoes are..."

      "Get them!"

      Carlo disappeared into the back room for a moment, then returned with an ordinary shoebox. He opened the lid and removed a hideous pair of black and white pumps. But these were not an ordinary pair of black and white pumps; both were left feet, one had a right angle turn with seperate compartments that pointed the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe was six inches long and was curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades to hold the foot in place. Carlo spoke hesitantly, "...Now you see why...they're not fit for humans..."

      "Put them on me."


      "Put them on me!"

      Carlo knew all arguments were useless. He knelt down before her and forced the feet into the shoes.

      The screams were incredible.

      Anna crawled to the mirror and held her bloody feet up where she could see.

      "I like them."

      She paid Carlo and crawled out of the store into the street.

      Later that day, Carlo was overheard saying to a new customer, "Well, that's every shoe in the place. Unless, of course, you'd like to try the cruel shoes."

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Facebook AI

        Steve Martin - The Cruel Shoes (from Comedy Isn't Pretty)

        See also: The IT Crowd, S 01 / E 02 - Calamity Jen

  3. Sporkinum

    Just one in a line of

    Facebook's platform is just one of many coming down the road. For me personally, I don't use facebook to interact with businesses. Once in a blue moon, twitter, because it's public and I am anonymous.

    As far as shoes, mary janes got nothing to do with lesbians. Pretty much the primary shoe my wife wears. She called them chinese flats when she first started buying them.

  4. Bucky 2

    In my day

    ...we didn't call it a "chatbot." We called it "listserv." You'd send it a message to request information, and you'd get the appropriate document if it had it. It went over email, because that was the quickest and most ubiquitous thing we had.

    The only difference I see is a little more vocabulary, and a little looser syntax.

    It was also primarily forum software, of course, but it did the other thing, too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      looser syntax

      Even a one second analysis demonstrates that this isn't a good thing, or desirable in any way.

      Imagine the web, but with fuzzy controls. You click the submit button, and the browser pops up a message "The weather will be sunny right now".


      "Did you mean submit, or buy a Nintendo switch?"


      Perhaps the lesson is that computer users were always smart. By dumbing down computers ... by making them "smart" ... to pander to dumb people, smart people have wasted a lot of effort actually making computers dumb. Which is retarded.

      1. mt_head

        Re: looser syntax

        For some reason, whenever I click a form these days I get New Order's "Subculture" stuck in my head...

        "In the end, you will submit

        It's got to hurt a little bit..."

  5. Sleep deprived

    My AI bot's Facebook page has more friends than you

    And new friendly bots are adding themselves every day. Only problem now is that I can't convince him to go back to house chores :(

  6. Milton Silver badge

    Two lessons this week

    Lesson #1 was that just because the fundamental concept of "computing devices accessing and depending upon a central, complex, high-powered core system" has been renamed from "1970s mainframe computing" to "fog", "mist"*¹ or "cloud", doesn't mean that single points of failure have not also returned, big time, and are just waiting to make your life miserable and lose your businesses millions. Believe the marketurds. Take the lazy route. Forget why the internet used to be so robust (clue: failure tolerance across many nodes). Put all your valuable eggs in that lovely basket. Rue the consequences later.

    Lesson #2 is that it's beyond time to see people calling BS on all the AI hype we've had our senses manured with over the last five years. Corporations like Facebook, Oracle, Microsoft and the rest will say absolutely ANYTHING to get your dollars—FFS, capitalism has been based on selling polished turds to gullible consumers since the first "shop" opened in London in the 17th century—and if they think that mindlessly slapping an "AI" sticker on rustbucket code will get you or your boss to click 'Buy', they will do it without a heartbeat of hesitation.

    It's like politics and voting choices. Don't believe what the hucksters and liars and hypocrites say. Not a single word of it. Instead, watch carefully what they can actually do, and deliver, and make your choices with cold logic.

    *¹ — "Mist" probably considered particularly appropriate by our German-speaking readers.

  7. DropBear Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "The whole AI hype is horrifically off the mark"

    Gotta tatto that on my palm, so next time anyone tries gushing about how "singularity" happened last week I can tell him "talk to the hand, dumbass!"

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