INEXPLICABLE SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook is working on its own voice assistant in an attempt to rival Alexa and Google.
Undeterred by the overwhelming ambivalence to Samsung's Bixby and Microsoft's Cortana, the internal team behind Oculus has been working on an AI assistant for over a year now, and we're struggling to work out exactly who they think is going to use it.
Given that this is the company that just this week managed to screen scrape 1.5 million email addresses "by accident", along with the fact that its existing hardware product, the Facebook Portal has been slashed by 50 per cent this weekend in the US, all signals here are pointing to a big, fat hairy flop.
But we should never say never; Facebook's greatest asset is, of course, its two billion users and when used legally and fairly that means that if anyone can take on the big boys, it can.
The reports, which originated at CNBC, also suggest that Facebook is in contact with hardware vendors to partner on a version of Portal that uses the new Assistant instead of Amazon Alexa.
Facebook and particularly Mark Zuckerberg are no strangers to AI assistants. In 2015, the company launched "M", which was supposed to add some AI smarts to your conversations in Facebook Messenger.
Unfortunately, it was more like Clippy than Siri. The project has been retired.
Zuck himself took the idea of a voice assistant to extremes in 2016 when he completely automated his home, including a tailored voice assistant called 'Jarvis' in honour of the Iron Man character. He even managed to persuade Morgan Freeman to be the voice.
We're certainly not expecting Morgan Freeman for the new Facebook assistant- if that's your thing, you'd be better off with Google Assistant's John Legend setting (sigh).
Facebook isn't commenting on the reports at the moment, but it's likely that Oculus will probably gain an AI assistant as a result of the project, and we'll probably get something integrated with the combined Instagram/Messenger/Whatsapp group too. μ
Much a (dil)do about nothing
Neither the time nor the face
The tiny tweaks are coming thick and fast now
Gitting more secure