Social networking giant Facebook has acquired artificial intelligence (AI) startup Ozlo as a part of the company’s effort to step up its development of conversational AI for Messenger. Ozlo announced on its website that the company will be joining the Messenger team to provide users of the instant messaging service with experiences fueled by AI and machine learning. The cost of acquisition is not immediately known at the time of this writing, as Facebook refused to disclose details of the deal. Employees of Ozlo will now be consolidated into Facebook, though its founder Charles Jolley who previously worked at Facebook as head of platform for Android won’t be joining the social media company again. Ozlo’s team is comprised of 30 individuals with professional background in machine learning, data science, search and relevance, and computational linguistics.
One of the things that Ozlo and the Messenger team will be focusing on is the natural language processing space, with Ozlo noting that its knowledge graph includes more than 2 billion entities used by its AI technology to understand nuances in real-world scenarios. Facebook says part of the terms of the acquisition is to integrate that knowledge base into the work that Ozlo and the Messenger team will perform moving forward. Ozlo’s AI technology is designed to assist intelligent systems in learning from real-world situations and Ozlo-powered systems are now capable of providing a more sensible interaction with real people.
While the Ozlo team will collaborate with the people behind Messenger to build out a personal assistant for users, it remains unclear what specific role Ozlo will fill at Facebook since the company already has Facebook M, the social network's text-based virtual assistant. It is possible that Ozlo's technology will serve to complement Facebook M, which recently received an update that enables the AI bot to determine what is happening in a conversation on Messenger and provide relevant suggestions to the thread. However, the personal assistant does not currently support voice control despite the fact that most other AI-based virtual assistants available out there are already voice-enabled. It remains to be seen whether Ozlo and Messenger will improve the instant messaging service’s capabilities to include support for voice control. An update on their AI efforts will likely follow in the near future.