After shutting chatbot system,Facebook now acquires AI startup

After shutting down one of its artificial intelligence (AI) systems as chatbots defied the human-generated algorithms and started communicating in their own language, Facebook has acquired an AI startup Ozlo to enhance its Messenger's personal assistant.

The four-year-old California-based startup that specialises in understanding text-based conversations claims that its virtual assistants can understand and provide answers to questions which do not have simple "yes" or "no".

"By joining a team (Facebook) 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," a post on Ozlo's website read late on Monday.

Ozlo has raised $14 million from a number of investors. The startup has 30 employees, majority of whom would be joining Messenger in Facebook's offices in either Menlo Park (California) or Seattle (Washington).

"They're just going to be working with [Messenger] to continue their work with artificial intelligence and machine learning," a report in ReCode quoted a Facebook spokesperson as saying.

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The social media giant on Sunday pulled the plug on its AI system "because things got out of hand".

"The AI did not start shutting down computers worldwide or something of the sort, but it stopped using English and started using a language that it created," media reports noted.

Initially, the AI agents used English to converse with each other but later, they created a new language that only AI systems could understand, thus, defying the purpose of the researchers.

Earlier this year, Messenger's product head Stan Chudnovsky said Facebook was focused on text-based AI because voice conversations like that of Apple or Google required an extra step.

"Until we nail [text] we don't want to go into a world where we teach people what we cannot do well. Otherwise we're going to be in the world where people very quickly realise certain things that we don't do well yet and then they may not give us another try," Chudnovsky said.