Facebook wants its AI chatbots to chat more like humans

Just over one year since Facebook first unveiled chatbots, the social network giant isn't done making much-needed improvements to dialog-driven assistants.

Today, Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) released a new framework for developers intended to help fine-tune and improve the conversational abilities of chatbots, of which Facebook Messenger has over 30,000 as of the end of last year.

ParlAI (pronounced "parley") is an open-source framework of over 20 different Python-based data sets for training and researching dialog models that power everyday chatbots.

FAIR believes that by supplying a unified platform for researchers and developers, chatbots can use the data gathered by the ParlAI community to make chatting with a bot faster and more human-like than, well, robotic.

One example of how ParlAI could improve chatbots is its potential to bolster multitasking. By teaching a dialog model to understand more than one sentence at a time, a chatbot can handle more natural conversation instead of short or stilted single commands.

ParlAI isn't FAIR's first pass at improving artificial intelligence, either. The open-source framework joins the likes of FastText, which helps AIs classify text quickly, and CommAI, a general repository for artificial general intelligence, as other Facebook-backed tools designed to put the company on the bleeding edge of AI research.