Say Hello To Your New Personal Assistant

Facebook just announced its new AI feature which will operate through the Messenger App. Meet “M”, your new personal assistant.

Facebook is following suit behind Apple, Microsoft and Google. Just as these companies have their own AI assistants, Facebook have now announced their very own “M”. However, it may be taking the idea a step further than the competition.

David Marcus, Vice President of Messaging Products at Facebook, had this to say about the new digital assistant:

Today we’re beginning to test a new service called M. M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people.

Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.

This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service. But it’s an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done across a variety of things, so they can get more time to focus on what’s important in their lives.”.

So what makes M so much better than Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana?

The difference is that M can actually do things for you, rather than just relay information. Siri or Cortana can only tell you where a restaurant is located, whereas M will go the extra mile and actually make the reservation for you. It can also make online purchases, help you find the perfect birthday present for your spouse, or even talk to your cable company.

When Facebook calls M a ‘personal assistant’, they’re not kidding. M uses Artificial Intelligence to process and react to your commands, but if the computer can’t figure out how to answer your question or fulfil your request, a Facebook employee (complete with non-artificial intelligence) will step in to make sure that your needs are met. However, you’ll never know if you’re communicating with a computer or a human: as far as you’re concerned, M is helping you.

Eventually Facebook wants their personal assistant service to be entirely operated by AI. However, for now Facebook’s M trainers are the ones stepping in to make judgement calls that the computer can’t yet make. This team of trainers works alongside the engineering team at the Faceboook offices. The plan is to hire thousands of trainers, building up a strong team to grow the M service. Marcus explained that this would create a substantial economic investment, but did not go into detail about how many people would be contracted.

When will it be available?

Facebook employees have been testing the new M personal assistant for the last few weeks, but it was just made available to testers in the San Francisco area. The consensus from most of the testers so far is that M really is the personal assistant we all want on our mobile device.

There’s no word on when M will be readily available to the general public, but expect to see it on your Messenger App in the near future.

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