Facebook's new digital assistant "M" is like Siri, Cortana or Google Now, but with a human touch

Facebook's new digital assistant "M" is like Siri, Cortana or Google Now, but with a human touch
You might recall that last month we told you about a virtual digital assistant being dreamed up by Facebook, with the code name Moneypenny. Today, the new assistant has been introduced by Facebook, and it is being tested on the Facebook Messenger app. Called Facebook M, the assistant can do the things that the other assistants do, such as gather information, and perform some tasks. And like the others, it is free. But unlike Siri, Cortana and Google Now, there is also a human component to Facebook M. 

Besides the AI that helps control how the other assistants respond to inquiries and requests, Facebook M is "trained and supervised" by humans. This allows Facebook M to make purchases, arrange your travel plans, reserve seating at restaurants, or arrange for gifts to be sent to friends and family.

David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook, has high hopes for Facebook M. "We start capturing all of your intent for the things you want to do," he said. "Intent often leads to buying something, or to a transaction, and that’s an opportunity for us to [make money] over time."

Facebook M is activated by tapping a small button at the bottom of the Messenger app. You then send the assistant a message about your request or task. Facebook M will read the message and send back some pertinent questions to follow-up with, if necessary. Updates will be sent out as the task is completed. Facebook employees have used M to call cable companies to set up or cancel certain services. Of course, to handle something like sitting on hold for hours, and then requesting changes to your cable account, a real person will be handling the task for you.


The human part of M is going to require a big financial investment from Facebook since thousands of these so-called "trainers" will eventually be needed. The only thing we really know about them is that they are contracted by Facebook. Messenger has 700 million users, and once M is rolled out for all of them, it should be interesting to see how many people Facebook will need to cover the human part of its new assistant.


source: Facebook via Wired, AndroidAuthority

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