Today, Facebook launched its own virtual personal assistant called “M” accessible through the Facebook Messenger app. The virtual assistant is powered by both artificial-inteligence and real humans which allows it to answer questions and complete complex tasks that current personal assistants cannot. Just like Siri, Cortana and Google Now, you can ask M for advice on places to go and answer general questions. One of the differences however is that M only works in the Facebook Messenger app. In addition, M will be less likely to make mistakes as it will be checked upon by humans responsible for training and supervising the artificial intelligence. According to David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook, this will make a great difference compared to other personal assistants in the competition
“We start capturing all of your intent for the things you want to do”
“Facebook employees have been using M for several weeks to do everything from organizing dinner parties to tracking down an unusual beverage in New Orleans”
The combination of artificial-intelligence and real human support is what will allow users to do more with the M personal assistant. M is able to purchase items, get gifts delivered to people, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and other complex tasks that current personal assistants cannot handle. The human element in the assistant will let the software to gradually learn from human behaviors and eventually will allow it to not needing human input, according to David Marcus. The transactions made by using M’s services is what will provide revenue to Facebook so it can employ more “M trainers”.
M is only available to a few hundred people in the San Francisco Bay Area today. It is still a work in progress and so, it is not expected to be released to all messenger users any time soon.