Meet M : Your new personal assistant.

Facebook’s Newest and Boldest Idea

FacebookM.jpg

Are you ready for a personal assistant? Well, get ready, because Facebook is gearing up to give you one via the app’s Messenger function. A few weeks ago, David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Messenger, announced that the company was beginning to test a new service called M.

M is a personal digital assistant that can be found inside of Messenger. On your behalf, it can complete tasks and find information. It is powered by artificial intelligence that is trained and supervised by people.

In an update, David Marcus explained that “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.”

To access M, users will simply tap a small button at the bottom of the messenger app to send a note to M, the same way they would go about messaging anyone on Facebook. M’s software will detect the natural language, ask questions and update users as their tasks are completed.  Unlike Siri and Cortana, M has no gender and users won’t know if a computer or a person has helped.

According to Facebook, M does not pull from the social data the site collects to help complete tasks for you. Instead, if you are requesting a gift for your mother, M will ask questions and make suggestions based on your answers and any previous conversations you two have had.

Facebook employees have been testing the new service and one of the most popular requests for M has been having it call cable companies to endure the endless hold times and automated messages to help you set up a new home wifi or cancel a cable subscription. 

The cool yet strange thing about M is that a human being is performing some tasks for you. Tasks such as the one above favored by employees. Yes, that is a person on hold on your behalf. These M trainers have customer service backgrounds, make the trickier judgment calls and perform general tasks the software just can’t.

The service is still in early beta testing with selected individuals. For a more personal account about the service from someone who is currently testing it, check out My Life With Facebook’s M. And until we all have the option for a personal assistant through Messenger, here are a few other cool things I bet you didn’t know the service currently provides.

Sources:

http://www.wired.com/2015/08/facebook-launches-m-new-kind-virtual-assistant/ 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/my-life-with-facebooks-m#.lw6ORJzYV0

http://www.techinsider.io/9-things-you-can-do-with-facebook-m