- Facebook is testing a new digital assistant, "M", that will help users locate information, find items, purchase items, and complete additional tasks from its Facebook Messenger app.
- M’s artificial intelligence will be “trained and supervised” by Facebook staffers, according to a blog post from Messenger lead David Marcus.
- Facebook plans to ramp the service up slowly, as M machine-learns various nuances of Messenger users' requests.
Facebook is taking a more personal route with M, a new personal assistant being beat-tested inside its Messenger app. Instead of responding to voiced commands exclusively with artificial intelligence like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and the Amazon Echo speaker system, M will begin by responding to text commands with an AI system that’s being trained by live human staffers.
Facebook promises that M will be able to complete tasks such as purchasing items, making reservations, and more, rather than simply helping research the web. Facebook’s acquisition of Wit.ai in January and increased staffing for its language technology group may indicate that M will soon bring voice-to-text capabilities to Messenger to help it function as a “hearable” input device for all sorts of web-enabled tasks, including shopping. As Amazon's Echo device already does, this functionality could help retailers seep into their customer's homes and lives through M, eliminating the need to travel to the store or even go online to complete a shopping trip.