David Marcus, formerly head of PayPal and now running messaging products at Facebook, unveiled the project in a blog post on Tuesday.
Thanks to the human element in M, Facebook says it can do things that no other personal assistant software can do, such as help you select a gift for a family member.
“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. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor.
Not only can M go the extra mile and actually do things for you, being inside Messenger means it’s easy to just type out your responses instead of speaking at your smartphone like a goon.
Facebook Inc.is testing a personal digital assistant to run inside its Messenger mobile application, an early step toward a challenge to artificial intelligence-based services like Apple Inc.’s Siri, Google Inc.’s Google Now and Microsoft Corp.’s Cortana.
What’s also interesting is the emphasis Marcus puts on “being trained and supervised” by real people. You’ll be answered by AI or possibly a real person-and you won’t necessarily know which one.
But the artificial intelligence at play seems significant, with M responding to your initial queries with follow-up questions and updates as tasks move towards completion. Wired reports that Facebook plans to eventually hire thousands of trainers as it makes M more widely available. If Facebook wants to scale out this feature, it will either have to wait until its humans teach its AI to handle most requests automatically, or it will have to spend a fortune hiring an army of people to assist its assistant.