Like Apple's Siri, Cortana from Microsoft and Google Now, Facebook is harnessing artificial intelligence to bring you your very own digital "personal assistant." The new service, called "M," could help plan your next restaurant visit or buy the perfect gift.
“M,” which began testing Wednesday, is designed to "complete tasks on your behalf," like purchase and deliver gifts and arrange your appointments, David Marcus, Facebook's vice president of messaging products, announced in a post.
Jeremy Goldberg, Facebook's product designer, posted a preview of "M" in which the personal assistant makes a suggestion for finding a hamburger joint in Chicago and buying baby shoes for a young couple. "M" will work within the Messenger application — which launched in 2011 — so there's no need for Facebook users to download another app.
According to Goldberg, "M" is "powered by AI and trained by people," and the service will "gain automation" — learn your habits and preferences — over time.
Unlike Siri, Cortana and Google Now, Facebook's "M" will be text based and won’t require users to speak commands into their phones. "M" will actually be "trained and supervised by people," according to Marcus.
For now, “M” is being rolled out to a few hundred people in the San Francisco Bay Area. No word from Facebook yet on when it will be available to other users ... or on whether it will effect a Judi Dench persona a la James Bond.