Facebook has launched its own virtual assistant called M to compete with Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, this social network’s new technology blends AI with human helpers. A few hundred users in the Bay Area will test-drive the free service today via Facebook’s Messenger app, which combines the fathomless knowledge of the internet with the discerning tastes of human beings.
What sets M apart from Siri, Google Now, and Cortana is its ability to complete tasks for the user. It can buy items and have it delivered to target recipients, book travel and dining arrangements, and even set appointments.
“M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” explained Facebook’s messaging boss David Marcus, in a post on the social network.
Facebook will employ these M trainers to “make sure every request is answered,” so you’ll be able to complete your midnight self-diagnosis or fulfill your midnight hankering for a sub. It all starts with opening the Messenger app and sending M a note with your query or request.
One of the most popular requests from employees was having M call their gas/cable company in order to avoid the hold times and automated messages that can grind down even the most patient of people. That makes M an expensive proposition, particularly as the company expands the service out from its trial in the Bay Area to other users, and intends to keep it free.
Currently more than 700 million people use the Messenger app.