It looks like Facebook might soon be introducing you to your new best “friend.” As the source for all things social and trending these days, the company looks to be the next to introduce its own digital assistant. With Microsoft’s own digital assistant, Cortana, becoming a main feature of Windows 10 and Google and Apple already leading the charge, Facebook’s participation was imminent. David Marcus, Facebook’s Messenger product vice president, recently announced that the social network would indeed be introducing a digital assistant simply known as M What’s Siri going to think when she hears the news?
Though it may seem likely that M gets its name from Facebook’s Messenger, the name is actually in reference to James Bond’s secretary, Moneypenny. M is currently still in the development stages with test processes being conducted. Supported by artificial intelligence that has been trained and supervised by humans, M is a component of Messenger that can seek information and complete tasks for users. Still, Marcus emphasized that M is still in the early stages.
While other digital assistants such as Siri are lauded for their convenience and efficiency, they are not without flaws. A distinct edge Facebook’s M will have from the start is its high-quality artificial intelligence. The fact that M’s AI is human-trained and supervised already sets it apart and above others. This human assistance is designed to boost the AI of M while it goes through its test processes in these early stages.
Facebook’s ambitious approach to the M is in response to the scope of the AI used for digital assistants such as Siri. With somewhat lackluster AI that suffers from a limited scope, Siri is sometimes unsuccessful in providing users with what they are looking for. Facebook recognizes this, and therefore saw the need to give M’s AI the boost of human support.
Like other digital assistants, M will help users answer their questions. To ask M a question, users will tap the bottom of the messenger app to send it a note. After decoding the language, M will send any follow-up questions it might have. Of course, there will be times when M is working solely with AI and other instances where it is being aided by an actual person.
In the future, it is possible that M will use Facebook’s collected user data to increase the efficiency of its task completion. For now, the M is expected to be best used for the likes of making dinner reservations, scheduling appointments, and arranging for the delivery of gifts. Select users are currently getting a preview of M through beta testing, but Facebook has yet to announce an official roll-out date.