Facebook unveils Messenger assistant ‘M’

Facebook has launched its artificial intelligence-powered Messenger assistant dubbed Facebook M.

The Messenger assistant ‘M’ will be able to take messages as well as offer up search results, including purchases inside of Facebook.

It was reported in July that the social networking giant was testing its own digital assistant, which would compete with Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Cortana.

According to a Facebook post by Messenger head and former PayPal executive David Marcus, M, unlike other AI-based services in the market, can complete tasks on user’s behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and a lot more.

The best thing about M is that it does a lot more than normal virtual assistants with the help of human intervention. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people.

For example, while other digital personal assistants can only recommend items to purchase as a gift for a loved one, M will be able to place the gift order itself and have it delivered to the person.

The Facebook post also had a few screen shots of the service, which show a text-based interface through which a user communicates with M about what they need.

Currently, “M” is only in use by limited users in the San Francisco Bay Area for testing. There’s no timeline yet for its wider rollout.