Facebook M is right inside an app you’re already using every single day: Messenger. Unlike other AI-based services, the Facebook app can actually complete tasks, can purchase items, find and book a good local restaurant, arrange your travel, appointments and much more. M is a virtual assistant, but it’s not pure artificial intelligence, like Siri. Facebook has cleverly positioned M as part AI, part human.
Facebook is responding to your initial queries with follow-up questions and updates as tasks move towards completion. For example, if you don’t have time to check on a refund for an item that never arrived, you have the option to ask M to investigate. After asking for an email address that you placed the order and the product name, M is coming back to you to inform, what the actual situation is and how much time you have to wait for the refund.
The team behind M, which includes the 10-person startup Wit.ai, designed this app to really give people what they’re asking for. The main purpose is to have M learn from the trainers’ team and become smart enough to take more and more tasks. M ends up feeling more human than Siri or Cortana, and even more than that, M is meant to be the personal assistant helping you solve problems just by tapping out instructions every day.
The service first launched in august 2015 to a small subset of users and more and more details are revealed after testing the new virtual assistant. Facebook M expanded over times and eventually made its way to most of all Facebook users. You shouldn’t worry about privacy because Facebook is not pulling from history to complete any of its tasks.
The product, available via Facebook Messenger, was released back in August 2015 and available only to about 2,000 people in California. Facebook pitched the idea as a “beta” test and made it available to some users, but members of the team implied it would be expanded. Facebook M is still in beta, meaning that we will have to wait until Facebook will scale this to more than 700 million users around the globe. Facebook’s Messenger chief David Marcus told to The Verge back in 2016 that M wouldn’t be broadly available for “years”.
Unfortunately, we’ll never have M like it was before. Facebook is removing the human element and the service ended on Jan 2018. For Facebook, M isn’t completely gone. M; the part of Messenger that suggests making a calendar appointment, ordering an Uber, completing payments, and sending stickers or GIFS will remain.
Artificial intelligence systems which respond to answers aren’t really new. But as a beta, Facebook M is impressive. It’s not hard to picture a near future where everything we want is no longer at our fingertips, but at our command.