Facebook Rolls Out Personal Assistant, With Humans
'M' meant as alternative to Siri, Cortana
By Brownie Marie,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2015 12:19 PM CDT
CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the Messenger app during the Facebook F8 Developer Conference Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(Newser) – Look out, Siri: Facebook is rolling out its very own personal assistant, and "M" uses a blend of artificial intelligence and real live people to complete users' requests, reports CNBC. "Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf," Facebook exec David Marcus explains. "It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more." Unlike Siri—or Google Now, Microsoft's Cortana, or Amazon's Alexa—users do not carry on a conversation with M. Instead, questions or requests are typed into the Messenger app. Also, M does not access your Facebook posts, Messenger chats, or likes. At least, not yet.

The app feature was rolled out to a few hundred Bay Area users yesterday, reports Wired, which adds that one of M's more popular tasks in internal testing was to wait in your stead while your cable company has you on hold. And yes, "that’s a person on hold on your behalf. Facebook’s M trainers have customer service backgrounds." Facebook says it intentionally launched M in a demographic that closely matches the contractors who help complete the tasks. These trainers, make the possibilities for consumers endless. Facebook hopes that translates into major revenue as it partners with companies to better serve their customers. “We have a lot of threads open between businesses and people, and the engagement is very good,” Marcus says. “Now we want to open it to more businesses.”
 

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