On Thursday Facebook made its digital assistant for the Messenger app available to users in the US. The assistant called M was introduced over a year ago, but has been in testing all this time. The launch of M for public usage marks a new milestone in Facebook’s efforts in AI technology. M will pop up in the chat window and suggests actions to the users that it deems helpful.
Though M is only available in the US as of now, it is only a matter of time before it is launched worldwide to compete with other virtual assistant’s like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant etc.
Currently, M works by identifying keywords in a user’s conversation. The keywords will trigger the suggestive capabilities of M. if two users or a group are discussing a plan for a party or a get together then M will suggest that they create a shared plan that will act as a reminder for the event. M can also send tickets on behalf of the user, initiate payments, suggest appropriate emoticons and stickers during conversation, and even call a Uber cab for the user.
M is also capable of machine learning so the more a user uses the AI, the better it gets. It is linked with a group of developers and technicians who work behind the scenes and oversee conversations. As of now they only let the app work on its own when some automated response like placing a call is required. It is designed to let users access advanced features in Messenger easily.
“We are bringing the power of M’s AI technology to support and enhance the Messenger experience and make it more useful, personal and seamless,” Facebook product managers Laurent Landowski and Kemal El Moujahid said in a blog post.
In case a user is not comfortable with M popping up during conversations, they can put it on mute or restrict it to certain tasks or dismiss its suggestions when it does make them.