For some time, people have always been toying with the idea of a personal assistant for messaging. Even more recently, there had been rumours that Facebook was actually working on this assistant – the assistant was supposedly for the Messenger application.
On 27th August, 2015, the details have been released which pulls these rumours together. Facebook are officially working on a personal assistant, for the Messenger application, which will be known as M. This will put the company directly in competition with the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Apple in the digital personal assistant space.
Facebook Messenger’s lead, David Marcus, spoke a little bit about Facebook’s plans with M. This was documented in a Facebook post:
“Today we’re beginning to test a new service called M. M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes
tasks and finds information on your behalf. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people.
Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.
This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service. But it’s an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done across a variety of things, so they can get more time to focus on what’s important in their lives.”
Jeremy Goldberg, a member of the Facebook team, took to Twitter about the case. He announced that he was so proud to share what he had been working on – M, which is the personal assistant which is based inside Messenger.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Now Facebook
It is not a secret that: Apple has produced Siri, Google has produced Google Now, and Microsoft has developed Cortana. Of course, now, Facebook has produced M.
These companies all use the data which has been put into the service, in order to provide help and suggestions based on what it knows about you. By interpreting a personal assistant inside of Messenger, is a very clever move. People extremely used to typing out messages to people, rather than speaking out verbal commands.
Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are all based around verbal commands. Sometimes, people have an issue with speaking to their device in public. Now, with the use of Facebook’s M, this problem should be completely solved.
While both Google and Apple used the pure science of artificial intelligence, Facebook has decided to completely brute force the development of their personal assistant. They are instead using a whole bunch of human helpers.
This procedure will not be cheap. If Facebook wants to completely scale out this new feature, they will have to wait for humans to teach it to handle requests automatically. This will be very manual, and will take a lot of time. Or, the company will have to spend a large sum of money to hire people to assist the assistant.
Releases & Rollouts
The release of M will most probably be very slow. There has not been an official statement from Facebook with a release date, or even when the release date will be unveiled.
Since the project will be very manual, it is certain that it will take a long time.
There are many estimates available from Facebook fans, but most of them will be inaccurate. Until Facebook makes the announcement, nobody will really have a strong understanding of the release date.