In its quest to be everything to everyone and not just another social media service, Facebook is currently testing a virtual assistant service powered by artificial intelligence, which will be used inside its messaging app and possibly other services. The service debuted Thursday morning on a select number of phones belonging to San Francisco denizens. Facebook Messenger executive David Marcus opened up about the service, which was dubbed “M,” claiming it will assist with a variety of actions, including purchases, gift deliveries, and setting up appointments.
Facebook M takes competition a step further
Facebook’s M assistant service will compete directly with similar virtual assistant services like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, although it has something that could give it an edge over competitors. Wired’s Cade Metz thinks Siri’s technology is outdated and that even when Apple upgrades the technology, it is still short of being a real life assistant. Unlike many of M’s top rivals, Facebook designed its messaging service to work in tandem with humans. Although some may think M takes us a step back from modern AI technology, Metz thinks it may be a step forward.
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Humans will train the artificial intelligence systems by first building up a collection of data for them. It may take Facebook years to collect data and improve M’s level of intelligence.
The journey in AI technologies
Earlier this year during a conference, Facebook executives openly discussed how they taught a computer to understand the Lord of the Rings plot in order to correctly answer questions related to the book series. The social giant is still in the early stages of perfecting M and artificial intelligence. The ultimate goal at the moment is to help people maintain focus on what is important.
Facebook spawned off its Messenger as a separate app last year, and it currently is used by 1.5 billion people every month.