Facebook launches 'M' virtual assistant driven by both human and artificial intelligence

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2015
Facebook on Wednesday launched "M," a text-based virtual assistant integrated with Facebook Messenger that unlike Siri, Cortana, or Google Now relies on both human and artificial intelligence to fulfill requests.




A contract team of "M trainers" is prepared to fulfill requests that the AI component can't answer, Wired reported. The AI currently lacks access to the social data Facebook normally collects, and so has to depend on earlier conversations and follow-up questions to respond. That could change, however, "with proper user consent," according to Facebook's VP of messaging products, David Marcus.

M is ultimately meant to be more powerful than rival assistants, for instance allowing people to get recommendations on vacations, restaurants, and presents and then follow through with bookings or purchases. It can even be used for tasks like holding a spot in the phone queue of a cable company.

Marcus said that Facebook eventually expects to hire thousands of M trainers, although captured data will be used to make M's AI more resilient, which may in turn limit the need for human labor.

The assistant should generate money for Facebook in a number of ways, one being partnerships with businesses. Marcus returned to the cable company example, suggesting that a lot of call demands might lead to a company opting for a direct presence in Messenger.

M is currently only available to residents of California's Bay Area, an intentional move to ensure commonality between M trainers and the people making requests. The product will eventually be offered to all Messenger users.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Somewhere Judi Dench just did a spit take and recoiled in disgust.

  • Reply 2 of 13
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,191member

    I get on Facebook maybe once a month? That would be a lot. I don't even have it on my phone, though it is on the iPad. I can't believe people still use it daily. Never installed Messenger. 

  • Reply 3 of 13
    Somewhere Judi Dench just did a spit take and recoiled in disgust.

    Probably stands for Mark.
  • Reply 4 of 13
  • Reply 5 of 13
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cornchip View Post

     

    I get on Facebook maybe once a month? That would be a lot. I don't even have it on my phone, though it is on the iPad. I can't believe people still use it daily. Never installed Messenger. 


    Good for you. But odds are that you are young, and in proximity to friends/family.

    For those of us with widely dispersed family and friends, FB is an amazing way to maintain or reestablish relationships that otherwise would have withered.

    Don't be so quick to look down on solutions that work for people other than yourself.

  • Reply 6 of 13
    schlackschlack Posts: 683member
    whoa. interesting idea. trying to create a messaging ecosystem. certainly have a lot of data to leverage. now they just need web search capabilities. any chance facebook will one day buy google or vice versa?
  • Reply 7 of 13
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    People can mock this but let's face it Siri could be a lot better than it is. For instance just for kicks, I told Siri I had a friend who was having a baby and could it recommend a gift. Siri replied with a map to the local hospital. :rolleyes:
  • Reply 8 of 13
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Geez so much hate.

    I Wouldn't get too comfortable if I were Apple.

    Siri seriously needs an overhaul. I think human assistance would help Siri a ton. Not to have them employed but to feed Siri data and make her smarter.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,585member
    I signed up for Facebook years ago but never really used it. Just went back on again a couple weeks ago and joined some old friends. Opinion - what a total piece of shit and total waste of time! The dumbing down of America continues at a rapid pace. Another great example is the number of total morons that post comments on Yahoo's news items. It is no wonder that company is doing so poorly. Wake up America!
  • Reply 10 of 13
    You asked a computer for a gift suggestion. Yeah. You're right, Siri is the idiot in this scenario.
    rogifan wrote: »
    People can mock this but let's face it Siri could be a lot better than it is. For instance just for kicks, I told Siri I had a friend who was having a baby and could it recommend a gift. Siri replied with a map to the local hospital. :rolleyes:

    You asked a computer assistant for a gift suggestion? Yeah. You're right, Siri is the idiot in this scenario.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 754member
    to me the main issue with this service, revolves around privacy issues. for a human intelligence to answer a question for you, they need to know you. i think this will be a fail.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,191member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GQB View Post

     

    Good for you. But odds are that you are young, and in proximity to friends/family.

    For those of us with widely dispersed family and friends, FB is an amazing way to maintain or reestablish relationships that otherwise would have withered.

    Don't be so quick to look down on solutions that work for people other than yourself.


     

    If you consider 35 young, then I guess. While my siblings and I are all in the same town, I have friends and family in Canada, France, Japan, Turkey and India, and scattered across the states from NY to Washington. I just can't handle all the Lameness. 

     

    I do log in a few times a year to see what they're up to tho. 

  • Reply 13 of 13
    rogifan wrote: »
    People can mock this but let's face it Siri could be a lot better than it is. For instance just for kicks, I told Siri I had a friend who was having a baby and could it recommend a gift. Siri replied with a map to the local hospital. :rolleyes:

    Very thoughtful!
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