Facebook M Virtual Assistant Is Ready To Scuffle With Siri And Cortana

Think fast: how often do you use your virtual assistant? If your answer is along the lines of “Huh?” you’re not alone, but we’re getting the distinct impression that we’ll all be very familiar with virtual assistants soon. Apple and Microsoft have been heavily ramping up the functionality of their assistants this year and now Facebook is entering the field with its own assistant, Facebook M, which exists in Facebook Messenger.

Although we won’t hazard a guess as to whether Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Facebook’s M virtual assistant will eventually win the market share war, M seems like a strong candidate for the “Most Uninspiring Name” award. M’s capabilities are much more interesting than the name, happily.

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For one thing, M is meant to handle some fairly complicated tasks. “Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf,” says Facebook’s David Marcus. “It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”

It will be interesting to see how much of a task like “book travel arrangements” M actually handles for you. Marcus says that M’s artificial intelligence is “trained and supervised by people,” but it’s not clear whether humans will see the questions you ask M in way that makes you identifiable. Facebook says that M is in a test phase right now, so don’t be surprised if M doesn't appear in your messenger app right off the bat.