Facebook has revealed a new artificial intelligence robot, which sits in Messenger and chats to people and helps them buy things.
The new service, called M, allows Facebook users to ask it questions and get recommendations, and then buy things.
It works similarly to other digital assistants, like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now. Users ask a question in natural English — “Where should I go for a burger?” for instance — and the robot will reply with a recommended joint and can even book the restaurant.
It is able to do that better than other competitors because it is helped out by actual people, David Marcus from Facebook told Wired. Describing it as a hybrid between artificial intelligence and human assistants, the magazine said it is “powered by artificial intelligence as well as a band of Facebook employees, dubbed M trainers, who will make sure that every request is answered”.
In a Facebook post, Marcus wrote that the tool “can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more”
M is initially being trialled with a few hundred people in the Bay Area of San Francisco. But it looks set to roll it out soon after.
Facebook said that it is hoping to build the service to become much bigger. It is “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,” said Marcus.
The company has been looking to expand Messenger into a fully-featured social network of its own, breaking it out into its own app and adding new features like apps and tools to talk to shops.Reuse content