It has been under speculation for quite some time now, that Facebook is testing a digital assistant for its messenger service. Well its confirmed now, and the name is ‘M’ (yup, they are perhaps James Bond fans).

Facebook wants to replace a human being with an artificial intelligence circuitry to assist users, and the grand plan is starting out with its Messenger application. Beginning today, Facebook says, that it will start testing a new service named ‘M’, which the company defines as a digital assistant equipped with artificial intelligence.

M will be launched as an integral part of Messenger and will assist users in completing tasks and will also scout for information they have demanded.  The artificial intelligence is still in its beta testing stage, and is currently being trained and supervised by real people, before it replaces their functionality.

Facebook’s Vice President of Messaging Products, David Marcus describes it as

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.

Among other things, ‘M’ can can purchase items for you, gifts if you wish for and can even get them delivered to your friends doorstep, keeping the surprise between you and M. It can also do its intended tasks such as booking restaurants, making travel arrangements, and a slew of other handy operations that would require the dexterity of a human.

Facebook stated that M will get things done for its users while they “get time to do things that are important in their lives”.

For now, M is being nestled by real people until the service can stand on its own; and differentiate between the absurdity faced by real people and the existential crisis of its own artificial networks.


Facebook is implying is that M is a step beyond what its competitor “assistants” like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are capable of. A team of Facebook’s own contractors, known as M Trainers, are responsible for pushing M’s features and booking actual reservations, buying products, and so on. The company opted to do it manually instead of automated processor is to to avoid any errors.

Facebook aims to make M self reliable and one that can function without human interference. Since the concept is still in its beta stage, the 700 million Messenger users will have to wait for this one. Soon after its integrated into Messanger, WhatsApp users “may” also expect the introduction of M into the chat service.

With this announcement, Google – which has been throwing one big update after the another for the Hangouts – has got ample amount of time to plan and develop its next big update  for its Hangouts application to counter M.

R&D related to artificial intelligence is currently a hot topic for programmers and critics alike. Similar to the machines that replaced labourers in the factories a few decades ago, AI clearly looks fit enough to be the next big replacement to humans — how far it can imitate a human — taht’s extensively questionable and debatable.


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