Virtual assistants are all the rage these days. We can set alarms, schedule reminders, perform Google searches and send messages without tapping a single key. If you were to tell me a few years ago that you tell your phone to remind you to pick up milk, I would tell you that you need get out of the house more. Ironically, as these smart OSes arguably distance us from real human interaction; they are themselves becoming more anthropomorphic through these virtual assistants. So much so, that each one is actually unique. They have singular names, triggers, voices, appearances, strengths, and weaknesses. Some can even tell jokes. This results in more personal bonds formed with the software or brand they represent. Facebook, knowing fully well the value of these bonds, is getting into this field with a concierge-like assistant, forthwith called simply: M
Without an OS of their own to build M directly into, and foregoing creating yet another separate app, M exists within Facebook Messenger as one of your contacts. One with which you have a virtual discussion initiated by a question. M will respond to your inquiry and then continue asking if it can help you even more. So if you ask it about a good oyster place in town, after identifying a good location, it will ask if you would like for it to make a reservation. Asking about a favorite band, will lead to local tour dates and the option to purchase tickets. M accomplishes this, relying on a hybrid backbone of machine and human co-action. This makes M reminiscent of what Path tried to do last year with their Talk app, and very different from the approaches taken by Google Now, Siri and Cortana.
“M is 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. Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.” -David Marcus
Facebook is hoping that adding the human element to the virtual assistant will give it an advantage over the competing services that are limited by their complete reliance on technology. There are some really interesting directions that M could evolve into and Facebook is hoping to discover them while it allows a few hundred people in the Bay Area to test the beta app.
Do you think this will become a viable alternative to the current collection of VAs? Let us know in the comments or contact us on any social media site.Source: Facebook
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