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Facebook’s M: Humans Behind AI, The First in the World

Facebook’s M: Humans Behind AI, The First in the World


Facebook announced the launch of their new digital assistant, M last Wednesday, August 26, 2015. This artificial intelligence will live within Messenger, and is expected to be able to answer inquiries, provide information, and even perform tasks uponrequest.

Siri, Cortana, And The Others.

There is no doubt that M will face a lot of comparisons with other artificial intelligences in the market like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Siri’s abilities include managing messages (which includes sending text messages, checking your email, etc.), arranging schedules, and searching for information. Cortana on the other hand, is stationed on the PC and assist from there, searching for files and arranging the calendar.

What Sets M Apart?


There are notable differences though between M and the other artificial intelligences.

  1. M is not entirely artificial. Yes, that’s right. This digital assistant is aided by customer support agents called “M Trainers”. According to a post by David Marcus, head of Messenger at Facebook, “It's powered by artificial intelligence that's trained and supervised by people”. But the goal is to improve its automated capabilities as the system learns through time.

Facebook strives to go beyond the limits of regular digital assistants which include their reliance on the limited information that the user feeds them, as well as being unable to perform complicated tasks. Allowing real people to assist M, its users can actually let it execute tasks on its user’s behalf like completing a purchase, settle billing transactions, and even do projects. This post on Wired even tells an account about an engineer who had a friend who requested M to redecorate his desk, French style, and found it done the next day.

  1. M doesn’t respond to voice commands. So you can talk to Siri and Cortana, but not with M. How is that? M is programmed to respond to chat, simulating the experience of chatting to a friend via Messenger.
  1. M has no gender. Unlike Siri and Cortana who are both undoubtedly female, Facebook did not set a certain gender for M.

How To Use M

Well, first you have to download the Messenger app. Facebook states that as Google is the first go-to when it comes to performing tasks and searching for information online, they seek to be the same when it comes to mobile. Currently, in order to perform certain tasks through a smart phone, or portable digital device, one needs to download a number of apps first. But Messenger seeks to be the only go-to app you’ll ever need now with M installed.

After installing, the M button should show automatically at the bottom part of the Messenger app. Tap it, and you can proceed to chat with it as you would with a friend. 



More About M and Its Future

M is still currently on beta testing and available to a limited group of people on the Bay Area, but eventually M will be accessible to all Facebook Messenger users. Also, M is still not using the information users have on their Facebook accounts. It is still limited to the input you make whenever you interact with it, empowered by the M trainer behind it.

We can only expect for M to be more integrated with our Facebook accounts in the future, given our consent to provide personal information to the application. We can only but hope that our information will be used wisely, and that M proves to be the best digital assistant that Facebook hopes for it to be – providing assistance to normal search and booking tasks; helping out in more complicated handling of billing and cancellation of accounts; and extending out aid in rare emergency situations like contacting the nearest rescue station when fire breaks out.

Now, what does M mean for business owners anyway? Well, the potential of M cannot certainly be undermined. If it expands and grows to be successful as Facebook plans it to be, options for M to partner up with businesses could possibly be open in the future. We’re talking about a big potential for earning here, especially when just this Monday, Facebook earned its newest milestone of having 1 billion users a day. Don’t worry; we’ll update you more on this, as we are absolutely going to tune in to M’s updates here at Local Top Rank.


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