Facebook's M assistant launches in US, will offer chat suggestions

Allan Goodman
April 7, 2017

Following in the footsteps of Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung Bixby, Facebook has launched M. It is described as a "helpful assistant in Messenger, powered by artificial intelligence".

Messenger is also adding a "More" tab for users to easily access features like Games, Payments, Share Location and Rides. If it's stumped, it falls back to a team of human staffers who try to help, and then teach M to do the job by itself next time.

The only difference is that it doesn't have a voice. M might also expose you to features you didn't know where available in Messenger.

M will automatically appear in any of your conversation when it recognises "intent in a conversation". With the new Messenger composer redesign, numerous buttons for its different features have been collapsed inside an expandable menu, but M Suggestions will help you fish them out.

To put it simply, using humans as a crutch for the do-it-all AI doesn't work when considering the 1 billion people using Facebook Messenger every month.

The thing about M is that it's learning to offer personalized responses for you.

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More information will be provided as information becomes available. "The pilot ejected safely in an unpopulated area". He said he ran into the woods after the plane crashed and saw the pilot standing up.

The whole M assistant relies on Artificial Intelligence.

Sharing your location: M can suggest an option to share your location during a conversation.

When you say something like "thank you" in a conversation, M will share a fun and relevant sticker that represents what you said. A friend asking for money may prompt M to suggest sending the amount they asked for, or saying something like "Let's have dinner Friday night" may prompt M to suggest creating a plan for said dinner. It can even hail you a Lyft or Uber. If you always ignore the M Suggestions, you'll see less of them. To start, only six actions are supported, but Facebook has expectations for M to do more and be further extended.

Where is Facebook M available?

"Once we learn [something], we'll take certain pieces that we'll expand to more people in a contextual way". M Suggestions roll out to all iOS and Android users in the USA today, with more countries coming. For instance, the company talked about letting people attach and send videos and pictures via a simple long press on the composer. This is Facebook's idea and where they're investing much of their AI efforts. If there are particular suggestions, like sharing your location, that you aren't interested in, you can mute those specific features.

Check out Facebook's blog post for more details.

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