Now Facebook can run your life: Smart PA called ‘M’ can remind you of birthdays, buy presents and …
- The rumoured plans were revealed by employees briefed on the project
- Said to have been named after James Bond’s secretary Moneypenny
- Facebook’s service is being dubbed a ‘digital personal assistant’
- But unlike Siri’s AI, Moneypenny will connect users to real people
Facebook has begun testing a personal assistant for users that can make purchases, reservations and even handle your diary.
Called M, it is believed to have been named after James Bond’s secretary, Moneypenny.
The firm today began testing the service, which uses both artificial intelligence and people, with selected users in San Francisco.
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HOW IT WORKS
To use M, users will tap a small button at the bottom of the Messenger app to send a note to M.
It’s software will decode the natural language, ask followup questions in the message thread, and send updates as the task is completed.
Users won’t necessarily know whether a computer or a person has helped them; unlike Siri and Cortana, M has no gender.
‘Today we’re beginning to test a new service called M, said the firm’s David Markus.
‘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.’
Only a few hundred people are believed to have access to the service.
‘This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service, and the firm admits that the fact it relies on people to oversee it could make it difficult to provide for all of its users.
‘But it’s 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.’
In internal tests, Facebook employees have been using M for several weeks to do everything from organizing dinner parties to tracking down an unusual beverage in New Orleans, according to Wired.
‘An engineer went to Paris for a couple days, and his friend asked M to redecorate his desk in a French style,’ Marcus told the site.
‘Twenty-four hours later, the desk was decorated with a proper napkin, baguette bread, and a beret.’
One of M’s most popular requests from its Facebook employee testers was technical support, using the service to call their cable company and endure the endless hold times and automated messages to help you set up home wifi or cancel your HBO.
Marcus also reveal the human touches added by the service’s ‘trainers’.
‘If you ask M to plan a birthday dinner for your friend, the software might book the Uber and the restaurant, but a person might surprise your friend at the end of the night by sending over birthday cupcakes from her favorite bakery.’ Wired said
‘M learns from human behaviors,’ says Marcus.
The service was first revealed by Amir Efrati from tech site The Information.
In comparison, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana can be used to search the web for goods, weather information, traffic details, quiz answers and more.
Facebook’s Moneypenny is said to be named after James Bond’s secretary Miss Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris (left) in the recent film franchise with Daniel Craig (right)
But they use artificial intelligence to find the best possible solution, which can sometimes fall short and struggles to deal with context correctly every time a person makes a request.
Facebook’s proposed plans are reminiscent of Magic, a service that aims to provide users with anything they want – providing it’s legal – using just a text message.
Once an operator receives the message, they ask follow-up questions, say how much an item will cost and arrange its delivery as quickly as possible.
Users can sign up to Magic’s service, which is currently only available in the US, by texting 408-217-1721.
By comparison, Apple’s Siri (pictured) and Microsoft’s Cortana can be used to search the web for goods, weather information, traffic details, quiz answers and more. But they use artificial intelligence to find the best possible solution, which can sometimes fall short and struggles to deal with context correctly every time
‘We have trained operators standing by 24/7 to answer every one of your requests,’ its website says. ‘Send us a text message, and we’ll get you what you want.’
Once a message is sent, it is left to the operator to work out how to fulfill the request in the fastest way possible.
For example, plane or rail tickets can be bought online and then emailed to the individual, while a service such as Instacart may be used to do the weekly shop.
Facebook’s proposed plans are reminiscent of Magic, a service that aims to provide users with anything they want – providing it’s legal – using just a text message. Trained operators answer the text message requests (examples are shown) and work out how to fulfill the request in the fastest and best way possible
The service makes money by charging a fee, or ‘tip’ for its fixing service, which means that users pay two premiums for a supermarket shop, for example.
But texting the number in the first place is free and Magic always tells the user the cost of using it to buy a product or service before it’s ordered.
‘There are no hidden fees, and tip is included,’ the website added.
GoButler is a similar online concierge that is available internationally.
SMARTPHONE WITH 24-HOUR CONCIERGE SERVICE COSTS £6,750
The Magic service may seem extravagant to some, but last year, a phone from luxury manufacturer Vertu launched for £6,750 ($11,380) which comes with a 24-hour concierge service.
Made of titanium, the Signature Touch handset has a screen protected by sapphire crystal and leather casing.
Owners get a 24-hour concierge available via voice, email and live chat, while the built-in Vertu Life app offers exclusive access to sporting events and private members’ clubs worldwide.
The Magic service may seem extravagent to some, but last year, a phone from luxury manufacturer Vertu (pictured) launched for £6,750 ($11,380) which comes with a 24-hour concierge service
Each Signature Touch phone is custom made, by hand, using grade 5 titanium and finished off with calfskin in a range of colours, including Claret Calf, Seaspray Lizard, and Jet Alligator.
Its 4.7-inch, 1080p HD screen is protected by sapphire crystal and it features Digital Dolby Surround sound through its Bang and Olufsen speakers.
On the rear of the device is a 13MP Hassleblad-certified camera – the firm that provided the cameras for the moon landings.
The phone runs on Android KitKat 4.4 and comes with Vertu Life, Certainty and Concierge.
According to the firm, the Life app is a ‘passport to the world’s most exclusive events.’
Vertu’s 24-hour Concierge is a personal assistant that helps from ‘tracking down a hard-to-find item to accessing tickets for high-profile events.’
While Vertu Certainty protects and encrypts calls and date, to make the handset secure and private.
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