As more and more merchants try to sell their wares through Facebook, eventually, you’d need a virtual shopper to help you navigate your way through the tricky waters of social media shopping right? You never thought about it? Well, apparently, Facebook has as they introduce the personal digital assistant “M” a combination of AI and actual humans who will answer your questions and inquiries, mostly about e-shopping on Facebook Messenger.
This virtual assistant can’t really be compared to Siri or Cortana or Ok Google because it really is more concerned with shopping: how to buy, what to buy, how to have it delivered, and even how to make travel arrangements for you. So if you need to order a special gift for your 10th wedding anniversary or if you need to make a reservation at the new Italian restaurant in your neighborhood, then “M” is your man. Or woman. Or Ai. Whatever or whoever it is, Facebook assures users that they will be answered.
M is actually trained and supervised by human beings, so that the suggestions and answers are suitable and not inappropriate. But of course as their base continues to grow, they would have to eventually use artificial intelligence. Users would be able to directly order and process everything from the chat through the help of “M”. So this is both a promotion of the Messenger feature as well as the e-commerce component of the social network. For now as well, they will not look through your Facebook interactions to give you answers, especially if you ask for suggestions. But eventually, they will do so as well, but “with proper consent” as per David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook.
For now, M is only serving users in the Bay Area and hasn’t rolled out to Android yet. Eventually of course, the end goal is to have all Messenger users have access to M and through both desktop and mobile. But no word yet as to when this will be rolling out of beta.