If Facebook’s new personal digital assistant catches on, then your days waiting on hold and navigating exasperating menus may be numbered.
Facebook announced on Wednesday that it’s testing the new assistant, which is called M and is integrated in the Messenger app, on a small group of people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Although David Marcus, the former PayPal president who now heads up Messenger, referred to M as a “personal digital assistant” in a post on Facebook, M goes way beyond the digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, that have lived on our phones for the last few years.
“It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more,” Marcus wrote.
That’s because M, which is free, will be powered not only by artificial intelligence, but also by a small army of people who will respond to your requests.
As Wired reported, one of the most common tasks Facebook employees have requested is for M — or, more accurately, a person on the other end of M — to call their cable companies “and endure the endless hold times and automated messages to help you set up home WiFi or cancel your HBO.” Another story about M in Wired said that the service could also make you an appointment for a driving test at the DMV.
In other words, M will supposedly deal with some of the most annoying and Mundane tasks people have. Even better, it’s totally free. That’s an exciting and potentially game-changing feature you simply won’t find in M’s rivals.
It’s unclear when, and even if, M will roll out to Messenger’s 700 million users, but if it does, it has the potential, as Marcus wrote, to give people “more time to focus on what’s important in their lives.”
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