Facebook Messenger's "M" assistant is scarily smart

Siri and Google Now might soon have some competition, and this is just as smart as the others. Maybe even smarter. Facebook already revealed that indeed has plans for a virtual "shopping" assistant simply called "M", but it seems there isn't anything simple about it. A lucky Facebook Messenger got the rare chance to play around with the virtual helper, and to his surprise, "M" proved to be quite up to task in making sure all your purchasing and booking needs are met, right inside Facebook's chat app.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of M (Facebook should probably think of a different name) is its natural language processing, able to understand plain conversational English and turn them into actual searches or actions you'd usually enter into web browsers or apps. At some points, it almost felt like you were talking to a human pretending to be a virtual assistant, which is something that M naturally denies.

While earlier information pictured M as a sort of shopping assistant, it is more capable than that. Sure it does arrange for making reservations and booking flights, but it is also able to understand the criteria you set for it when searching for those items. Again in plain English. Need to book a return flight between these dates and with the cheapest rates? M can dig that. Need to make a correction to your requirements? It can compensate too.

And once all the choices have been made and the flight or dinner, you can then instruct M to send you a reminder through email and even a calendar appointment. And it isn't limited to doing that on Facebook's own calendar feature, for example. You can tell it to use Google calendar instead. In fact, M doesn't confine itself to information that Facebook itself directly offers but goes across platforms and services to bring information to users.

And for its final trick, you can instruct M to forget the personal details you just gave it, requiring it to ask you again next time. For some it might be an inconvenience, for others a privacy feature.

Facebook Messenger's M assistant is still in limited beta testing, with no word on when it will roll out to a wider public.

VIA: BuzzFeed