Facebook M, the most human virtual assistant there is. Perhaps.
It will take a long time before we see him in Italy, but in recent weeks he has intrigued a lot Facebook M, the personal assistant of the social network that is currently being tested for some lucky California residents.
The peculiarity of M compared to the various Siri, Google Now and Cortana, is that it aims not so much to give answers, but rather to perform actions in our place. At Google Now and company we can ask the population of Rome and such questions and the answer will always be exhaustive, probably even more than that of M, but the Facebook assistant can order some food for us, book a flight and much more. All this, simply by chatting through Messenger.
In the hands on of The Verge, for example, author Nick Statt is amazed (and rightly so!) That Facebook M managed to resolve a dispute on Amazon in his place. Statt wanted a refund for a product that had arrived damaged in transit, asked M to investigate and, less than an hour after providing his email and order number, he received confirmation that Amazon would refund the product.
If you are wondering how all of this is possible, this is a great mix between semantic analysis it’s real service center: chats with M are processed automatically by the software but, once a request is made, it is taken over by a real person that deals with the problem. The burrito delivered to the aforementioned Statt was ordered by a Facebook employee (who took the job through M), as well as the dispute with Amazon was resolved thanks to a man of flesh and blood.
If you add to this an excellent automatic reply engine and a very informal language, you will understand why Facebook M turns out to be themost “human” assistant ever seen so far: deals with things that Google Now, Siri and Cortana could never compete with.
On the other hand, there is an aspect that makes it more aseptic and therefore “artificial” (at least compared to Siri and Cortana, putting aside Google Now): for how it was designed, Facebook M does not aim to have a “personality”. He won’t be joking, telling jokes or singing songs, even if you ask him. He will never give you an opinion on a topic (while if you ask Siri about Steve Jobs you can be sure that you will only listen to positive comments) and he will always answer in the most impartial way possible.
For this reason, a strange mix is created in which although Facebook M is obviously the closest technology to a real butler who assists us in our needs, it will never expose itself on anything. Who knows, maybe for fear of being fired.