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Facebook Is Testing Out a 'Virtual Assistant'

Called "M," the service looks to be halfway between Siri and Microsoft Clippy.

by VICE LA Staff
Aug 26 2015, 10:14pm

Marc Zuckerberg of Facebook. Image via Flickr user Robert Scoble

The Associated Press reports that Facebook is in the process of testing out a virtual assistant service for its Messenger app. Called "M," the AP says the service is now available for a portion of Faceook users.

In a Facebook post announcing the service, the social media giant's Vice President of Messaging Products David Marcus wrote:

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.

In this early form, M sounds like a capitalist spin on Microsoft's Clippit (or Clippy as he's better known as,) that chipper, anthropomorphic paperclip that wanted to know if you needed help writing a letter, formatting a memo, or completing any other number of other Microsoft Office-related tasks. Marcus's post pitches M as a way for "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."

Facebook has not yet announced when M will be widely available, but a Wired article notes the social network plans to make M "available to all Facebook Messenger users eventually."

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