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Facebook Looks to Challenge Siri With Test of A.I. Digital Assistant 'M'

Service Can Make Purchases, Book Travel, Send Gifts

Published on .

The Facebook logo is reflected in the eye of a woman in this arranged photograph.
The Facebook logo is reflected in the eye of a woman in this arranged photograph. Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Facebook is testing a personal digital assistant to run inside its Messenger mobile application, an early step toward a challenge to artificial intelligence-based services like Apple Inc.'s Siri, Google Inc.'s Google Now and Microsoft Corp.'s Cortana.

The service, called M, can carry out tasks on a user's behalf, such as making purchases, booking appointments and travel, or sending gifts, according to a posting on the social network by David Marcus, Facebook's vice president of messaging products. It's being tested with a few hundred people in the San Francisco Bay Area to start, said Facebook spokesman Ari Entin.

"This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service," Marcus wrote. "But it's an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done."

Messenger is a mobile-messaging app that runs separately from the smartphone app for Facebook's main social network.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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