The social network's next step in expanding its messaging app's relationship with commerce.
Move over Siri and Cortana, there’s a new digital sidekick in town: M, Facebook’s latest project.
Nested inside Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app, M is an artificial intelligence-based service the company is beginning to test, according to a Facebook post on Wednesday by Messenger head and former PayPal executive David Marcus.
“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,” Marcus writes.
Marcus also posted a few screen shots of the service, which show a text-based interface through which a user communicates with M about what they need. The service is currently available to a few hundred people in the Bay Area, a Facebook spokesperson told Fortune.
Rumors of the service, then thought to be called Moneypenny, broke out in mid-July, noting that people would be the other end of the service to make much of the decisions. “It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” Marcus writes.
Messenger has been expanding its integration with e-commerce and merchants recently. In March, it opened up access to businesses, allowing them to connect with customers through the messaging app.
In addition to purely digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, M will be competing with services like Magic and Operator, which also use people to help customers make purchases and book services like plane tickets or restaurant reservations. It will also be interesting to see how the service evolves as a customer service tool. Though right now all the human helpers are internal to Facebook, M, along with Messenger for Business could someday take the place of customer service tools like Olark.