Facebook is working on its own human-powered virtual assistant

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According to the Information, Facebook is working on its own virtual assistant known as “Moneypenny” that will be built into the company’s Messenger app. What separates this virtual assistant from the likes of Cortana and Siri is that, rather than relying entirely on artificial intelligence to assist users, Moneypenny will allow users to ask for assistance from actual human beings.

People spend enough time on Facebook that it wouldn’t be a stretch if they started to ask it to do things for them: order products, for example, or research local services. And that’s exactly what Facebook is secretly working on, according to The Information. Known internally as “Moneypenny,” after the assistant to James Bond’s boss, the virtual helper would work inside the company’s Messenger app and connect users to real people who could help them order products, or book services. A Facebook virtual assistant would compete with existing services such as Magic and Operator, among others, which connect users to real people who help them procure or book whatever they need. All of these virtual assistants use simple messaging interfaces that are akin to sending text messages to a personal assistant. Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have also built their own virtual assistants, but those systems use computer programs (not real people) to process and answer users’ questions.

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