Last year, Facebook annoyed everybody by splitting Facebook Messenger off from the main Facebook app. At the time, it was assumed that Facebook, being unable to make you buy its terrible phone or download its terrible operating system, would instead spin off all its functions as a suite of apps and get at your phone that way. Turns out, instead, they want to give you an artificial intelligence that will buy you stuff.
Called M, because that’s not ominous at all, the AI is oriented around buying you stuff. Examples Facebook offered include reserving you a table at a restaurant, finding gifts for your friends, and booking a weekend getaway. So, no points for guessing what the endgame is here; Facebook wants you to tell it what you want to buy.
If you’re wondering how this won’t go horribly wrong, the short answer is that M is “curated.” While the technology behind it is quite impressive in how it breaks down text and speech into the data a computer needs to, say, find plane tickets, a human will be at the wheel during this pilot program, checking over the data and confirming M is doing the right thing.
We know what you’re wondering: When will Facebook combine this feature with the huge amounts of data it has on us to start recommending creepily accurate gifts? Right now they’re claiming that’s far in the future if it ever happens at all. So, basically, once M is working, expect it to suddenly know everything about you. Considering what happens when Facebook asks for forgiveness rather than permission, that probably won’t end well.