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Facebook Tests AI-Based Digital Assistant in Challenge to Siri

Facebook Inc. 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.