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Facebook “Moneypenny” is an experimental human-powered personal assistant


Facebook is developing a new digital assistant that could come as part of its Messenger serviceThe Information reports. The new feature, apparently named Moneypenny after M’s secretary in the James Bond films, would use real humans to help you find information, make purchases and carry out other tasks.

There’s no word on when Moneypenny will actually be available. It’s being used internally, for now, though it seems like an obvious fit for Messenger. Facebook has already revealed plans to turn its popular chat app into a place where you can buy products, and a virtual assistant could help hold your hand through that process.

It doesn’t sound like Moneypenny will compete directly with other digital assistants like Google Now, Siri or Cortana. Instead, it’s more focused on carrying out specific jobs, though it’s possible that could change in the future.

We’ve seen a few similar services launch over the years, but none have really caught on in a significant way. The one exception may be Amazon’s Mayday, which offers a direct video chat with tech support through the company’s Fire devices. Facebook certainly has the power and the numbers to make Moneypenny work on an even larger scale, though convincing people to use this new feature may still be difficult.

The Information

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...