According to reports from multiple sources, Facebook is currently working with select third-party companies to create chatbots that will work within the Facebook Messenger app. This will allow companies to integrate their services in Messenger and allow users to, theoretically, avail themselves of those services simply by using the messaging app.
Via James Vincent of The Verge, Uber already has integrated their service into Messenger. Their chatbot allows a user to summon an Uber driver by talking into Messenger as if it was a person, and simply giving the pick up location and eventual destination.
If these reports are true, the third-party bot integration would allow Facebook Messenger to become not just an instant message service, but a fully realized commerce platform, where someone can request information, make purchases, process payments, and more.
This all sounds a lot like the plan that Chinese messaging app WeChat has been successfully implementing for years, where one app or software client is able to work with lots of other companies to provide a smorgasbord of services to users.
This also pushes that idea, which we recently wrote about, that more and more of our interaction with companies online will be via artificial intelligence, bots, and other automated services ruled by algorithms. People will only be involved in the care, maintenance, and updating of the system itself.
Considering that Mark Zuckerberg took as his personal challenge for the year building a simple A.I. to run his home, "kind of like Jarvis from Iron Man," is would be reasonable to assume that Zuckerberg, and Facebook as a whole, is growing more and more interested in the possibilities of automation. And everyone, not just the users of Facebook Messenger, should get ready for it.