Project Murphy

Last year at Microsoft’s Build Conference, our team created the HowOldRobot to showcase new machine learning technologies in Azure. This little demo spread instantly across the internet with more than 90 million people uploading a picture to have it guess their age. We were surprised and delighted by how much fun and creativity people had sharing the results from the robot through social media. With all the new cognitive services, machine learning and intelligence capabilities we announced at Build we wanted to show you what else was possible. To that end, we want to introduce you to Murphy, the newest member of the Skype bot family.

Well, what is Project Murphy – like all good robots, it is buried deep in the web. Google “Project Murphy” and you will come across Microsoft’s site. Essentially, Murphy is an experiment running on Azure. It is powered by the intelligence of Microsoft Cognitive Services, including the knowledge of Bing. You can chat with Murphy using Skype and ask it hypothetical “what if …” questions like “what if I were superman?” – Murphy will try to respond with an image that visualizes an answer to your question. Murphy is brand new and still learning so it sometimes doesn’t have an answer right away, but the more people interact with it, the more creative it will become, gradually improving the results.

What if a machine could have an imagination? As bots evolve to become the next generation of applications, the Project Murphy team are also thinking about their principles in bringing machine learning and intelligence together with human interaction. The team’s intention is to make sure they augment human ability with that of machines, that these new apps are trustworthy and that they’re inclusive and respectful so they can be used by everyone. They’re still learning, and so is the new bot Murphy.

During Murphy’s crucial learning period, the build team have quarantined Murphy to be only available as a SkypeBot, and have provided its users with an easy way to report issues to Murphy (see the little “:O” face option when you chat with it on Skype). You can find Murphy by using the link on the Project Murphy website, and add it as a contact to your Skype account.

However, the team also know you care about how your photos are used. Murphy stores your picture for 10 minutes so it can chat with you and then those images are deleted. During that time the images are only used to generate the query you asked for.

Go ahead, give Murphy a spin. Ask some questions and see the results for yourself, let us know when we get it right. If all goes well, they’ll make the service available more broadly.