The concept of BetterBeliefs started in a notebook on a train ride home in January 2016. As a philosopher, Kate knew there were theories developed over thousands of years of how people should use evidence to support or refute their ideas, but as an avid social media user, she also knew that shouty comments on the internet were how people often communicated without listening to reason. What if we could build a social platform that incorporated philosophy into how users interacted?
On this platform, ideas (or hypotheses) could be horses, competing in a horse race, powered by evidence. Horses that obey the norms of Bayesian rationality win the race! Bayesian rationality is great at accessing the wisdom of crowds, plus it can incorporate a wide diverse evidence as long as its weighted correctly. Kate first pitched the idea of a Bayesian Dashboard at an IntelliSensing pitch workshop at the Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology. Using this pitch we signed our first NDA with a global online travel agency (OTA). This agency already valued the scientific method, promoted diversity and wanted to do better with innovation.
To prepare for our OTA pitch event Kate needed more than an abstract idea. She approached Tamara Pearce, a designer and business innovation researcher with an IT and education background. Tamara grasped the concept, saw its potential, and co-pitched the initial design concept. The OTA was in. Bring forth the flaming etheric fire horses they said!
Kate Devitt and Tamara Pearce
BetterBeliefs co-creators Kerrie Mengersen, Alok Chowdhury, Tamara Pearce and Kate Devitt
Tamara and Kate got some seed money and build an interactive wireframe showing how the users would interact with the platform by the end of 2016.
In 2017, the Senior Vice President (Engineering) at the OTA wanted to see the platform built. That’s when the team approached Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen and Dr Alok Chowdhury. We needed Kerrie’s Bayesian statistical expertise and Alok’s data science and IT capabilities to manifest etheric flaming horses into a working technology platform with scientific backing.
During 2017 Kate, Tamara, Kerrie and Alok all worked together to create the algorithms within the Evidence Engine that determine two metrics: The Degree of Belief and the Weight of Evidence.
So, every idea on the platform is ranked by how much belief there is in the idea, and how much evidential support there is for the idea. Ideas that align belief with evidence get greenlit for action.
In January 2018 we connected our evidence engine APIs for the first time with the working algorithms and saw the platform in action.
Alok & Tamara working with our first client OTA to launch the platform January 2018
Saul Devitt, Nicole Lessio, Tamara & Kate working with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services 2018
2018 was been a busy year of refinement and growth for the platform.
We were busy working side-by-side with new clients in the emergency and disaster management and health sectors using evidence based ideation for both strategic planning and innovation.
We continued to work with potential clients from a range of industriess to ensure we develop our tools with end-users in mind.
During 2019 we worked with another new industry sector - Defence.
Late in 2019 we were excited to find out that Tamara would be amongst the first cohort of QUT Foundry members to participate in MIT Entrepreneurship programs through a world first strategic partnership between MIT and QUT.
Tamara spent an amazing three weeks in January 2020 in Boston, participating in MIT Fuse, honing and applying her entrpreneurial skills and knowledge, testing ideas and accelerating the growth of our business amongst the community and mentorship provided by MIT's Martin Trust Centre for Entrepreneurship
The three Australians at MIT Fuse worked hard to leverage all of the opportunities available at MIT
Proof that Tamara did go outside occasionally while participating in the MIT Fuse entrpreneurship program
During 2020 the team has been working away on our technology roadmap, migrating the BetterBeliefs platform out of the research environment and adding new features. We also hired our first software developer outside of the founding team. We're set to launch the platform for public use early in 2021, so watch this space!