Transcript: Interview with Robert R. Morris from Episode 060

This is the interview with Robert R. Morris from episode 060 of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast.


RobertRMorris_BW_200x200In this episode, we talk to Robert R. Morris, a startup CEO who is developing a social network to crowdsource mental health in which users reframe others people’s fears and anxious thoughts and in the process learn to reframe their own fruitless cognitive loops in their daily lives.

David: Well let’s just start talking about all your stuff. So you started out getting a degree from Princeton. And then you started playing around with computers. What was going on there?

Robert: Yeah, so I got a degree in psychology at Princeton. And then I actually spent 2 to 3 years doing psychology research of various kinds. I worked on some brain imaging research projects at Harvard and Mass General Hospital in Boston. Looking at all kinds of things. We were doing some research on the neural underpinnings of deception and lying, which was really cool. We also looked at some clinical neuroscience projects, where we were looking at reward circuitry in individuals with depression or cocaine dependency. So I played around in psychology as a researcher for a while, with the intent of going off to do neuroscience or some kind of clinical neuroscience. And I started at UCLA. And I think at heart, I’ve always been a designer and a builder, but I just didn’t know it. I was always kind of afraid of math, and I stayed away from engineering classes as best I could. But I would always kind of come to my psychology mentors with these gadgets and these weird contraptions I had built. And they didn’t really know what to do with me. And I really wanted to use technology in a way that could make a profound difference in how mental health treatment is proliferated across the world. And I think that – I thought there was a huge opportunity to do that. But in traditional psychology departments, at least the things I was looking at – there wasn’t a lot of design or innovation beyond kinda incremental sort of theory building and approaches. And so I found this program at MIT, this program – something called “The Media Lab.” Which kinda it’s a lot of random misfits sort of come to this place, and use whatever they can with engineering and computer science. To build really innovative interesting applications and interventions. So I went there with the hopes that I could find some way to develop skills in computer science and engineering, to create better computer based interventions for mental health and wellbeing.

David: That’s a really interesting like – motivation and passion. Because I think that the more I’ve learned about stuff too, the more I see that there are a couple of people here and there who are trying to go beyond just learning and building it. But trying to – and building a better understanding. But also trying to say, “Well look, there are some things we do already know that may be useful in actually changing our institutions, or changing our lives. You have– I know David Eagleman’s very involved in trying to mess around with the legal system in the United States. Things like eye witness testimony and other kinds of things that we have a pretty good bit of evidence about their efficacy or lack of efficacy. And I saw recently that – I know in the UK they have the Ministry of Nudges and then – I saw that recently that, yeah– And I saw recently they have – that the – Obama administration issued an executive order to develop our own version of that.

Robert: Yeah, behavioral science, right?

David: Right, right. And I feel like you’re kind of in that wave of, “Hey, I know we don’t know everything, and we don’t have like this – we can’t like build a perfect artificial intelligence and we can’t– We don’t understand how the mind works in – even in meager detail. But we do know enough to actually do some things and make some good.” Is that sort of where you’re coming from?

Robert: Yeah, and I think I might add to that. Is that, just the act of making and getting your hands dirty and building solutions and interventions – is great to do in tandem with theory building. Because you often discover things you just never could discover when you’re really getting your hands dirty and you’re building systems that actually have immediate practical value or practical use. So that’s another thing that kind of attracts me to building interventions and applications that can be used – ideally immediately. I think there’s still huge value for building theories, and better understanding of the core problems. And also building technologies that can’t really be applied now, but maybe have more of a time horizon of 5 to 10 years. But for me, I kind of am impatient, and I like to build things and give them to people and watch how they react. And have that transaction of – producing an artifact, and seeing what people do with it is really electrifying for me.

David: And I think that – what you’re doing, and we’ll get to the nuts and bolts of this sort of social network that you’re putting together. But it’s – I remember a long time ago when Facebook was becoming really popular. Thinking, “I wonder if the– I wonder if psychologists and neuroscientists are aware?” And of course like, people who do sociology and anthropology. “I wonder if they’re aware of this gigantic bank of information about how people work?” And it’s all so pre-quantified and stored and recorded. And of course, it has – not only has it become studied intensely. But now those companies employ – legion of, of professionals. Mental health professionals and psychologists and other people who study it from the inside out. And I think it’s sort of incredible that someone like yourself or– And any other organisation, it would be starting from that place, instead of discovering it. Like you – you’re like – that’s going to be the very idea of the social network, is it’s going to have that built into it. Is there – are you seeing that there’s going to be– Are you going to have people on the inside who study it from the inside out, and you’re going to invite people to study it from the outside in? Is that sort of built into what you’re doing?

Robert: Yeah we’re – we’re trying to do that. We have collaborators now who look at some of the data. And I work pretty closely with a team at Columbia University. And I think, yeah – that’s the way forward. Is to have a solid research team. And I think the problem when you’re just starting a system or a platform or a social platform – is that it’s a little bit of a moving target for researchers. So I’d love to be collaborating with as many people as possible. But I often have to turn down a lot of requests. Because what they might want to examine today, might end up shifting a little bit in a month even or 2 months. We’re still in that very frothy stage of start-up development. Where things percolate and bubble, and you can’t really tell. There’s definitely an arrow and a – in an overarching direction that we have a vision for. But the nuances of how it all gets built is like shifting sand. So it’s hard to do research at this point. But I think, I think even like Facebook has that. They run all these experiments. But once you get a scale, there’s at least enough of – stability to extract meaningful information about human behavior in the system.

David: Well let’s rewind a little bit. And I love how this sort of – I’ve already heard you talk about this. But I wanted people who are just hearing about it– I love the idea that– And this is the great thing about how – just the idea of synthesis and how things that are– Things almost always are– Almost all the great things come about from somebody escaping their silo. And for you, this – it was Stack Overflow, right? Like looking at Stack Overflow, and thinking, “Oh wait, this could have other applications.” What was that all about?

Robert: Yeah, so as I mentioned – I had a psychology background. And I decided to go to MIT. ‘Cause I wanted to build things. But I didn’t have any engineering training. And I mean no engineering training. I barely knew how to write one line of code. And that was – in retrospect – pretty stupid to just jump into MIT. Everyone had this assumption that I could code at the most expert level immediately. And I certainly could not, and it was very, very difficult. So I’d spent all my time on this website called Stack Overflow. Which is a question and answer site for computer programmers. So here I am, my first semester’s – MIT – not knowing what the heck I’m doing. I could type in, “What’s going wrong with my code?” Into this system, and it’s this really beautiful marvel of collective intelligence. You type in your problem. If the answer’s not already there – which it often is. There’s this hive of programmers who all come to your aid, and help you figure out what’s going wrong. And it’s all free, and it’s all beautifully curated. It’s just a wonderful example of what can be done when you leverage collective intelligence in the right way online. But my big problem was not just broken code, it was the broken thoughts I had about my broken code. So my code was failing. I’d be like, “I’m a failure.” It was very, very stressful. And I had depression issues and so forth. And I had a background in clinical psychology. And it just kind of jumped out at me as I was using this Stack Overflow system, the system that helped me debug my code – that maybe I could create something similar to help me debug these negative thoughts. So it’s the idea that a lot of the – kinda source of stress or even anxiety and depression is often at root, some kind of distorted negative thinking. And there’s a style of psychotherapy called cognitive therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy – which – one of the leading assumptions, and ideas behind it is that we can systematically adjust the way we’re thinking about stressful things. And by learning to think more realistically, more rationally, more adaptively – that is at part, what can help alter our emotional experience. So what I wanted to do was type in, “Oh my God, I can’t write this code. I’m never going to survive here in IT. I’m an idiot.” And have this crowd of people come and help nudge my thinking back into a more realistic manner. I mean it sounds like really dramatic and histrionic when I describe those kinds of thoughts. But that’s literally the thing that was going through my head. When you’re really stressed, it’s often very easy to go down these rabbit holes of dysfunctional and negative thinking. And sometimes it doesn’t take too much to nudge a person back, by reminding them of other ways to think about stressful situations. So essentially, I wanted to build this platform where I could have this hive crowd come and debug my thoughts. Not my code, but my actual thoughts.

David: Right, yeah.

Robert: And it was like this really weird, intimate system I started building. Where these strangers would come at my beck and call – and start rewiring my innermost thoughts on demand, whenever I wanted.

David: Yeah and you – I mean – this is, instead of being bugs in code, it’s bugs in thinking. This is how you’re looking at it, right?

Robert: That was – yeah, that’s the initial metaphor. It’s grown a little bit from there. But that was sort of the core idea that popped into my head that I just became in love with. And obsessed with, and started working on.

David: What do you think it is that people are so eager– Just thinking of Stack Overflow, why is it that people are so eager to rush to people’s aid like that? When it seems like – in our non-electronic digital lives, we don’t – we work very hard to not make any eye contact at the airport. Like I’m always amazed that we can spend like 2 and a half hours at the Iport– At the airport – and, Iport, that’s a good–

Robert: A new Apple product.

David: I’m amazed that you – it’s like– Just recently when I went to Boston, I was like – I’ve been in an airport today for at least 4 hours and I’ve made eye contact with 4 people. And it’s amazing that you can juggle that interaction when you’re around hundreds of people. But what do you think it is that – a system like Stack Overflow, a framework like that. People – what encourages people, why do they rush to other people’s aid ? Why do they want to help so much? And for no – there’s no financial gain. And often it’s anonymously. What’s going on there?

Robert: Yeah, I mean at first blush it does does seem like this really peculiar altruistic behavior that’s kind of unique to that platform. And why doesn’t that exist offline and–? On closer inspection, it’s pretty systematic elements to Stack Overflow and other related systems. That help encourage and motivate people to contribute and help that aren’t purely altruistic. So you mentioned there’s no financial gain. Well, even though in Stack Overflow there is some indirect financial gain. So there are programmers who may be really bored at their current job, and looking to leave. And they just sit on Stack Overflow waiting for that next question to come in. And they rush to it and write the most amazing solution to that computer problem. And then they garner reputation on stack overflow. And that reputation for them itself, becomes kind of a major bullet point in their resume. Which they can then parlay for jobs. A lot of these systems – collective intelligence systems motivate participation for 3 reasons. 1 is love – there is often an intrinsic value of just helping people. So that notion isn’t entirely absent. Which I’m happy to say. There may be love of just solving computer problems, for example. There’s intrinsic reward to doing the task. So there’s love. There’s money, which could be direct or indirect. And there’s also a variety of elements that relate to social reputation and coinage of various kinds. So even in a system like Stack Overflow, you can have very complex social castes and reputation based on your prowess at helping other people. And people are motivated to boost that over time. So these platforms are very carefully engineered to leverage other motivational attributes beyond just hoping people are nice and will jump on and help.

David: So yours – and that all makes sense. And I dig that even– That even though you’re working on a platform that is devoted to sort of altering one kind of behavior, or one kind of thinking skill – that even the platform itself also has all of it’s little bits and pieces that are, in themselves informed by other things we’ve learned about behavior. So it’s just this giant layer cake of behavioral modification up and down. And you’re talking about – your project is based on the idea of cognitive re-appraisal or also it’s called – re-framing, a lot of people have heard it as re-framing. And so for someone who’s never heard of this, what is that?

Robert: Yeah so, re-framing is this basic idea that we can alter the thoughts we have about stressful situations. And thereby, alter our emotional experience. So if the content of our thoughts is what affects how we feel – so if you imagine someone just got laid off from a job. That event itself doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s going to be despondent. It’s their appraisal and interpretation of getting laid off that is often one of the most important aspects in that sequence of emotion. So some person may get laid off, and they may think, “Great, I didn’t like it there anyway. My boss was kind of a jerk. I kinda wanted a break. I have a couple of new jobs I’m curious about.” So they may have all these narratives in their head that are framed very positively. Someone else might get laid off, and they might immediately interpret that as they are unemployable, they are weak. They are not intelligent. And so they may have a negative frame. And the idea with re-framing is that we may have a choice over what narrative we wrap around a given situation, and we can systematically consider alternatively– Alternative interpretations that are just as realistic and plausible. But that change our emotional trajectory in pretty profound ways. And this is not a modern idea. This dates all the way back to Roman Stoic philosophy. You see it in literature all the time. It’s – there’s nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so – the Hamlet quote– So it’s a pretty well-trodden idea that the way we think about events is really the crux of the matter in how we feel about something. And we have some power to – at least think more flexibly about negative situations. We don’t have to be stuck in a negative rut.

David: Right, and it becomes such an echo chamber, and a loop. Because you can – oftentimes you’re not working out a solution. You’re just repeating and looping and looping and looping and making yourself feel worse and worse. And, well I like the idea that you’re trying to build a framework here to knock somebody out of it. And one of the things that I thought when I – when you first spoke about this, was– I think about, a lot of– I like to– One of the things I’m most interested in are explanatory styles and how we kind of – we kind of – wherever we are in our lives, we all have our unique explanatory style. Maybe we’re broadly similar, and we can be categorized. But when you get down to individuals, it’s really nuanced. And there’s so much that goes into it. It’s a lot of nature, a lot of nurture. A lot of life experience, a lot of cultural influences, genetics. All sorts of stuff. And it seems like – I know when I’m down or I have decided something is one way or another – that when someone else shows me that they – that you can look at in another way, it’s almost as if I’m locked into my explanatory style. And then I can borrow someone else’s explanatory framework for a moment. And like, all of these explanatory styles are distributed across the population. And if you could use a social network to quickly yank people who have a more beneficial explanatory style. To sort of lend their lens over to someone else for a moment. It could really be helpful. And it seems like that’s exactly what you’re building here. Is that sort of–?

Robert: Yeah that’s a great – yeah that’s a great way to describe it, absolutely. And I like the idea of always using computer metaphors if possible. So it is like, your processor gets stuck in a loop, in an infinite loop or something. But you have access to all these other people who have spare cognitive capacity. They’re not the ones stressed out. When you’re stressed, it’s very hard to think flexibly, creatively, with poise. So in social situations, this happens naturally all the time. If you have a really good buddy and you get fired, you get laid off – and you’re one of those people who only perseverates on the negative. They might remind you of how much you hated your boss. And with a little bit of tact and the right kind of persuasive, rhetorical style of delivering that novel, explanatory style – you can really snap someone out of the – a negative mood state pretty profoundly.

David: Yeah, I was looking at some of your examples. And I was really – I was struck how – I was like, “Wow, that is a better way to look at it.” Like you have one that is about someone being nervous before they give a talk, and that their heart is racing and that they think everyone is going to know that they’re – is going to think they’re nervous or dumb or a fraud or whatever. And some of the re-frames are that not everyone will notice that you’re nervous. And those who do notice will have empathy. Because they probably feel that way themselves. And there’s – another one says that– The one that really got me was – well a racing heart suggests you have an active mind, and your body’s preparing itself for success. And I was like, “Wow, that really made me feel better.” I’m like, and I wasn’t even having this problem. And the – I see that there’s benefit, just like in Stack Overflow for possibly seeing your own – your problem already being there. And someone already re-framing it, before you even get a chance to type it out. ‘Cause there’s that sense of sharing – a lot of what bothers me when I have problems, is thinking that I’m the only person that’s ever thought this before. And then – that help– So there’s several levels of help that are possible. And I like the idea that there’s not just one positive way to re-frame something. There’s an almost infinite number of ways to look at a situation. And you can sort of pick and choose what works best for you. And before I just go crazy talking about it, we probably should just actually explain. So this is a thing that you’re making called, “Koko.” So what is Koko, and if you could sort of take me through what someone’s experience with Koko would be like?

Robert: Yeah, I think that’s the best way to explain it. Is to share like an antidote or something. But really briefly, it’s a crowd sourced approach to well-being and mental health. And it works not by using therapists or trained counselors. But as we’ve been talking about, it works by leveraging the collective intelligence of many people on the network. So it does resemble a lot of social networks. And that’s by design. I think there’s – we well know that there are incredibly engaging properties to social networking. And I truly believe that the principles that keep our eyes glued on Facebook and Instagram 24 hours a day can be redirected to something a little more beneficial. But, so just like a social network, you can post content onto the network, and you can respond as well. There’s a social feed. But if you’re a user – so I’ll just go through a story of a user. This just happened yesterday, I think on our network. It was a pretty cool example, and it’s one where it shows that this kind of style is – not necessarily just for people struggling with depression or anxiety. It can be helpful for really anyone. So there was a girl who posted about being a really good student. She gets really good grades. She raises her hand in class all the time. But her interpretation was that the teachers were ignoring her. And she was getting really unmotivated, and she thinks like, “The more I try, it seems like the more the teachers ignore me.” And so that was her negative thought. She types it into the mobile phone app and sends it out. And within minutes, this crowd comes back, and they just offer alternative interpretations. And so some of the ones that came back that I really liked is, “Teachers are crafty, and they often can’t show their cards. And they may think you’re the best student, and you’re amazing. But they may actually be trying to look really dispassionate so they don’t get accused of being – playing favorites.” There were all sorts of people talking about how enthusiasm and motivation and energy are good things no matter what. But this simple idea that I think – a young high school student might not realize. That teachers can’t play favorites. And even if you’re their favorite student, they can’t really show their cards. Could profoundly affect how this person views her classroom experience. So it was really great to see that. But that’s – that’s sort of an example. You can go on, post a negative thought, and get some interesting insights back. There’s a flip side to this network too. Which turns out to be probably more important. And that is, that same student can go on the network and start helping other people. So she can see someone else may be stressed about a paper deadline. And she may be able to compose some re-frames about ways that it’s not as catastrophic as this person is imagining. And this act of helping other people over and over and over again – seems to be creating this sort of cognitive inertia for a lot of our users. Where they say that in offline, when they’re faced with a stressor – this kind of mode of thinking, this mode of– “What’s – what are all the angles that I can think about this? And what are some of the positive and realistic ones that I may be forgetting?” That kind of reflex kicks in more automatically. And we see some data showing that the people who help others the most, are the ones who get the most psychological benefits from this network.

David: Wow.

Robert: So there’s this really beautiful network effect, where the more you help others on the network, the more you’re helping yourself. You’re just going to the gym more often – the mental gym as it were.

David: Right, yeah.

Robert: And so that’s kinda how it works. You – a lot of people kinda go on and post a lot about themselves at first. They get some responses, hopefully good ones. And then there’s a reciprocity effect, they kick in, and then a lot of people sort of transition into helpers. They get kind of addicted to this process of solving these little mind puzzles for other people, and feeling good when they’ve helped someone. And then they start to intuit that this a – maybe a good form of mental nutrition they can practice regularly, to help them in their own lives.

David: That is so cool. The idea that the helpers are the people who are getting the most benefit. And that everyone on both sides of this thing is learning a new skill. Like this is not just Candy Crush. Like you– With Candy Crush, you are learning a skill set. But with this, you’re learning a really amazing set of skills, that you can use without the app. That work in meat space. And that’s – was that always something that was intended, or did it just sort of emerge and surprise you?

Robert: That was really, really surprising actually. So when I first built the prototypes for this, I assumed no one would volunteer to be respondents. I wanted to see whether we could get just an average layperson to do this, rather than a therapist at first. So my first prototypes I actually paid people to respond. So I used this service called Mechanical Turk, which is this Amazon, online digital marketplace. And it’s really cool, because it has an API – which in computer speak means I can kind of orchestrate everything that happens on there programmatically. So the first versions of this were really just a one sided network. In the sense that the loose case was – you’d post about what’s stressing you out. And then these for hire people – for maybe a buck or two – would come back with all these insights for you, that hopefully would help. But what happened was, I always had like a little comment box that these workers could write. And if the task wasn’t working, or they were confused they could tell me. But I kept getting these messages from people saying, “This was really interesting. I didn’t realize I had these bugs in my thinking. Can I do this more often? Is there a way I could do this for free?” So that insight sort of led me to think that there may be some value and pleasure and clinical merit to opening up a network, so that people – even people who have pretty serious depression symptoms– And some of them were in some of my experiments and clinical trials. Even they can go on and be respondents and get benefit from it. And it was only later, looking through the data – that we actually found that respondents in general were the ones getting the most psychological benefit.

David: It’s – I love– Like, I remember reading some of Clay Shirkey’s books. And thinking, “Where, what are the next applications?” And I love the idea – he talks about technology in it’s essence lowers the cost of something to nearly zero. And it changes everything once something – once the, the opportunity costs or other costs are removed. And you can see that with comment systems and Wikipedia and all sorts of things. And I – I don’t know? I think I got to the point where I was like, “Well we’ve pretty much done all the crowd sourcing things we’ll ever do. Like we’ve figured out the benefits and whatever. But this just seems like such a great way to approach – great way to use this technology, and it’s– I can see like in 10 years, the incredible amount of data you will have collected – that could be poured over by academics, and also be used by just anyone who’s now entering the period in their life where they might be having similar problems with thinking similar things. I mean you’re really doing something that has the potential to create real change in the world. It must be very exciting.

Robert: It is exciting. I mean, especially when you put it like that. I mean, day to day we basically see problem after problem. And I think that’s how every start-up is. And if you aren’t very vigilant, and you’re just sitting back with your feet up saying, “Oh, I’ve built the best thing in the world. My job is done here.” And you– You’re going to fail. So from my perspective, I see the trees a lot and the details and all the – all the kinks that we’re working out. A thing that’s really beautiful about the Koko app is the community on there is really tight. And we’ve tried to open up the product as much as possible, to the point where we run a lot of experiments with our users. We show them early Mark-ups and drafts. We get their opinions. We have extra discussion forms in the app. So that’s a great source of optimism for me. Is having those huge crowd of people that are incredibly motivated and inspired by the potential of the system. And we’re all working together. So it’s not just the three of us co-founders kinda toiling in isolation. We are constantly talking to our users in some capacity.

David: Right, and you – when you – when this was being tested– And you’ve actually– Well some people would like to know– There’s going to be people who look at this, and they’re going to think, “Please don’t quantify us and turn us into androids.” But – and you think they’re going to see this as just purely more tech to mess with our interactions. But since we’ve already had an episode about how that’s silly – let’s – I want to know for people who may be more along the lines of, “Well have they tested this? Does this have any real benefit? Or does it just make you feel good in the moment?” Like you’ve done actual clinical testing of this, and compared it to creative writing or something like that, haven’t you?

David: Yeah, so I did do a clinical trial, a large scale clinical trial with colleagues at MIT and Northwestern. And we really wanted to evaluate the hypothesis that repeated use of such a platform – however used – if you post a lot, or you just respond. Repeated use of this, does this convey psychological benefits over time. And we use something called a randomized controlled trial design. Which – on the surface, seems very simple, but it’s actually very, very, very tricky to get the details right. But the simplified version of it was – we randomly assigned people to either use a version of the Koko platform – at this stage it was a web based tool. So some people used that, and then other people – the other half were randomly assigned to use something that looked almost identical to it, but didn’t have any of the active ingredients we thought would be helpful. And that platform just had people post their negative thoughts. So they would go on, and it would be almost like a journalling exercise. Where you’d post what’s bothering you. And you would describe the situation and the negative thoughts you’re having. And it would kind of go in a little archive that you could visit. And that in itself is an intervention that’s been studied for decades now actually. It’s called “expressive writing.” There is some known benefits from just doing that, and there’s some health benefits, some psychological benefits of contextualizing your negative thoughts, and actually writing them down. So our goal is to at least match that or beat that. And so, we used that as our control condition. It’s called an active control. And we assessed people’s symptoms of depression. We looked at well-being and a couple of other psychological measures. And we assessed people before the experiment. And then after – about 3 or 4 weeks of use on these platforms. And we did in fact see that people who used the Koko platform had significant psychological benefits. And particularly for people who came in with some baseline depression, the Koko platform outperformed the control task. So it held up really well. It also had some benefits for – what we call risk factors for depression. So 1 risk factor is this idea you alluded to earlier, of this echo chamber, where you’re thinking this 1 negative thought over and over again. So we – we have systems of surveys where we can ask people how often do you get stuck in a negative thought that you can’t escape, and these kinds of things? And that can be a risk for depression and even suicidality. And that measure was significantly reduced by repeated use of Koko. And now we have other researchers looking at correlating different types of behaviors on the network, and which ones yielded the most pronounced change. With all these things, you have to do a lot of these trials – to really know what’s going on. So I know – I would say the data is still preliminary, even though it’s been published. But the other thing that’s nice, is we’re mostly relying on evidence based theories and techniques that have decades worth of research attached to them. And we have to translate them to fit the technological medium. So they do get changed a little bit. But the spirit of these ideas is still there. And so there is some a priory idea and notion that these techniques should be helpful for people if they’re practiced repeatedly.

David: Well I think this is just – I just love the idea of this, like in every way. And I – I think that what– What tends to come up more than anything else on the show is that – someone saying– Or even in emails, it’s like, “Why isn’t this being rolled into something practical?” Or, “Why isn’t this being rolled into our institutions?” And, “Why does this still seem so locked up in academia, if this stuff is so important and there’s so much evidence behind it?” And I like the idea that this is one of these great examples of actually extracting it from the ivory tower, and throwing it out there into the world, and making use of it. So I wish you so much luck in this, and I think you should keep up with what you’re doing. And I know people are going to want to know about this, and they’ll want to try to get in on the BETA or whatever you’ve got. I know it’s not completely ready for the public quite yet. So how – how can people keep up with you, and how can they keep up with this project, and how can they try to get on Koko?

Robert: Yeah so the best way to get on Koko, is simply to go to our website now. So the url is Go to You can enter your email and get in on the beta app. Which is a really fun experience. So I suggest your listeners to try it. Because it is this weird, frothy state where we’re experimenting and we’re interacting with everyone who uses the platform. It’s all anonymous, but we do have a bi-directional communication channel there. So it’s a pretty fun way to experience a new app. So you can go on there. We are pulling people off the wait list pretty regularly now. And to catch up with me, you can email me at Or I’m on Twitter @robertrmorris.

David: That’s so cool. Look, it is so hard to be a person, and the fact that you’re taking a technological approach to making it a little easier to be a person – it’s so great, and I wish you so much luck. So thank you so much for all this, and I look forward to checking it out. I’m going to try to get in on this too, and play around with Koko.

Robert: Great, nice talking to you.