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US Spurs Plethora of Problem Solving Prizes 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the gaming-the-system dept.
coondoggie writes "Got a complicated problem? Hold a prize competition to solve it. That's the basic idea behind the America Competes Act, renewed by Congress this week. According to the White House's Office of Science and Technology, the Competes Act gives every department and agency the authority to conduct prize competitions. Prizes and challenges have an excellent track record of accelerating problem-solving by tapping America's top talent and best expertise."
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US Spurs Plethora of Problem Solving Prizes

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  • History repeated. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @07:22PM (#34647794)

    Prizes posted by royalty were used in previous centuries to solve things like finding longitude whilst navigating at sea.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @07:50PM (#34647998)

    Some people actually *enjoy* their profession, and do not need to be paid for *everything* they do (e.g. open source?).

    So your argument is that people will compete for a cash prize because they aren't motivated by money?

  • by Trip6 (1184883) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @10:45PM (#34649100)

    Teams were actually prohibited from using any government sponsored technology.

    As someone very close to this, I can tell you that most of the notable developments that came out of the race were not derivations of previously funded technology.

  • Why this works (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gorimek (61128) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @01:39AM (#34649700) Homepage

    There are a few options for a government or other large organization to get something important and difficult done.

    1. Assign the task to whatever part of your org chart this falls under. Uncountable billions and years later, you'll have a semi functional disappointment. NASA has proven this several times.

    2. Contract it out to a major company, picked in some bidding process. The results are slightly better than (1), but still very bad.

    3. Announce a prize of 1% of what you would have spent in (1), and you'll likely have a solution in 1/3 of the time.

    This is because with prizes, whoever is best suited to solve the problem, in the whole world, can do so without having to convince your bureaucrats of their ideas, and make a profit doing so.

    It's one of the very few effective ways to work around natural bureaucracy inertia.

  • A modest proposal... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by theNAM666 (179776) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @04:43AM (#34650250)

    "Got a credit problem? Sell your childrens' flesh to solve it. That's the basic idea behind the America Eats The Poor Act, renewed by Congress this week. According to the White House's Office of Poverty Elimination, the Eats Act gives every department and agency the authority to give poor people a small prize in exchange for each of their children that they fricazze or bake for the consumption pleasure of the rich. Eating poor children has an excellent track record of accelerating competitiveness and combating overpopulation by eliminating America's stupid, fat losers before they grow up."

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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