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Website to launch popular prizes

Pour money into it, and maybe something gets out
  [vote for,

Our colleague, MaxwellBuchanan, recently launched the N-Prize [see link], based on an idea he first published here at the HB.

Prizes to achieve a certain goal have become popular lately: there's the X-Prize foundation, there's the recent (bogus) $1,000,000 prize for the scientist who can create artificial chicken meat, and we have the brilliant N-Prize.

Now the mind connected two dots: a Halfbakery-type of interactive webspace, and the idea of 'prizes' in general, as a tool to achieve concrete goals.

So what if we can organise user-generated popular prizes? The simple idea for a platform to do this.

-I suggest we create a website at which you can suggest the launch of a new prize (e.g. invent a mass-producible solar car that works; design an efficient aquaculture tower for use in large cities, so as to help limit the damage from overfishing; find a way to clean up the Pacific Ocean's plastic pollution, etc...)

-Ideas can be anything, but the goal is to keep them bakeable!

-A serious guesstimation made by the user (and perhaps by a select committee of knowledgeable individuals in the field) puts an actual 'prize' on the prize

-The committee also looks at the general feasibility of the idea.

-Other users can then sponsor this prize, by contributing a fixed amount of money, depending on the 'prize' offered for a particular prize (say US$20 for a prize of US$ 100,000; this means you'd need a solid 5000 sponsors)

-Users are charged only when the prize has enough backing and thus becomes active, and only when the prize is actually awarded to someone who succeeded. (This makes it an attractive 'donation'.)

Conclusion: I think there's potential in this concept of "prizes", because this way, your gifts actually achieve tangible results. Giving to charities, NGOs or do-good organisations is important, but often you don't know really where your money is going.

The concept of working with a prize guarantees that the money actually results in concrete realisations.

django, Apr 28 2008

The N-Prize http://www.n-prize.com/
Are we serious? Yes. [django, Apr 28 2008]

PETA's bogus $1 million chicken meat prize http://www.slate.com/id/2189693/
Tongue-in-cheek, but the idea is interesting. [django, Apr 28 2008]

Slate magazine article http://www.slate.com/id/2182663/
Invent a Drug, Win $1 Million [xaviergisz, Apr 29 2008]

Got an idea to help the world? Here's $10 million, courtesy of Google http://edition.cnn.....project/index.html
It was only a matter of time before someone went out to make this simple idea happen. [django, Sep 24 2008]

Google stole the idea prizes.org
Google just launched Prizes.org and stole my idea. I should ask not less than $10 million for them stealing this Halfbaked idea. A Halfbaked idea is like superior to a patented idea, so... [django, Jul 15 2011]


       This is a cool idea. Personally, I like the smallness of the N-prize (including the ludicrously low prize money), because it contrasts with the preconceptions about space. However, I think the "token prize" idea has limited applicability, and so sponsorships for larger prizes may be a good idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 28 2008

       I like this. Finding the problem and then issuing it out to the correct audience is the key to finding solutions. I think if people really knew what the problems were, solutions to most would be simple. Small-ish prizes are good, in fact I think incremental prizes are as good or better than grandiose prizes because they will gather more brains to a single issue. It is the genius behind Linux that will eventually crush M$ versus the madness of the Moon X-Prize. Sadly the CATS (Cheap Access To Space) Prize was better than the X-Prize but lacked the advertising that big money gathers.   

       I think the N-Prize is achievable but won’t be achieved by a single person. In a way, the goal is too large for the prize and also too small. No one person is going to put in that much work for that amount of money, but many of us want to be part of something larger. That is why I’m trying to compartmentalize the challenge into personally achievable goals. The solution is for one person to design the balloon, another the liquid rocket, another the SRBs, another the guidance system, another the cannon, maybe another the satellite, etc. Each of those goals is achievable as a hobby. Then they could be combined into a single solution for all, just as Linux sooner-or-later will run all of our computers.
MisterQED, Apr 29 2008

       Here we have a great plan....one that should and could do away with the absurd "Government Grant" system that actually prevents ideas from making it to reality. Like the great billions that are dumped into the "War on Cancer". If the Government had posted only 1/4th of that total into a "Cure Cancer prize"...we would have seen the end of cancer very quickly. But, the problem is so much money spent on research to search for a cure...but, if you want to lose your lively hood and your precious "Grant"...find a cure....Ooops...End of research and end of grant....result, unemployed but highly honored scientists and the demise of an entire "Cancer Support" industry.   

       Never again will the medicos suffer the pain of the Great Saulk Polio Vaccine Disaster.   

       Yep...the "X-Y-Z-Prize" system would be much better.
Blisterbob, Apr 29 2008

       [Blisterbob] as someone who is funded in part to work on cancer, I can assure you that the idea that I would avoid finding a cure simply for fear of putting myself out of work is as ludicrous as it is offensive.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 29 2008

       And I do respect you for your contribution and efforts toward a noble goal. And, I most certainly meant no offense toward you or your colleagues. However, it would seem the present system is suffering a glaring fault...and one does have to wonder what the heck is going on...we keep hearing of these wonderous potential and promising lines of possible interesting research....but, then, we never seem to hear again of them...they keep the promise alive...but the results are dismally poor for the investment. We spent billions resolving the human genome....yet, we still seem no closer to a practical fix for just about anything of real concern to the human experience.   

       Let the prizes for a real cure be posted...I have to wonder what the result might then be.   

       By the way...in case you have not read it, I recommend a very good book..."The Cancer Conspiracy".978-0523414669 by R. Netterberg, et al. I doubt the book is in current publication...but used copies are still available for a few dollars.   

       The transcripts republished in the book, of the congressional hearings on why the federal grants have produced so little result are particulary interesting.   

       And, sincerely, thank you for your efforts and may God Bless your continuing research.
Blisterbob, Apr 29 2008

       [blisterbob] my apologies - I think I overreacted to a tongue-in-cheek comment. But I'm a little skeptical of all books that have the word "Conspiracy" in the title (OK, so I should go and read it). It's conceivable that a drug company would favour a long-term treatment over a short-term cure or a preventative drug. However, most of the key research (discovery of new drug targets, development of new classes of therapy) is mainly done in academic labs, and I can't imagine any of the dozens of cancer researchers who I know conspiring. On the contrary - even the most cynical and self- interested researcher would prefer the glory of personally making a major breakthrough over the preservation of the status quo. Cancer researchers have plenty of other problems to solve if and when cancer is beaten.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 29 2008

       Blisterbob, I think the problem is not so much the approach taken in curing cancer, but the hype that surrounds interesting results. Some media outlets (e.g. tabloids) have an incentive to create outrageously optimistic statements rather than cautious, level-headed journalism (e.g. scientific journals).   

       Also, in my opinion, there will never be a single cure to cancer, since cancer covers a broad range of conditions associated with abnormal cell growth. Instead, more and better methods of treatment of various types cancer will continue to be discovered.
xaviergisz, Apr 29 2008

       Offering cash prizes for the first person to achieve a particular technological result has been suggested as an alternative to the patent system.   

       This has the advantages of the patent system (encouraging innovation and sharing knowledge) while removing the disadvantages (creating artificial monopolies and encouraging litigious activity).
xaviergisz, Apr 29 2008

       There go my People's Prizes. It seems like Google is doing it for real.   


django, Sep 24 2008

       On July 6th, 2011 Google launched Prizes.org and thereby stole the real idea as I elaborated it.   

       Exactly the same idea.   

       Thanks. I just lost tens of millions of American and probably also Canadian and Australian dollars.
django, Jul 15 2011


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