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How Would a Government Science Prize Spur Innovation?

With techology evolving at breakneck speed and our appetite for innovation almost limitless, Congress might be stepping in to sweeten the pot. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT) is proposing a bill that will give giant cash rewards to the savviest scientists. It's not a new idea, prizes for cross-Atlantic flights and a longitude-measuring device have been used successfully in history, but it needs to be handled right to produce results.

According to Slate, the big qualifications that have made initiatives like this successful in the past are:

  • They were usually for solutions to specific, clearly defined problems, rather than being part of a blanket system to reward all innovations.
  • They also allotted a generous amount of time for the feat to be accomplished before the prize expired (if it expired at all.)
  • They offered high rewards that presumably outweighed the costs of research as well as the profits that could be earned from diverting resources into alternate endeavors; and they were high-profile, guaranteeing the prizewinner fame as well as fortune.

What problem would you like to see government offer a prize to tackle?

i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
I wish I could've picked two. Finding a cure for AIDS is something incredibly important. Unfortunately, as I have found out through extensive reading, many people don't care about finding a cure for AIDS because of the fact that many of the victims are in Africa and not here-- just a modified form of NIMBYism. Also, improving agriculture to prevent famine is vitally important. Look at the countries dealing with famine right now. many of them are having major issues with politics and civil unrest. When there is civil unrest in a country, there are usually other countries supplying guns and other paraphernalia, and as of late, concerns about terrorism and funding of related activities. When there is no famine-fighting in any country it impacts us more than we think.
JovianSkies JovianSkies 9 years
See this guy's expression in the photo? That was me allllll through high school math.... We need to find a fuel alternative, or there isn't going to BE an Earth to save much longer!
redegg redegg 9 years
I'm for improving the meat industry so those of us who want can be omninivores like we are supposed to be. I think that's a pretty good one since meat is the "number one harmer of the environment". :D
Angelica Angelica 9 years
janneth janneth 9 years
When we end the billion$ going out the door on the war, we can fund one prize for alternative fuel, and one for disease cures. And set every homeless person up in an apartment, and make our inner-city schools better, and end hunger in America, and have money left over for every taxpayer to have a 1200 dollar store coupon if, and only if, they go buy an American made product.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
I'm pro-velcro!!
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 9 years
it was difficult, but i chose an alternative to fuel.
x_juicyfruit x_juicyfruit 9 years
Finding cures for such terrible diseases should be one of the first priorities.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
:) I never said that Federal subsidies have never accomplished anything. I said I don't believe it is the role of the government to finance these initiatives. In regards to many of the items you have listed, (particularly the internet, the space program, atomic energy, satellites, cell phones and jeeps) these items were subsidized by the federal government for military reasons, not for reasons of scientific development. It is important to note this because while I do not agree that the federal government should finance initiatives in the manner discussed above, it is the Federal Government's responsibility to protect the nation as a a whole, which includes military research and development.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I agree with mymellowman! Who the hell ever heard of a scientific advancement created by Federal subsidies?! Well, besides the internet, the space program, velcro, the artificial heart, atomic energy, the internal combustion engine, satellites, cellphones and jeeps. Other than that, it's time we pulled the plug on these "scientific parasites".
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
I marked other. Honestly, I believe the Federal Government should cut spending and taxes, keeping more money in American people and American Companies' pockets, to help fund innovation in this manner. Taxing the American people and throwing more money out in some crazy contest is not the answer.
kitkatherine kitkatherine 9 years
my friends could do this, and would love it. i think this would be great for the us - it can bring so much, and have a great reward to bring science to the people
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
I think alternative energy should be our first priority. Cures for those diseases should be up there, too.
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