Monday, September 17, 2007

Technical Incentives

Interesting article from the economist: Space Eyes on the prize

Being in patents, it is interesting how various fields can be incentivized to innovate (e.g. open source software, "pure" sciences, etc.).

As an astronomy undergrad, I thought having a manned, lunar observatory would be the greatest development in data collection since Tycho Brahe. However, the unsolved key question was how to incentivize such a massive development. At the time, the only way I believed this could happen was through sub-licensing the radio spectrum reserved for astronomers to wireless carriers. Years later, faculty in Cornell's Astronomy department - and operators of the Arecibo Observatory - assured me this method of funding development would never happen, as the science community would never give up their facilities for such a risky undertaking.

What was not clear at that time, was that there would be any for-profit organization that would benefit from a lunar infrastructure. Amazing development - glad to see the prize model encouraging innovation.

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