Monday, September 17, 2007

Technical Incentives

Interesting article from the economist: Space Eyes on the prize Economist.com

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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