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Congress & Silicon Valley Billionaires Separately Launch Contests To Drive Forward Innovation

from the seems-like-a-good-idea dept

There's been a growing movement among some to suggest that it would be a lot more practical and useful for students to learn how to code as a part of their education, rather than some other "mandatory" curriculum items. It looks like the House of Representatives is working on a cool little plan to at least incentivize some code learning in schools: a nationwide technology contest for students, encouraging them to develop brand new apps for mobile devices. The hope is that it will help more students not just learn to code, but to learn that they enjoy it and are interested in learning more and going into the technology field. While this may be a "small" program, it's good to see general encouragement towards having people learn to code at a young age.

On the other end of the spectrum, three of Silicon Valley's richest techies, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner, have teamed up for a much larger program a "Breakthrough Prize" for life sciences that will award 11 grants of $3 million each year for major breakthroughs in science.

These are two different approaches towards encouraging more innovation in technology and sciences -- one at the "low" end and one at the "high" end -- but it will be interesting to watch how these kinds of incentive programs develop over time. It would be great to also see more "innovation prizes" that offer up rewards for reaching specific goals, rather than the sort of random "we pick a list of winners" that the Breakthrough Prize functions under. Still, more incentives for innovation can only be a good thing.

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  1. icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), 22 Feb 2013 @ 1:00am

    oh well

    Necessity may still be the mother of invention. It seems that cash and patents would be the dirty whores in that metaphor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2013 @ 1:41am

    why bother? as soon as someone tries to do something, thanks to those in Congress having put in place the most ridiculous rules possible, that help everyone EXCEPT the very ones that need help, that are supposed to be helped and those that deserve to be helped, it will all turn to rat shit and shut down because of the threat of being sued. and all before getting up and running! this needs to be put on hold until there are some serious changes to copyright law, patent law, dmca removal and the ability for trolls to get the cake!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Ninja (profile), 22 Feb 2013 @ 4:22am

    Right. So the kids get sued into oblivion with some broad patent some troll has (round corners?) or some incomprehensible copyright dispute? The high end seems reasonable, at least they are paying for the legal costs in advance ;)

    Btw I'm joking here, the initiatives are great (albeit small and ignoring the larger problems that are hindering innovation). But I'm sure it's not crazy to imagine those kids or the participants in the tech side getting owned by lawsuits like that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2013 @ 4:34am

    It's nice to see that Congress is actually doing something and all, but they seem to have more pressing issues at the moment.

    I find it strange that a proposal put forth by a republican endorses science, perhaps I woke up in bizaroo world this morning - or maybe this is simply a PR stunt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2013 @ 4:40am

    Just don't let CBS anywhere near either of the judging processes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    btrussell (profile), 22 Feb 2013 @ 6:26am

    If we need contests to drive innovation, what are IP laws doing? Apparently not what they are intended to do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Atkray (profile), 22 Feb 2013 @ 8:34am


    SBT button.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Jim G., 22 Feb 2013 @ 8:53am

    Well, this might almost nearly sorta make up for the thousands of foreign students we are shoving out of America, or the tens of thousands of engineers we won’t let come into the country to work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2013 @ 9:08am

    I am partial to an educational system that is based on achieving something.

    First graders should learn how to read because they need to read manuals to learn how to build the cool toys they will be playing with in the breaks.

    People should be learning math by having to build something that actually needs that math to be done, and it goes on.

    Carpentry would be engineering, math, physics, cooking would biology and chemistry.

    So it is good that kids actually get to build new apps if that is for fun with an underlying need for knowledge to achieve those goals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    The Real Michael, 24 Feb 2013 @ 6:36am

    This *contest* sounds like a golden chance to exploit our youth for free labor and ideas. If a bright young student did happen to come up with a successful app, someone else would inevitably pop out of the woodwork and claim ownership of their idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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