Sunday, December 06, 2009

MIT's excuse of a victory: DARPA's Red Balloons

MIT acted as a broker to the DARPA project by dividing the winnings according to a race-reward-sharing model for anyone who delivered the coordinates to MIT. They acted more like HBS than MIT on this one. In my opinion this test demonstrates that the Web and social networks are not ready to rival institutions who can basically shortcut and inject themselves as brokers. Additionally, very little was learned or demonstrated as MIT hijacked to potential innovations that could have to emerged from the challenge. MIT won by bribing instead of innovating. MIT should not exhibit confidence in the victory. MIT's victory did not teach DARPA was that wars can be won by trade and economics; the history of conflicts have thought us that very well. I am disappointed in MIT's approach and feel for all who tried to use new technologies to discover new ways to gain awareness.

See CNN's MIT wins $40,000 prize in nationwide balloon-hunt contest.


Brad said...

How can you be mad at MIT for sharing their winnings with the people who provided the material? The submitted balloon entries were culled from the internet by members, not visually sighted. We need to look at their algorithms for sorting through the submissions they got, not whining about how much of a role money played in a money-prized contest.

thierryhubert said...

Because in this case innovation advancement is not what MIT used. Their model for winning was about leveraging their brand to gather information instead of thinking out of the box. The algorithm is not that impressive if you use basic correlation to see what emerges from the entries (especially since they are explicitly targeted entries and not inferred). I don't think that the money was significant enough... this is more about the brand and the easy data collection model that is poor, and beneath what is expected from MIT.