Thursday, September 13, 2007

Anyone Want 20 Million Bucks?

Google has put out a challenge to send a robot to the moon, have it travel around taking pictures and video, and then beam the media back to Earth. The first person to pull this off wins twenty million dollars, or up to thirty million if they pull off some extra stuff like lasting longer. The whole story is here from Wired.

Upon first reading this, I was like WOW COOL!!!! And I guess I'm still saying that. In addition, as part of a fundraising campaign, the NPO X Prize Foundation is initiating something called the Lunar Legacy Program. Anyone who donates 10 dollars to the program can upload a photograph to the X Prize Foundation's website, along with a message. The money is being used to fund the project, which I'm guessing involves paying the international panel of judges that are watching for under-the-table government handouts.

All those photos and messages are being put on DVDs and rocketed to the moon to be left as artifacts of human exploration. Pretty cool, actually. I think I'll do it. Here's the Wired article with more info.

However, after that "Wow Cool!" factor subsides a bit, I start thinking to myself, "wouldn't a more productive use of Google's money be some kind of donation to refugees out of Darfur or something?" Truthfully, being the world issues-ignorant son of a gun that I am, I don't even know if there are Darfurian refugees. But my point is hopefully clear: how important is this robotic space race? They say they hope to ignite innovation through holding the contest - innovation whose results will hopefully benefit humankind...somehow. Any ideas on how this might lead up to something beneficial? I'm worn out from a full day of school.

Oh, and for past 20 minutes or so, this random asian girl a few feet away from me has been snapping photo after photo of pages from a huge book. I can't be sure from this distance, but I think that camera is a Sony. She is taking some high quality pictures. Is that even legal? Maybe it is. I should read up on this stuff. For now I have to get back home because my buddy Stefan is coming over tonight to help me move furniture. Hey Google dudes, can I have 20 million if I get a chest of drawers down two flights of stairs without scratching anything? Please?

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At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

Ahhh the age old dilemma of money and how it gets spent. I read somewhere once that all the money spent on pets (food, bling collars etc.) could more than feed every single malnourished person on the globe. Think about that one.
There's always going to be a huge gap in the distribution of wealth. At least they're spending it on something rather than just sitting on it.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger J.F. said...

As much as I agree with you about how many ways Google could better and more humanely spend its money, I have to disagree with either/or mentalities. Personally I'm of the opinion that if the world just focused its money it could help Darfurian refugees AND glorify humanity with stunts into the cosmos.


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