In Project 10 to the 100th, the generous geeks at Google have launched a $10 million competition for ideas to change the world. There is only one simple rule:
As with all-things-Google, this contest is rich in all the ironies of Google-thought. The most obvious mathematical irony is that Project 10 to the 100th only has eight categories for changing the world and thus helping people:
- Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?
- Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
- Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
- Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?
- Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
- Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?
- Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
- Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don't fit into any category at all.
Yes, of course, both these categories and the contest itself are noble (certainly more commendable than Larry Ellison's unpublic-spirited investment in yachting or Steve Jobs' chronic myopia to anything outside Apple). But I'm not satisfied with the categories. For symmetry's sake, why not increase the 8 categories to 10, get rid of "everything else" and include Government, Faith and Peace in the list:
- Government: How can we help people build better government institutions?
- Faith: How can we help people's of different faiths talk to one another?
- Peace: How we can eradicate warfare?
It's the absence of a government category which is the most interesting. Google's libertarian bottom up model of deriving policy wisdom is an alternative rather than a supplement to government. Not satisfied to have cornered the market in the world's information, is Google now try to monopolize global morality?