back to article MIT win DARPA's flashcrowd balloon-hunt compo

An MIT-organised crowdsourced network of spotters was the first to locate ten large red balloons placed around the USA on Saturday, winning a $40k prize from DARPA. Most of the cash will be distributed among the network's members according to a simple formula whose design lay behind the MIT team's success. DARPA announced the …


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...MIT have proved that pyramid schemes work?

Or, at least, people can be convinced that they do work. :)


@Ian Ferguson

That was what I was just thinking, but you got there first!

(PS so if I reply to your post and someone then "upvotes" you, do I get half the value of the upvote...?)



*That is, all the money would be handed out only in the case of an infinite number of people in the chain.

Or as this is currency and can only be divided in cents, 17 people.

And the last one gets cheted out of 3 cents...


3 cents?

How can the last be cheated of more than .5 cents? Because 1cent is the maximum resolution you have?

It indeed gives a payout 17levels deep; if you look at it cumulatively (if each one above you loses a fraction of a cent, how much can you miss in total because of the granularity of coins?), the losses are here given and max out near 3/4 of a cent:

0- 2000

1- 1000

2- 500

3- 250

4- 125

5- 62.50

6- 31.25

7- 15.62 (half cent lost)

8- 7.81(quarter cent lost)

9- 3.90(5/8 cent lost)

10- 1.95(5/16 lost)

11- 0.97(21/32 cent lost)

12- 0.48(53/64 cent lost)

13- 0.24(53/128 lost)

14- 0.12(53/256 lost)

15- 0.06(53/512 cent lost)

16- 0.03(53/1024 cent lost)

17- 0.01(1077/2048 cent lost)

0.00(3125/4096 cent lost)

So if the chain is 17levels or deeper, then in total 3999.94 is paid out and 6cents (=sum of losses) are left for charity. Charity always receives!

Paris Hilton


So what exactly did this prove?

1. That the american government can give away $40k in the aid of research just before I'm sure thousands of Americans go homeless over Christmas....

2. That MIT (who bascially end up in US Government IT departments) can create a pyramid system.

3. Shown that they dont trust the central states to operate a computer.

Personnally I would rather spend 40k on a night in Paris....


Re: Confused (point 3)

4. but they do trust the back-woods hicks in TENNESSEE?!?

Yes, I'm aware not everyone from the wonderful state of Tennessee is a "back-woods hick," but really, there are actually some cities in the central US too (I'm SERIOUS! Stop GIGGLEING!).



So each person was given a unique link where they could spam around as much as they want to get other people to sign up.

Now where have I heard about something like that before...



Unless they put it in the middle of Casper or Cheyenne, it would have taken months, if not years, to find it. They made it too easy, I think.


@Confused.... AC

1. As anyone who is familiar with the grant process can tell you, the length of the process is such that there is no way to be able to anticipate the awarding of the grant, and therefore in this case cause the prize money to be given away at some predetermined-to-be advantageous time. I am currently busy filling grant forms on behalf of my unborn children, on the odd chance that they may someday become scientists. Fortunately, you don't even have to be good at filling the forms, you just need to be persistent, and get them in early!

3. They don't have much in the way of comp^H^H^H^H electricity in the midwest yet.

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