September 23, 2007
Prizes for Innovation
The appropriate role for prizes in spurring innovation and creative expression has yet to be fully articulated. But that prizes -- the awarding of large lump sums for achieving well-defined goals -- can induce important innovation cannot be contested. Consider the examples of the search for a means of measuring longitude, of developing a smallpox vaccine, and of getting manned, commercial aircraft into space (the $10 million Ansari X Prize).
Recently, the X Prize Foundation and Google announced a $20 million prize for the first private team to land an "unmanned vehicle on the moon, drive it for 500 meters, and send back high-quality videos." To win the full prize, the team must complete the task by 2012. If the goals are not achieved by that date but rather are completed by 2014, the prize falls to $15 million. The second-place team will win $5 million, and there are separate competitions and prizes for "detecting water, traveling farther, and surviving a lunar night."
Google has put up $30 million for the competition and will broadcast the lunar videos on its YouTube site.
September 8, 2007
Foster Parenting in Africa
Rich Akresh, a colleague in the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois, has studied the practice of raising foster children in Africa. The practice is extremely widespread and has some surprising results. Here's a summary of his work.
September 4, 2007
The lawyers for former Illinois Governor George Ryan have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to review en banc his conviction for corruption. The lawyers allege that Governor Ryan did not receive a fair trial because of some improprieties in juror behavior.
Today's Chicago Tribune reports on Judge Richard Posner's experience with juror misbehavior during a trial over which he presided. The article is here. Judge Posner's opinion is available here on the website entitled "Project Posner" that his former clerk and now Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu maintains.
September 3, 2007
I've just finished reading Ian Ayres' Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-the-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart (2007). What a marvelous work! I cannot recommend it highly enough.
September 1, 2007
The Summer has come and gone, and we have not been as faithful in our blogging as we should have been. One of the reasons for my silence has been working with Bob Cooter to get the fifth edition of Law and Economics completed. The book is now out, and we hope very much that you enjoy the many improvements. We are working very hard to get the Instructors' Manual, suggested answers, and the website all completed. Some of those materials will be up and running next week, and the rest will follow in short order. Our apologies for the delay.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to returning to blogging.