How Breaking The Rules Could Get You $250K From MIT Media Lab


On July 21, 2016, last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Media Lab announced the creation of an award for disobedience. The prize purse is $250,000, which will be awarded to an individual, or group that has shown extraordinary disobedience for the benefit of society.

MIT began accepting applications for the first-ever "Disobedience Award" last March 7 and will continue to accept nominations through May 1 this year. After which, nominations will be evaluated and to be followed by a live announcement during Media Lab's third annual summer event on July 21, 2017.

According to the department's website, MIT's Media Lab is offering $250,000, no strings attached, to an individual or group that challenges norms and boundaries peacefully to ultimately benefit society. According to Joi Ito, the director of MIT's Media Lab, "You don't change the world by doing what you're told."

However, mere disobedience or being rebels without a cause will not make the cut to win the award. MIT Media Lab are looking for living groups or individuals that seek to transform society by employing positive methods consistent with a set of key principles that include creativity, courage, non-violence and taking responsibility for one's actions, according to Boston Magazine.

To be eligible, the contest guidelines state that the recipient must have taken a certain amount of personal risk to affect society. Additionally, the award objectives are to build awareness and support disobedient work, alongside highlighting role models for young people.

In light of the uptick of large-scale protests around the country after the last elections have nothing to do with MITs contest, which was actually announced during summer last year. The co-founder and executive chair of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, reportedly funded the award.

Accordingly, MIT's Media Lab is giving out the prize as an experiment and might continue the contest in the future, should its first outing is successful.

Meanwhile, some individuals feel that civil disobedience is an outright violation of the law, no matter if the existing law is unjust. They also stipulated that giving money to anyone to break the law is a criminal offense.

Certain individuals noted that MIT needs to be slapped with a criminal offense for soliciting a crime, and have those involved arrested. Additionally, for inciting civil disobedience, perhaps MIT's Media Lab should give the award to themselves.

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