Change the World, and Win Fabulous Prizes

THE Internet is revitalizing an old stalwart in the innovation game: the prize as incentive.Every few weeks, some big new contest arrives. This month, Overstock.com, the online retailer, announced that it would sponsor a competition paying $1 million to the person or team who comes up with new technology that most improves its product recommendations. And Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation — a group known for its huge prizes for grand challenges, like private space flight — announced a $10 million competition for a smartphone application that could diagnose health problems as accurately as human physicians could.

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