David Ma • almost 10 years ago
technical solution ruled ineligible due to 'insufficient' disclosure for public gallery
First, this is nothing against the challenge managers who made the ineligible ruling. They have been prompt and courteous in explaining to me why the ruling came down to such. I have accepted their interpretation and final ruling. The main issue is that this challenge is really a science fair instead of solicitation for serious ideas to a serious problem.
What came down is this self-contradicting clause in the challenge rules:
"(i) The text description must describe how the Solution functions or would function, if implemented. The text description will be displayed publicly on the Competition Website and should not include proprietary information."
This clause really means is that you can have your rights to privacy and intellectual property but your hard work is forfeited if you don't disclose enough to our public gallery.
Prior to making my submission official, I seek official statement on the submission rights to intellectual property in this forum and received assurance that nondisclosure and IP can be assured by submitting the materials only in the nonpublic file attachment entry. I made my submission in the form of a formal technical paper, which contains a cover page with the abstract of my solution, sections including: description, operating principle, design and implementation of the Solution and answers to three questions posed by the Challenge rule. All these is contained in a single pdf file. For the public display, I entered a very brief descriptive title of my solution fearing that anymore disclosure will disclose too much proprietary details.
After the deadline, I learned that my submission was ruled ineligible due to challenge manager does not view what I provided for the public gallery sufficiently explaining what I wanted to do. I offered to make public display of the content in the already accepted technical paper thus surrendering my rights of non-disclosure and patent potential. The offer was rejected on the ground that it will be altering the public gallery submission. Note that I did not argue to alter the content of my submission in anyway but rather allowing the challenge to display a previously agreed nonpublic document. The ruling came down to that the Challenge cares more about an inconsequential public gallery display than the actual technical solution. This is a ruling for high school science fairs, not a professional solicitation of important issue. I know because I was a judge for high school science fair and have been a professional investor for two decades.
Again, this is not against the challenge managers who are simply following the rules set up where public appearance dictates how ideas are brought to the decision makers. I sincerely hope that the judges can find a gem in the hundreds of what I have seen as mostly amateurish entries in the public gallery in combating the robocall epidemic. What I do know is that they will see one less idea than they could have because the way this challenge is set up: a science fair for the general public with a paper thin facade of serious professional intention.
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