Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman has bankrolled an experimental, one-time prize of $250,000 that the Media Lab will award for research that harnesses "responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging the norms, rules, or laws that sustain society's injustices?"
The prize was announced at last week's Forbidden Research summit, where the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced its lawsuit against the federal government, which challenges the provisions of the DMCA that ban breaking DRM; and where Snowden and Bunnie Huang announced their device for discovering when phones have been compromised by governments.
This prize is a one-time experiment that, if successful, we will consider repeating in the future. It will go to a person or group engaged in what we believe is excellent disobedience for the benefit of society. The disobedience that we would like to call out is the kind that seeks to change society in a positive way, and is consistent with a set of key principles. The principles include non-violence, creativity, courage, and taking responsibility for one's actions. The disobedience can be in — but is not limited to — the fields of scientific research, civil rights, freedom of speech, human rights, and the freedom to innovate.
(Disclosure: I am the volunteer activist-in-residence at the MIT Media Lab)