Happy birthday Internet, here’s $40,000

balloon

Darpa has another contest coming up. You may remember some past Darpa competitions, like the 2007 Urban Challenge. Where hackers, engineers, and scientists alike came together to build autonomous vehicles. The game this year is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Internet.

The rules are simple enough, find a bunch of red balloons and mark their latitude and longitude. The hard part? There is only 10 balloons – spread across America. It will take an extreme amount of social network engineering, but it all pays off with first place receiving $40,000.

45 thoughts on “Happy birthday Internet, here’s $40,000

  1. First person to destroy one gets an award (or arrested)
    Has each one got security? Or is that part of the challenge, find where they were before they got destroyed. :p

    How long are they going to be around for?
    Annoyingly I’m not in America but sounds fun.
    Go on Sparkfun!

  2. “I would be curious to see if you could spot a floating objet in google earth.”

    Presumably tied down or the organisers would not know where they were either.

  3. It’s the first ten locations of ARPANET. If you look on Wikipedia at the history of the internet, the ARPANET was established as a 4 node network on December 5th 1969, and the map of the TCP/IP test network of January 1982 shows 10 nodes connected to the ARPANET. Check it out and tell me if I’m wrong…

  4. “First person to destroy one gets an award (or arrested)”

    Better than that, set up another 89 at various other locations.

  5. “It’s the first ten locations of ARPANET. If you look on Wikipedia at the history of the internet, the ARPANET was established as a 4 node network on December 5th 1969, and the map of the TCP/IP test network of January 1982 shows 10 nodes connected to the ARPANET. Check it out and tell me if I’m wrong…”

    Sounds good, we’ll just have to wait and see. When is it anyway? Today?

    “Better than that, set up another 89 at various other locations.”

    Brilliant idea!
    Who lives in america?
    Who knows where to buy big red balloons?

  6. This is awesome. I could see this being turned into a movie where the character hacks satellites way to easily with a simple GUI and wins in like 15 minutes.

    All while impressing a girl, or saving a puppy, or helping the elderly.

    oh and 277480, let’s not get into a semantics war. It was posting grammatically incorrect, and has thusly been ripped for it. BTW the term you are looking for is collective noun. Which in this instance, it is not.

  7. “I will give anyone $1,500 dollars if YOU give me coordinates to ONE of the 10 balloons and I WIN the competition. Your balloon coords must not have all ready been submitted by someone else. willna@rocketmail.com

    That’s hardly fair, you should give them $4000 or more if it’s one that’s hard to find

    Mowcius

  8. “celebrate the internet… post 10,000 fake red balloons.”

    We’ve got until december 5th to find a supplier of a couple of hundred large red weather balloons

    Come on eveyone, have a bit of fun. Should make it more challenging anyway.

  9. “Ebay, the source for sabotage”

    HAHA! nice, never thought of it like that till now. Ebay, for all your black market needs.

  10. I agree with and highly encourage the posting of fake weather balloons. Create an underground site where we can track fake balloons and we extend the likelihood of faking the real ones by ourselves as the noise:signal ratio increases.

  11. “get 40,000 people to help, they all get 1$”

    Actually, they’d each get only 55 cents, after the prize is taxed at the maximum tax rate of 45%.

    Assuming the money will probably be distributed by paypal, reduce that 55 cents by the transaction fee of 35 cents and every participant gets two shiny new dimes. :P

  12. I’m rather disappointed everyone’s talking about sabotage, rather than actually how to win.

    My idea for finding them would be a few carefully crafted google image searches of facebook and twitter for all posts with the words red baloon between when the baloons are put up and taken down, then search the text matches for any locations or landmarks, then using md5 and simple image recognition, remove all duplicate images. Of course, this is well beyond my skill set. I might try anyway using a bash script. (maybe wget and grep will be enough)

  13. “then using md5 and simple image recognition, remove all duplicate images.”

    Yes how-ever you will possibly have hundreds of images taken from different camera of the same balloon. It would be hard for a computer to know that 100 different images are the same balloon or not. It would only eliminate copies of the same image. Reducing your count by half or so. Still very hard to do. How-ever a keyword search on places like MS, FB, Twitter, etc. might yield better results.

  14. What I would do if I was any good a programming is create an an Android application that lets users take a picture of the balloon and the DARPA representative (to help weed out fakes) and record the GPS location. Then just offer up $2000 to the first 10 people to submit correct locations if I win the competition. Also having an iPhone app would be even better, but I don’t know if there is enough time to get it approved.

  15. Cutting off the noise from the signal will be the issue there.

    So the one who make noise and know it will be the winner.

    If you want to make money, may be you should not try to find the 10 balloon, but sell the location of one to a TV or some media independently of them winning the price, if the story get enough attention they might be interested in being the first media to reveal the location.

    But with that money involved i predict a DOS attack on the DARPA website or at least hack attempts. Maybe the DARPA website will resist, but what about the competing websites?
    Well maybe that will turn in a Internet security test after all!

  16. To what ends would someone go for 40gs? What is DARPA’s goal?

    Exactly. Why would the Defense Department want to know how quickly a group of Americans could organize themselves to identify and locate a similar event happening in different places around the country? Why would anyone want to help them? All power to the ebay baloon buyers! Unless they’re really trying to see how fast they can dive up the price of an obscure commodity on ebay. Or maybe they want to see how many people will intentionally sabotage a Defense Department project, if only given the chance. Or maybe..

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