2022 Hackaday Prize Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, April 13 at noon Pacific for the 2022 Hackaday Prize Hack Chat with Majenta Strongheart!

Let’s face it: this world is pretty broken right now. From environmental crisis to disease and famine, shortages of just about everything, infrastructure failures, not to mention wars and social breakdown, things are getting pretty hairy out there. While it’s tempting to just curl up and pretend everything is good, that’s probably not going to work as even a short-term plan.

Luckily, we hackers are uniquely positioned for situations like this. After all, we fix stuff, and we’re certainly living in a target-rich environment of stuff that needs fixing. What’s more, nothing gives us as much fulfillment as taking a situation that everyone else thinks is beyond help and turning it into a solved problem.

join-hack-chatThese are the times that people like us can really shine, and the 2022 Hackaday Prize is the perfect forum for that. With this year’s theme of Sustainability, Resiliency, and Circularity, there’s plenty of scope for all of us to make a contribution. To help us get kicked off, Majenta Strongheart, Head of Design and Partnerships at Supplyframe, will drop by the Hack Chat with all the details on this year’s Prize.

Come prepared to pick her brain on how the Prize is going to work this year, find out about the different challenge opportunities, and learn everything there is to know about this year’s competition. It’s the Greatest Hardware Design Challenge on Earth, and we need it now more than ever.

Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, April 13 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.

23 thoughts on “2022 Hackaday Prize Hack Chat

  1. I was considering funding a HAD contest about solving wealth inequality. (I have money set aside for the prize.)

    Basically, a completely fair trade simulation will show that wealth inequality will eventually arise, even when the trade is completely fair, and this indicates that such inequality is a feature of the mathematics and not from some unfairness that we have in our existing economy. This is shown by these simulations and the corresponding paper:

    physics.umd.edu (slash) ~yakovenk (alsah) econophysics (slash) animation (dot) html

    I reimplemented the simulations from that page on github so that anyone could download/compile and run it, with hooks in places where people could insert their own code, and was considering funding a challenge asking for the best way to modify the simulation to avoid wealth inequality. Is there a taxation mechanism that can help? UBI of some form? Lottery wealth?

    My take is that HAD wouldn’t be interested in a software-only challenge (ie – with no physical component such as a PCB).

    I’d be interested in any feedback people have on the idea. Is there a better site that would host the challenge?

    (There are restrictions on possible solutions. For example, a solution must always encourage people to earn, so you cannot just implement a maximum total wealth cap. You cannot have a solution that’s too complicated to implement in the real world, &c.)

    1. I was intrigued by the economics and ecotopia backstory in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge. He obviously put a lot of thought into it, and I sometimes wondered how to encourage the development of that kind of economic environment, but without a lot of people dying for it. Recommended reading, if you have a lot of time to kill — it’s pretty slow-paced stuff.

      1. Yikes.

        KSR is just full of BAD ideas.

        Like ideas you’d call bad if a middle schooler suggested them:
        We’ll go to mars, but completely fuck up the colonist selection process, so we end up with the contents of a grateful dead parking lot (3 hours after show ends) as our colonists. But it’s believable, because ‘all smart people are hippies, just ask any hippie.’ And it all works out, hippies chant over plants to make them grow in vacuum. That’s about where I stopped reading, not SF, fantasy.

    2. The problem is reasonably well studied, but there really aren’t well known solutions that don’t have their own bad side-effects, so I guess some extra solutions would be welcome.

      Now, a venue that might work better for such a software-driven contest would be Kaggle, but it would end up being a competition on how to game the simulation to give you the highest score, whatever metric you decide to use.

    3. I think you could frame it as a general “Solve wealth inequality” problem and it would make a great contest. Some people will want to work on macro issues, some will want to work on specific issues, some maybe hardware, some maybe software. Possibly you can pick some sub categories (hardware/physical, software, micro, macro, low tech, etc.).

      I’m not sure if there is a better site for such a contest, but consider reaching out to HaD, they may be able to provide better guidance.

    4. How in the world would you evaluate these things beyond “how much do I feel like this might do something.”

      Oh my math model shows that in this system people will all work as hard as they can to do their best even though no matter how hard they work wealth will be equal. Either that means that wealth being equal does not directly relate to material prosperity or it assumes people will work hard when they could work less hard for the same result. This idea has been tried before. It fails. People are greedy. Here I’ll save you the trouble. If I could put in varying amounts of work and receive an equal amount of wealth I would without hesitation pick the one with minimal work and maximum time to be with friends and family. I work hard to increase my wealth, not for my love of mankind.

    5. “solving wealth inequality” as if “it” needs a solution. People can create wealth. Why would they care how much someone else has? Anyway, I suggest it isn’t part of the math, it is human nature, the element that makes everything unpredictable.

    6. To me wealth is entirely the wrong metric, it should be quality of life inequality – when some folks can’t afford to eat properly and heat their abode, do the basic maintenance (or get the owner to do so when renting) despite in some cases working more than one job and heaps of hours combined that is wrong… Yes most of those folks are lower educated or troubled – perhaps burdened with a criminal record, learning difficulty etc, but still it is wrong for them to be left in such poor condition, especially if they are trying to be a productive member of society (how you want to treat the ‘incurable’ criminal class and mentally/physically ill that are not productive members of society at all is a slightly different and much more complex dilemma that isn’t directly relevant to talk on fiscal inequality or quality of life) – but that vastly underpaid menial job worker on their pittance is usually doing something rather important for the function of society as a whole, you’d rather miss the shelf stackers, cleaners, refuse collectors etc if they suddenly were not there…

      Afterall what use is a house so big you can’t actually use all the space in it, ever, even including having all your friends to stay and that costs you more to heat/cool than most folks spend on everything combined all year, or a Limo, supercar, giant SUV over a normal car – the stuff almost everyone in most places reading this can own – the fancy car doesn’t get you there any faster, isn’t going to be more economical to run, quite possibly isn’t even more comfortable, or reliable, its just a bloody fashion accessory wrapper around a relatively basic utility, that usually makes it less useful than the ones most folks have access to…

      You need huge wealth to to own the bling brands, no doubt some of the time it is actually also providing some useful additional service, but ultimately the quality of your life for having that brand name over cheaper stuff the middle and working classes own isn’t actually any better, and may actually be worse, as those fashion brands are about vanity and showing off, not actually being good at the task – give me a decent workman like tool anyday. Also I expect you can be stupendously wealthy on paper and have tougher financial problems than most of us – to keep your company functional, get customer or investment you need to look like everything is going to plan, so can’t go dumping the fancy goods that make you appear in control and successful (nor would all of your bling actually go that far in covering the following), but employing all your staff, paying for your buildings, utilities, contractor all of which you need to make/develop etc costs you a fortune and that one unexpected bump in the cashflow is too large to cover without the whole house of cards trying to tumble as soon as you don’t look like everything is fine and the existing investor pull out…

      So as much as it sounds like communism, a failed social experiment everywhere its been tried, having a basic level of quality of life really aught to be the goal – money need not be involved at all – if everyone for instance just got a basic ration of all the basic stuff required for a modern life and could end up upgrading and choosing extras with their earnings I would say that is perfectly good enough – if you end up earning a great deal you are apparently of value to society as a whole, even if nobody quite knows how that can be the case… (As somebody who has been on the receiving end of the UK’s reasonably good but always complained about social care payments this is to some extent what we do have here, its a bit of bureaucratic mess, often slow to react to changing costs of living and get processed initially, but still its not bad really, and in my case has been enough I don’t think I suffered from it, though that doesn’t appear to be true for everyone)…

    7. My wife and I spent a year working at a hospital in the third world and I can tell you from that experience that health inequity is caused by the same thing as other inequities, poverty is a state of mind. All of the disparities I saw come down to what a person didn’t know, so there is your solution in the abstract if you want to narrow down possible contenders for concrete solutions. Empower people through knowledge, and that means building and supporting the infrastructure required to do that while ensuring equitable access. That is the easy part because once you do that you will find your biggest problem is other people trying to interfere and block your efforts because the knowledge you offer empowers the poor in ways that makes them harder to control and exploit. So if you really want to solve the world’s problems you need to detect and cure psychopathy as it is the underlying driver of the behaviour of those who set up or pervert social structures so as to serve their own ends at the expense of everyone else. 1% of humans cause 99% of humanity’s problems.

    8. You don’t have a decent model for human behavior.

      At best: All you will do is optimize a system that works well for the theoretical humans you postulate.

      That’s also a fair criticism for your referenced simulation.
      People aren’t simply a bundle of supply/demand curves (but that is a decent first order approximation.)

  2. Come on you guys! You are killin me! Circularity? Yes, that is actually a word, but I don’t think it means what you think it means. Circularity is a measure of the roundness of something. You should use a different use case in this case.

    1. It is the same with hot-issue research in hard-science and medicine. No matter how much money you throw at it, there are only so many top notch researchers willing to fish on a crowded stream.

      These directed creative goals are too much like high school general math or physical science classes today. “OK class. Now that we have done 3 days on linear programing I want you to gather in your cooperative activities groups and brainstorm on how to prevent sea-level rise. Remember to use the brain-storming diagrams and take turns writing your ideas on the sunflower diagram.

    2. Yup!

      Although I’d argue that it’s a lot less restrictive than the Sci-Fi Contest for instance. (https://hackaday.com/2022/03/10/announcing-the-2022-hackaday-io-sci-fi-contest/)

      My hot take: limitations inspire creativity, and necessity is the mother of invention. The Hackaday Prize combines both, so we expect lots of creative mothers.

      But what would you like to see next? We’re always on the lookout for good contest ideas!

      1. I like to see instrumentation that was once unaffordable or impossible reduced to a hobby project. SDR might be an example. And I include very narrow elements that are useful in many fields, like photon counting, the various spectrometers we have seen, spectrophotometers, any cryo equipment and vacuum gauges, seismographs that can be calibrated to true ground motion, synthetic aperture radio telescopes using arrays of old sat dishes. How about DIY LVDT position sensors or interferometry based position and motion sensors. Ultra-high resolution angle sensors. The surplus market is loaded with excellent photo-multiplier tubes and pulse height analyzers use some analog front ends in order to get and energy of a pulse. Given the speed of ADC’s and processors (2MHz 12 bit in STM32F4xx adn faster) can one directly digitize the signal and calculate the energy and do it better? I would like to see a list of possibles developed from reader input.

  3. Man, the level of ambition in the comments here seem to want to elevate a future HaD prize to some sort of philosophical/political ‘lets totally save the world!’ project right along the lines of the girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth who suddenly “knew what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything”.

    Sadly there’s no way I’m ever going to be that clever enough to even contemplate such an endeavour when all I can do is design, solder, machine, CAD, print, weld, measure, program, fit and turn, repair, adjust, analyse and collaborate.
    Seems that meagre list of skills coupled with a soldering iron, lathe, welder, oscilloscope, Arduino, Python, flashing LEDs and even the mighty 555 would still not be enough to submit an entry for the for the type of grandiose blue-sky competition discussed here, I’m afraid you’re going to have to include me out.

  4. Technical solutions have their place, but most problems are either:
    1. The unintended consequences of helpful people. Most places that experience occasional famine would have a population of zero if not for charitable organizations. Zero people = zero deaths, zero famine.
    2. Caused by busy people shirking personal responsibility. e.g Smart phone apologists complaining about privacy. Californians draining massive lakes while complaining about the environment. Six figures in your 401k, but appalled at WellsFargo’s business model. Vote for politicians to pass more laws while complaining about how many people are in jail.

  5. Not sure the logic there.
    Of the 57 projects currently submitted to the Sci-Fi Contest, about 50 are attempting to shoe-horn a pedestrian project into a Sci-Fi category, some not even trying. The most ‘Sci-Fi-ish’ project is a 3D printed diorama.

    The ‘creative mothers’ gave birth to Arduino motor driver with steam-punk patina.

    Next contest: “Save California’s Water Supply” ..entry must demonstrate a technological solution to this easily solvable societal problem. Solution must not reduce CA consumption, just find a way to steal water from neighbor states like Nevada without them complaining.

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