Google opens voting on ideas to change the world

After being swamped with proposals, Google lists finalists in Project 10^100

After being overwhelmed with 150,000 ideas in 25 different languages on how to change the world, Google Inc. has whittled down the field to 16 finalists in its Project 10^100 competition.

Pronounced "Project 10 to the 100th," the effort has been in the works for the past year. First concocted in September 2008 to celebrate the company's 10th anniversary, the project sought ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible. Up for grabs is project funding from a $10 million pool that Google is putting up.

Idea submissions were due last October and Google originally was scheduled to release a list of finalists last January. Because of the large number of entries, that deadline slipped, as did another one in March.

"We hoped to capture the imagination of people around the world and offer a way to bring their best ideas to fruition," wrote Google's Project 10^100 Team, in a blog post yesterday. "We were overwhelmed by the response. You sent us more than 150,000 ideas (approximately 10^5.2) in more than 25 languages and it took more than 3,000 Googlers in offices around the world to review the submissions."

Now, the list of finalists has arrived.

Rather than individual ideas, Google yesterday released a set of 16 idea themes. The team noted in the blog that so many ideas shared common threads that instead of picking individual idea submissions, they pooled ideas into common themes or goals.

Themes range from developing new mass transportation technologies to building a real-time, user-reported news service, creating a real-time natural crisis tracking system and creating a genocide monitoring and alert system.

Users can vote on their favorite ideas over the next two weeks and then an advisory board at Google will factor in the results when they choose up to five winning ideas to receive funding. After that, Google will ask individuals and groups for proposals on putting those ideas to work.

"It has been a long road for those of us who have worked on this from the beginning," the team wrote. "Although it took a lot longer than we first planned, we're pleased with the outcome.... We enjoyed going through so many interesting proposals and adapted to the massive volume of ideas."

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