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MIT offers $250,000 award for breaking the rules

Posted at 9:06 AM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 09:06:39-05

MIT has created an award for rule-breakers. The university’s Media Lab announced this week it will award $250,000 to a group or individual for disobedience.

“You don’t change the world by doing what you’re told,” according to Joi Ito, the director of MIT’s Media Lab.

CAMBRIDGE, MA – FEBRUARY 22: The Maclaurin Building is shown on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology February 22, 2006 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“This idea came after a realization that there’s a widespread frustration from people trying to figure out how can we effectively harness responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging our norms, rules or laws to benefit society.” the department’s website says.

Protesters have taken to the streets often in the last few months — from the Women’s March to Standing Rock — but Ito is quick to explain the award is not a response to the the current political administration. The award was conceived last July, he said.

“You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you’re told, you get it for questioning authority,” Ito said. He mentioned the values embodied by people like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Galileo, the people who created the Environmental Protection Agency mirror website and activists in Bangladesh fighting for LGBTQ rights.

The eligibility requirements are simple: “The recipient must have taken a personal risk in order to affect positive change for greater society.” The winner will be announced in July.