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Canada The Almighty Buck Science

Cricket Reactor Inventor Says $1mil Prize Winners Stole His Work 131

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-just-not-cricket dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A group of Montreal MBA students took home this year's million-dollar Hult Prize, winning a competition for socially innovative business ideas that calls itself 'one of the planet's leading forces for good.' But now the ethics of the winners and the prize committee are being called into question. McGill PhD researcher Jakub Dzamba says that after he supplied the idea and design behind their pitch, products of years of development work, the team reneged on its promises to make him a partner and is instead taking credit for his work. Apparently, Hult knew about the issue before it awarded the prize." Yes, these are the students whose win garnered $1 million awarded by Bill Clinton.
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Cricket Reactor Inventor Says $1mil Prize Winners Stole His Work

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  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:10AM (#44977883)

    It's a necessary consequence of embedding a philosophy of selfishness that people will ultimately bend the rules in their favour.

    An MBA school is one of the most optimised breeding grounds for this behaviour.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @06:32AM (#44978139)

      MBA programs: making bigger assholes.

    • by ScooterComputer (10306) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @07:03AM (#44978201)

      I would posit that this case does NOT reflect a "philosophy of selfishness", but instead a "philosophy of greed". Often the two, selfishness and greed, are conflated. I often read treatises dedicated to trashing Ayn Rand for her promotion of "selfishness", with the writers either cluelessly or maliciously misrepresenting her position. The "philosophy of selfishness" does not entail stealing others' ideas, failing to credit and compensate them; in fact, that is theft, a hallmark of greed, and the very kind of behavior that Rand attributed to the "takers". Selfishness is good, it is what is driving Mr. Dzamba to vociferously defend his work. It is even what is partially driving the Hult team. However, and given McGill's Office of Sponsored Research findings, the Hult team has veered into Greed as it has seemingly decided to take from Mr. Dzamba what it did NOT work to produce. Just as with Reardon metal, this design does not belong to them.
      What I find surprising [although with Mr. Clinton's name attached perhaps not so] is that the Hult International Business School would award such a large price ($1M USD) to a project where the central design itself is so seemingly encumbered. One would think that a basic tenet of their Prize would either be outright originalism or profound derivation. Nothing less should be worth $1,000,000.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by thaylin (555395)
        First of all selfishness, especially in the way Rand describe it, is not good. It is a means to escape repercussions for the persons action.

        Second this person was not selfish in any way, he shared his ideas with this team, he did not have to do this.. The greed AND selfishness came from the team.

        • by fredprado (2569351) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @11:52AM (#44979393)
          On the contrary. Selfishness as Ayn Rand describes, is based on taking responsibility and credit for you and your actions, and not behaving like a child and depending on someone else to provide for you and to take responsibility for your well being.

          And if this person was not selfish at all he would have let his team take credit for the work, win the million dollar prize and go on and never even mentioned it. It was selfish and nothing else that made him take action and claim to himself the credit for his work, and that is a good thing.
        • by stenvar (2789879)

          Rand style selfishness means that the market rewards people based on what they ccntribute and penalizes them based on the errors they make. That is a good thing.

          As for this case, Rand-style selfishness has nothing to do with it: these are a bunch of people sqaubbling over a prize that's arbitrarily awarded by a committee. If any of these people had a valuable idea, they wouldn't be making money from prizes, they'd be makig money from selling what they created.

          • Markets describe price not value.
            • by kwbauer (1677400)

              Market forces say the price is basically determined by the value people place on something. In other words, price and value while not the same thing are tightly coupled enough to be used interchangeably in some contexts.

              • False. Price has no consideration to externalities. Further, with respect to the two parties engaged in a transaction price is below what te buyer values a good at and above what a seller values it at. The market fan not organiclly set price to value.
                • Not false.

                  That is precisely how the market DOES organically set price to value.

                  A seller is free to set a price on his product at whatever he wants.

                  If this price is at or below the perceived value of the product, then consumers will buy it. If it is below the perceived value, then consumers will buy more (each consumer buys more units or more consumers will buy). If the price is higher than perceived value, then consumers just won't buy it. They'll either find alternatives or just do without.

                  That's how the m

                  • Reread the sentance you quoted. That is where your overlap lies. But as I described, the value to the two parties isn't the whole of the value. Since your stuck on econ 101, can I instead direct you to utility theory. As sophmoric understanding of economics is all that's required to easily see that you infact are intentionally biasing your definition of value.
                  • by kwbauer (1677400)

                    Obviously not in the marxist courses that Lord Lemur seems so well versed in.

                  • by Jahta (1141213)

                    Not false.

                    That is precisely^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h theoretically how the market DOES organically set price to value.

                    FTFY. The theory assumes Perfect Competition [wikipedia.org], something that has become increasingly rare in Western economies. There are many ways for sellers to distort the market to their own advantage, and the buyer's disadvantage.

                • by doccus (2020662)
                  Huh? How can anyone possible have such a bent logic, as to not instantly know that value MUST directly determine price. It is simply that value is a, well, "value" judgement, and price is the next inevitable step, which ascribes a "trading value" to it..
                  • If you don't grasp that free markets don't encapsulate externalities in prices, and that this often causes trye value to diverge from pruce than whomever paid for your education should demand a refund.
                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      If you don't understand how markets and governments account for externalities, you really understand neither economics nor government.

                • by stenvar (2789879)

                  Further, with respect to the two parties engaged in a transaction price is below what te buyer values a good at and above what a seller values it at.

                  False. Price has no consideration to externalities.

                  First of all, that sentence makes little sense. But I don't see how that is any different for "value". You may value your diamond broach a great deal, and the fact that dozens of people died in digging up the diamonds that it is made from doesn't change the value you place on it. So what's your point?

                  But when t

                  • Your speaking of individual value, I am not. As far as price determination, I trust you understand how supply vs demand works. The difference between value and price on each side is the economic incentive to engage in a transaction, aka profits. Without difference between value and price there is no incentive to exchange the good or service for money. I have stated several times that price doesn't inclued externalities, and that is one of the reasons that value, to the market, the true value of a good or se
                    • by stenvar (2789879)

                      Your speaking of individual value, I am not. As far as price determination, I trust you understand how supply vs demand works. The difference between value and price on each side is the economic incentive to engage in a transaction, aka profits. Without difference between value and price there is no incentive to exchange the good or service for money.

                      You are simply echoing a muddled version of the Marxist theory of "value". In fact, profits are simply the money people get paid for their capital investment,

        • by greenbird (859670)

          First of all selfishness, especially in the way Rand describe it, is not good. It is a means to escape repercussions for the persons action.

          You need to reread the GP post. You are a perfect example of the reference to "writers either cluelessly or maliciously misrepresenting her position".

          Actually what Rand wrote and the philosophy she advocated means exactly the opposite of what you state here. It truly amazes at the number of people who misrepresent Rand's beliefs and philosophy as being pretty much the exact opposite of what it is. You can't possible have actually read her works and draw the above conclusion. What Rand advocated is total res

          • Uhhh, what is it that Rand is advocating and railing against?

            • You're to poor to understand.
            • by greenbird (859670)

              Uhhh, what is it that Rand is advocating and railing against?

              I'm guessing she isn't railing against anything at the moment since she's been dead for over 30 years.

              I can't really sum up Objectivism [wikipedia.org] in a /. post but a few current events that I'm sure have her rolling over in her grave:

              1. Government supporting and propping up corrupt inefficient corporate entities (e.g. various banking corporations, auto manufacturers).
              2. Innovative productive entities having there innovation disrupted or stolen by non-productive entities through far overreaching "Intellectual Property" rig
      • by Anonymous Coward

        This is why Randian objectivism is nonsense. It does not matter if Rands philosophy of selfishness entails stealing from others or any of the other negative consequences of selfishness that Rand ignores, or are just magically not present in her idealized benevolent philosopher capitalist aristocracy. Rand chose to entangle her philosophies with capitalism. Theft, selfishness, greed are all consequences of capitalism, that will always win out over the rare heroic capitalists of rands fantasy world. Rand b

        • by kwbauer (1677400)

          If you remember that she saw what the opposite of capitalism did to her "home" country, you might find that the alternative is worse.

        • classically libertarian collectivist society

          Your failure to recognize that phrase as self-contradictory shows that you have no clue what you're writing about. Collectivism inherently includes such things as coercion and absence of property rights, whereas libertarianism requires property fights and shuns coercion.

      • Selfishness is good

        Wrong. I should know. I am the Universe come aware, experiencing itself. As such a selfless being I recognize that which is good: That which brings more complexity and knowledge and awareness into being. DNA does this, as does science, and art. These gather better information about the environment (myself) in the course of survival, or exploration and encodes it such that it can be re-expressed. It's a form of compression, as are memories themselves. Given enough information complexity and reflectio

      • by ultranova (717540)

        I would posit that this case does NOT reflect a "philosophy of selfishness", but instead a "philosophy of greed". Often the two, selfishness and greed, are conflated. I often read treatises dedicated to trashing Ayn Rand for her promotion of "selfishness", with the writers either cluelessly or maliciously misrepresenting her position.

        Selfishness and greed are conflated because, in common usage, selfishness means you're willing to screw others over to get (often short term) benefit for yourself, and greed i

        • Selfishness, for Rand, means making oneself the best person possible: wise, productive, sober, truthful, knowledgeable, etc.. The rewards for selfishness include monetary compensation and pride. Do you think that you can be proud of yourself if you know you've achieved wealth by screwing over others? If so, you're a hideous person, not a selfish person.

          Being selfish is often not easy. Improving one's own mind is selfish, it can require hard study and thinking. Being productive, producing a quality product,

          • "Selfishness, for Rand, means making oneself the best person possible: wise, productive, sober, truthful, knowledgeable, etc.."

            Usually, the one that first come to an idea is the one that gains the privilege to put a name to it. That's not "selfinesh", that's Plato's enlighted philosopher.

            "The rewards for selfishness include monetary compensation and pride."

            If she really said that, she was perfectly stupid, full stop.

            For this to work, your fellows have to be enlighted philosophers too and, if that's the cas

    • Zuckerberg better be watching his back.

  • by Anonymous Coward

      - Pablo Picasso

  • Sitting back waiting for the intelligent, insightful and informed posts explaining the merits of the two sides. Looking for the Anonymous Coward post by the informed insider.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:21AM (#44977909)

    These are MBA students.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bill Clinton and fraudsters? A good match.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Let them eat bugs!
      Bill will have the Maine Lobster, just give everyone else a bucket of crawdads or butterflied shrimp.
      Bugs R Good.

  • Lesson in Business (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrDoh! (71235) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:34AM (#44977935) Homepage Journal
    The 'winners' are about to learn some valuable lesson in winning a million dollars.

    They're going to end up owing some lawyers 1.2million.

    • by Monoman (8745)

      The 'winners' are about to learn some valuable lesson in winning a million dollars.

      They're going to end up owing some lawyers 1.2million.

      Don't worry they are MBAs they will make it up in volume. ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:44AM (#44977947)

    Not giving credit seems to be often "practiced" in some academic circles. I won't say all, because I don't know, but I have seen way to many instances of this, and was also a victim a few times.

    Researchers can be roughly divided into two types: creative and non creative. The latter is usually not very intelligent and even the simplest equations or physical phenomena may baffle them. But, they make it up by following the orders of their superiors, brown-nosing, schmoozing and taking credit for other's work. The latter is critical, because they would be unable to do any work by themselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This guy is a phd student and fails at the most basic of business rules: get everything in writing.

  • Who's side do you come down on with Zuckerberg & Winklevoss twins?

    Patent trolls? Lodsys going after the small developers after already having Apple pay for in-app license?

    I did an MBA a couple of years ago.
    It included a course on "ethics" which really did nothing other than help you self justify any action you took as being ok and easy on your conscious.
    I still write software, independently now. I did the MBA to learn how "they" think.

    As a lawyer once told me there's no such thing as "justice", only law

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:30AM (#44978027)

      I did an MBA a couple of years ago.

      Strange . . . usually, MBAs do you.

    • by pupsocket (2853647) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:48AM (#44978067)
      From the article: "The university, after reviewing both Dzamba’s work and the McGill team’s presentation, has filed a provisional patent application declaring Dzamba as the sole inventor, says Mark Weber, a commercialization officer at McGill’s Office of Sponsored Research. Members of the Hult team did not meet the criteria for co-inventor, he said, which includes both having the idea and having the ability to execute it. Dzamba had been working on the idea as part of his doctoral research before the Hult competition began: “[Dzamba] had the idea, and he knows how to do it,” Weber says."
      • by moosehooey (953907) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:27AM (#44978915)

        Having the ability to execute the idea isn't required to get a patent. By leaving off one of the inventors, they committed perjury.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Now no one can execute the idea without paying for a license from the real inventor who holds the patent.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The MBA students did not invent, they used his work with his permission to develop a business plan. They was a disagreement between the PHD student/inventor and the MBA students/business people and the MBA members booted him from the team. Unfortunately they forgot that his work is central to their efforts to secure further funding .... in other words they screwed him over just after the regional win and their actions have now screwed themselves over after the international win.

          MBA won a minor battle but lo

        • by mdielmann (514750)

          Having the ability to execute the idea isn't required to get a patent. By leaving off one of the inventors, they committed perjury.

          I disagree. Think about it rationally. If you can't actually describe how to perform the task or create the machine, what you have is a pie-in-the-sky idea. You can't file for a patent without describing how it works (supposed to, anyway). I'm sure reality doesn't completely follow this, but clearly if the people who are filing for a patent, and the purported inventor can't explain what is going on, shenanigans are likely to be found. What surprises me most about this is that that actually made a diffe

          • You're describing how it should work by what the law says, which is how it did a decade or two back.

            He's describing how it often works in practice now - WIBNIs.

            You're both right.

        • by quantaman (517394)

          I'm not sure how that's relevant. Dzamba invented the cricket reactor and created a business plan using it.

          What the Hult team did is take that invention (and probably parts of the business plan), make some additions and/or changes, and entered it into the competition. No one claims they had any part in inventing the original cricket reactor.

          What we don't know is how much of the prize was due to the work they did on the business plan, I think the product is the important thing but like everyone else here I'm

    • by MacTO (1161105)

      Upon reflection, I found that my bias was towards the technically able. That's true whether they are able to execute the project or not.

      The reason is simple enough: I've found that many people of many abilities are great at coming up with ideas. Yet they fail to actually take into consideration whether their ideas work, and what they will look like in their final form.

    • by pesho (843750)
      Oh get a clue please. Unlike any of the patent trolls you quote, the guy has developed a working prototype and a business plan to commercialize it. The five MBA's on the other hand have nothing without his invention. Here is how they describe their contribution (emphasis is mine):

      Our disruptive social enterprise, Aspire, aims to improve access to edible insects worldwide. We develop and distribute affordable and sustainable insect farming technologies for countries with established histories of entomophagy, or insect-consumption. Our farming solutions stabilize the supply of edible insects year-round, drastically improving and expanding the economic ecosystem surrounding insect consumption in the regions serviced. Not only do our durable farming units create income stability for rural farmers, they have a wider social impact by lowering the price of edible insects. This is central to our mission of increasing access to highly nutritious edible insects amongst the poorest, and therefore neediest, members of society.

      Take out Jacub Dzamba's technology and their contribution comes down to a bunch of hollow sentences.

  • by aralin (107264) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:24AM (#44978021)

    and nobody was at all suspicious? Right!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    'one of the planet's leading forces for good.'

    a million dollars

    You know, If I were a supernatural evil being dedicated to the complete overthrow of the human race, one of the cleverer ideas my minions might have come up with would be to go around looking for 'Good' people and giving each of them a lot of money.

    It's the most effective method I know of bringing out the worst in everybody.....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:49AM (#44978069)

    Their strongest arguments against including him are based on the idea that he has developed technology but that the Hult prize was for a business plan.
    Note however that Jakub Dzamba won 3rd prize in McGill University’s Dobson Cup Business Plan Competition in 2012: Dobson Competition [montrealgazette.com]

    The 2013 Hult prize winners from McGill University, according to Jakub, asked him to help on their entry and offered to get him listed as a team member or make him a partner in any business they started. It sounds like Jakub gave them substantial assistance if not the impetus for their entry.

    Hult Competition is not innocent:
    According to Jakub they reneged on their promises once it became apparent that the Hult competition would not let them add a 6th member.

    University complicit:
    According to the Huffington Post [huffingtonpost.ca] article the University Administration tried to get him to sign a gag order as part of a larger agreement.
    Also note that it was at this point that: "McGill would file a pending patent for the cricket farms Dzamba designed in his name alone." which was used as an argument against him by one of the team members:
    "McGill University, which values academic integrity and owns the patent, states unequivocally that our business has zero to do with Jakub," team member Jesse Pearlstein fired back.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Once assumes the 'Business Plan' is, search for a nearly developed idea, claim it as our own and, sell the idea. Now that's hardly a new idea in business, regardless of how many companies have been very successful at it, including Apple and M$ s prime examples.

  • by Phoeniyx (2751919) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @06:00AM (#44978079)
    I dunno about you. But, "in general", I have a tendency to believe a single PhD candidate over 5 MBAs. The more MBAs there are, even less I believe that group.
  • What is next? MBA-doctors replacing ones that have actual medical qualifications?

  • S.O.P. (Score:5, Funny)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail.cCOBOLom minus language> on Saturday September 28, 2013 @06:11AM (#44978101) Journal

    Get a nerd to do all the work, greedheads reap all the rewards. Same stuff he'd be facing on the job market.

  • Those who posture screw those who innovate is nothing new. Whatever your opinion on who best execute plans, the point is, shady behavior triumphed at a business prize centered around ethical business practices to do social good. Their entire mandate and philosophy formulated as a response to the financial crisis. All Hult had to do was select a team without controversy and make an effort not to look like dicks at the Clinton Global Foundation. How the foundation and the winning team can comfortably fail suc
    • by russotto (537200)

      Whatever your opinion on who best execute plans, the point is, shady behavior triumphed at a business prize centered around ethical business practices to do social good.

      This IS social good. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one; they screwed one guy to help 5.

  • You gave it away for others to think about and perhaps improve. Don't want the risk, don't tell anyone.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:36AM (#44978639)

    The headline starts with the words "Cricket Reactor" but there doesn't seem to be any mention in the summary of the comments of crickets, or reactors
    This is Slashdot so I didn't read RTFA

    I am guessing that Cricket refers to the insect rather than the sport played by India, Pakistan, The West Indies, Australia, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

  • in this day... not getting an agreement in writing? Dumb.

    You don't need a lawyer to do this sort of thing. Write on a napkin "this is how the arrangement works" and sign it.

    When you go to court... show that to the judge... the judge will ask if those are the your signatures... end of dispute.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @12:52PM (#44979757)

    This is the kind of management you'll be facing when you get out in the real world. There are herds of guys with this mentality being churned out by US business programs. They think that their "vision, drive, and leadership" is more important than your ideas and hard work. Don't be modest. If you come up with a great idea make sure everyone knows it was YOU and and not some 20-ish up-and-coming bureaucrat who will invariably take credit for it when you're not around or voicing a contrary opinion (I know from experience!).

  • by pesho (843750) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:05PM (#44979827)

    The dispute will not prevent the McGill team from competing for the Hult Prize. While the origins of the cricket farm device are in dispute, Michael Lu, a vice president at Hult International Business School, which sponsors the competition, says the judges focus more on the business model than the device itself. Hult organizers believe “the designs provided are not central to the McGill team’s business idea and therefore did not contribute to them either winning the Boston regional round or their prospects of winning the $1 million prize,” Lu says.

    Translation: Screw the guy who made things happen, this is a prize designed to reword the assholes who are best at stealing.

    I am very interested to learn how would the so called "business model" work without the actual invention? Is it something like we collect the investors money, split them between ourselves and go play some golf.

  • I am always amazed at how people who seem smart do such dumb things.
  • by Eternal Vigilance (573501) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @02:10AM (#44983683)

    "The mandate of the competition," Dzamba notes, "is to instill business ethics among college and university students..."

    Hmm, steal the winning idea, take the prize money, threaten to sue the original inventor...I'd say the competition succeeded.

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