Drone strikes are great, except for when they kill our own soldiers, or, far more often, innocent civilians. Which happens quite a bit! The Air Force is apparently pretty desperate to mitigate this, so they're offering a cash prize.
And how much are they willing to pony up for the "Remote Human Demographic Characterization" challenge, which aims to discern "approximate age (adult, teen, child) and gender of small groups of people at a distance" before launching those rockets? $US20,000. Uhh. That sounds more like the prize purse at an amateur country singing competition, not an extremely important military research venture. For a governmental entity that's requesting $US170 billion in funding next year, 20 grand is like something you give your daughter a dollar to go buy an ice cream cone. Sadder still? The request only asks for a written proposal. Just an idea. It doesn't even have to work - it just has to sound like it might possibly work, somehow.
You'd think that for a problem - killing civilians - that stirs up so much terrible resentment in a region where resentment is already high, the Air Force might want to incentivise a little beyond pocket change, and might be a little more ambitious than a book report on advanced targeting. [Danger Room]