In a somewhat odd series of events, the TED prize (associated with the eponymous talk-producing website, naturally) – normally $100,000 USD has increased to a total sum of $1,000,000. Moreover, the process by which the prize is awarded has changed slightly. To quote the organization’s blog post:

“But, while historically the prize has been awarded to individuals who then made a wish, this year articulating the big wish is done up front, with the idea getting heavy weight in the selection process.”

Remind you of anything? It’s is eerily close to the premise of Eden of the East.

In the anime, the Selecao had the luxury of a known penalty – in the form of punishment via the mysterious Supporter. However, they also had the benefit of acting in anonymity. With the TED Prize, these rules are reversed. People are nominated; and selected by a judging committee based on the strength of their ideas to save the world. After that, the actions they take are public, and generally quite publicized. However, much like Eden of the East, just about anyone is eligible for nomination, which should garner a fairly large sect of the population.

One has to wonder if the same moral issues will arise in this new TED Prize as for the characters of Eden of the East. What would you do, if given the opportunity to save the world, and a reasonable amount of money to do so? Would there be no temptation at all to act in self interest? The thing that interests me about the TED setup is that ultimately, all ideas would be of self-interest to the person doing the nominating; just as in Eden of the East, we’d all go about saving the world in a slightly different manner.

With a million dollars, and a mandate to save the world, what would you do? Would you want that kind of responsibility at all?