William Cukierski, a PhD candidate in biomechanical engineering at Rutgers University in New Jersey, is describing what sounds like a garden-variety online-gaming compulsion. "It's pretty addicting," he says.
[...] Increasingly, though, Kaggle competitions that don’t pay are the exception rather than the rule. In one ongoing contest, the Heritage Provider Network (HPN), a physicians’ group in California, is offering a $3 million pot to the team that comes up with the algorithm that best predicts which patients will be hospitalized in the next year. But with 1431 teams competing, the odds of winning the prize are minuscule. Which is to say, most Kaggle contestants aren’t in the competition for the money any more than Cukierski is. They’re in it for the sport.