Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomescienceA better way to finance and develop innovative ideas

A better way to finance and develop innovative ideas

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A common trope for those who denigrate Web3 is that it’s trying to solve a problem for ONE. It’s probably easy to see it that way when you often see celebrities flipping coins to enrich themselves and leaving their fans as bag bearers when the tokens hit zero. Or JPEGs of animals from the last 2021 cycle that are worth six and seven figures. I’ve been disappointed by these things too.

What if it’s not? What if Web3 is on the cusp of one of the most exciting times for building real value since the blockchain idea began? Welcome to Decentralized Science (DeSci).

DeSci is a movement that leverages blockchain technology to create a fair and equitable infrastructure for scientific research. It aims to improve the processes of funding, creating, reviewing, approving, storing, and disseminating scientific knowledge through the use of Web3 tools, including tokens, NFTs, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

By fostering an open and nurturing environment, DeSci seeks to enable community-led collaboration in science. All the tools we have been using to create social and monetary value can now be applied. The tech world would probably hate us if we could deliver this across all sectors, but starting with scientific innovation is a good thing.

One might be tempted to wonder why we need DeSci when we have had the traditional scientific method adding value for longer than most of us realize. Well, with a little research, you’ll realize that traditional science really does need a complete overhaul. The problems lie in publishing, reproducibility, funding, the way intellectual property works, and even the way data is stored.

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Publishing scholarly work is fraught with challenges, starting with the exorbitant fees charged by publishers. These publishers rely on the unpaid labor of scientists, reviewers, and editors to produce content, but they charge the public—who indirectly fund this research through taxes—high prices for access. Web3 tools have the potential to solve this problem, creating open access platforms that include legitimacy and incentive mechanisms, effectively bridging this gap. Without naming the guilty publications, I will just say that they are the best.

Ensuring reproducibility and repeatability are critical to high-quality scientific research. Reproducibility means that researchers can consistently achieve the same results, while reproducibility means that different groups can achieve the same results using the same methods. Native Web3 tools can incorporate these principles into scientific research, providing attestation for raw data, computational engines, and application results, all validated by a trusted network. This avoids problems with Important research on Alzheimer's disease which is allegedly fabricated.

The traditional model of funding scientific research is often inefficient and biased, resulting in long delays and a highly competitive environment. Web3 offers new funding models such as Retroactive funding of public benefits , Square Financing DAO governance and distinct incentive structures. These models promote a more equitable and efficient distribution of resources. Currently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund a large portion of all science in the country, leaving these unaccountable institutions to decide what research is legitimate and what is not. It seems like a broken model if you ask me. (The NIH and NSF together contribute about $57.5 billion in federal R&D funding, or about 33.6% of total federal R&D funding in 2022.)

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In traditional science, intellectual property is often trapped in universities or unused. Web3 offers a solution by ownership of digital assets through NFTs, creating transparent chains of value attribution that reward researchers and government agencies. IP-NFTs can also serve as keys to decentralized data repositories and can be combined with DeFi for funding, fueling a new research ecosystem. Personally, I can’t wait for NFTs that have actual utility, rather than the garbage that popular projects have been promising us for years.

Web3 technologies can dramatically improve accessibility and storage of scientific data. Distributed storage solutions ensure data resilience and availability even in the event of catastrophic events. Systems with sufficient, verifiable credentials can enable secure data replication, replication, and censorship resistance, enhancing collaboration. Decentralized public data solutions such as IPFS, Arweave, and Filecoin provide the foundation for open science, enabling researchers to create public goods without access restrictions or fees.

Now, take all of that and tell me there will come a time when we see a DeSci Summer happen with tokens that also take off in an unprecedented way. Instead of us shorting the 100th decentralized exchange or another 3000X worth of DeFi protocol, investors can start reading the whitepapers to understand where the next valuable company could come from. We will have the brightest minds working on the toughest problems instead of the next best Ponzi Tokenomics. That means social and monetary value at the same time.

Imagine if the next breakthrough drug, similar to Pfizer or Tylenol, could be funded through a decentralized and transparent process? Not only would this democratize funding for critical research, it would also ensure that rewards and recognition were distributed fairly across all contributors. DeSci has the potential to revolutionize scientific research, making it more inclusive, efficient, and innovative, paving the way for groundbreaking advances that benefit society as a whole. Maybe if we get this right, the T world will hate Web3 a lot.

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Note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CoinDesk, Inc. or its owners and affiliates.

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