Web3 in Science: How DeSci and Blockchain Might Help Science Progress More
Web3 technology and the use of cryptography techniques might gradually become larger than life. Its usage and application are on their way to reaching the mainstream audience as well as several industries. We are seeing artists, musicians, game developers, tech conglomerates leveraging Web3 to reap benefits. Moreover, a lot of research and development in Web3 technology is already underway. Another such attempt is already underway by some of the brightest minds working together to use Web3 in science. DeSci is exploring Web3 and its features to address the problems evident in science. In a recent DeSci London conference, the apparent theme was the challenges in Sciene and how Web3 can play a part in providing solutions. But does Science really need Web3? Or does Web3 really has a solution to the problems in science?
DeSci London and Web3
DeSci, as the name suggests, is working to decentralize science and empower researchers working in it. Their projects have a broad scope, with goals ranging from enhancing publishing infrastructure to advancing research in longevity, rare diseases, climate technology, and synthetic biology.
Despite the challenges of a global economic slowdown and another cryptocurrency crash, the DeSci community seems to be expanding. This is evidenced by the success of the DeSci London conference, which was held at the esteemed Crick Institute and featured an impressive lineup of speakers and supporters, attracting hundreds of attendees over the course of two days.
The conference had two overwhelming themes; science has problems, and crypto is the panacea.
Challenges evident in Sciences
According to the experts’ panel, science and scientists have a vast array of problems. Although the first claim is compelling, it is not unique to the DeSci movement. There is a complex set of challenges that hinder our ability to advance scientific progress, including issues with funding allocation, data accessibility, intellectual property management, and the disproportionate influence of institutions. DeSci participants are of the view that Web3 will play a critical part in providing solutions to these problems as a significant accelerator and enabler.
Some of the community members in science do argue that there is no ‘need’ for Web3. Web3 guarantees transparency, DAOs, and an innovative reward system. However, there are several examples of independent organizations working successfully without using Web3. There are open-source programs or projects like Linux Kernel, Wikipedia, PubMed, and open-source libraries. These projects are running successfully without the intricacies and complexities of blockchain, crypto wallets, ledgers, and decentralized computer storage.
DeSci and Web3 Benefits
New Funding Venues for Science
Elsewhere, it has been elegantly explained that there are intriguing possibilities to revolutionize scientific research funding by incorporating cryptocurrency principles. While the web3 stack is not a prerequisite for these opportunities, its formalization of concepts such as quadratic funding could prove beneficial. VibeBio is one such company venturing into this realm.
Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not simply to utilize blockchain for funding allocation, but rather to improve scientific research. This entails achieving outcomes such as
One of the main objectives of revolutionizing scientific research funding through the implementation of crypto principles is to increase the overall amount of funding available. This is achievable by widening the pool of both funders and recipients, ensuring that more individuals and organizations have access to funding opportunities. Additionally, streamlining the allocation process and shortening the time it takes to distribute funds can have a significant impact on research progress. Ultimately, the aim is to enable more useful research to be conducted. Including replication studies, which can help to verify and build upon existing research findings.
Others have already effectively articulated the potential for IP-NFTs (as demonstrated by the work of Molecule) to transform the field of scientific innovation by creating clear pathways for the allocation and management of the intellectual property. There is good reason to believe that this approach could revolutionize the landscape of research and development. In fact, it is even possible to extend this approach to patient data. This will allow for more secure and transparent sharing of this critical information.
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