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What is DeSci? Ponzi or New Paradigm?

March 19, 2024

In conclusion

Crypto is slowly eating the world, and everyone seems to be rushing to decentralize everything. It started with decentralized finance, then decentralized infrastructure, and more recently, it spread its way into decentralized artificial intelligence. Now, crypto is taking over the world of science. Bro science at its very best! 

It makes sense, after all, that a world that has until now been dominated by big tech, big corporations, and big government hasn’t exactly had a direct benefit to the little guy, and the little guy is starting to make moves of his own. 

So what exactly is decentralized science? Is it just a bunch of lab-coat-wearing degenerates cooking up the latest ponzi with test tubes and microscopes? Or is it another step toward a better world? 

What is DeSci, and why is it needed?

Now, it is definitely worth pointing out that I am nothing but a simple-minded ape with absolutely zero scientific background. However, I was seriously surprised to discover the vast amount of problems that the scientific community faces on a daily basis when diving into this topic. The scientific world in its current form is well and truly cooked!

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at some areas of the current scientific sector that have become seriously problematic and the ways that DeSci aims to address them:

Funding

As a science nerd, getting your hands on funding is very difficult to do. Huge organizations and governments have become the gatekeepers of scientific knowledge, only allowing the science that fits their own agenda to ever reach the surface. 

Remember that guy who created a time machine that allowed you to go back to 2008 and buy Bitcoin at under $1? Or that dude who discovered a frequency so strong that it turned Elizabeth Warren into a crypto maxi? 

No, you don’t, and that’s because the poor sucker's research was either swept under the rug. Or they disappeared from the face of the earth, never to be seen again. 

In order for a budding science geek to receive funding for their research, they have a long list of requirements that they need to tick off. 

The first of these hurdles is the funding process itself. Scientists must make written applications to funding agencies that have the power to make the final call on whether or not the research will receive any funds.

Because most of these agencies are financed by bigger players in private industry or government, any potential research that goes against their latest agenda will be knocked back instantly. This leads to more conservative applications and real science being put on the back (Bunsen) burner.

Next up are the peer review problems. Yes, that jealous nerd with the comfy government job won’t be happy that you have beaten him to the latest scientific breakthrough, so he will likely FUD the shit out of your discovery in order to prevent you from ever reaching a funding round. If your ‘peers’ think your science is a rug-pull, then good luck getting your application past those funding agencies!

DeSci looks to solve these issues with the use of a crypto classic. The DAO. 

By using a DAO to pool together funds and giving contributors the ability to vote on what receives funding, many of the traditional scientific bottlenecks can be avoided. By using the DAO infrastructure, smaller, more controversial experiments can finally receive the funding they need to get off the ground. 

This means they avoid ending up in the scientific “Valley of Death,” a place where some of the most exciting, innovative scientific discoveries that never received any money go to die.

Intellectual Property Rights

The next major issue is the problem of intellectual property rights. Everyone is trying to steal each other's ideas, and getting a patent can be expensive and cost a lot of valuable time. This leads to only the well-established and wealthy scientists ever making the cut. Generally, this means universities who use these patents to cash in every time someone else uses any of their discoveries.

DeSci, once again, comes to the rescue and not by trying to reinvent the crypto wheel. Instead, with the use of NFTs as a way to represent scientific organizations and pass revenue back to the scientists themselves. Scientists can also use NFTs to prove they are legit, show their credentials and create immutable evidence of their past achievements. 

When combined with the DAO model above, these NFTs become even more powerful, giving scientists the chance to prove they know their shit and earn income off the NFT purchases made by the members of the DAO itself.

Not only this, but NFTs can also be used as gated access cards to scientific data depositories, meaning anyone who wants to use the research in their own experiments would have to pay the OG scientist themselves for the access, effectively removing the need for a patent completely.

Knowing how the crypto world works, I could imagine that NFTs linked to major scientific breakthroughs would be worth a pretty penny. I mean, imagine owning a jpeg that allows you to flex the fact you helped fund Rutherford split the atom or Newton discovering the same gravitational forces that send your shitcoin chart to zero!

Data Storage

All this scientific data needs a storage destination that is secure but still easily accessible. As you can imagine, much of the scientific data out there is pretty sensitive stuff, some of which should only be seen by qualified eyes. Having all this information stored away in a single point of failure, a centralized storage facility brings to the surface issues of cybersecurity as well as data loss problems in the event of disaster.

For these reasons, using crypto storage rails to securely store all of this sensitive scientific data makes far more sense. This removes the risks of centralization and means that in the event of natural or any other sort of disaster, the information won’t be as easily lost as it will be held across a vast network instead of in a single place. Because crypto tech makes it very hard to change data stored on-chain, this also means that any reproduction of scientific results can be easily verified as being accurate and unchanged.

Due to the inherent flexibility of crypto data solutions, working together in scientific teams and adding new information to a database become much easier than using traditional storage methods. There are already examples of such scientific data being stored using crypto solutions; this can be seen in protocols like IPFS, Arweave, and Filecoin which already store and provide access to scientific information like weather data and predictive climate models.

Notable DeSci projects

Now that we have a decent idea of some of the problems that DeSci is aiming to solve let’s take a look at some of the top projects that are doing this solving and how exactly they are doing it.

VitaDAO

If you haven’t had enough of the crypto space yet and wish you could be here forever, then this one's for you! 

VitaDao is a community-owned decentralized autonomous organization that focuses on funding longevity science. 

Utilizing the $VITA token, holders can have their say in the types of life-extending, anti-aging research they want to see receive funding. 

So far, VitaDAO has provided over $4.2 million dollars in funding to 22 longevity research programs and has more than 10,000 active community members on board. These guys have managed to build some pretty serious partnerships with the likes of Pfizer Ventures, Lifespan.io, and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan on the list. 

VitaDAO boasts a current valuation of just over $82 million USD, and one can only imagine the market cap boost it would receive if it managed to fund the project that allows us all to live forever and participate in an infinite amount of crypto cycle degeneracy. 

ResearchHub

ResearchHub aims to be the GitHub of scientific discovery by providing a decentralized platform for the publication of research. In doing so, ResearchHub allows for easy collaboration on scientific projects, just the same way that GitHub provides collaborative infrastructure for the world of software development. 

On the ResearchHub platform, research papers are stored in “Hubs” based on the area of research they are involved in and are accessible to everyone. This solves the scientific pain point of publication, which can be very expensive and, even when published, is often hidden behind costly paywalls, meaning many scientific enthusiasts will never get to read it anyway. 

ResearchCoin ($RSC) is the project's token and is used to incentivize contribution to the platform. The $RSC tokens can be earned by users discussing scientific topics and can be transferred between users by creating “bounties” that incentivize other users to engage with their scientific posts. $RSC contribution rewards are based on how valuable the community views your nerdy posts to be and is measured in upvotes.  

ResearchHub is another project that has some big names involved. The one and only Brian Armstrong just so happens to be the CEO so one could expect some serious scientific breakthroughs in the hair regeneration department coming soon. 

Other notable projects

A few other DeSci projects to check out are:

  • MoleculeDAO
  • AthenaDAO
  • Data Lake
  • Gnome
  • Bio.xyz

All these projects have their own tokens on the market and solve different problems within the scientific sector. Some even cross over into the world of A.I making them interesting bets for the upcoming cycle. 

Final thoughts

It seems fair to say that the scientific crypto cat is out of the bag, and we all know how hard it is to put it back in. Solving the issues around funding, publishing, reviewing, storing, and disseminating scientific knowledge is a pretty big deal, and with the help of crypto, it may become something to keep an eye on.

By incentivizing scientists to openly share their research and contribute to the research of others, it seems plausible that many more scientific breakthroughs can be made without the big players and governments getting in the way.

I, for one, will be on the lookout for the chance to throw some funding at any research that can end my need for sleep now that the bull market seems to be here!

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