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= decentralized science movement


Sarah Hamburg:

"A growing number of scientists and entrepreneurs are leveraging blockchain tools, including smart contracts and tokens, in an attempt to improve modern science. Collectively, their work has become known as the decentralized science movement, or DeSci. Still in its infancy, DeSci lies at the intersection of two broader trends: 1) efforts within the scientific community to change how research is funded and knowledge is shared, and 2) efforts within the crypto-focused movement to shift ownership and value away from industry intermediaries. But what exactly does DeSci entail?

Though aligned with Open Science on the need to make science more accessible, DeSci isn’t Open Science 2.0. It’s a separate movement with varied and evolving goals. What primarily differentiates DeSci from other efforts to rethink our research system is its use of blockchain tools. This is similar to how blockchain is disrupting other industries, where web2 models of centralized ownership are being challenged by web3 models of decentralized, shared ownership.

Science-focused blockchain initiatives date back to 2015, but they didn’t coalesce into a larger movement until 2021, thanks to an explosion of new projects. This included the first Open Science NFT selling for 13 ETH; the subsequent rise of research groups auctioning NFTs; the growth of multiple science-focused decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs); and a DeSci panel discussion at last October’s community-led blockchain event, LisCon.

The resulting DeSci landscape is a mix of loosely connected DAOs. Some target specific aspects of scientific research, such as funding, peer review, access, incentives, and pace. Others focus on specific fields. Biotech is in the lead, with DAOs including Molecule, VitaDAO, PsyDAO, Phage Directory, LabDAO and SCINET. Environmental science DAOs are gaining steam too. Beyond DAOs, individual scientists are experimenting with blockchain by launching their own research tokens.

Across the board, DeSci efforts range from purely theoretical ideas and small-scale technological experiments to more established players funding university research and launching multiple DAOs of their own."