NFTs, Web3 and the metaverse are changing the way scientists conduct their research


Scientists can take advantage of blockchain tools, such as smart contracts and tokens, to improve collaboration in scientific endeavors between different stakeholders. This so-called decentralized science movement, or DeSci for short, combines blockchain and Web3 technologies to improve scientific research.

A primary goal of DeSci is broader participation and funding when approaching scientific challenges, as well as democratizing the peer review process, which is dominated by a few journals in which it can be expensive to appear. and fight against censorship. DeSci can also create standards for research storage with proof-of-existence technology. While on financial blockchains such as Bitcoin, transactions are verified by a network of miners, research could also be verified by participants in a blockchain network of scientists, etc.

Decentralization of science

Blockchain-based peer review ecosystems can be transparent, and they can lend credibility to research contributed by even pseudonymous participants. Scientists could, for example, receive participation or a “reward” for their participation, incentivizing a wider community to contribute.

Essentially, decentralized science makes possible the development of platforms that allow more people to work with what Dr. Benjamin Bratton calls the “source code of matter” at a fundamental level. Democratizing science through decentralized science would allow for a new type of interface layer for a modern scientific revolution. The way to achieve this is to decentralize access to scientific activities – in short, to give a role to citizen-scientists.

We’ve seen this happen with computers, and we think it could happen with science in general. At the start of the computer revolution, software was difficult to use. Very few understood the rarefied technologies, which over time became increasingly intuitive and simplified – through different levels of abstraction – and thus enabled more people to become valuable contributors. Some of the technologies that have made this possible include Javascript and useful packages developed to make coding more efficient. At a lower level of abstraction, there is technology like WordPress that allows people who don’t understand software or coding to set up their website.

Blockchain technology for science

Blockchain technology (tokens, NFTs, metaverses) has the potential to have a positive impact on the platform economy in such a way as to democratize access to scientific collaborations. When you think of platforms, you usually think of Uber or Airbnb, which are world-changing projects, in and of themselves. But platform economics is a very new field of research and even advances game theory as an academic discipline. This process began with Bitcoin (BTC) and has only been continued by Ethereum (ETH) and the dozens, if not hundreds, of other blockchains since.

Related: Which blockchain is the most decentralized? Experts answer

Historically, web platforms and applications have tended to be centripetal in their value creation process; the more they are used, the more value the platform builder realizes. Blockchain makes possible a fairer arrangement whereby the more people who participate in a given platform, and the more people who add value to the platform, the more they get from the platform. form.

Decentralized Science (DeSci) is different from an IP platform or a platform in which the more it is used, the more the platform benefits from it and the value consolidates. In the case of DeSci, the people who generate value – researchers, scientists, citizen scientists, etc. – gain in value according to the value of their contribution; that is, the more it is used by other researchers and scientists, etc., the more they receive.

The impact this can have on basic research in science, mathematics and other subjects could be extremely significant. DeSci is creating new ways to contribute and collaborate that weren’t possible before the advent of blockchain technology. If you have knowledge or understanding that has intrinsic value and as part of a larger project (you may not even know what that project is), someone else can use your contribution, and you can be recognized for it and earn residuals. of this contribution in the future.

NFTs will play an important role in the future of the Metaverse, as it is through NFTs that scientific research could be safely transferred. Academia has already used NFTs. The University of California at Berkeley, for example, auctioned on an NFT linked to documents relating to the world of Nobel Prize-winning cancer researcher James Allison for more than $50,000. The US Space Force, a branch of the US Armed Forces, has started selling a series of NFTs containing augmented reality images of satellites and space iconography. Biology pioneer George Church’s company, Nebula Genomics, plans to sell an NFT of Church’s genome. Church is a geneticist at Harvard University in Cambridge and helped start the Human Genome Project. There are more and more use cases for NFTs in science, and there are sure to be more.

Related: The Code of Life: Blockchain and the Future of Genomics

The blockchain is a high resolution of detection, indexing and calculation of value. The potential is there, and it is now up to DeSci organizations to prove their merits, scientific quality, and overall effectiveness in improving the scientific process.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Steve McCloskey is an alumnus of the first class of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego. Steve’s work focuses on emerging technologies applied to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). After graduating from UCSD, he founded Nanome Inc to create virtual reality solutions for scientists and engineers working at the nanoscale, particularly protein engineering and small molecule drug development. .


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