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

Scientists can leverage 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 wider participation and funding when approaching scientific challenges, as well as democratizing the peer-to-peer review process, which is dominated by a few journals in which it can be costly to appear and combatting censorship. DeSci can also create standards for research storage with the proof of existence technology. Whereas 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 might, for instance, receive a stake or “reward” for participating, incentivizing a wider community to contribute.

Essentially, decentralized science makes possible the development of platforms that empower more people to work with what Dr. Benjamin Bratton calls the “source code of matter” at a fundamental level. To democratize science through decentralized science would allow for a new kind of interface layer for a modern Scientific Revolution. The way to do this is to decentralize access to scientific pursuits — in short, to allow citizen-scientists a role.

We saw this happen with computers, and we believe it could happen with science generally. At the beginning of the computer revolution, software was difficult to work with. Very few understood the rarified technologies, which, over time, became increasingly intuitive and simplified — thanks to different levels of abstraction — and therefore allowed more people to become valuable contributors. Some of the technologies that made this possible include Javascript and helpful packages developed to make coding more efficient. At a lower level of abstraction, there is a technology like WordPress that allows people who don’t understand software or coding to set up their website.

Blockchain tech for science

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

Blockchain is a high resolution of sensing, indexing and calculating value. The potential is there, and now it is up to DeSci organizations to prove their merits, scientific quality and overall effectiveness at improving the scientific process.

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The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s 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 is focused on emerging technologies applied to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). After graduating from UCSD, he founded Nanome Inc to build virtual reality solutions for scientists and engineers working at the nanoscale, specifically protein engineering and small molecule drug development.