December 4, 2023

DAOs: Blockchain incubators for science?

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations – DAOs for short – are one of the few exports of blockchain technology. Its application is being tested in various industries. Their use for scientific purposes, such as in professional journals, appears promising Natural biotechnology It has been discussed. To raise funding or organize scientific work digitally: Decentralized autonomous organizations can make researchers more autonomous and grow “into strong scientific communities,” according to the call.

United on the blockchain

No matter how ambitious cryptocurrency projects are, in the end there is no money and they remain abandoned. The key to raising money is DAOs. The concept is similar to a cooperative, where members invest in a common pot and vote on how the funds are used. It’s all about blockchain, in the form of tokens.

DAOs are a type of digital bulletin board on which project proposals are posted. If there is sufficient approval, the funds will be released from the common treasury. Transparency is a key feature and manipulation of it is almost possible. Research results are published regularly and made available for discussion for quality control purposes.

Members usually remain anonymous, which can promote a level playing field in terms of gender and origin, as the article in Nature Biotechnology highlights. Collaboration in the DAO could lead to “faster progress in science” overall.

DAOs in practice

“Traditionally underfunded research areas” could benefit first. Projects that rely on “proof-of-concept results” but are “often unavailable” and therefore do not receive funding.

ValleyDAO, which funds research into synthetic biology for sustainable food and clothing production, is cited as a positive example. AthenaDAO, for example, is dedicated to promoting projects in women’s health, and VitaDAO is dedicated to promoting longevity. DAOs can selectively focus on specific patient groups. Whether it is to treat hair loss, as promoted by HairDAO.

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The path to “decentralized science”

No matter how noble the intentions of DAOs, sooner or later they will arise: the question of funding. Don’t be fooled by the perfect content. DAOs are not non-profit institutions; Ultimately it is about business, that is, about monetizing research projects.

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As a rule, DAOs are not yet “self-sufficient”. One option is to go through patents – where the intellectual property is “commercialized and turned into a product” using non-fungible tokens. This can “generate additional income, which will then flow back into the DAO to fund further projects.”

But here the DAOs themselves still have to provide proof of concept. Even projects that, like VitaDAO, have “funded themselves to the IP-NFT stage” are struggling for further rounds of funding. Last but not least, DAOs will also have to “increase the number of their distinct members.” Many ideas still fail due to implementation; It remains to be seen whether decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) will be created. But as an intellectual game they have their charm.

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