Modern science faces numerous obstacles, ranging from funding to publishing. Nonetheless, advances in emerging technologies such as blockchain and Web 3 have brought decentralization to the forefront of the scientific field. This has led startups, research institutions, and scientists to recognize the potential for disruptive change and embrace a new approach called Decentralized Science (DeSci). DeSci aims to tackle crucial problems in scientific research and development. This guide will provide an overview of DeSci and its significance.
What Is Decentralized Science?
Decentralized Science (DeSci) is a new paradigm in scientific research that emphasizes collaboration, open access to data, and decentralization of control. It seeks to address some of the critical issues that have hampered the progress of modern science, such as funding constraints, limited data sharing, and slow publication processes. DeSci leverages emerging technologies, such as blockchain and Web 3, to create a decentralized network of researchers, institutions, and funders that can work together more efficiently and effectively. In DeSci, researchers have greater control over their data and can collaborate more easily, resulting in faster and more innovative scientific discoveries. The ultimate goal of DeSci is to create a more equitable and sustainable scientific ecosystem that benefits both researchers and society as a whole.
Where DeSci comes in
Decentralized science has its roots in the open science movement, which emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a response to the high cost of scientific publishing and the increasing restrictions placed on access to scientific knowledge. Open science advocates for the free and open sharing of scientific information and data to accelerate scientific discovery and innovation.
In the early 2010s, advances in blockchain technology began to create new opportunities for decentralized science. Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger that can be used to record transactions securely and transparently without the need for intermediaries or central authorities. This technology can be applied to scientific research, allowing researchers to securely and transparently share data, tools, and findings without centralized institutions.
One of the earliest examples of decentralized science using blockchain technology is the project called “Molecule,” which was launched in 2017. The molecule is a decentralized platform for drug discovery that enables researchers to share data and collaborate more efficiently and transparently. The platform uses a blockchain-based system to track and verify data, ensuring its accuracy and reliability.
Another example is the “OpenMined” project launched in 2017. OpenMined is a community-driven platform for training and deploying machine learning models in a decentralized manner. The project uses blockchain technology to enable the secure and transparent sharing of data and models while preserving the privacy of individual users.
In recent years, the concept of decentralized science has continued to evolve, with new projects and initiatives emerging to explore its potential in various research fields. These efforts are helping to drive a shift towards more open, collaborative, and decentralized scientific research models to accelerate scientific discovery and innovation.
Decentralized Science Drivers
Decentralized science drivers refer to the key factors or motivators driving the development and adoption of decentralized scientific research and discovery approaches.
Some of the primary drivers of decentralized science include:
- Increased transparency: Decentralized science allows for more transparency in research and data sharing, which can improve the reproducibility and reliability of scientific findings.
- Reduced costs: Decentralized science can reduce the costs associated with traditional research and development processes, making scientific research more accessible and affordable.
- Improved collaboration: Decentralized science platforms can facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among scientists, allowing for more diverse perspectives and expertise to be brought to bear on research problems.
- Enhanced security: Decentralized systems can provide greater security and privacy for scientific data, which is especially important for sensitive or confidential research.
- Greater flexibility: Decentralized science allows for greater flexibility in research methods and approaches, enabling scientists to explore new ideas and hypotheses in innovative ways.
Overall, the drivers of decentralized science reflect a growing recognition that traditional scientific approaches may not always be the most effective or efficient means of advancing scientific knowledge and understanding. By leveraging the power of decentralized technologies, scientists can work together to tackle complex problems and drive progress in new and exciting directions.
Why Is Decentralized Science Needed?
Decentralized science is needed because it offers several advantages over the traditional centralized approach to scientific research. Here are a few reasons why decentralized science is important:
- Increased accessibility: Decentralized science makes scientific research more accessible to people from around the world. This is because it eliminates the need for researchers to be located in one central location or institution and allows researchers to collaborate remotely.
- Faster progress: Decentralized science allows for greater collaboration and sharing of information, which can lead to faster progress in scientific research. Researchers can collaborate to share data, tools, and resources, leading to more efficient and effective research.
- Increased transparency: Decentralized science can increase the transparency of scientific research by making it easier for researchers to share their data and methods with others. This can help to ensure that research is conducted ethically and that results are reproducible.
- Reduced bias: Decentralized science can help to reduce bias in scientific research by allowing for greater diversity in the research community. By bringing together researchers from different backgrounds and perspectives, decentralized science can help ensure that research is conducted more balanced and unbiasedly.
- Increased innovation: Decentralized science can foster innovation by allowing researchers to work on a broader range of topics and ideas. It can also help to bring together researchers from different fields and disciplines, leading to new and creative collaborations.
How DeSci Uses Blockchain Tools
- Immutable record-keeping: DeSci uses blockchain technology to create an immutable record of all scientific research data, experiments, and results. This ensures that the data cannot be tampered with and anyone in the future can access it.
- Transparency and accountability: DeSci ensures transparency and accountability in scientific research by providing an audit trail of all research activities. This helps to prevent scientific misconduct and fraud and ensures that all research findings are based on accurate and reliable data.
- Incentivizing collaboration: DeSci uses smart contracts to incentivize collaboration among researchers. Researchers can earn tokens by contributing to the platform by sharing their data, conducting peer reviews, or helping to reproduce experiments.
- Decentralized peer review: DeSci uses a decentralized system to ensure that a diverse group of experts reviews research findings. This helps ensure that research is rigorously evaluated and validated before publication.
- Open access publishing: DeSci allows researchers to publish their findings on a decentralized platform accessible to anyone, regardless of their location or financial resources. This helps to promote open science and make research findings more widely available.
Challenges to Navigate Decentralized Science
There are also several challenges to navigate.
- Funding: One of the biggest challenges of decentralized science is funding. Traditional funding models rely on centralized organizations such as governments, corporations, or universities. However, decentralized science relies on the community to fund research projects through crowdfunding, token sales, or other means. This creates challenges in ensuring that the funding is sufficient, sustainable, and fair.
- Quality control: In a decentralized system, there is no central authority to validate the quality of research, which can lead to questionable research being accepted and published. This can undermine the credibility of decentralized science and harm the scientific community as a whole.
- Collaboration and coordination: Decentralized science relies on collaboration and coordination among researchers and institutions, which can be challenging in a decentralized system. Researchers must find ways to share data, communicate effectively, and work together to achieve common goals.
- Intellectual property: Decentralized science raises questions about intellectual property rights, ownership, and attribution. Without clear guidelines and standards for how intellectual property should be managed in a decentralized system, there is a risk that research outcomes may be misused, undervalued, or lost.
- Technical infrastructure: Decentralized science requires robust technical infrastructure, such as blockchain networks, decentralized storage, and smart contracts, to function properly. Building and maintaining this infrastructure requires significant resources and technical expertise.
Overall, decentralized science has the potential to revolutionize the scientific research ecosystem, but it also presents significant challenges that need to be addressed. Researchers, institutions, and policymakers must work together to develop solutions enabling decentralized science to thrive and deliver its potential benefits.
The Best DeSci Projects
Many exciting DeSci projects are currently underway or have already been launched. Here are a few examples:
Golem Network: Golem is a decentralized supercomputer that allows users to rent computing power from other users worldwide. This can be particularly useful for scientific research that requires significant computational resources, such as simulations and data analysis.
Ocean Protocol: Ocean Protocol is a decentralized data exchange protocol that allows individuals and organizations to share and monetize data while maintaining privacy and control. This can be particularly useful for scientific research that relies on large and diverse datasets.
Arweave: Arweave is a decentralized storage network that allows users to store data permanently and securely. This can be particularly useful for scientific research that relies on long-term data storage, such as archives and repositories.
OpenMined: OpenMined is a decentralized AI platform that allows users to train machine learning models on encrypted data without compromising privacy. This can be particularly useful for scientific research that relies on sensitive data, such as healthcare data.
Decentralized Science, or DeSci for short, is a new paradigm in scientific research that emphasizes collaboration, open access to data, and decentralization of control. It seeks to address some of the critical issues that have hampered the progress of modern science, such as funding constraints, limited data sharing, and slow publication processes.
DeSci leverages emerging technologies such as blockchain and Web 3 to create a decentralized network of researchers, institutions, and funders that can work together more efficiently and effectively. Blockchain technology, in particular, is used to securely and transparently share data, tools, and findings without the need for centralized institutions.
Decentralized science offers several advantages over traditional science, including increased accessibility, faster progress, increased transparency, reduced bias, and increased innovation. By eliminating the need for researchers to be located in one central location or institution, decentralized science can make scientific research more accessible to people from different parts of the world. Decentralized science can also lead to more efficient and effective research, as researchers can work together to share data, tools, and resources.
One of the earliest examples of decentralized science using blockchain technology is the project called “Molecule”, which was launched in 2017. Molecule is a decentralized platform for drug discovery that enables researchers to share data and collaborate in a more efficient and transparent way. Another example is the “OpenMined” project, which was launched in 2017. OpenMined is a community-driven platform for training and deploying machine learning models in a decentralized manner.
The drivers of decentralized science include increased transparency, reduced costs, improved collaboration, enhanced security, and greater flexibility. By leveraging the power of decentralized technologies, scientists can work together to tackle complex problems and drive progress in new and exciting directions.
Decentralized science is needed because it offers a number of advantages over the traditional centralized approach to scientific research. These include increased accessibility, faster progress, increased transparency, reduced bias, and increased innovation. By embracing decentralized science, researchers can work together more efficiently and effectively to tackle crucial problems in scientific research and development.
These projects represent just a few examples of the many exciting Decentralized Science projects currently underway. As the field continues to evolve, we expect to see many more innovative solutions that leverage decentralized technologies to democratize scientific research and increase access to knowledge.