News - DAO's - startblokken voor de wetenschap?

By Luc Vesters

DAO's - startblokken voor de wetenschap?


Decentralized autonomous organizations - DAOs for short - are one of the few successes of blockchain technology. Their application is being tested in various sectors. Their use for scientific purposes seems promising, as discussed in the journal Nature Biotechnology. To raise funding or organize scientific work digitally: DAOs could make researchers more independent and grow "into strong scientific communities," according to the plea.

United on the blockchain

No matter how ambitious crypto projects are, ultimately there is no money and they are not implemented. One key to raising money are DAOs. The concept is similar to a cooperative - members invest in a common pot and vote on how the money is used. All about the blockchain, in the form of tokens.

DAOs are a kind of digital bulletin board on which project proposals are posted. If there is enough approval, money is released from the common treasury. Transparency is an essential feature and manipulation is hardly possible. Research results are regularly published and questioned for quality control.

Members usually remain anonymous, which can promote equality of opportunity in terms of gender and origin, as the article in Nature Biotechnology highlights. Cooperation in a DAO could lead to "faster progress in science" in general.

DAOs in practice

"Traditionally underfunded research areas" could be the first to benefit. These are projects that rely on "proof-of-concept results," but are "often not yet available" and therefore do not receive funding.

ValleyDAO, which funds research on synthetic biology for the sustainable production of food and clothing, is cited as a positive example. AthenaDAO, for example, focuses on promoting women's health projects and VitaDAO focuses on promoting longevity. DAOs can selectively target specific patient groups. Whether it is the treatment of hair loss, as promoted by HairDAO.

The road to "decentralized science"

No matter how noble the intentions of a DAO are, sooner or later it comes: the funding issue. You should not be fooled by the idealistic thinking. DAOs are not non-profit institutions; they are ultimately about business, that is, making money from research projects.

In practice, DAOs are not yet "self-sustaining." One option is to go through patents - intellectual property is "commercialized into a product" using non-fungible tokens. This could "generate additional revenue, which would then flow back to the DAO to fund further projects."

But here DAOs themselves have yet to provide proof of concept. Even projects that, like VitaDAO, have "self-funded up to the IP NFT stage" struggle with further rounds of funding. Last but not least, DAOs should also "increase the number of members of their token." Many ideas continue to fail through implementation; it remains to be seen whether DAOs will be a success. But as a thinking game, they have their charm.

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