On this episode of Science to Save the World, we discuss the relationship of cryptocurrencies and longevity, focusing on VitaDAO and related innovations.
In our last episode, we dove into the basics of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies.
While the world awakens to the phenomenon of these technologies, their positive potential is only starting to be uncovered. More than just a decentralized method for securely and quickly sending currencies around the world, the blockchain enables many other applications, including peer-to-peer “smart contracts”, data collection and the creation of digital assets. These, in turn, allow for further benefits.
One such opportunity is social impact investment, which may become available to a broader audience as private assets such as wind turbines and solar farms are listed for public ownership. Similar to crowdfunding, but with the addition of smart contracts, social impact investments can automatically and securely pay out shareholder profits as they are generated, minimizing the need for costly and time-consuming legal and financial intermediaries.
This would allow many more people to own these assets much more easily, incentivizing development of green, sustainable projects. Renewable energy exchanges also have great potential. Localized peer-to-peer exchanges will allow renewable energy delivery to become better distributed. For example, Powerledger, a Perth-based company, recently raised funds to build a blockchain-based solar power exchange to allow solar panel owners to trade surplus energy with their neighbors or apartment complexes.
Renewable energy exchanges could create entire energy economies. Companies such as WePower and SunExchange are already entering the market. Highly divisible, crypto-currencies have also made micro-donations much more feasible. New fundraising strategies requesting very small donations from huge donor pools allow collection of infinitesimal “dust”, tiny fractions of tokens on crypto exchanges. Like real dust, the accumulation can be huge! Charities could pair this with smart contracts for their donors, for example 0.0000001 of a Bitcoin being transferred to your charity of choice every time you make a purchase.
Voting is also another area that could be positively changed by the blockchain. Trust-less, easily accessible voting systems could strengthen democracy. Blockchains’ decentralized and permanent nature make them a good match for secure, convenient voting.
Scientific and medical research could also be improved dramatically. While there have never been more scientists alive than today, doing science has not become easier. Many scientists worry about being “scooped” in their research. The scientific community gives credit, or “priority”, to those who first publish a significant discovery. Scientists can be reluctant to share unpublished research, slowing the progress of science. They also worry about data replication across fields. Blockchain and related technologies create a trust-based system in which each transaction or step in a process is recorded and verifiable. The final product can then be traced to its origin.
Researchers and scientists are now adopting this blockchain-based method of providing trust at scale, which has the potential to add value at all stages of data collection and sharing. ResearchHub, a recent blockchain-based effort, is backed by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong to foster the open communication of science and therefore speed up scientific discovery. Academics can use ResearchHub to upload, share, and discuss research articles and results, which are organized into different specialized ‘hubs’.
A newly created ERC20 token, ResearchCoin (RSC), has been created to help bring this nascent community together and incentivize contribution to the platform. RSC is awarded to users for adding new content to the platform, as well as summarizing and debating research.
Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) such as VitaDAO are improving funding for research into human longveity and healthy aging. At present, intellectual property assets and patents are the core drivers for funding, innovation and value creation in the biopharmaceutical industry. VitaDAO intends to change that!
Current biopharma business models carry severe limitations and R&D inefficiencies that cost those who should be the core stakeholders: patients and researchers. VitaDAO is an open cooperative that anyone can join, which acquires, supports and finances new therapeutics and research data in the longevity space. By attaching NFTs to intellectual property rights, the VitaDAO collective will directly hold ownership of its projects, developing a growing asset portfolio.
Gitcoin is another important crypto initiative. It supports the development of open-source Web3 software, a decentralized architecture based on blockchain technology, as well as other public good projects. A decentralized system makes possible funding of projects for the public good, benefiting everyone. What sets Gitcoin apart is its use of Quadratic Funding, the mathematically optimal way to fund public good in a democratic community.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, pioneered this algorithmic crowdfunding approach. It is designed to support multiple projects at once and allocate larger matching funds to the most popular projects. Simply put, the system favors projects with the largest amount of community support, and amplifies the power of smaller donations. This way, small donations have much greater power, and the matching pool puts that power to work.
Gitcoin pushes power to the edges, away from whales & other central power brokers. It recently held its 12th funding round, where in addition to other social good projects, the community has chosen to raise cryptocurrency donations for aging research. Projects such as lifespan.io’s web 3 crowdsourced clinical trial project were made possible through these grants.
Transhuman Coin is yet another example of crypto-for-good. This token is dedicated to the Transhumanist movement, where tokenomics enable the funding of projects to extend healthy human lifespan, enhance human intelligence and capabilities, and improve our well-being.
Each of these topics is pretty dense – if you’d like us to examine a particular one in depth in a future episode, please let us know in the comments! In our next episode, we’ll cover concerns about cryptocurrency’s energy usage and effect on the environment.