93% of the world’s money is now digital, held in virtual ledgers across banks and other financial institutions. With the increasing digitalization of financial services, there is no doubt that we are heading for a cashless future; the only question is what that future will look like.
The next step appears to be decentralization. In a move away from traditional centralized banking structures, cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies are gaining traction. Their potential could extend beyond the domain of the financial industry, but what does the future of cryptocurrency hold, and what’s it got to do with longevity?
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Why is crypto important for longevity?
Not so long ago, it seemed unimaginable that we’d be living in a world where our bank balance was a number on screen and payments could be made by tapping one device to another. Now, managing your finances is as simple as opening a mobile app.
Traditional banking structures have been truly disrupted. Some financial institutions have focused on digital solutions, while others have given way to new competitors, such as neobanks. Also, there is a marked interest in decentralized financial systems, such as cryptocurrencies.
Just as the future of cryptocurrency and general finance is changing, so too is the future of human health. Although people have dreamed of longevity long before the legends of Nicholas Flamel’s philosopher’s stone appeared in the 17th century, it is looking less like a dream and more like reality – especially if we consider that the meaning of longevity refers to the extension of life spent in good health rather than an ossified concept of “living forever”.
How can cryptocurrency and blockchain technology improve longevity? Cryptocurrency is a decentralized digital asset, and blockchain is the secure technology that makes that possible. However, the capabilities of such tech go far beyond trading a few digital coins online for a profit.
Expanded funding capacities
All research requires financing to happen. Usually, these funds are allocated based on judgments of which project is most statistically likely to succeed. Unfortunately, this risk-averse approach doesn’t often include innovative studies. Decentralized peer-to-peer funding may be able to deliver financial support for scientists to realize their theories, and projects such as On Deck provide platforms where interested investors can collate their funds and invest in longevity.
In addition to such initiatives, cryptocurrency giants have been investing their personal capital into the anti-aging research sphere. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, made over $26 million of grant funding available to researchers via Impetus Grants. This is alongside the $25 million SHIB tokens he donated to the Future of Life Institute and millions given to the Methuselah Foundation, which researches tissue engineering to turn back the clock on aging.
Meanwhile, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has backed Altos Labs, a research company aiming to reverse aging. This is Bezos’s second longevity investment. In 2018, he funded Unity Biotechnology, another biotech firm focused on anti-aging therapies.
Richard Heart, the mind behind HEX, launched PulseChain while airdropping funding for SENS Research Foundation (SRF).
These are just some of the big names driving longevity innovation in cryptocurrency; there are many more, indicating a growing confidence in longevity research, and the world’s visionaries are throwing their intellectual weight towards its funding.
Decentralized research capabilities
However, it’s not just investments acting as the driving force behind research. Blockchain’s capabilities allow for a more distributed approach to research processes as a whole. VitaDAO aims to democratize research, providing financing for longevity projects by taking a community-own collective funding approach.
VitaDAO invests in early-stage research and helps the most promising longevity initiatives grow into biotech companies. As a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization), it funds research through which intellectual property (IP) is generated and monetized. The proceeds of this then return to the DAO and go on to finance future research. The intent is to create community financing while creating a community-based approach to knowledge ownership and a sustainable cycle of funding.
Data and research sharing
Just as finance and processes matter, so too is data is king in the modern world. Its ownership and sale is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and it offers untapped potential for research and development. Solutions such as IOTA use open-source blockchain ledger technology to provide smart data solutions using crypto tech. Its Data Marketplace, which is still in the beta stage, allows participants to share or sell unused data.
Blockchain technology also offers the potential for data protection. Copyrights or patents on research can be protected using the blockchain, as its immutable nature and store of ownership history shows who did what and when. In addition, smart contracts allow researchers to monetize their research and ensure payment.