DeSci Labs Tech Tree
The Scientific Record is the most precious achievement of our species.
Today, our Scientific Record is hidden behind paywalls, afflicted by a replication crisis in many fields, fragmented across silos, stifled by cross-national censorship 1, 2, 3, reliant on persistent identifiers subject to link rot (the DOI), and owned by a two giant for-profit companies in full control of root access: Clarivate's Web of Science and Elsevier's SCOPUS. Because these companies decide which scientific journal they index and the metrics used to rate them, they essentially exert total control over the read and write function of the Scientific Record.
In 2022, the token of knowledge remains the solitary PDF/JATS-XML file connected to a DOI with metadata describing who is allowed to sell the material, the identity of authors, and the funders behind the work. Data, code and other critical research artefacts for reproducibility are given little consideration, remain ignored by their metrics and, if available at all, are scattered across secondary repositories.
From inception, the commercial interest of Big Publishers has taken precedence over the needs of science and scientists. This must change, and the web3 stack provides the technological backbone needed to upend the status quo.
The Ledger of Scientific Record is an open-access, transparent, censorship-resistant, verifiable and tamper-proof repository of all components necessary to find, audit and reproduce scientific discoveries. In place of obsolete PDFs, the ledger indexes Nodes of Knowledge: computational objects with transparent storage guarantees and immutably indexed on-chain through cryptographically-secured PIDs.
Nodes of Knowledges are built on the web3 stack to build and extend the concept of research objects. A Node stores manuscripts, reproducible code via docker images, peer-review exchanges, data, audio, video, pre-registration plans and annotations. Live code embedding and distributed computation will enable recompute functions directly from the Node's reproducible code docker.
Nodes of Knowledge store IPFS CIDs on-chain and resolves PIDs in a way that offers resistance to cross-national censorship, guarantees the immutability of the underlying content, and provide transparency with regards to storage condition. Prior to web3, the only way to build a research object was to store its content on a centralised cloud service such Amazon S3 and issue PIDs via CrossRef.
Nodes of Knowledge are secure, transparent, universally accessible and future-proof. With unlimited abilities to issue secure PIDs, Nodes are capable of much richer interconnectivity without the threat of link rot and expensive database maintenance at risk of human error.
In addition to their inventory, each Node is a computational object and funding device. Nodes maintains a set of internal states on chain - reproducibility status, replicability status and ARC-specific distinctions such as OSF badges. Each Node creates an ERC-20 account to reward independent replications or fund analysis plans, creating an incentive-compatible system to reward scientists engaging in reproducible research that is more granular, efficient, accessible, and transparent to the public.
This critical piece of infrastructure is a user interface with a Web3 mirror.
DeSci Nodes is a browser-based interface that allows scientists to easily pull and connect the components of their work by drawing from familiar academic DOI-issuing entities and repositories incorporated into their existing workflow (BioRxiv, Zenodo, OSF, DataCite, Mendeley Data, Dryad, CodeOcean, Gigantum, Binder, Stencila, and others).
Inspired by Fermat's library, DeSci Nodes enables authors to augment their manuscripts with annotations at the margins containing rich contextual content (e.g., embedding code reference, video, audio content, LaTeX equations).
Once ready, authors mint their discoveries on the Scientific Ledger of Record through the DeSci Nodes Web3 open-source Web3 Mirror. Versioning is easy: authors can submit a new version of their Node at any time.
Mirror.xyz is an example of a decentralised publishing platform combining a user interface with a Web3 mirror.
The success of a decentralised ecosystem depends on the community incentives structure (e.g reputation tokens, such as RSC) and the microeconomy created around these incentives (e.g. augmented bounding curves for public-good focused communities, retroactive public goods funding via quadratic voting, NFTs sales of tokenised discoveries, sales of IP-NFTs, and token-based scientific service economies). CADCAD is the tool of choice for modelling agent-based systems embedded in micro-economies.
The DeSci ecosystem provides a system for ARCs to reward contributors involved in the scientific curation value-chain while simultaneously re-aligning the incentives in knowledge production: exemplar Nodes may be auctioned to patrons and collectors of culturally significant NFTs, with proceeds automatically split between the DAO treasury and a replication bounty set on the Node. By affecting dimensions of collectibility directly via rare traits (e.g., provably replicable) along with reputational benefits, DeSci introduces a predictive market dimension without the regulatory barriers governing real-money betting markets.
Provably replicable research alongside reproducible code pipelines has value for industry. Industry players can add replication bounties on fundamental research deemed critical to their R&D operations. Bounties can be set anonymously to prevent revealing their strategy to competitors. Bounties are a capital-efficient, transparent and targeted way to reinforce the robustness of the knowledge on which R&D depends, while simultaneously creating positive externalities for the public good of science.
This layer uses smart contracts and tokens to enable efficient and reliable data storage and computation services on web3.
For example, Filecoin enables economically efficient IPFS-based storage at 0.02% of the cost of centralised providers such as Amazon AWS. ArWeave provides indefinite storage on the Permaweb for a one time fee based on certain assumptions about the evolution of cost of storage over time.
ArcSci is DAO stack designed to coordinate the curation of the Ledger of Scientific Record. Curation is conducted through community-based micro-tasking workflows on DeSci Nodes.
Steps in the micro-task workflow includes editorial curation, peer review, evaluation of independent replications, analysis plans and assistance in creating self-reproducible manuscripts (by using docker solutions such a CodeOcean, Gigantum, Binder or Stencila).
In effect, ARCs mediate the transition from the on-chain state A (Unverified Node. e.g., preprint) → state B (Reproducible Node: peer-reviewed/confirmed reproducible) → state C (Replicated Node).
The coordination layer enables the management of contributor identities (ORCID/web3 pseudonymous), handles permissions, and enables the ARC to set conditions for conferring reputation micro-tasks.
Example of a human coordination layer: ResearchHub is a Reddit-inspired system with the goal of eliciting quality scientific conversations around uploaded papers. CADCAD is the tool of choice for modelling agent-based system.
IPFS (the InterPlanetary File System) is a peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol for content addressing. An alternative to the HTTP protocol, IPFS builds on the principles of peer-to-peer networking and content-based addressing to create a decentralised, distributed, and trustless data storage and delivery network. With IPFS, users ask for a file and the system finds and delivers the closest copy without the need to trust a centralized delivery source. In addition to more efficient content distribution, IPFS offers improved security, content integrity, and resistance to third-party tampering.
Polkadot is an example of a meta-protocol that extends its security properties to connected chains. Smart contracts are programs executed on such zero/low-trust protocols. L2 solutions such as ZK-rollups and Optimistic rollups provide scaling capabilities to reduce the costs of on-chain computation.
Create DeSci Nodes and store them permanently
Release scheduled for 2022
Minimum workflow interface for scientific societies
Release scheduled for 2022