By Paige Donner
NFTs and the Web3 go together ‘like pb+j.’ At least that is one of the niftier phrases I’ve heard on several of the many podcasts I’ve listened to configured around the tall order of explaining Web3 to the world. (By the way, Elon, your recent tweet asking ‘Where’s web3? I can’t find it,” though cheeky, resonated with many of us and for good reason.)
Where does science fit into this 3D configuration that features DAOs, digital assets authenticated on the blockchain aka NFTs and the metaverse? Not to mention this whole new wave of the ownership economy where creators, remote working via guilds, are rapidly rising to become accepted, if not commonplace (at least not yet)?
Lets not confine ourselves to the broad term of ‘science’ either, but really hone in on our - FrontierDAO’s - mission focus which is scientific innovation and research in fusion energy, space exploration and sci-tech entrepreneurial endeavors. Our sights are set high, on potentially achieving epic sh*t like climate change mitigation, food insecurity elimination, STEM enabled metaverses and fusion energy propelled missions to Mars.
And that’s why we’ve opted for a DAO. We need a community of like-mindeds. We need you. Because you don’t achieve these reality-bending feats by going it alone.
And that’s also why we believe we fundamentally need to embrace the ownership economy, where our members, our users, our supporters - our entire ecosystem - are stakeholders in the value creation we achieve collectively.
Let me tease apart that last sentence. The ownership economy refers to the concept that you aren’t only paid for your time but that your time is an investment. In other words, what if you had not just gone to work for Twitter or Youtube back in 2007/ 2005 respectively, but that you had been paid with a YTBE or TWTR token, for example, that allotted you an ownership stake in those companies? Yes, like equity, but in the form of a token. Kind of like buying ETH when it was still at $9 ‘way back’ in 2016. Your ‘salary’ paid in USD would not have appreciated during that same time span as much as your token might have. And had you been paid in ETH since its launch in 2015, your time ‘investment’ would be making you quite a happy camper today.
Scientific research is one of the most intellectually competitive fields there is. Combine science with technology and you’ve got yourself a double whammy on the intellectual battlefield.
So here’s the problem. (Hint) It’s not competition. Competition, it has been proven, yields a productive ecosystem. But unfair competition, i.e. picking winners, stifles it.
So when innovative, entrepreneurial and out-of-the-box minds take on Big Issues like feeding all humans on the planet, providing clean, abundant, cheap energy for the world and reducing CO2 emissions, they often slam up against the hard wall of entrenched-ism.
What is entrenched-ism? I define entrenched-ism as the business/ academic/ scientific research/ technology behemoths/ massive defense contractor overlords who are all too often (dare I say nearly always?) in positions of power, authority and control over anything and anyone who shows up to the party wearing their Creative Thinker hat.
Do things differently? But why on Earth would they? What’s in it for them? Does the 100ft oak yield its place to the tiny sapling growing at its foot? Hardly. Nature tends to be an accurate, if at times harsh, teacher.
Here in Paris, when I walk along the Quai de Béthune on the Ile St-Louis, I often look up at the plaque commemorating Marie Curie’s years spent living in that building and her Nobel Prize award. Just across the river is the Pierre & Marie Curie campus of the Sorbonne. And not too far away, atop the rue de la Montagne-St.-Genevieve is the Panthéon, where she is one of only 6 women entombed in that great monument. In fact she is the first woman to be buried there. She is, of course, in good company at her final resting place in the Panthéon with the likes of Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau… and of course, now, Josephine Baker, too.
But the point I am seeking to make here is that not only was Marie Curie an ‘anomaly’ of her time as a woman pursuing a scientific career publicly. But she got credit for her work, too.
And getting recognition for your work in the brutally competitive areas of intellectual pursuit is, well, more than half the battle.
Yes, ok. NFT is the word of the year. But beyond the hype, the concept of authenticated ownership and timestamp of a digital asset on a transparent public record is truly revolutionary for individual innovation. Ownership is one wing lending flight to this equation, but so is recognition, which must be indisputably conferred when the record, or time stamp, is logged and authenticated on the blockchain. That is to say, in Web3-speak, ‘when the digital asset is minted on the blockchain as an NFT.’
It’s now as if there is an impartial referee at the Olympic Races of intellectual pursuit which indelibly logs the finish times and the moment of crossing the finish line in a transparent , publicly accessible ledger. And not only are these records transparent and open source, they are permissionless, meaning, no human intervention can manipulate the chain-blocked entry.
Voilà. An indisputable distributed ledger of a step in intellectual pursuit…with a date & time stamp.
In 2020-2021, after I qualified my company, IoT Logistics, for government contracting, I dove head first into writing government proposals. Notably, some of the most interesting Requests For Proposals (RFPs) and Announcements For Proposals (AFPs) came out of NASA. They’re a smart bunch of people, no doubt about it, doing incredibly interesting work.
In fact they are so smart that their proposal accepting platform, called NSPIRES, functions a lot like a blockchain-enabled system would. It is a tight ship that time stamps your proposal submission and parses out team members’ roles. It is the only U.S. government agency I’ve seen that works like this. The NSF - National Science Foundation - has a pretty good one, too, called FastTrack, but theirs isn’t as tight as NASA’s. And lets not even talk about Dept. of Energy who contracts out to Big Contractors to onboard potential new companies/ small contractors via phone interview where they solicit all kinds of IP information with nary even an email record of the phone call. That’s entrenched-ism if I ever saw it.
So this got me thinking, what if ALL scientific innovation and intellectual pursuit could be logged in - locked in - on the blockchain thus establishing an indelible record as a point of departure for scientific intellectual sparring and healthy competition?
My guess is that this will allow for A LOT more innovation. Brilliant minds want, need and deserve recognition for their intellectual capacity. Only when you have recognition for one accomplishment can you build on that to get to the next block. When someone else gets credit - for whatever reason - for work you have done, the whole system goes awry.
Does cream always rise to the top? Not in all systems. In some systems, those who rise to the top are often simply the ones who serve power best. Masters of entrenched-ism. A system that is antithetical to individualism is one where those vested with power and authority ‘pick the winners.’
The problem with ‘picking the winners’ is that you invariably kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. In other words, sure, you can switch out the geese, but the new goose won’t be laying any more golden eggs. And that’s where innovation - evolution - dies.
The antidote to that is to allow for excellence to speak for itself, whatever shape, form, age, color or gender it shows up in.
Where does innovation come from? Top down or bottom up?
I suppose you could argue both. But I’d hazard to guess that if Elon had gone to work for Boeing or NASA we wouldn’t have SpaceX today.
If Famous Amos had worked for Chips Ahoy, we wouldn’t have had FamousAmos chocolate chip cookies.
And if Marie Curie had worked anywhere other than the Pasteur Institute, would she and Pierre have discovered Radium and Polonium?
DAOs - decentralized autonomous organizations - are structured using computer code, called smart contracts, to allow for open input by their members. This input is ‘regulated’ by the protocols, the computer code, and not by a central authority. In essence the DAO slogan could very well be, Join a DAO, Get a Voice!
DAOs are organized around core missions. Constitution DAO was famously formed with the express purpose of purchasing a signed original copy of the U.S. Constitution. VitaDAO, the other DAO organized so far around the sciences, has a mission to ‘collectively research, finance, and commercialize longevity research.’ And because it is a DAO this is done in an open and democratic manner, according to their website.
A DAO’s structure is to make decisions as a collective. Interested in researching utilization of in situ resources on the moon? Write a proposal, submit it to FrontierDAO and let the community vote on it. If it’s a go, then you’ll get funded.
For something like fusion energy research this is a gamechanger. Today, there are no fusion energy research companies where private investors can take part. There is only one who once launched a crowdfunding campaign but all the others, the Helions and Commonwealths, are privately funded by big VCs. Just to knock on their door you have to be an accredited investor. And even then, it is iffy you’ll get the chance to invest. The rest are government owned.
*video courtesy [IAEA.org](https://www.iaea.org/)*
And yet, fusion energy could be one of the biggest breakthroughs science will see. Full stop. Imagine a world of clean, abundant energy. Imagine a world where even the poorest people on our planet and those in underdeveloped regions have access to lighting, hot water, electricity for cooking and heat. Imagine a world like that!
All of this energy would be achieved with little to no extractive processes. It is nuclear fusion energy, not nuclear fission to be clear. And while we can’t yet claim that there will be no radioactive nuclear waste, there will be relatively very little.
In the words of a fusion scientist working with the UK & US fusion communities,
‘All approaches right now and probably the first generation of reactors will use deuterium and tritium as fuel. Tritium is radioactive but much less than fission byproducts. And the fusion products produce a neutron which causes neutron activation of material which then creates low level radioactive waste. Overall, the amount of radiation is no more than other industrial products and processes and can be discarded in low level waste sites or after a certain amount of time, in a regular landfill. Overall, much more advantageous than fission.
As a scientific innovation and research project, I cannot think of one more appropriate for wide community involvement, funding and support (except maybe food insecurity elimination). And yes, people who support the DAO, either by purchasing our NFTs, HODLing our social tokens (soon to be released), and/or investing their time in our community infrastructure and ongoing operations, have the option to be awarded a stake in the potential commercialization of this research innovation and its outcome.
In other words, imagine owning a stake in the IP that establishes a world where clean, abundant energy is enjoyed by 8+ billion people on the planet.
As a person with an entrepreneurial/ communications/ technology background - not science - I can say that had I been given the chance to own a piece of the Huffington Post while I was writing my Greening Hollywood column there back in 2006-2009, I’d be much better positioned financially today. In that Web 2.0 model, the top dogs got all the VC money and received eye popping salaries and expense accounts; While at the same time they had nearly all of us contributing for no pay. And then when they cashed out for $300 Million several years later, all we hardworking peons saw was the door slammed in our faces. That was Web 2.0. (Thanks Arianna et al!)
But this…This is Web3. Members of the FrontierDAO community can choose to be stakeholders. Community members with a shared mission have a voice. Creative thinkers and innovators - our door is open. Welcome to the ownership economy. If you’re willing to meaningfully contribute and invest time, talent and skills, we’re glad to have you aboard as part of the community.
Our first project? It’s the Outer Space Virtual Museum. Take a look at our MVP here…
Paige Donner is co-Founder of FrontierDAO.xyz. She teamed up with a scientist renowned in his field to help transition the scientific and digital collaborative economies into the ownership economy. The mission is to establish the DAO as something sustainable, benefitting all those willing to invest their time, their intellect, their goodwill, their talent and their skills.
The core mission is to build a world that is better-serving for all of us through scientific innovation and research. You can find Paige here:
Special thanks to BounderYo for reviewing this post.
Interested in reading more? Ck out Li Jin & Katie Parrott’s The Web 3 Renaissance