"At LabDAO, we are coming together to build a community-owned and operated protocol to exchange laboratory services, instructions, and data." As our statement suggests, the core of our mission is the development and adoption of LAB protocol, a communication protocol for the internet of work, with a focus on life sciences.
A communication protocol is a system that exchanges information between multiple parties and adheres to a well-defined format which leads to predictable responses. Ethereum extended the communication protocols that powered web2, such as TCP/IP, by an additional layer that enabled the trustless and programmable transfer of financial information. We refer to this layer of the internet as web3. While the current sets of tools allow us to transfer value and perform work (in the form of very simple computation) "on-chain", we still require non-cryptographic methods of coordination, such as reputation and financial mechanism design to perform work off-chain (in the physical world).
For example, there are cryptographic guarantees that are trust-free when I am exchanging tokens on Uniswap. I do not need to rely on Uniswap's reputation to use the service, as the EVM's behavior is determined by the smart contract I am interacting with (although it certainly helps to know that the underlying smart contracts have been audited multiple times). In contrast, if I wanted someone in California to analyze a biological sample in return for tokens, there are no cryptographic guarantees that can be applied - I have to rely on reputation and financial mechanisms to ensure that I receive the expected response to my request.
Right now, this off-chain dilemma is emerging at many points where web3 intersects with the physical world. While this could make us question the merit of web3 overall, I do believe that we can use web3 tools to create low-trust systems to exchange services. The two mechanisms that we can engineer are 1) reputation and 2) flow of capital. Let us run through an example of how the LAB protocol could function. In this example, Sam (requester) asks Lilly (provider) to analyze the raw data coming out of an RNA-Seq experiment.
In the future, the process could also include a third party, Paul who is offering to do the sequencing of the sample first. The resulting biocompute-nft is then transferred to Lilly in a chained series of transactions.
Within this example, you can see how we used both reputations -in the form of on-chain validated ratings- and financial mechanisms -in the form of an escrow contract- to incentivize expected outcomes given a certain request.
If you are excited about building a protocol for smart contract enabled exchanges of services, with a focus on the life sciences - get in touch: