Decentralised autonomous organisations or DAOs are community-owned and community-driven entities working towards a shared mission. These blockchain-governed organizations have no central authority or leadership. All the decisions are collectively taken by the community adhering to specific sets of rules enforced on the blockchain.
DAOs do not have any hierarchical management and empower every member of the community to be able to take decisions. Community members can create proposals which are then voted on by every member of the DAO. Based on the pre-defined level of consensus, these proposals are then accepted or rejected.
DAOs allow like-minded individuals to come together and work towards a common goal. The DAOs have a built-in treasury which can only be accessed after approval of the community members. These funds can be used for various purposes to advance the goals of the DAOs. DAO can be very effective for bringing individuals with diverse expertise and background together for common goals like advancing science.
How Does A DAO Work?
DAOs operate using smart contracts which execute automatically when certain set criteria are met. For e.g., if a criterion in the smart contract was set that once the researcher uploads data for phase 1 of the research, the funds for phase 2 of the research should be disbursed, the smart contract will disburse the funds as soon as data for phase 1 is uploaded. No delays, no reminders, no multiple follow-ups required.
The smart contracts also establish the rules for the DAO. Members of the DAO who have a stake in the DAO get voting rights. Using their stake in the DAO, the members can decide on proposals and ultimately the working of the DAO. DAOs enable the community-driven organisation to function openly and transparently.
A proposal passes only when a majority of the members vote in favour of the proposal. The rules about voting, vote weightage, etc. differ from one DAO to another. DAOs are fully transparent and everything can be verified on the blockchain. The voting percentages, rules, smart contracts, treasuries, everything is open and can be audited by anyone.
Why DAOs are Ideal for Driving Science?
DAOs have complete transparency and independence which are essential requirements for entities working towards scientific research and drug development. DAOs are a step ahead of typical fundraising groups, as DAOs offer them a monetary stake in the outcome as well. So, someone who wants to fund a rare disease research study can do it with a DAO and have monetary benefits too.
DAOs empower anyone who wants to participate in drug development to do so by being a DAO member. By funding specific research studies via a DAO, the patients can have a say in the final outcome of the patent and also have a monetary stake in the outcome. By just being a member of the DAO, anyone can be one of the owners of the intellectual property.
DAO can also ensure quick funding for research studies when compared with traditional government grants or venture capital. There is no bureaucracy and lengthy processes when it comes to DAO. The decision-making does not happen behind closed doors nor is the participation limited. DAOs enable multiple stakeholders to participate in scientific decision-making and fund innovative research projects.
Decentralised science models and DAOs are a perfect tool for empowering researchers to collaborate by sharing data, resources, knowledge, and expertise. Such collaboration is not possible in traditional collaboration methods. Since the DAOs are on blockchain everything is transparent and time-stamped, removing any hesitancy in cross-collaboration.
DAOs are the next-gen tech-savvy way of doing scientific research and solving the long-standing issues of researchers as well as patients. It can empower both researchers and patients giving them the power to take part in decision-making. DAOs do have certain challenges to overcome but should be resolved as more use cases are explored. The impact of DAOs in advancing decentralized science and scientific research could certainly usher in a new era of science.