Highlighting Innovative R&D Collaborations in Economic, Environmental and Social Impact Projects
Welcome to the new BlockScience blog, hosted on Ghost! To commemorate the passing of another year, we decided to take this opportunity to reflect on some of our public-facing projects, collaborations, and connections of 2022. As we take a moment in our reflections, we would also like to thank you for being a part of our journey.
It’s been an incredibly productive and innovative year. Here are some highlights from our groundbreaking research and development projects:
Introducing Automated Regression Markets & Market Makers
Tokenization allows market mechanism and currency designers a level of granularity and dimensionality that has new possibilities for the expression of value. BlockScience has been developing research on fungibility as a spectrum, publishing A Practical Theory of Fungibility in 2021. This year, building on that research, we teamed up with Hedera Hashgraph, HBAR Foundation, Object Computing Inc., and Tolam Earth to expand the R&D of a new price discovery mechanism we call Automated Regression Market Makers. This mechanism has several potential applications in various markets; the introduction article delved into the use case of sustainable value energy markets, such as Renewable Energy Credit (REC) and Carbon offset/removal Credit (CORC) markets.
Testing ARMMs in Production
In the second article on ARMMs, we covered the risks and benefits of ARMMs for price discovery and trading using traditionally managed order-book markets as our baseline. We explored a related area of algorithmic trading — namely financial quantitative trading strategies, or quant trading for short — and used lessons learned by developers of quant traders to suggest how to go about developing and deploying ARMMs such that benefits are maximized and risks are minimized.
In 2023, we will be embarking on a research project to model and simulate energy credit ARMMs. We will examine the potential for price discovery by primary market makers, as well as supply and demand behavior across assets with multiple attributes, and look forward to continuing research and collaborations with our partners - stay tuned!
Patterns For Local Economic & Social Impact
Community Inclusion Currencies
This piece introduces the academic paper by Andrew Clark et al., examining the modeling of Grassroots Economics’ Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs) system design circa 2020. Many thanks to Will Ruddick and the team at Grassroots Economics and Adam Bornstein and the Danish Red Cross for the opportunity to collaborate on such bleeding-edge social impact work. We look forward to more exciting collaborations in 2023!
Alpha Bonds are the ixo.world implementation of Risk-adjusted Bonding Curves (RABCs) for results-based finance for social impact. As a versatile crypto-economic primitive, RABCs have a wide number of potential applications, from Regenerative Finance (ReFi) Social Impact Bonds to local currency systems that incentivize collective action toward desired outcomes. RABCs are the first formalized instance of a dynamic bonding curve that integrates risk signals from the real world into decentralized finance using an internal prediction market mechanism. The research was carried out in collaboration with the Interchain Foundation and ixo, both industry leaders and pioneers in the field of re-thinking economics for local impact.
Institutional Design & Analysis Of Self-Governing Organizations
This year, we established a governance research team, increasing our capacity to undertake social science research efforts. The team leads analysis, design, and advisory services, as well as supporting other BlockScience engineering and design projects. The team developed several articles, papers, and presentations on the work, including:
Aligning the Concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organization with Precedents in Cybernetics
In this foundational paper, Michael Zargham and Kelsie Nabben link the field of Cybernetics - the applied social science of control theory and dynamical systems - with blockchain technology and decentralized autonomous organizations. They apply principles of control theory to these new types of multi-agent, purpose-driven organizations, introduce a constitutional archetype through which to view and update code and demonstrate this with a case study.
DAO Vulnerabilities: A Map of Lido Governance Risks & Opportunities
We undertook a first-of-its-kind governance assessment of Lido DAO. The goal was to understand the social, technical, and economic dynamics as well as the endogenous and exogenous threats to the DAO, including vulnerabilities in the governance surface. The BlockScience team used ethnographic methods reviewing documentation, code, and the community’s communication channels and performed mapping and interviews of the stakeholders, ecosystem, and technical layers.
An Analysis of Wildland’s “User Defined Organization” Concept
This piece - part one in a two-part series - summarizes a research sprint conducted by the governance research team at BlockScience on the project Wildland, “a personal docker container for your data”, whose founding team proposes a storage marketplace and user-controlled governance as part of the design of the Wildland ecosystem. In the analysis, we identified several areas for improvement of the User-Defined Organization (UDO) concept. We highlighted some of the reasons that governance is hard and why innovating on governance and a product at the same time, when including a community, is harder still. In part two, Applying Lessons from Constitutional Public Finance to Token System Design we examined Wildland’s Proof-of-Usage incentive design and governance challenges and opportunities through the lens of public finance.
This is our third piece on the topic of Computer-Aided Governance (CAG), a computational decision-support framework under development at BlockScience. Part 1 explored the concept of Computer-Aided Governance (CAG), while part 2 unpacked the concept into the CAG Map and Process (MAP). This article looked at the analysis and application of the CAG MAP — an exploratory tool to help communities use computational aids to better understand and steer complex systems — to a subset of BlockScience collaborations in order to demonstrate computer-aided governance in action for participatory decision-making.
Zine: Navigating Information Infrastructure
BlockScience research continuously pushes the boundaries of new technologies that are becoming available in Web 3.0 and beyond. One of our most interesting experiments in 2022 was publishing a zine as a non-fungible token (NFT), exploring the concept of funding an attribution of open-source research and development. This exploration of networked media fused art and technology and offers a proof of concept for leveraging web3 technologies to empower the science commons.
Ethnography of a DAO
The piece is an outline of a forthcoming piece on “The Ethnography of a DAO” to be published in 2023 for an industry ethnographer conference, “EPIC”, as part of the 2022 conference theme “Resilience.” The paper investigates how ethnographers can study ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organizations’ using qualitative ethnographic techniques and what this teaches us about decentralized social organizations, algorithmic governance, and resilience. In it, researcher Kelsie Nabben develops a novel, qualitative methodology on resilience and ‘vulnerability mapping’ that can only be generated through ethnographic practices.
Contributing New Building Blocks To Math Frameworks For Systems Engineering
Generalized Dynamical Systems
Generalized Dynamical Systems (GDS) is a mathematical framework pioneered in the 1950s-60s that has been extensively researched and leveraged more recently at BlockScience for applications in the emerging area of enforceable contracts, such as may be found in Token Engineering. Michael Zargham and Jamsheed Shorish completed the first of a three-paper series outlining notation and definitions of GDS in representing dynamical systems and helping systems designers and modelers to separate the modeling laws of motion from actor behaviors - making system rules (the field of action) distinct from agent behaviors and actions within that field.
Content Addressable Transformers
This piece introduces the concept of Content-Addressable Transformers (CATs) and explores their potential to enable a new frontier of impactful use cases on the content-addressable web. CATs are part of the BlockScience team’s research on data-driven systems, inspired by our work in the Filecoin ecosystem but applicable far beyond. We invite you to join us on the development journey of this exciting new software framework for verifiable data provenance in complex systems modeling.
BlockScience software engineers have continued to support the ongoing development of cadCAD’s alpha reference implementation, an open source multi-scale complex systems modeling framework. The latest demo of Single Input, Single Output (SISO) functionality was given by Emmanuel Lima in last month’s cadCAD community call. Check out the GitHub repository for code and examples!
Events, Talks & Presentations
Our researchers and engineers were honored to attend, present and take part in dozens of events internationally this year. Here are some of the highlights and recordings, in case you were not able to attend:
Michael Zargham and Jeff Emmett at Funding the Commons New York:
Kelsie Nabben presenting at EthBarcelona, EthCC, FWB Fest, EPIC Amsterda, Stellar & Funding the Commons Lisbon:
- Web3 as Infrastructure
- What are we LARPing about?
- DAO Science: organizational design as an emerging interdisciplinary science
Emanuel Lima at PyData NYC:
Danilo Lessa Bernardinelli at Filecoin Singapore:
Smart Contract Research Forum (SCRF) Series:
- Kelsie Nabben, Michael Zargham, and Kei Kreutler (Gnosis Guild) discuss resilience in the context of DAOs
Partnerships & Collaborations
- We spun out BlockScience Labs to build out a collaborative modeling platform for complex systems modeling with industry-leading data science tools like cadCAD and more. Check out their latest work on #SmartPapers, and get ready for a future of simulation-enabled whitepapers!
- Collaborated with the Token Engineering Academy on the creation of the Token Engineering Fundamentals course.
- We collaborated with international academic research colleagues from RMIT University, WU Vienna, Oxford, and Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas on writing Towards a Participatory Digital Ethnography of Blockchain Governance.
- Sponsored the Crypto Commons Gathering 2022, a grassroots event with researchers participating from across the commons-based DLT ecosystem.
- Became corporate sponsors of NumFOCUS. The mission of NumFOCUS is to promote open practices in research, data, and scientific computing by serving as a fiscal sponsor for open source projects and organizing community-driven educational programs.
- Collaborating with Open Teams Incubator on patterns and tools for Open Source Software Grants bridging existing open source communities and web3.
- Collaborated with the University of Washington - Applied Physics Laboratory on several National Science Foundation grant proposals around Verified Information Exchange (VIE) and Cyberinfrastructure for Sustained Scientific Innovation (CSSI).
- Joined the Protocol Labs-sponsored ComputeOverDataWorkingGroup with a presentation by Kelsie, David, and Joshua that spanned the sociotechnical spectrum.
- Became Gnosis Safe Guardians and contributed to the Zodiac wiki, an open source, shared library and living resource for DAOs.
1st Annual Team Retreat
The BlockScience team held its first-ever annual retreat this year in July in Albany, New York, with team members flying in from as far as Brazil and Belgium - and many, meeting for the first time in person!
It was a fun break and also incredibly fruitful for in-person discussions to foster our work and day-to-day focus. The retreat was filled with whiteboard, brainstorming, and work sessions jamming on code, data infrastructure, client projects, education, and chock full of research discussions.
It was a family-friendly event and not all work! The team enjoyed doing puzzles together, pool days, barbeques, an escape room and a boat tour on the Hudson river.
Happy 5th Birthday, BlockScience!
BlockScience celebrated its fifth birthday on November 3. We’ve come a long way in five years… dozens of projects, lots of new team members, plenty of bleeding-edge innovation, and massive growth from just a few engineers to a thriving and successful company.
Thank you to all our partners and readers that have been a part of our journey, and we look forward to many more collaborations to come!
Happy New Year, and all the best to you and your loved ones in 2023! 🎉
This article was written by Lila Langsford, Jessica Zartler, and Jeff Emmett, with input and edits from Michael Zargham, Nick Hirannet, Emanuel Lima, Kelsie Nabben, Jamsheed Shorish, Hashir Nabi and Danilo Bernardineli.