Blockchain Technology and Progress in Science


This post is by Continuations from Continuations


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Having recently started to read “Willpower” by Roy Baumeister, I am fascinated with the controversy over the reproducibility of his experiments on ego depletion. This is just the latest example in a longstanding historic problem with reproducibility that impacts the progress of science in many fields including medicine. This is an area where blockchain technology may be able to help.

How so? We need to switch the academic standard for publishing to include raw data from experiments. Often this data is voluminous and so I am not suggesting that it be published directly into the blockchain but the blockchain could be used to store both hashes and digital signatures for data. The hashes to insure the integrity of the data and the signatures to keep attribution of data to researchers who helped originate it. For instance, one could imagine a namespace for scientific data powered by Onename’s Blockstack.

would be useful not just in the social sciences but could also be used for publishing code and data in computer science. Even in physics open access to experimental data should be the rule. For instance, there are still fundamental questions of cosmology including theories that do not require dark matter and dark energy. It is virtually impossible to test those without access to raw data from the cosmic microwave background measurements and the recent gravitational wave experiment.

Open access publishing including signed and hashed data sets would allow much faster progress in science. It would increase the ability for third parties to analyze finding and to test competing theories on the same data. With signature attribution data could be cited the same way papers are cited today.