Academic Grants Round 2023 Announcement


Barriers and drivers of blockchain adoption in emerging markets: Large-scale text analysis and survey experiments among African regulators and citizens Eliza R Oak, Dr. Emmanuel Joel Aikins Abakah, & Mohammad Abdullah Yale, University of Ghana, & UniSZA, Malaysia To discern the key drivers and barriers to blockchain adoption across Africa, this project proposes to systematically collate data through digital trace data, surveys, and interviews. By scraping data from social media, news articles, and Google search trends, the project aims to construct a country-level Blockchain Attitudes Adoption Index for all African nations, comparing it with measures of financial sector stability. The research will particularly focus on Ghana as a case study to collect original data, assessing the perceived potential benefits and risks of blockchain from the perspectives of individuals and regulators. Blockchain Censorship – Quantitative Analysis of Censorship on Public Blockchains Anton Wharstätter, Prof. Arthur Gervais, Liyi Zhou, Aviv Yaish, Kaihua Qin, Jens Ernstberger, Sebastian Steinhorst, Davor Svetinovic, Nicholas Christin, & Mikołaj Barczentewicz Technical University of Munich, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Hebrew University, Imperial College London, University College London, Carnegie Mellon University, & University of Surrey To investigate the implications of blockchain censorship. The research will formalize, quantify, and analyze the security impact of blockchain censorship, by providing a holistic overview of censorship on the consensus layer and application layer, dissecting the quantitative extent of censorship, and investigating the historical transaction confirmation latency on Ethereum. DAO Model Law Dr. Primavera De Filippi, Dr. Morshed Mannan, Silke Elrifai, Fatemah Fannizadeh, Constance Choi, Ori Shimony, & Rick Dudley COALA (Coalition of Legal Automated Applications) To enhance legal recognition and protections for Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), this project focuses on revising and updating the DAO Model Law v1.0, originally released in 2021. The objective is to address advancements in technology and changes in governance norms over the past two years, as well as to provide necessary additions to support the implementation of the DAO Model Law in various global legal frameworks. This effort builds on previous work that has already influenced DAO legal frameworks in jurisdictions such as Utah and New Hampshire in the United States. Ethereum as microcredit for financial inclusion in a developing country: Assessing the drivers and barriers Dr. Shazim Khalid, & Andrei O.J. Kwok Monash University To understand the experiences, challenges, and opportunities of using Ethereum as a microcredit system in developing countries, specifically Kenya, this research will conduct interviews with key stakeholders. By focusing on user perceptions of Ethereum’s reliability and efficacy, the study aims to inform policymakers, financial institutions, and developers about the practical implications of blockchain-based microcredit systems. These insights will facilitate the refinement of the Ethereum ecosystem to better meet the needs of its users, especially in regions that lack access to traditional financial services. Ethereum Development Unraveled: A Blockchain of Communication Dr. Silvia Bartolucci, Dr. Giuseppi Destefanis, Dr. Rumanya Neykova, & Dr. Marco Urtu University College London, Brunel University London, & University of Cagliari To assess the security, risks, and robustness of the Ethereum ecosystem, this research proposes an in-depth analysis of the Ethereum developer community and the software complexity of key open-source projects. Leveraging network theory and sentiment analysis, the study aims to (1) understand the dynamics within the Ethereum developer community and software complexity, (2) predict potential internal conflicts and their potential impact on token prices, and (3) develop a user-friendly digital toolkit providing interactive access to and visualization of the gathered data. This toolkit, utilizing comprehensive datasets from Github, will enhance transparency and understanding of Ethereum’s open-source projects and development practices for both practitioners and end-users. Ethereum Postdoctoral Scholar (Legal) Reuben Youngblom MIT DCI To bridge the gap between legal and technical understanding in the context of digital currencies, this grant will establish a postdoctoral research position at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative. This position will host recent law graduates, offering them technical exposure and guidance from both MIT and Stanford Law’s Reuben Youngblom. The goal is to equip new legal professionals with a deeper comprehension of the technical nuances in the digital currency landscape, aiding in better regulation and legal practice. Forking the Economy: An Ethnography of Crypto Annaliese Milano London School of Economics To address the lack of in-depth academic exploration into the culture of cryptocurrency communities, this project seeks to leverage two years of empirical research to produce an ethnographic study of the Ethereum community and its relationship with the Bitcoin community. Anthropologists, with their expertise in immersive, long-term community studies, are leading this investigation. The primary objectives are to enhance understanding of the social layer of cryptocurrency for better protocol development and to rectify outsiders’ misconceptions about these communities’ objectives. Governance archaeology for decentralized communities Prof. Nathan Schneider, & Prof. Federica Carugati University of Colorado, Boulder To facilitate collective governance and inspire institutional learning in the realm of decentralized governance, this project, known as Governance Archaeology, aims to establish a comprehensive global resource of historical governance practices, especially from non-Western contexts. The project will expand upon an existing prototype database to include a broader range of practices, analyze emergent patterns, and make the resource publicly accessible and editable as an open-source tool. Additionally, a workshop will be organized for the Web3 community to optimize their use of this database, thus contributing to more successful and sustainable self-governance strategies. Legally credible neutrality of Ethereum Mikołaj Barczentewicz Independent To safeguard Ethereum’s status as a public, permissionless network, this project aims to explore the legal implications and potential liabilities of network participants, such as validators, particularly in contexts where they have discretionary power. The project is driven by the potential risks that legal accountability could pose to Ethereum’s structure and operations. It proposes to conduct in-depth research on how these legal risks can be addressed and to what extent they should inform protocol design and development. Merging Eastern Cultures to Complete the Missing Puzzle of DAO Socialware. Sujin Keen, twinfin, & Sunghooon Jin DAOeast Movement To bridge the gap between the technology and community trust in DAOs, this research project, named DAOeast, aims to explore ‘socialware’, the component fostering trusted communities through reciprocal non-contractual relationships. The study will employ a diachronic approach to examine socialware through the lens of ‘relation-centric’ East Asian philosophy, contemplating the convergence of Western philosophies championing individual freedom and Eastern philosophies emphasizing human connection. Open-Source Software Development and Community Dynamics: Historical Insights and Ethereum Implications Dr. Mariia Petryk & Dr. Jiasun Li Independent To gain deeper insights into Ethereum’s open-source ecosystem, this project aims to apply data-driven analysis techniques, building on the team’s established expertise in open-source software research. The plan is to formally test various hypotheses, drawing from studies conducted on the evolution of other open-source software. The project aspires to uncover patterns pertinent to Ethereum and, by doing so, aims to provide guidance that could steer the long-term development of the Ethereum ecosystem. The Social Layer: An Ethnography of Ethereum Development Ann Brody & Dr. Paul Dylan-Ennis Independent To understand the dynamics within the Ethereum development community, this project plans to conduct an ethnographic study focused on Ethereum client developers involved in the Shanghai hard fork. The research, utilizing interviews, will explore the developers’ perspectives and the ways they navigate community expectations and pressures. The goal is to gain insights into how core Ethereum developers build trust with the broader community and manage ‘transparency’ throughout the development process of the Shanghai hard fork.


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