BSci Quarterly Newsletter — Q3 2023

9 min readOct 3, 2023

Welcome to the BlockScience Quarterly newsletter — autumn edition — welcome fall! 🍂 In this collection, we share our most recent work and insights regarding emerging technologies, innovation, and how they shape our society.

In this edition, we explore the profound role of language in shaping our technological landscape, especially within knowledge networks and innovation. Discover the story behind the term “artificial intelligence,” the very human traits that led to its establishment, and envision its use beyond the hype cycles.

We also take you on a journey through the core principles that define BlockScience, emphasizing model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and responsible engineering practices. We highlight the importance of accountable governance in shaping a better world and explore our mission and values, emphasizing a commitment to ethical engineering and positive-sum impact.

Lastly, we feature our vibrant ecosystem of events — summits, podcasts, and conferences — reflecting our continuous dedication to safe, ethical, and resilient systems.


Tech & Infrastructure

Grant Program Announcement: Empirical Investigations of a Digital Frontier

Are you a data scientist keen on exploring the digital frontier and contributing to the discourse with data-backed insights? We’re teaming up with Open Teams Incubator and Token Engineering Commons to launch a grants program, inviting data and computational scientists to delve into the uncharted territories of Web3 through empirical exploration. Formulate a hypothesis, prepare your methodologies, and be part of this exciting initiative! Learn more and apply.

Automating Compliance and Security with Shield3

Collaborating with Shield3 we announce Phage, a customizable policy framework to enhance security, compliance, and operational efficiency in blockchain-based financial applications. It addresses regulatory issues, DeFi challenges, and the need for adaptive policies for optimal functioning. The framework utilizes AI, defines policy workflows using Banyan language, and supports automated compliance and responsible integration of intelligence. It allows organizations to engage with blockchain technology while ensuring robust compliance and security, making it a game-changer for automated financial infrastructure.

Inside the Very Human Origin of the Term “Artificial Intelligence” — And Its Seven Decade Boom/Bust Cycle

Explore the intriguing genesis and evolution of the term “artificial intelligence” over nearly seven decades, tracing back to its origins in human ambition and competition. The article delves into the pivotal moment in 1955 when computer scientist John McCarthy coined the phrase to set his work apart from cybernetics and follows the AI field’s journey and implications beyond the hype.

Block by Block: Managing Complexity with Model-Based Systems Engineering

In this article, we dive into “Block Science” — our method of breaking down complex problems into manageable “blocks” to explore solutions. At BlockScience, we focus on model-based systems engineering (MBSE), ensuring outcomes benefit all stakeholders. Join us on a journey through the stages of the engineering life-cycle, shaping a better world with thoughtful, accountable governance.

Governance & Social Science

A Language for Knowledge Networks

In the evolving landscape of technology, language acts as a fundamental medium that binds us together, both for problem-solving and, intriguingly, problem-creation. This article delves into a vision where LLMs and innovative cyberinfrastructure pave the way for dynamic knowledge networks, enabling small, specialized organizations to collaborate seamlessly and drive unparalleled innovation.

Lamp DAO: a Cybermemetic Experiment in Collective Governance

In this gonzo journalism style feature on Hackernoon, our Jessica Zartler writes about LampDAO — a larp, memetic-inspired cybernetics demonstration, art installation, and R&D project that acts as critique and a beacon for Web3. In this humorous portrayal of a hackathon experiment, she explores the potential role of emerging tech in transitioning critical infrastructure and the hope for a brighter future.

An Algorithm is a Camera

Delving into André Bazin’s 1958 essay on photography; this piece explores the distinction between photographic representations and other art forms. Bazin believed photography captured objective reality, untainted by subjectivity. The narrative traces this belief and examines how the advent of digital technology has shifted perceptions of photography’s objectivity, linking it to contemporary algorithms and computational modeling.

The Animating Purpose of BlockScience

In this introspective journey, we delve into the core of our organizational design. We apply our analytical framework to our operations to unravel the essence of an organization’s “animating purpose” by exploring our mission and values. Join us as we examine the fabric of our purpose and values and how they drive our every endeavor in engineering a better tomorrow.

Decentralized Data Governance Pattern Library

Spearheaded by our social science lead, Kelsie Nabben, this project aims to enhance resilience by leveraging technology, with a primary focus on the intricate interplay between social and institutional arrangements in the coordination and maintenance of data. At its core, this library serves by offering patterns that articulate how to effectively coordinate data, aligning it with content addressing, storage, and maintenance aligned with specific contexts such as access control, storage infrastructure, and duration of storage. Click here to learn how you can contribute.

Economics & Mechanism Design

Introduction to “Economic Games as Estimators

This article provides a condensed overview of the paper “Economic Games as Estimators,” authored by Michael Zargham, Jamsheed Shorish, and Kris Paruch. It outlines their testing infrastructure for bonding curves, demonstrating the bonding curve’s reliability in estimating true market prices across different scenarios using discrete event games and simulations.

Exploring Bonding Curves: Differentiating Primary and Secondary Automated Market Makers

This article explores the application of bonding curves, focusing on Automated Market Makers (AMMs), Primary Automated Market Makers (PAMMs), and Secondary Automated Market Makers (SAMMs). It’s part of a broader initiative by BlockScience, The Bonding Curve Research Group (BCRG), and Token Engineering Commons, emphasizing bonding curves as dynamic token issuance mechanisms for stability in token economies.

Events, Talks, and Presentations

DAO Harvard: Shaping the Future of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

In a groundbreaking three-day conference, DAO Harvard brought together a diverse assembly of practitioners, policymakers, and academics to delve into the intricate realms of DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations). Michael Zargham shared the panel with Lawrence Lessig and Sandy Pentland. The conference, hosted in collaboration with Harvard Belfer Center’s Technology and Public Purpose Project and Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics, served as a crucial platform for dialogue on the research, legal, and policy facets of DAOs.

Designing Beyond the Machine: Tokens, Blockchain and Contracts

In this fascinating podcast, Michael Zargham, CEO of BlockScience, spoke on the transformative potential of Blockchain and emerging technologies in reshaping the landscape of organizational dynamics. Beyond the realm of smart contracts, Zargham envisions a future where novel and unconventional design possibilities will redefine traditional organizational structures, calling for humility among systems designers to foster adaptability through enabling constraints.

AI Palace: Unconventional Gathering at Bückeburg Palace

An unconventional week-long gathering unfolded at the historic Bückeburg Palace in Germany hosted by Metagov. This unique unconference defied convention with approximately 35 attendees, including Zargham, known at the event as the Archbishop of Automation. Bückeburg Palace, famous for hosting a diverse range of luminaries throughout history, provided a fitting backdrop for this event. No scripted talks were on the agenda, fostering an environment where ideas and collaboration flowed freely on a diverse range of topics, aided by whiteboards. In a world often driven by structure, the AI Palace exemplified the power of embracing the unexpected, blending history and innovation to create an unforgettable experience.

cadCad.jl: A Modelling Library for Generalized Dynamical Systems

Emanuel Lima, senior research software engineer at BlockScience and the lead maintainer of cadCAD, presented his work on re-implementing cadCAD in Julia at JuliaCon 2023. It took place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. Lima discussed the advantages of the re-implementation in terms of performance and a better type of system, highlighting that cadCAD, as an open-source tool, offers a better alternative to expensive proprietary solutions for data engineering pipelines. He also touched on other related topics like Generalized Dynamical Systems (GDS), digital twins, and the use of block diagrams within GDS.

Bonding Curve Research Podcast

Jeff Emmett delivered an engaging talk on the BCRG Podcast during their weekly research session, making the complex world of bonding curve models accessible to all. He demystified primary and secondary bonding curves, highlighting their pivotal role in shaping the future of digital ecosystems. These sessions serve as open-mic opportunities to explore the fascinating realm of novel economic mechanisms in emerging tech. Emmett’s insights are a beacon of excitement, illuminating the path to a promising future for digital economies!

Crypto x AI Mini-Conference: Autonomous Agent Applications

This presentation, led by Kelsie Nabben, Senior Social Scientist at BlockScience, delves into AI accountability and governance in the context of Web3 projects. She explores how AI, especially large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, is being integrated into governance and its associated considerations. The discussion emphasizes the governance challenges and potential design directions, urging for further research and collaboration in this evolving domain.

Exploring Constitution-Building and Digital Governance with Kleros

Eric Alston, senior researcher, shared his insights on the Kleros podcast, delving into the world of constitution design and digital governance. Alston emphasized the role of constitutions in coordinating behavior within complex social groups and the importance of articulating secondary rules to avoid the tyranny of the majority and ensure coordinated certainty. The conversation also touched on decentralizing governance and the balance between efficiency and sufficient representation.


RECL[AI]M @ Commons Hub

RECL[AI]M — Generative Algorithms for the Commons called on experts and activists to come to the Austrian Alps to spend three days at the Commons Hub and collectively make sense of the Generative AI wave, an all-encompassing shift dense with opportunities and dangers, and on “artificial intelligence” more broadly. Our research engineer, Orion Reed presented his latest research and work on our own “BSci GPT.” Follow us on X (Twitter) to stay up to date on our ongoing AI research and development work.

Token Engineering Barcamp @ ETHCC

The Token Engineering Community hosted the Token Engineering Barcamp at ETHCC Week in Paris on July 22. Cryptoeconomics researchers, token engineering practitioners, and TE Fundamentals students came together for a full day of enriching discussions and networking, including our research engineer in maths and economics, Krzysztof Paruch, who presented on mechanism design through the lens of GDS. Missed the event? Check out recorded presentations from TE thought leaders.

MetaGov Weekly Seminar

Have you joined the weekly Metagovernance Seminar? The Metagovernance Seminar invites individuals working in online governance to present their work to a community of other researchers and practitioners. Topics of the seminar include, but are not limited to, computational tools for governance, governance incidents and case studies from online communities, topics in cryptoeconomics, and the design of digital constitutions.

INFORMS Annual Meeting for Operations Research

Our team is excited to attend the upcoming Informs Annual Meeting, Oct 15th — 18th. INFORMS is the leading international association for professionals in operations research, analytics, management science, economics, behavioral science, statistics, artificial intelligence, data science, applied mathematics, and other relevant fields. BlockScience’s Michael Zargham, Jamsheed Shorish, and Jessica Zartler will be in attendance — feel free to reach out if you plan to attend or would like to schedule a meetup, we would love to connect with you! #INFORMS2023

🔬 It’s hard to believe we’re entering the last months of 2023! We look forward to sharing our upcoming collaborations, R&D, and company updates in the next edition… stay tuned for our next quarterly newsletter!

From our team to you — have a beautiful autumn!! 🙏💗🎃🍂

BlockScience® is a complex systems engineering, R&D, and analytics firm. By integrating cutting-edge research, applied mathematics, and computational engineering, we analyze and design safe and resilient socio-technical systems. We provide engineering, design, and analytics services to a wide range of clients, including for-profit, non-profit, academic, and government organizations, and contribute to open-source research and software development.

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BlockScience® is a complex systems engineering firm that combines research and engineering to design safe and resilient socio-technical systems.