Illinois professor to lead AAAS session on 'Blockchain and the Scientific Method'

February 07, 2019

Lav Varshney, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will lead a session on 'Blockchain and the Scientific Method' as a part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington D.C. The press briefing associated with Varshney's session at the Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road, Washington will be from 10-11:30 am ET on Friday, February 15. Those unable to attend in person can register to participate remotely at

The practice of researchers using the scientific method -- developing questions, formulating hypotheses, developing testable predictions, collecting data, accepting or rejecting those predictions based on the data, publishing the results in peer-reviewed journals, and having others reproduce the results -- has been a standard practice for some time. However, in today's environment, there are anxieties over issues related to hypothesizing after the results are known, lack of reproducibility and replication, overstressed peer review, paywalls preventing access to results, and an overall misalignment of incentives for scientists, among others.

The session raises the question of whether blockchain can help resolve the crisis. The technology underpinning cryptocurrencies has found recent usage in domains as diverse as shipping, political elections, food safety, and health record management. The basic unit of a transaction, which could be a hypothesis, a prediction, a dataset, a data analysis script, or a manuscript, is posted onto a decentralized ledger in an immutable way with a time stamp. Smart contracts can then act upon these transactions in an irreversible way. In this symposium, speakers will discuss how the ills of science may be ameliorated by pre-registering hypotheses and posting data, analyses, and results on a public Blockchain. Topics include the way that a directed acyclic graph of scientific transactions underpins discoveries and how their replications can spread credit.
Varshney leads the Information and Intelligence Group at Illinois. The group is focused on augmenting individual and collective intelligence by understanding computation in various forms - social computing, nanoscale information processing, neural computation, blockchain, and computational creativity. His research team focuses on science and engineering of informational systems involving human and machines. He received his PhD from MIT in 2010 and was a researcher at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center for three years before joining the Illinois faculty in 2014.

The speakers include James A. Evans from the University of Chicago, Krishna Ratakonda from IBM, and Kewku Opoku-Agyemang from the University of California, Berkeley.

University of Illinois College of Engineering

Related Lead Articles from Brightsurf:

Lead-free magnetic perovskites
Scientists at Linköping University, Sweden, working with the perovskite family of materials have taken a step forwards and developed an optoelectronic magnetic double perovskite.

Researchers devise new method to get the lead out
Researchers in the lab of Daniel Giammar, in McKelvey School of Engineering have devised a simple, quick and inexpensive way to quantify how much lead is trapped by a water filter.

Preventing lead poisoning at the source
Using a variety of public records, researchers from Case Western Reserve University examined every rental property in Cleveland from 2016-18 on factors related to the likelihood that the property could have lead-safety problems.

Silicones may lead to cell death
Silicone molecules from breast implants can initiate processes in human cells that lead to cell death.

Poor diet can lead to blindness
An extreme case of 'fussy' or 'picky' eating caused a young patient's blindness, according to a new case report published today [2 Sep 2019] in Annals of Internal Medicine.

What's more powerful, word-of-mouth or following someone else's lead?
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, UCLA and the University of Texas published new research in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science, that reveals the power of word-of-mouth in social learning, even when compared to the power of following the example of someone we trust or admire.

UTI discovery may lead to new treatments
Sufferers of recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) could expect more effective treatments thanks to University of Queensland-led research.

Increasing frailty may lead to death
A new study published in Age and Ageing indicates that frail patients in any age group are more likely to die than those who are not frail.

Discovery could lead to munitions that go further, much faster
Researchers from the U.S. Army and top universities discovered a new way to get more energy out of energetic materials containing aluminum, common in battlefield systems, by igniting aluminum micron powders coated with graphene oxide.

Shorter sleep can lead to dehydration
Adults who sleep just six hours per night -- as opposed to eight -- may have a higher chance of being dehydrated, according to a study by Penn State.

Read More: Lead News and Lead Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to