SCRF Interviews | SCRF Highlights with Rich Brown and Eugene Leventhal (Ep. 7)

Overview

This week we took a departure from our usual format to answer some questions from the Smart Contract Research Forum (SCRF) community. Our first episode touches on SCRF itself, and features questions posed to founder Rich Brown from researcher Chris Bates, who asked “What was the original idea that spawned SCRF? Have their been other attempts?”, Community and Engagement Lead Paul Zube, we asks “what is the most pressing problem space in web3 that SCRF is not yet in a position to facilitate that we should be building toward?” and finally, project manager Lorretta Sackey asks, “What are some reach goals for SCRF, and how do you envision getting there?”

Links:

Video

Audio (Apple, Spreaker)

Transcript

Highlights:

  • The organization evolved out of a series of conversations between Richard Brown and Chainlink founder Sergey Nazarov.
  • Rich wanted to use web3 tooling to incentivize co-op like communities online, while Sergey was looking for a way to connect sophisticated startups with a research community solving.
  • SCRF is the result: a community devoted to solving the last mile problem in research, how do you connect research to the people who need it and engage with it?
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I’m curious about how SCRF has shaped its community, how do you create a culture between academic researchers and engineers and other platform dwellers, who seem to be groups with very different values?

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@Rich makes the point that SCRF is completely agnostic, that the organization “doesn’t have any dogs in this fight,” and I understand the spirit of those comments. In terms of competing technologies, protocols, etc., SCRF is a neutral entity, as it should be.

And yet, at a foundational level, everyone knows that “the space” SCRF inhabits is DeFi, with all the blockchains, cryptocurrency, and DAOs to go with it. Deep down, SCRF does have a dog in this fight–the dog of anti-centralization.

Imagine that centralized players (the Fed, Goldman Sachs, Meta/Facebook, Amazon, the choice is yours) decided not to adopt but rather to co-opt all the ideas and technologies of DeFi and web3, with no true decentralization. Would SCRF be in favor of that? I don’t think so.

But of course, that’s what’s about to happen. Those just-named centralized entities (and many others like them) are at this very moment watching DeFi/web3 very closely and scheming to “embrace and extend” all of the supporting inventions, technologies and protocols to their own centralized ends, just the way they did with Web 2.0.

Since SCRF is devoted to research in this broad arena, isn’t there room to acknowledge that this DeFi (and DeSci, and D-everything) phenomenon comes out of a philosophical position that has political implications? Because, let’s face it, it does–even though it leaves plenty of room for disagreement among the factions.

If SCRF gave (at a very high level) a very general (but noticeable) political shape to its agenda, might that not help galvanize the audience and deepen the contributor base? Instead of simply inviting people to add research or manage a team, you’d be inviting them to devote their talents to a mission, a cause, a movement.

It could lead to something.

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