Science & Technology

2672 Items

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Blog Post

DAO Harvard Conference Recap

| June 20, 2023

On April 2-4, 2023, the DAO Harvard conference brought together practitioners, policymakers, and academics to engage in conversation regarding the research, legal, and policy considerations of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). The conference, hosted by the Belfer Center’s Technology & Public Purpose Project and the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics, convened global participants across five continents here at Harvard University. This post will recap some of the major themes and takeaways from each of the individual summits– the Research Summit, Law Summit, and Summit on Equitable Ownership and Governance in the Online Economy.

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Blog Post - perspectives-on-public-purpose

Fostering a Digital Commons: Internet-Native Experiments For Sustainable Open-Source Software

| June 20, 2023

The internet, and by extension much of the global economy, is built on “digital public goods,” often in the form of open-source software. This open-source software is a critical infrastructure for the devices and applications that are part of our everyday lives, yet remains consistently under-funded and under-resourced. Below we explore the importance of and obstacles to sustainability that open-source software faces today, and highlight various experiments that aim to improve the quantity and quality of such infrastructure.

An orange and blue background with an isometric illustration of digital buildings and people

Helena Rong


From Community Currency to Crypto City Tokens: Potentials, Shortfalls, and Future Outlooks of New Old Ideas

| June 15, 2023

Tailored to specific geographic areas, local community currencies are alternative monetary systems designed to empower local businesses and foster engagement while promoting a greater sense of unity of a place. Although these community currencies have never become mainstream practice throughout history, they have repeatedly risen in popularity during times of economic crisis or instability. In the wake of the pandemic, a resurgent interest in community currencies—now powered by blockchain and Web3 technologies—is reshaping the way cities approach local financing and engagement of their constituents. Over the last two years, mayors from major U.S. cities such as New York City, Jackson, Tampa Bay, Miami, and Austin made headlines by openly endorsing cryptocurrencies and embracing the idea of city-branded tokens in hopes of unlocking alternative ways of fundraising and boosting local economic growth during the crypto market’s heyday. With a rich history rooted in times of economic turmoil, community currencies offer both inspiring success stories and cautionary tales of the challenges that lie ahead as cities navigate the evolving financial landscape. As we consider the possibilities of community currencies powered by crypto, we ask: Are they just a temporary fad that poses potential risks and little value, or do they hold the potential to truly offer a synergistic solution to the problems facing cities today? Could they digitally revolutionize the age-old practice of local community currency and elevate public purpose value and social impact? 

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Deep-Dive Into CityDAO: An Experiment in Collective Land Ownership and Decentralized Governance

| June 14, 2023

In October 2021, CityDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), raised over $8 million from over 5,000 members globally to purchase 40 acres of land in Wyoming, aiming to build a city based on the Ethereum blockchain, a first for a DAO. This case study provides an insightful examination of the potential of DAOs for collective land ownership and community governance, offering valuable lessons for future best practices.


A blue background with an isometric illustration of an orange colored lit freeway  during evening hours.

Helena Rong


Connected Digital Society: Paving Ways for Country-Scale Digital Interoperability in Estonia

| June 14, 2023

Estonia, after a series of severe cyberattacks in 2007, integrated blockchain technology into its e-governance system, bolstering its cybersecurity infrastructure and becoming a global model of digital society innovation. Today, Estonia is one of the world's most digitally integrated countries, with 99% of its public services digitized, reportedly saving over 1,400 years of working time and about 2% of its GDP annually. This case study provides a comprehensive analysis of Estonia's digital transformation, evaluating the endeavor from multiple perspectives, encompassing technology, governance, regulatory frameworks, stakeholder involvement, and the underlying values driving the transformation. It aims to derive lessons for other countries considering their own digital transformations.

guns and missiles burst forth from a laptop screen

Adobe Stock

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Guns, Incels, and Algorithms: Where We Are on Managing Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online

| June 12, 2023

Technology companies and governments have spent the past decade trying to better address the evolving threat of terrorist and violent extremist content online (TVEC). This paper examines how effective these efforts have been, where we are today in managing the problem, and wherein lie gaps for improvement.

Steam rises from a coal-fired power plant.

AP Photo/Michael Probst

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Technology Primer: Direct Air Capture

  • Howard Herzog
  • Peter Psarras
| June 09, 2023

Direct air capture (DAC) is a type of technology that captures carbon dioxide directly from the air. As the negative impacts of climate change become ever more apparent, governments and private industries have funneled increasing support toward DAC as a critical pathway toward achieving a net-zero future. Although a promising technology, wide-scale deployment of DAC faces several significant challenges.