Distributed Autonomous Organizations

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Contextual Citations

1. David Morris:

"In the allegedly imminent world of the Internet of Things … these autonomous cloud robots will be able to run free. They will execute contracts, manage supply chains, even open new markets. And though they will do all these things according to a logic designed by human creators, they need not be under direct human supervision. Buterin calls such constructs Decentralised Autonomous Organisations. More commonly, they are known as Distributed Autonomous Corporations, or DACs." (http://www.zoeticnetworks.com/2015/02/02/david-morris-will-the-autonomous-economy-set-us-all-free-or-just-make-the-rich-richer/)


2. SenseLab:

"The Distributed Autonomous Organization evolves toward the Distributed Programmable Organization. Post-blockchain architectures are already emerging that have even more flexible, lower-cost, rhizomatic architectures operating on the peer-to-peer model. These make it possible to design alternative models embodying an ethos of sustainable economic and social cooperation that is integrally built into the systems architecture at all levels.

These developments open new possibilities for collective projects to invent their own self-sustaining creative economies, operating not in competition with each other but in a shared, open-source environment based on notions of the “common”." (http://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/3eprocessseedbank/)


3. Max Hampshire:

"We see that a future situation can arise in which non-humans are in control of programmable money on an unprecedented scale. This would be a situation outside of the ‘comfort zone’ of our current ideas regarding agency and ownership; decentralised legal agents outside of the legal sphere engaging with their surroundings via the sort of relations that have previously been restricted to the human realm. Furthermore, these agents could potentially even be in control of the parameters of the tokens they trade; these could be parameters that control the flow of tokenised assets at the most minutely detailed level." (https://botclub.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/en/discourses/bot-club-legal-bots-conceptual-implications-future-blockchain-infrastructure)

Description

1. David Bollier:

"These are essentially self-organized online commons. A DAO could use blockchain technology to give its members specified rights within the organization, which could be managed and guaranteed by the blockchain. This set of rights, in turn, can be linked to the conventional legal system to make those rights legally cognizable." (http://bollier.org/distributed-networks-and-law)

See this section to explore the legal implications of the blockchain and DAO's:


2. Max Hampshire:

"Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) are organisations that are instantiated on a blockchain, and are constituted of interacting Smart Contracts: computer programs that are also instantiated on a blockchain. Smart Contracts are able to hold their own cryptocurrency wallets, they can self-execute on the occurrence of a certain event or state and can be interacted with (somewhat) like traditional web applications.

What makes DAOs interesting is that they inherit the characteristics of blockchain technology that make it such an attractive technological substrate to build upon in the first place. Blockchain technology enables the creation of entire organisations which can be transparent and are decentralised, free of being rooted in (and thus accountable to the laws of) any particular nation state. Most importantly for this essay, they are even able to act autonomously, free of the needs of human intervention and management." (https://botclub.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/en/discourses/bot-club-legal-bots-conceptual-implications-future-blockchain-infrastructure)


From a DAO to a DPO, i.e. Distributed_Programmable_Organization

SenseLab:

"A DAO, or “Distributed Autonomous Organisation,” is a next-generation outgrowth of the blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin. Simple transactions between two parties are replaced by “smart contracts” which can involve any kind of engagement and any number of parties. Customizable spaces of interaction can be built on top of the underlying architecture, enabling a diversity of self-defining projects to cohabit the same ecosystem and enter into mutually beneficial relation. With this ability, the Distributed Autonomous Organization evolves toward the Distributed Programmable Organization. Post-blockchain architectures are already emerging that have even more flexible, lower-cost, rhizomatic architectures operating on the peer-to-peer model. These make it possible to design alternative models embodying an ethos of sustainable economic and social cooperation that is integrally built into the systems architecture at all levels.

These developments open new possibilities for collective projects to invent their own self-sustaining creative economies, operating not in competition with each other but in a shared, open-source environment based on notions of the “common” (or, more radically, what Fred Moten and Stefano Harney call the “undercommons”). Collective initiatives can invent their own autonomous model, combining collaboratiive work tools, a decentralized, self-administering governance system, and an internal micro-economy that can be interlinked to the cryptocurrency markets or invent its own dedicated forms of value." (http://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/3eprocessseedbank/)


Characteristics

DAO's have autonomous agency

Max Hampshire:

"What is perhaps initially most intriguing about DAOs is that they have some kind of autonomous agency. They have the ability to act more or less independently and to manage their own assets (digital or otherwise). This agency exists even on the most the most basic level of a DAO optimising itself for its continued existence: retaining enough tokenised capital to continue paying for the basic transactions it needs to in order to continue operating.

However, the agency of DAOs jars with the conceptualisation of agency we ascribe to many other autonomous agents at work today, of which we tend to have a fairly anthropomorphic understanding. For instance, the algorithms performing high-frequency trading (HFT) are simply faster and cheaper versions of human traders. The wild variety of chatbots that rely on machine learning are likewise the faster, cheaper, and more easily controllable solution to the organisational problem of providing an always accessible interface to customers - they are the 24/7 stand-in for someone answering the phone. Also, many robots (hardware-based agents) such as those coming out of DARPA, are almost always ‘human’ in size and scope; emulations of animals and humans, built from the perspective of human designers and engineers.

DAOs exhibit a far broader form of emergent operational agency; resembling more the systems for market analysis or the actions of animal hive-minds than the actions of other software or hardware-based agents." (https://botclub.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/en/discourses/bot-club-legal-bots-conceptual-implications-future-blockchain-infrastructure)


The legal personhood of DAO's

Max Hampshire:

"A more helpful example of a previous instantiations of non-human agency is the ‘legal person’ of the corporation. A corporation is a so-called legal fiction, that - in certain regards – is treated as an individual agent in the legal realm. It is a non-human rule-based construct that has rights and obligations conferred onto it, such as the ability to own property, or be legally liable for its actions.

According to science fiction author Charles Stross, corporations are not only the first non-human legal persons, they are also the first form of Artificial Intelligence because they were the first artificial non-humans that acted - on an abstract level - autonomously, and solely in their own self-interest. They have one main goal: survival. A corporation survives by making money in order to pay its staff and continue investing in either itself or sections of the economy that might support its future investments. In short: a corporation is a non-human legal person that metabolises capital, just like a DAO is.

Corporations and DAOs show enough similarity with regards to their actions and forms of agency that it is not too far a stretch - and is in fact useful - to conceptualise DAOs as legal persons in much the same way that corporations are, augmented by the inherent characteristics of blockchain technology. They are decentralised, autonomous legal persons that do not necessarily have to abide by the laws and regulations of a nation state.

But DAOs are not merely the decentralised cousins of the legal persons that are corporations. Corporations do not necessarily bring about the weird range of potential cases of ownership and legality that DAOs do." ((https://botclub.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/en/discourses/bot-club-legal-bots-conceptual-implications-future-blockchain-infrastructure))

Discussion

DAO's and increased social inequality

David Morris:

"Who will own the DACs, who will profit from them – and whether ownership or profits are even the right terms – are still open questions. Larimer, from his tone to his pitch, seems relentlessly fixated on the idea that the funders of DACs will reap profits. The investment-like structure of DACs, funded by cryptocurrency, means that those who establish them, back them early and host them will benefit when their associated cryptocurrencies rise in value. Such enviable roles are reserved largely for the technically savvy, resource-rich, and well-educated: in other words, the already privileged.

On the other hand, the open nature of DACs might allow those who were excluded from traditional entrepreneurial channels to gather capital support for their ideas. Imagine startups in developing countries, frictionlessly funded by international backers in roles somewhere between investors and philanthropists. Whatever ominous developments the new technology portends for the managerial classes, it is still possible to imagine DACs contributing to the larger cause of global justice. After all, if they don’t care about borders, who is to say they won’t work to flatten the huge inequalities between nations?" (http://www.zoeticnetworks.com/2015/02/02/david-morris-will-the-autonomous-economy-set-us-all-free-or-just-make-the-rich-richer/)

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