Exploring DAOs as New Kind of Institution

Over the course of a few months I worked on an essay on DAOs with Primavera de Fillipi, Joshua Tan, and Jeff Emmett. The essay focuses on the institutional perspective reconciling the social and technical aspects of DAOs. It’s far from a final piece on the subject but it builds on quite a bit of academic research of its authors who collective come from Computer Science (Josh), Systems Engineering (me) and Law (Prima).

I propose that this thread be used to discuss the ideas and definitions posed in this article.

Also note that I have some additional material based on the ongoing conversations in the SourceCred Community, the MetaGame Community, the Commons Stack community, the MetaGovernance (metagov.org) community and more. I will also share those materials in due course as I suspect some the same questions will arise here.



Thank you! Very useful, learned new things, in particular this was useful (to me):

  • landscape survey with a clear table of which aspects each initiative is trying to cover
  • explaining that computational constitution is just one rather small (but crucial) part of new governance systems
  • reminded me that “human agents” are messy but that’s what we are
  • circular diagram (steering etc.) was also helpful and is probably related to control systems theory which I have to read about some more

I have a question: what is your view on this book? https://www.amazon.com/Social-Emergence-Societies-Complex-Systems/dp/0521606373

1 Like

@david I have not read this particular book but i just clicked the link an read the abstract:

Sociologists have long believed that psychology alone can’t explain what happens when people work together in complex modern societies. In contrast, most psychologists and economists believe that we can explain much about social life with an accurate theory of how individuals make choices and act on them. R. Keith Sawyer argues, however, that societies are complex dynamical systems, and that the best way to resolve these debates is by developing the concept of emergence, paying attention to multiple levels of analysis–individuals, interactions, and groups–with a dynamic focus on how social group phenomena emerge from communication processes among individual members.

I tend to agree with this. I will note however that there is a lot of nuance here. I’ve been working on complex systems with a focus on social and economic systems since the early 2000s and I genuinely believe the complex systems perspective has a lot to contribute to our understanding of social and economic systems, especially with the growing prevalence of algorithmic policy (embedded both explicitly and implicitly in our daily lives).

You can get sense of how I see this fitting with cryptoeconomics by reading this paper:

which frames cryptoeconomics in terms of complex systems.

I also gave a talk on the subject at MIT relatively recently:

I see a lot interesting things happening as people take ownership of their own “systems” and these new systems (such as metagame), have interesting implications for the ways humans might choose to organize themselves in the future. Especially, as we’re seeing our industrial era institutions break down, I have hope for novel information age institutions.

1 Like

Thank you for these references.