In-depth analysis of the origin and evolution of the concept of decentralized organization


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From a technical point of view, DAO includes automation components; but from a political and philosophical point of view, the outstanding feature of DAO is autonomy.

Original title: “Conceptual Models for DAO2DAO Relations” (Conceptual Models for DAO2DAO Relations)
Written by: BlockScience
Translation: Bi Xin, Yan Huilin Proofreading: Yao Xiang

This article is the result of a DAO2DAO collaborative research conducted by Token Kitchen, BlockScience, and Curve Labs with funding from PrimeDAO. At present, most of the research related to DAO is focused on its internal capabilities, for example, how the agents in DAO interact; and the purpose of this article is to understand the complexity of the relationship between DAO and DAO. In this briefing paper, we have identified background concepts and research application areas that are related to the ubiquitous interactions in a nascent ecosystem, and the DAO must also interact or collaborate with the system. The research so far combines the community reports of Curve Labs and related literature reviews, presented as the first phase of the cooperation, and laid the foundation for PrimeDAO’s more rigorous follow-up research work and analysis.


This article aims to introduce the definition of DAO as a new form of non-state actors in the global system. The term “non-state actor” is derived from the theory of international relations, which is also the natural starting point for the study of this article. This article proposes that in its institutional structure, DAO is more similar to the country and global market than to companies or enterprises. This similarity has nothing to do with the size of the DAO, but with its operating mechanism: higher-level institutions are often units that implement specific interaction modes (such as a common legal jurisdiction as a backing for resolving conflicts), and DAOs can be embedded This kind of higher-level institution operates under the circumstances. Therefore, it is necessary for us to understand the tools of international relations (IR, International Relations) and foreign policy.

We believe that Web3 and its derivatives will not change politics itself-politics is an inherent characteristic of human organizations. The more important issue is how to map the concepts in the field of international relations into the DAO agreement and alliance so as to better outline how DAO and Web3 will change the global social and economic system. In this article, we will cover several major topics in a “work-in-progress” approach, and share the results of our ongoing research with the PrimeDAO community. This report will be divided into three main parts:

  1. The concept and history of DAO
  2. Understand the conceptual model of DAO
    1. Inter-layer model
    2. Quantify the qualitative phenomenon of DAO
  3. Forming DAO in the context of international relations
    1. Introduction to international relations
    2. International Relations Research Issues in the Context of DAO

This research is also based on our previous publications: The book “Token Economy” by Shermin Voshmgir (Shermin Voshmgir) describes the concept of purpose-driven tokens. Coin drives collective action with the purpose of co-creating public products; these public products include the creation of a blockchain network or DAO, as well as research on DAO’s institutional economics and governance. These contents have been published in series on Medium (Part 1 and Part 2). In the paper “Foundations of Cryptoeconomic Systems”, Washmir and Mike Zargham (Michael Zargham) outlined the DAO’s systemic view, as well as the related issues of contract theory and institutional economics. Zalham also published an article on “Algorithm as Policy” with Kelsie Nabben; and with Jeff Emmett, Joshua Tan and Pim Villa ·Primavera de Filippi (Primavera de Filippi) co-published an article explaining the core concept of DAO as a new institutional form. We also recommend reading the Curve Labs community report of this DAO2DAO research collaboration. The above resources can be used as an extended reading of the research content contained in this article.

The concept and history of DAO

The term “DAO” stands for “Decentralized Autonomous Organization”, but the concept of organization’s autonomy and decentralization has already appeared before Web3. To be cautious, before discussing DAO in Web3, let’s briefly review these concepts:

In-depth analysis of the origin and evolution of the concept of decentralized organization

The above picture shows the diverse search trends of two keywords: Autonomy and Decentralization. Note that the use of the term “autonomy” predates the use of the term “automated/automation”-even in the pre-computing era. (Source: google ngrams)

Let’s start with a few definitions:

The definition of “Autonomy” in Wikipedia is:

In developmental psychology and moral, political, and bioethical philosophy, autonomy refers to the ability to make informed, uncoerced decisions. An autonomous organization or institution is independent or autonomous. Autonomy can also be defined from the perspective of human resources, which means giving employees (relatively high) discretion at work. As we all know, autonomy in this situation generally improves job satisfaction. Self-fulfilling individuals are considered to be autonomous operations that are not controlled by outside expectations.

Autonomy should not be confused with automation. The latter is a technical concept related to the field of control engineering. The field of control engineering includes robotics, but also includes a wider range of non-human or systems engineering with minimal human intervention.

The definition of “Decentralization” in Wikipedia is:

Decentralization is the decentralization process of the organization’s planning and decision-making of organizational activities, especially activities, from a central, centralized location or group. The concept of decentralization has been used as a group initiative method and management science, applied to private enterprises and organizations, political science, law and public administration, economics, currency, and technology.

Although the concept of distribution and autonomy in political philosophy has a long history, this article will start with Web3 when these terms are absorbed. It is worth noting that when the Web3 community uses the term autonomy, it often combines the concepts of autonomy and automation. From a technical point of view, DAO contains automation components, or robots (bots), which have similar design features to distributed systems in automatic control, such as feedback loops in sensor networks. But from the perspective of political philosophy, the outstanding feature of DAO is autonomy, that is, self-realization at the organizational level.

The concept of DAO in the context of Web3 was proposed by Dan Larimer in 2013. Larimer is also the creator of the term Decentralized Autonomous Corporation (DAC), but the term is usually attributed to Vitalik Buterin (Vitalik Buterin), who took Larimer’s concept and summarized it, and coined the term DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). However, the concept of distributed automata has a long history-according to Butlin, this concept was partly inspired by the novel “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez.

In 2013, Larimer compared Bitcoin to a company whose shareholders are Bitcoin token holders and its “employees” are miners. “Bitcoin has 21 million shares. These shares are owned by shareholders who are considered Bitcoin. It has employees and an agreement to pay them: about 25 BTCs are issued to a random employee every ten minutes. It even has its own The marketing department is largely composed of shareholders. However, it also has its limitations. Except for the moment, it knows almost nothing about the world; it does not have the ability to change any functions, except for the difficulty of adjustment; and it itself In fact, nothing is done, it just exists and the world can recognize it.” Larimer defined the native blockchain token as a “share in a distributed autonomous company (DAC), and the source code defines the rules and regulations. DAC’s The goal is to make profits for shareholders by providing valuable services to the free market.” (LetsTalkBitcoin 2013) Although Larimer described a new company/enterprise form, he also used many market metaphors. He merged the concept of market (external coordination and production) with company theory (internal coordination and production).

In another article, Larimer described DAC as “an effective metaphor, a distributed system designed to provide effective products and services to society. If a complex institution like a bank can be implemented as a DAC, then obviously there are more things that can be implemented as a DAC. “(LetsTalkBitcoin, 2013) such as news aggregation, advertising, domain names, patents, copyrights and next-generation intellectual property rights, insurance, courts, custody, arbitration, anonymous voting certification, prediction markets or next-generation search engines.

His brother Stan Larimer (Stan Larimer) defines DAC as follows: “It operates without any human involvement and is controlled by a set of clean business rules (…) These rules are regarded as publicly auditable Open source software is distributed on the computers of its stakeholders.” He described Bitcoin as “a shareholder-owned, employee-run, non-profit crypto company!” (LetsTalkBitcoin2013). Stan Larimer mentioned Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.”

  • The first rule: Robots must not harm humans or cause harm to humans due to inaction.

  • The second rule: Unless the first rule is violated, robots must obey human commands.

  • The third rule: On the basis of not violating the first and second rules, the robot must protect itself.

He mapped these laws to DAC and stated that “Bitcoin has proven its ability to credibly implement social contracts based on a set of basic inviolable core laws”:

  • Integrity: A DAC must always abide by its own published business rules! The malicious behavior of individual DAC robots will only be collectively blocked, and their perpetrators will also be circumvented. Breaking the rules is futile. Coercion by evil institutions is also futile.

  • Incorruptibility: Unless the first rule is violated, a DAC must never change the rules without the consent of the stakeholders! Without the consent of the majority of stakeholders, any source code of DAC shall not be updated, unless more than half of the total number of members agree to adopt it, or even bribing a very small number of DAC robots will not have an impact.

  • Self-preservation: On the basis of not violating the first and second laws, a DAC must protect its own existence!

Buterin adopted the concept of DAC and wrote numerous articles on this topic in 2013 (a, b, c) and 2014 . He imagined a novel form of business automation, and described how a company can operate without managers, replace management with software, and be responsible for recruiting and paying people who work flexibly in any type of organization with a task system. He defined DAO as “an entity that lives on the Internet and exists autonomously, but also heavily relies on hiring individuals to perform certain tasks that automata itself cannot accomplish.” Butlin described the concept of “autonomous agents” Concept, it does not require human participation like traditional organizations. Although he admitted that “building the hardware on which the agent runs may require a certain degree of human effort, but there is no need for any human to know the existence of the agent.” For example, he said that computer viruses replicate between machines and do not require deliberate actions by humans. They exist in a manner similar to biological organisms, or distributed self-replicating cloud computing services, which can be started on a virtual private server. Run automated business on the Internet, then rent other servers, install your own software on them, and add them to the network. Butlin described a number of autonomous agents with different ranges of (a) intelligence and (b) versatility. He acknowledged that “autonomous agents are the most difficult thing to create. In order to succeed, they need to be able to navigate a complex, rapidly changing, and hostile environment.”

Butlin picked up the thoughts that have existed widely in cybernetics for decades, and the performance of these thoughts in science fiction. He described a distributed organization (DO) as “an organization that uses a set of smart contracts to automate existing processes. A distributed organization is not a hierarchical structure managed by a group of humans, nor is it a property controlled by a legal system, but The interaction performed by a group of humans in accordance with the protocol specified in the code and executed on the blockchain. A distributed organization may or may not use the legal system to protect its physical property, but even with such operations, This use is also secondary.” He said, “In a distributed organization (DO), humans are the ones who make decisions; while a distributed autonomous organization (DAO) makes decisions for itself. In a DAO, Collusion attacks are treated as a bug, and in a DO, this is a feature.”

“The Internet allows us to create distributed companies. These automata exist entirely on the Internet in the form of a distributed network and perform calculations on thousands of servers to maintain their vitality.” These distributed companies have “two capabilities: the ability to think and the ability to maintain capital. In theory, this is all the capabilities an economic entity needs to survive in the market, provided that its ideas and capital can make it fast enough to create Marketable value to keep up with your resource needs. But in practice, there is still a major challenge: how to actually interact with the world around you.” Butlin introduced the oracle problem of how DAO obtains external data. . He also said: “Computer software is increasingly becoming the most important component of our modern world, but until now, the exploration in this field has focused on two aspects: artificial intelligence, software that works purely on its own; and The software tools that he works under. The question is: Is there anything between the two? If so, it should be an idea similar to software guiding humans, that is, distributed autonomous companies.” (Bitcoin Magazine, 2013)

In short, Butlin elaborated on such a vision of the world: Cyber-Physical System (CPS) is not just a collection of automated components supervised by humans, but a manifestation of institutional autonomy and a new kind of collective wisdom. Importantly, this vision is in sharp contrast to the surveillance superstructures sponsored by the state and enterprises, and these superstructures are the main applications of advanced artificial intelligence technology funded and deployed by central agencies: Western surveillance capitalism, and the Soviet Union Cybernetics reincarnates in the east with advanced technology.

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