Who art DAO?
DAO Definition: A DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) is a distributed organisation that is often built on a blockchain technology. A DAO has no leader, no management and it’s operated through smart contracts. A DAO can issue tokens to provide group governance of the organisation, pay contractors or token holders.
Work is changing. The internet revolution marked the beginning of the end for the firm and the rate it’s unraveling is increasing exponentially. Nick Tomaino’s “Death of the firm”piece is the best primer for this. The internet is being disrupted by decentralisation which has kicked the firms demise and the DAO’s takeover up a gear.
Internet era, network stage 1:
The internet revolution meant start-up’s boomed, freelance markets exploded, the gig economy surfaced and grumpy cat was born. Corporates offering job security and social proof became unpopular. Startup’s that let you wear shorts, work from home and empowered you to do your best work — unsurprisingly won. The internet democratised freedom of information. It meant anyone could have access to any information. As MySpace, and later, Facebook became superpowers we started to view networks in a different way. This abundance of networks meant our reliance on the corporate network was over. We no longer needed that job security blanket. However, the idea we needed that big corporate badge to open doors stuck around like a bad smell.
The internet helped us realise we didn’t need firms anymore, the incentives now outdated. No longer are people’s incentives aligned with corporate firms in the way they were 30 years ago. We now have countless networks at our fingertips. The world of work has changed significantly but these corporates incentives of bonuses and shares haven’t. We were giving way more than we’re getting back. We started to question and despise them for incentivising us with water, whilst they glug wine.
Now with the internet embarking on its decentralisation journey, we’re starting to further question the need for any centralised parties.
The equation has gone from:
1. human + human + human= work network :::
2. human + software + human = work network :::
3. human + software = work network
Decentralised internet era, network Stage 2:
The internet has given us centralised marketplaces that disinter-mediated the inefficient middle man and brought us global choice (eBay, AirBnB). But seeing a rise of centralised power in these platforms has made us ask questions again.
‘Do we need these centralised bodies?’
Why not put software in place and let every actor in the market run it. Give everyone involved a common incentive for it to succeed~ enter tokens.
As software takes over mediating trust, our reliance on any central body diminishes. The decentralised organisation was first cited by Dan Larimer in 2013. The first truly decentralised organisations, Bitcoin and Ethereum can function without any centralised body. They may not be highly functional but they do function. The Ethereuem Foundation is arguably more functional and true to the DAO principles as they have no hierarchy and no HR function. Their work is inherently open source, much of it is unpaid and completed by the community. For instance Ethereum’s Java client ~ Web3, a large and significant piece of work, was created by Connor Svensson. As a non core foundation member, his only stake in the Ethereum DAO can be ~ Ether.
As organisations become more fragmented and further democratised work will be broken into micro tasks. Most web based roles will become entirely freelance. People will work across multiple DAO’s (networks) on and off over long periods. Holding tokens to replace employment contracts and shares (as the incentive to deliver) come back to those networks. Game theory and tokens will be built into everyday life and each micro task. Everybody’s time and data will be rewarded with tokens. Those in Africa with an internet connection will have access to the same job market as those in London. Labour will be borderless, free of bureaucracy constraints and fully democratised to the best suited bidder.
Autonomous decentralised internet era, network stage 3:
At its core Blockchain is a trust mediation technology. It’s a peer to peer technology, allowing us to transact anything without the need for centralised parties. Now we’re enabling the vision of transacting work without any need for any outside trust mediators like firms, employment lawyers and banks. Hence smart contracts will be such an important development for blockchain.
We’re moving to a dangerous workplace with no governance, no recognisable organisations or standards to follow. We need some of tracking in place for “proof of work”, “proof of reputation” and “proof of identity”. We need these to be reliable and we need these to be machine readable. We cannot go to LinkedIn, scan Github and choose to distribute work. We need something better…
CVs will look like Trustpilot digital IDs — ratings and references you carry around with you on your phone. You’ll have complete ownership of your reputation and proof of work experience. The idea of holding parts of your work history on others centralised servers will be unthinkable.
The future of work will be an evolution of the gig economy, automated. You’ll connect with a decentralised job market (Ethlance or Coinlancer) to talk to the networks you’re associated with (and hold tokens in). DAO’s machines will read your proof of reputation, skills ratings and confirm your proof of work experience. The DAO will either accept you for the work, or the DAO’s stake holders (token holders) and potentially asked to vote on workers if it’s a significant piece of work.
This may seem hard to imagine if you have been working at a bank for a few years. But if you’re a freelance programmer for start-ups you may be able to to visualise the network era 3 we’re entering.
For the DAO’s next phase we need implicit interoperability between blockchains and tokens. We need all forms of digital identities to comply to standards like ERC725/35 so that machines can enable the information economy to take hold. The age old business model of collecting data to sell it, will be over. Everything will be transacted peer-to-peer with the help of smart contracts. GDPR, Web3.0, it’s coming…