Looking out at the glinting future of a web3 syndicated world, it is easy to see the hopeful silhouette of possibility and progress; a fast approaching proliferation of solutions that herald a new way to organize, value, and connect with one another. But without a foundation of applicable and adaptive research, those hopes are chimerical. While the potential for blockchain and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) to beneficially disrupt outdated systems are undoubtedly exciting and visionary, the promise they bring hinges on integration.
For decentralized solutions to make impact where they are most needed, they must be more than theory.
It is with a sense of dawn breaking on this new world, where equitability and empowerment are not just quixotic ideals, that we begin a study at the Learning Economy Foundation that will bring implementable knowledge and foundational models to new and existing DAOs on a global scale.
The forthcoming report will focus on some of the most pressing concerns regarding the regulatory and practical challenges for far-reaching execution of DAOs. Although our research is still underway, the scope and concerns of our investigation are four-fold. It is our hope that in the process of this examination and extrapolation, we can unearth new ideas that prefigure an era of self-organization and governance.
A Taxonomy of DAOs
Against a backdrop dominated by centralized and hierarchical organizations, one of the most prominent challenges a DAO faces is how it can participate and engage interorganizationally without sacrificing the core attributes of decentralized governance and autonomy. At its origins, centralized corporations were structured to obviate potential inefficacies that can arise in dispersing power. Now, the open and immutable structure of blockchains enable real-time and transparent global participatory possibilities, making decentralized organizations a viable model that does not forfeit swiftness of action. And yet, a common foundational structure that can both encompass the necessary flexibility a DAO needs and allow it to operate in a world of centralized organizations and corporations, has not been fully defined or culturally accepted.
Our report will surface a meticulous taxonomy of existing DAOs to better understand structural needs across a heterogeneous landscape of organizations.
Doing this will identify the edifying threads that extend between a DAOs intentional objective with its past successes and challenges—all the while, informing an ideal model that can improve efficiency while addressing interoperability. This research will create categorical knowledge that can be used to generate regulatory frameworks and practices that may best benefit current DAOs and assist those to come.
DAO Technology Development
Central to any investigation regarding the specific needs of blockchain-based governance is accountability over technology. Because of the unique structure that makes blockchain an innovative part of DAOs, the needs of tech development are equally distinct and idiosyncratic. In a very practical way, tech must be built around core necessities like vote buying, treasury management, and delegation. Using the taxonomy of DAOs, we can investigate these requirements and gain a rigorous discernment of their merits and potential impediments.
At the same time, there are also immediate questions regarding governance implicated in the very creation of decentralized tech-enabled systems. On the one hand, although a DAO revolves around the salient principle of decentralization, there must be an entity that creates, monitors, and ultimately, is held responsible for failures and corporate injuries. To begin thinking about these questions is, in a way, to address a technological paradox.
How can tech that distributes governance be governed? Or, who will be held accountable for technology that is, in its very nature, not operated by any single entity?
This idea of accountability also has legal ramifications. In addition to interoperability, there are no legal precedents that inform the establishment of a decentralized organization. In other words, in order for a DAO to preside in a corporate-structured market, there, as of now, needs to be a single body that can be held responsible in the event of systemic contingencies such as litigation or taxation. Finding solutions to these administrative and foundational quandaries is an indispensable part of making progress toward a future of decentralization.
In order to anticipate what is needed for long-term adoption of DAOs, we must use case studies and governance models to more accurately uncover the benefits and strains an organization may face in becoming wholly decentralized, and so understand readiness to implement a DAO model. Simply put, for people to be interested in espousing decentralized policies, the operational processes must be frictionless. That means that standards and protocols must be established early on, creating not just precedents but digital infrastructure for consistent and dependable operation.
Because one of the most substantial and powerful features of blockchains are their ability to confidently exchange information, harmonious interoperability is an absolute necessity for long term adoption.
Without it, not only will people be less willing to embrace DAOs, but much of its merits will be lost. As we explore the technical developments that can maximize this informational advantage, we are also garnering an understanding of adaptability and potentiality.
The Internet of Education + DAOs
Of course for us at Learning Economy Foundation, everything we learn will be applied to our goal of creating a new vision for education and employment.
Using the structural utility and representative capacities inherent in DAOs, we believe that an economy can be created from the value of learning and skill acquisition.
This accessible and global Internet of Education can connect the currently fractured education and employment systems with equal opportunity and invitation. With the impending knowledge gained through our research, we will create an ecosystem framework built around public utilities. The nature of an open source, decentralized model will allow us to realistically implement equity networks, digital wallets with self-sovereign IDs and immutable credentials, skill libraries that contain transferable data, and other utilities that empower individuals with the value of their skills, education, and data.
The prospects for DAOs and those who will use them to create revolutionary ripples in the existing currents are not so far off. A global interest in decentralization is already underway, and the exciting possibilities are beginning to take the hopeful shape of reinvigorated policies and procedures. It is our hope and commitment that our research will contribute to the devoted community of decision makers pushing the borderline of transparency, accessibility, and equitability.
Learn More About LEF's DAO Research