Imagining Human-Machine Futures: Blockchain-based 'Decentralized Autonomous Organizations'

19 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2021

See all articles by Kelsie Nabben

Kelsie Nabben

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS); Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University) - ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society; RMIT University - Blockchain Innovation Hub; Digital Ethnography Research Centre

Date Written: October 30, 2021

Abstract

Blockchain-based “Decentralized Autonomous Organizations” (DAOs) communities risk perpetuating the 1990s Californian Ideology of techno-elitism in their imaginary of “autonomy” via technological determinism, free-market economics, and “engineering” approach to social and political challenges (Barbrook & Cameron, 1996). Imaginations include algorithmic governance via Artificial General Intelligence agents running on decentralized blockchains, hiring labor in DAOs, and bartering payment in cryptocurrency. The role of humans in this imaginary is limited. This piece explores autonomy in blockchain-based DAOs to investigate visions of algorithmic assemblages. Do DAOs imagine a different future where the role of humans is one of symbiosis and augmentation with machines? I draw on cybernetic interpretations of DAOs as “autopoietic” organisms to imagine a co-constitutive relationship between people and algorithms in the information age. By understanding the promises and practices of blockchain technology and decentralized governance, we can better engage with these emergent objects of social and policy inquiry.

Keywords: DAOs, blockchain, futures, algorithmic governance, AGI

JEL Classification: D02, D80, O33, O35, O30, Z10, Z18

Suggested Citation

Nabben, Kelsie, Imagining Human-Machine Futures: Blockchain-based 'Decentralized Autonomous Organizations' (October 30, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3953623 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3953623

Kelsie Nabben (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

Villa La Fonte, via delle Fontanelle 18
50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, Florence 50014
Italy

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University) - ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society

Building 97, RMIT University
106-108 Victoria Street
Carlton, 3053
Australia

RMIT University - Blockchain Innovation Hub ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Digital Ethnography Research Centre ( email )

Melbourne
Australia

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