Imagining Human-Machine Futures: Blockchain-based 'Decentralized Autonomous Organizations'
19 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2021
Date Written: October 30, 2021
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
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