The Invisible Economy: Governance

Take a look at the first meeting for the Governance task force.

Art by Joe Chiappetta

By Judy Mam

We had the first meeting of our Invisible Economy working groups with the governance task force, which is led by Primavera de Filippi.

When I think of decentralized governance, I think of a (frankly scary) structure where everybody has a voice or a vote or input into decision-making. But today I learned that governance doesn’t necessarily mean broad consensus, which is hard to achieve and harder to implement.

Governance means distributing power among the stakeholders that want to take on the responsibility that comes with it.

As Beth McCarthy said, it’s good to talk about these issues now. Before embarking on a DAO, to have a process to distinguish when delegated decision-making is appropriate. What kind of decisions people are comfortable automating, for instance. There is an asymmetry between the people who want to move forward fast and others who feel uncomfortable taking action on behalf of others, and opportunities can be missed because of this. How can we have protocols in place where people feel comfortable. She also mentioned Colony as an existing DAO framework.

We discussed how, in communities, many people really don’t want to deal with any sort of decision-making. However, people still need to be informed and they still need to be able to participate if they so choose. Protocols can be used that make people comfortable as opposed to feeling trapped. For instance, giving a deadline to people to decide on an issue, after which, if they choose not to participate, they are fine with the decision that was made.

Decisions can be organized into categories, with tiers and specific roles according to experience, interest, and willingness.

Beatriz mentioned that in this sense, the principles of ParEcon on which were are basing our economy can be useful as they leave decision-making to the people for whom the decisions are more relevant. For instance, if the issue is one of tech development, logically, the people with expertise in that area would be the ones to decide.

Our CTO, Abraham Milano said that self-governance is quite a challenge, and as the community grows it gets harder to execute changes. It takes trust, but being generous with information is important.

Trust can be scaled.

Bea mentioned that she doesn’t believe in consensus because it tends to water down the most interesting ideas, or it can take forever to define and implement. However, it’s important to factor in the voices who never speak up because they may have valuable influence in other ways. How do we integrate the voices of the more dynamic participants with the insights of the lone voices who are not represented? They may not make the consensus and still have valuable insights that need to be accounted for.

Marielle Gross mentioned using qualitative data, which allows for a full range of voices and minority opinions to be expressed, as opposed to the more active or extroverted ones. She mentioned that it is good to have the transparency of the thought process on record, so people can understand why and how decisions were made. She spoke about keeping a record of the grayness. The decision can be yes or no, but here is why it was made.

Antonio Dominguez mentioned the parallels with gaming, in which the players can choose their own journeys and thereby express their preferences. He also spoke about quadratic voting, which measures the intensity of preference. We went into a bit of a discussion about the merits and drawbacks of quadratic voting which we will continue exploring further down the line.

Primavera suggested that we focus on decision-making at the community level for the Invisible Economy. How will we make inclusive the important decisions on how we are going to collect funds, and how we are going to distribute the earnings? She suggested that the platform-oriented decisions can remain centralized while we figure out how to make the open deliberation phase transparent, documented, and well communicated.

She explained that there are 4 stages of governance:

  1. Power assignment. By which criteria is the power to make decisions assigned (equality, reputation, etc)?

Sam Weinrott mentioned that transparency is hard so making the deliberation process transparent is important.

Primavera said that power comes with both responsibility and privileges, and people tend to want to enjoy the privileges but not the responsibility.

Ilan Katin, an artist on DADA, said he’d like to draw all day on DADA and brought up a key issue which is how to distribute responsibility without it becoming a burden. It needs to be fun.

Primavera: the idea of a DAO is not everybody HAS to decide, but everyone CAN.

Questions? Comments? Please chime in! And stay tuned for the next bi-monthly video.

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