“Distributed Governance Challenges” Open Space Discussion at DGov Council
27th January 2019, 17.30PM
(This Interview is pseudonymized)
Speakers: Thomas, Anton, Liam, Florian, Emma, Martin, Ian
Sponsored by TabooKey (Israel)
Florian: Which sessions is this?
Thomas: Distributed governance challenges defining challenges we can solve which lead to roadmap of success. So like the Google open AI challenges and you know like other challenges we feel that it’s very important that we start to define those challenges so that we can actually start to allocate resources to it.
Liam: Are you doing the…
Thomas: Distributed governance challenges so how to define challenges we can actually solve like the Google open AI challenges or like the Hyperloop challenge so that we can actually move forward in building those systems.
Martin: I guess no one’s doing the antifragile systems.
Emma: Self healing systems.
Thomas: Antifragile isn’t it healing systems? I put it up for tomorrow.
Liam: Well from the legal or…
Florian: From the organizational aspect. I was studying business and initially it was just exploring what you can do with blockchain in general. Come to crowdfunding and then looking for the general, like of how it’s new organizational concepts or decentralized organizations, classify them. What are those mechanisms. Partly inflation funding, certain activities and building that public infrastructure.
Thomas: I think the most valuable things for me was accepting the challenge for defining the distributed governance challenges. Because: did anybody started to do that?
Liam: What here you mean?
Thomas: In general for distributed governance systems.
Thomas: So I think that’s very very effective, I think I will bring a lot of clarity over the time but we can start to…
Liam: It’s a way of coordinating the efforts of many different people, let’s talk a bit what we are trying to achieve.
Anton: What are we doing right now?
Thomas: Can we maybe, I try to give a short pitch and then you give a short. Let’s pitch to each other the butter. So how do we build systems for governance which are distributed and I think we have to clarify a bit what we mean with distributed governance systems. For me it’s like they’re scalable and they are able to adapt and they are better than the existing ones so I think it would be good to include more opinions in those systems which would make them more considerative or omni-considerative and if we enable to make decisions which are actually sustainable that would be great as well. So how do we ensure that they have emerging patterns of including external costs because…
Liam: Can you define this, the criteria for a successful solution.
Anton: There are a lot of concepts already in the last minute. Let’s keep it more simple. Try to have like two concepts.
Liam: What are good problems that are easily understood. So because you also want participation in the process of coming up with [distributed governance]. So what we define the simplest possible distributed governance challenge. What is the simplest possible like the toy example.
Anton: Not more like two concepts.
Thomas: Treasury, I would propose. How to distribute money for purpose.
Liam: Like a single purpose.
Thomas: In a distributed governed world.
Liam: For a single purpose? Like we have thousand Ether, we need to come together and decide what to do with it. Like for one like where it goes for one thing.
Thomas: It’s not only governance, it’s distributed governance, right, which means that we need to include the concept that there is no central authority. But I would also go and say that every agent has equal rights or permissionless rights to engage.
Anton: I think what you’re asking is: It is not enough just to say that how to distribute say water between five of us but saying how to distribute for what purpose. Like the same water for tourists will distributed separately for putting it on our head if it did (I don’t have hair) but if you want to be differently, so the context in which…
Emma: Right, like who is doing what if like five of us just gonna be continuing to sit here and one of us is gonna go run a marathon then it make sense that that person she get more.
Thomas: To come back, can we try to define the scope, the minimum scope?
Liam: So my, so here is the challenge: I don’t think that the distribution is the benefit. I think where the reason for doing what you we’re saying distribution, the distributed governance you’re going after like a benefit and I don’t wanna show the benefit, because I think you know, you mentioned participation, you want people to feel committed, but what is the benefit of the benefit? Why are we doing this, because then maybe if I understand the benefit of being go back to say why distributed governance. Is just because this is blockchain and want so see how we can apply blockchain?
Thomas: I defined another concept why I personally believe in the benefits of it, because there are omni-considerative through agency of permissionless, you know, that excess of agents so everybody can engage. This is reason why we have more opportunities to put more information into the system, which allows us to make more informed decisions. That’s one aspect of it.
Liam: Better, so more, higher productivity and more engagement.
Thomas: Why is it the decision: because better information landscape. Think about it, like we have a socket where all the information come together, right? So how do we ensure that we have more sensory data? This is what I would say in distributed governance systems is the ability for a lot of agents to engage.
Liam: I think it will be really helpful somehow…
Florian: Somehow that’s also the marriage or it’s being described to the marriage of the market, come to realize the sensory to handle a lot of sensory input that’s being aggregated in the market. So what’s the… would you contrast a market based system? Or would you maybe even classify it as a distributed governance system of resources.
Liam: About a toy example before we weren’t trying to do like a really dumb two examples, that one now I want to bring on, wanna throw that out there…
Anton: It’s getting really abstract.
Liam: I would like to give you. We are a group of people that have pooled our resources to commission a work of art. And the way we define the quality of the art is the free market price of that art after it’s been commissioned. So let’s say afterwards, we’re trying to sell this piece of art, see, like, how much we fetch for it. And then there are alternative ways we could give all the money to a very unsuccessful artist, we could give it to someone else. And like, if I understood, I’m trying to make what you’re saying more concrete, if you would want as many people involved in finding like the best artists, and…
Thomas: I just said that everybody should be able who wants to engage to engage. So it doesn’t say anything about the size of the group that just says that everybody could engage in a permissionless way, which seems to be very aligned with like, the concept of distributed systems.
Liam: So is that a good example, though? Like a commitional work of art?
Thomas: Yeah, I like it. Also, like treasury distribution in bounty systems is something where we are facing as a real problem in a lot of places, in a lot of projects. And it’s similar easy, you have a shared resource, which you need to, like, distribute, and you have some people which hold agency and deciding how to do that. And then we have, obviously, governance functions, which determine how we do that. DAOStack for example has a very specific way in doing it, right?
Liam: But where’s like, the problem we’re trying to solve is coming up with the the challenges. So we like we don’t we can talk after we define the challenges or series of challenges. Basically, we’re trying to take inspiration from the open AI project.
Liam: Like they said we’re not going to talk about what a solution to an AI system looks like. We’re just going to set a series of challenges and talk about.
Anton: We’re asking the right questions, not the answers.
Liam: We’re not saying what the right answers are just what are the right questions? And that constrains us into having a very good, we talked about how would we commission a piece of art and we can, you know, we can think about a very concrete way, what would be involved in that, like finding the artists, right? Once we start talking about the more abstract way, it’s easy for us to get attached. So commissioning a work of art, that’s an ok example?
Thomas: If we would define challenge in which…
Liam: Maximizing the product, the price.
Thomas: Maximizing the price, so we try to commission something when we resell for a better price?
Liam: Okay, so it’s like maximizing the market value.
Anton: Maybe we can delete the screen so…
Thomas: Yes we can.
Anton: So it just clean our thinking ways up. When I see them I think shit: What are you doing? Pretend you’re not a techy.
Thomas: I think we are very specific with this one. Maybe we should do a short brainstorming how we would do that in a non distributed way.
Liam: That that’s a great way like, you know, centralize centralized but this is already coming up with answers because we’re coming up with those questions.
Thomas: Do you like to find more examples for challenges? Or do you like to go deeper?
Liam: You know, we haven’t really tapped the full potential of finding better examples.
Emma: There might be something more challenging, like where you have multiple groups of people that have different interests, and you’re trying to come up with some sort of a solution that…
Liam: Where should we go for dinner?
Thomas: Yes, it’s a good one.
Emma: So okay, yeah.
Anton: Where should we go for dinner happens all the time.
Emma: And there’s like six vegans, 20 non vegans, two people for celiac with a gluten allergy.
Martin: Everyone just handle yourself then.
Anton: Go home and cook. Forget the people cook your own food.
Liam: Yeah, where should we go for dinner is good.
Martin: You lost me at vegans.
Thomas: I would like to, maybe I’m the only one who stuck here. But maybe you can help me. I have the feeling that’s not only about how we go to dinner, because there could be the way that I would ask everybody and I consolidate all that information, I made the decision because you trust me, there will be like a hierarchy like centralized system making the decision. So I think the constraint in addition to those challenges is how they are solved, resolved, right and I think we need to…
Anton: I just wanted to write all the questions for…
Martin: Why is it that we would want to systemize the question gathering process, instead of it be just completely open to anyone saying like…
Thomas: Because it’s not related to the distributed governance, then it’s the wrong challenge.
Martin: I just think anyone in the system should be able to propose the initial question like…
Thomas: What I’m saying is, there is a constraint when we speak about, for example, managing Ethereum or governing Ethereum that we don’t want to have monopolistic stakeholders or conglomerates, which like influence the system, you know, like in a conspiracy. So I think when we speak about distributed governance challenges their additional concerns and constraints we need to like set to define the challenges in a meaningful way.
Liam: So I agree with that. But I’d also say there’s a problem of attention scarcity right? We could talk about each of us could have his own toy like pet problem, and then we would all when we come back together to talk about our solutions, we would all be talking a different language, right? So if we managed to consolidate around a few good examples and we’re speaking the same language, I have another proposal of how you coordinate where we could have dinner, okay, then it’s much easier to have a discussion and you’re always trying that into something that’s really sort of, you know, mentally imagine. So where do we go to dinner? I like to think about conflicting interests, maybe their…
Florian: Budget allocations.
Thomas: Specific example, for budget allocation. So I mean, who’s paying for the dinner? How do we pay for dinner?
Liam: Where do we go for dinner and how do we pay for it?
Anton: Who is paying, handwriting is terrible.
Martin: Distance willing to…
Liam: That’s part of it.
Thomas: I think it’s part of it.
Anton: Who is paying and how?
Thomas: I love that one.
Anton: Using constraint about debts.
Thomas: So this is a different opinion thing. But this is really a separate question.
Liam: I have one in mind, that’s actually a real world problem. So there’s a decentralized community in Switzerland, and they have a house and they’re getting like government subsidy, but they’re still limited. So they’re trying to figure out the problem of how do we manage this house? Like, who do we let this…there’s a hotel is basically like a Hotel Decentral and you don’t want to have like, right now it’s managed centrally, of course, one person calls all the shots, or I think this project is better. But how would you manage hotel decentral without that. So deciding who gets who stays in what room for how long. So just like better understanding with a real world problem, maybe you can find a simpler version of this. But the real world problem was that we want to set up at the center like this house this meeting place and when people could work on projects together, and if the community valued the output of that they would get some sort of increase social capital what increase their like maybe decision making ability within the system. So the people who are the best, who contributed the most they would get the most influence. On deciding who to let in the in the house. So if you did a really good job and you produce something that the community valued you would be for example re invited or you could invite someone else to the house or so forth.
Emma: So there’s some sort of a reputation system, non monetary reputation system that people get stars or whatever.
Liam: We don’t really figured out that. How do you manage a shared space. Shared space is a fixed amount of room and it costs money to run this place. How do you manage the shared space?
Thomas: Would you agree that we could start a challenge with one step before. That we buy a house together.
Liam: I like buy a house together.
Thomas: And then how we manage it as a shared space. You know, this seems to be for me to be more coherent. And actually this was a real problem we had heavily discussed previously because I believe berlin would be a perfect location for doing that. Because we have a lot of crypto people which would like to be here for certain amount of time in the shared crypto co living space. So I think this is a viable model. If we identify a model for that I think this would spawn in multiple cities, Toronto, Montenegro, New York.
Liam: And then they get your solution where do we go for dinner every day?
Thomas: Absolutely. This is this or do we, I think that another one is which events do we organize In the shared space.
Anton: So basically, we live together, we are we eating together? We have events together it’s a good life […].
Thomas: I love that direction.
Liam: I think that’s related to the How do you manage the shared spaces, that’s the same.
Thomas: Come up for the challenge.
Liam: What about risk related challenges? For example, it’s I have an Airbnb. So I have an apartment I want to rent to rent it out. If I’m doing that just by myself. And maybe I’m assessing individually the risks of different participants, people who would run, but then if we’re doing it together, we would…
Thomas: Ensure the systems. Isn’t it?
Liam: Yeah, there’s some sort of like risk transfer? Possibly. I don’t think I decided it’s not a clear example. So let’s drop that.
Thomas: I like the Ether Risk example that just made an implementation, but the question is, is it a distributed governance example? What does the if it’s just a clear rule of insurance everybody has a clear defined, you know, like shared risk, I don’t see that there’s a lot of decision making, proposing and so on involved for shared resources…
Florian: So if there is some incentivize system to refer for people to to get rewarded with some inflation for staking on…
Thomas: I personally believe like this goes in the direction which I’m not interested in exploring, because it already includes again incentive system and it’s like, takes away sovereignty and agency and those systems don’t, as far as I can tell, at the moment.
Anton: If understand distributed governance, you mean like is that a governance thing that means is that actually happening and distributed isn’t like a participatory decision, right? So if you wanted to concrete, maybe buy a house in that case, if multiple people are buying a house, there are decisions being made, of course, where to buy the house or kind of space and all those decisions and distributed is if all the people who live the house do they have corresponding say the matter of compared or in relation to the amount of money they pitching in. So let’s be concrete. So the budget is 1 million? And if each participants I can only be starting with them and it can be sending really, will it be fairer to have the 70 million people think…
Liam: It is as simple as possible.
Thomas: For me, it doesn’t seem to be like working in that situation and challenge me on that place. It’s like a why do we need a distributed governance system we can just negotiated between us to…
Liam: Because the principles for two people might be the same for three people…
Thomas: I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that the principles for two people or five people are the same like for thousand or ten thousand people. So for operating at scale, and making it a distributed governance challenge I believe we need to buy one house in one city but like multiple house in multiple cities with enough like big enough shareholder group to actually create a like crowd which is very homogeneous and which has interests in like governing the spaces because they’re traveling multiple cities. What I’m saying here is that I challenged ideas that I believe that we can extrapolate same principles and patterns from two people to thousand.
Martin: What’s the minimum number of people were this mode switches?
Thomas: 150 people plus.
Liam: Okay so I have a real world example of that. Let’s say you’re staging a wedding. So we have a wedding and both family these are funding it, how do you decide where to have the wedding?
Thomas: The question is, do you really include more than 150 people…
Anton: No but this problem will actually solve, we run the company. So for example, when I started up, there was two people, three people who started one table, it was all of that little to secrecy, because, I mean, we just said, do you do this, I do that and then we started having millions and lots of people that of course, the need in terms of difficult shitty boring conversations. And so of course, I mean, and we have to solve it. So the point is, if the stakes are really high then of course, we need more distribution distinction. That’s my parameter.
Thomas: I agree. That’s the whole point of distributed governance systems.
Anton: Two people the stakes are very high because I knew you and I can just punch your face if your not…
Thomas: And the communication protocols are totally different because we could have a very specific language we could go really deep with it and we can’t do that with like a group of people, fifty people in one room is just becoming a big mess, especially when the stakes are high. So this is what we try to optimize we try to solve the management problem. I believe. Like distributed governance is for me to solving the management problem, the need for having like abstraction representation and other people managing people through protocols.
Liam: I have the thing that you want to scale. So let’s say we’re community and we want to stimulate economic activity in our community. So we want to give out loans to people are worthy. So we want something like a decentralized bank. So you have a pool of resources like you could have the pool of resources just run by one rich guy but they need like you know he doesn’t even care about stimulating in the community just like maximize profit wherever the community wants to have it’s like a coop bank. How would you run that. How would you run that coop bank.
Thomas: It’s the same question as DEx, decentralized exchanges, how to govern a decentralized exchange. I believe it is a challenge and it’s also the same like running a distributed bounty system.
Liam: Right but it’s not. So the thing is I like examples. This my personal preference that I can visualize without using any technology. Like I can, if you could set up the system using paper notes you can translate and let the blockchain you know track the paper they instead of having paper notes you have tokens and you have a smart contract but in principle like if you…
Thomas: Is there any example you’re aware of massive scaled effective coordination in groups for governance which are off chain without technical support today.
Anton: Yes, in Bangladesh they have a microcredit system the banking for the board of directors what poor people want. It’s run mostly by woman. They have like a ring structure of management so twelve ones in the center the other outside. 24 like that and they have a fishbowl system so they have empty chair in the middle, someone will get inside, will then say some, it’s incredible…
Liam: So what they solve the micro financing? That’s amazing!
Thomas: I feel we should study that. What you said is you know it even has feedback loops the fishbowl, it has responsibilities which are distributed.