Why decentralised organisations require a new type of welfare system (literally)
The urge to decentralize and autonomize has informed social movements since the 1970s. The language of “decentralized autonomous organization” (DAOs) appeared among the swarms of activists in the late-1990s counter-globalization movement. But the trust-replacing mechanisms of a blockchain offer less an ideology than a method, one which may make it far easier for us to hand our relationships over to code.
When the cypherpunk generation first started writing about DApps and DAOs, they were a tiny minority. The cypherpunk generation put the blueprints for DAOs online in the 90s, Nick Szabo wrote about how to Formalize and Secure Relationships on a Public Network in 1997, the cypherpunks made some continuous attempts to signal the world that tribal politics could be transcended, and managed to eventually co-ordinate the creation of the early blockchain prototype Bitcoin, a proof-of-concept for some of that generation’s then decades old ideas.
Christopher Allen writes about how he “truly believes that we could have had cryptographic smart contracts by ’04”. Something delayed it more then a decade, and we got ethereum protocols in the 15s instead of the 04s.
Christopher Allen cites some patent conflicts, and other corporate conflicts, but I believe it was ideological. I believe that people wanted their welfare system — their wealth sharing system — to live on, and they saw no solutions to how to do wealth sharing in a smart-contract world. I believe that there was a bootstrapping problem, and that we lacked one of the pieces of this new DAO system. The algorithmic solution to wealth sharing was still not out there in the sphere of ideas. I had to give birth to it.
Timeline of resilience
This time-line of the internet shows the major mile-stones in the evolution of my wealth sharing system Resilience. From what I’ve gathered, conversation about decentralised welfare systems has been practically non-existent during the 90s-10s. The first mention of it, as far as I know, is my own work in the late 12s. I came from a background of medical science, I didn’t want anything to do with tribal politics, and I searched for a new type of welfare system — one that did not make people sick. What I found was to combine the decentralised credit system Ripple — an amazing innovation that deserves more attention— with a wealth sharing algorithm that mirrored the credit network. I was basically remixing old ideas in ways that no one had conceived of before.
The conversation about decentralised welfare systems has been pretty much non-existent, while the conversation about decentralisation and blockchains has been wide-spread. The conversation about how crypto-technology over-powers the centralised welfare system has on the other hand been wide-spread. There’s been a sort of culture war about this, with one side pushing out Bitcoin-like technology while the other said “but you’re breaking our system”.
Guilio Prisco writes about this decades long schism in Back to the Future: Adam Back Remembers the Cypherpunk Revolution and the Origins of Bitcoin.
Why haven’t the two sides met and discussed these issues ? It’s not like anyone is inherently against blockchain protocols, cheaper and more secure contract storage is a win win, and would have become part of the internet a decade ago if not for delay. I believe the reason for this delay is that the internet-engineers lacked some of the answers, so they kept pushing, without facing the concerns of the others. So, the other side pushed back.
In summary, I believe ethereum-like-protocols could have and would have evolved more then a decade ago if not for a bootstrapping problem in the transition from centralised wealth sharing to decentralised wealth sharing. To paraphrase, the algorithmic solution to wealth sharing was still not out there in the sphere of ideas. I had to give birth to it.
Guest post written by Johan Nygren
Natural born creative who loves nature and science, Dropped out of med.school when TED happened, Passionate about emerging technologies and the exponential rate of human-technology evolution, Inventor of the Resilience protocol – a wealth sharing algorithm, Bitnation ambassador.
Featured image: Martin Grandjean