chapter  8
Experiments in algorithmic governance
A history and ethnography of “The DAO,” a failed decentralized autonomous organization
ByQuinn DuPont
Pages 21

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This chapter describes a short-lived experiment in organizational governance that attempted to utilize algorithmic authority through cryptocurrency and block-chain technologies to create a social and political world quite unlike anything we have seen before. It details the governance structures that were promised by the developers and community members involved in the making of The decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), and in contrast, those that were observed in its discourses before, during, and after the “exploit.” The DAO was a decentralized, crowdfunded, direct-management organization and investment platform. In the original vision of decentralized autonomous organizations, as proposed by Vitalik Buterin, founder and member of the Ethereum Foundation, a DAO is a pseudo-legal organization run by an assemblage of human and “robot” participants. From the earliest days of The DAO, many community members acknowledged that the enormous complexity of decentralized and algorithmic governance required a new kind of experimental “science” to map the “uncharted territory” The DAO was entering.