WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Automation and the emergence of powerful, centralised platform companies are, arguably, helping fuel wealth inequality, could blockchain based distributed autonomous organisations be an answer?
Many people know that Blockchain is the pivotal technology behind all of today’s major cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, and while it can be said that many of these are causing a stir in the market blockchains own ripple effects have been felt far beyond its initial home turf, and over the years the number of use cases, applications and things, added to the blockchain, from pigs, Forex trading and robots, to the US military and sovereign governments, has literally exploded.
Blockchains ability to undermine the status quo is turning out to be legendary with many comparing its impact to the impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to have on the world, all be the fact that its power lies in its ability to decentralise things rather than make them “intelligent,” and its accountability, openness and transparency. However, while there are a whole host of new applications popping up on the blockchain every day it’s these last three traits that might make it an ideal platform to underpin the next generation of semi-autonomous and fully autonomous organisations, or, as they’re coming to be better known “Distributed Autonomous Organisations” or DAO’s, like Aidyia, Wall Street’s first fully autonomous hedge fund.
Today the majority of business models prioritise the interests of the few over the many, something that we’re seeing emerge time and time again, whether it’s the recent debacle that was Travis Kalanick and Uber, or, as is more often the case the dramatic increase in what many are calling the inequality between the “haves” and “have nots.” For example, in China the top 1 percent now, allegedly, own 30 percent of the countries “household” wealth, and as CEO’s get richer, as technology helps them automate more and more of their businesses and take the profits for themselves, whether it’s Amazon, Foxconn and Goldman Sachs, and many others, this divide is, arguably, only going to get wider. Much wider.
However, what if these traditional business models could be transformed by blockchain and we could disrupt the way organisations are run, helping the many, rather than just the few, benefit from, and share, the wealth they create, and what if a decentralised, open, shared structure could replace today’s authoritarian and hierarchical models?
Well, this is where Blockchain based DAO’s, that are run, in essence by code and the masses, not singular “bosses,” might be able to help. Rather than having a dedicated decision making board like we do today everyone who works for the company could have a much bigger say in how the company is run, a meritocracy, and while the idea might sound farfetched there have already been a number of attempts to pull it off, predominantly using a model called “Holocracy” that involves self-management, distributing instead of assigning tasks, and binding everyone to the same rules, and if holocratic organisations can work, then so too might Blockchain DAO’s.
We could even, perhaps, move one step further and use this new Blockchain model to let us spin up what some regard as today’s “ultimate” company – the Flash Organisation, where people in the so called gig economy could come together to perform a set of tasks, get paid and then disband, all in the blink of an eye, and here’s an example of how one might run.
While this might sound rather fanciful though today we’re already seeing non blockchain based DAO’s emerge, such as Bridgewater Associates, a $160 Billion asset management company who are on the journey to fully automate their organisation by 2025 to 2030, and it’s relatively easy to argue that this new model could be the organisational model of our time. After all, consultant and gig economy workers now account for over 30 percent of the UK and US workforce, wealth distribution is becoming increasingly skewed, a trend that will only continue, and the technologies, the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle we need to make it all work, are all arguably here today.
Now, all we need is someone to take the first step, and ironically that could be the difficult part, because CEO’s are unlikely to favour the model, even if they too are at risk of being automated by AI, after all why would they want to give up their crowns. In which case that means it’s going to be down to the usual suspects, the plucky band of scrappy “anti-establishment” entrepreneurs who “want to change the world,” so watch out, I might be writing about the first Blockchain DAO soon… and if you already know of one then drop me a line.