At the last physical meeting of the Decentralized Autonomous Society we decided to launch a formal investigation of the DAO. Over the past few days our investigative team has swelled to include experts on decentralized law, prominent technical auditors, and various persons currently or previously associated with the Ethereum foundation.

Lots at stake

At stake are the following:

  1. To what extent has the formal governance of Ethereum (or lack thereof) played a role in facilitating special treatment for certain projects and led to projects that are “too big to fail” ?
  2. What are the appropriate enforcement mechanisms for projects that violate the trust of their users and inaccurately advertise their projects? Are there appropriate mechanisms for whitelisting or blacklisting projects?
  3. Under what conditions should modifications be made to the Ethereum core protocol (e.g. soft or hard forks) ?
  4. To what extent does the language design of Solidity create a high likelihood of catastrophic bugs and what modifications would be necessary to reduce or eliminate these risks?

In general, we believe that very significant problems exist in all of these areas but that each problem may be addressable via a more robust governance structure, potentially including a “balance of powers” similar to what exists in constitutional systems.

Limits of the Law

Perhaps even more importantly, we do not believe that the current nation-state based legal system is sufficiently robust or technically astute to deal with the DAOist world. Among other things, it is unlikely to move sufficiently quickly, nor nor is it likely to develop prescriptive measures that increase the resilience of these networks. That said, we welcome engagement with nation-state regulatory authorities and are open to sharing information with them on a selective basis.

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Decentralizing justice?

As a volunteer network of people with a strong desire to see decentralized systems thrive but no focused financial incentive on any particular outcome, the Decentralized Autonomous Society is in a particularly good spot to serve as a third party.

These topics were also discussed in Berlin at a specialized workshop and conference on decentralized governance. A fuller report is being released privately.