Wild, wilder, what? - a structured way to exploring your wildest ideas in DAOs

Beautiful ideas and framing brought to you by Tara Merk

In a space that is abundantly wild; what are the wildest ideas in DAOs?

At EthBarcelona, the DAOist invited Stellar Magnet , building Black Sky to fund a space mission, Zeugh who managed the Juicebox community at the time, and Andrej advising countless web3 projects via the product design studio DeepWork, to find out.

The conversation was structured similar to how Andrej usually runs design sprints: start with identifying what you’d like to change and any dystopian scenarios you absolutely want to avoid. Next, map your ideal outcome, a utopia, free of time and resource constraints. Finally, identify the trajectory that emerges between the two. Ideally this approach leads to a clear goal (the wild utopian idea), a reason to pursue this goal (avoiding the dystopia undermining core values) and a rough idea of the path ahead. This article should be read as an example and guide for how to develop and explore your wildest ideas yet.

Let’s dive into it.

Step 1: Invite the demons in

Elco asked the panelists about their doomsday scenarios. Inviting in the demons and being hyper specific about what could go wrong can act as a valuable driving force for action. Andrej pointed towards inflation, recession and all the negative trends unfolding in the legacy economy today.

Zeugh pointed towards the future and the risk of crypto simply growing into the new Facebook over the next 5-10 years.

This echoed Stellar’s fear of us allowing the space to continue “to be captured by people who don’t care about any of the historical reasons for crypto. And continuing to be surveilled.” As long as these trends continue, she says “we’re living in the doomsday scenario”.

The point of this exercise is not to come up with the worst possible thing that can happen and which everyone agrees on, but rather to confront and use the fear invoked by these dystopias to give life to a meaningful mission. Think Cypherpunks, who understood the risks that digital technologies posed for individuals’ privacy and began building tools to protect open societies in the digital age. It’s about developing a normative vision for a better world, not one that’s more efficient and financially lucrative than what came before.

Confronting fear and turning it into action and purpose is easier said than done. While there isn’t any straightforward way to do this, our panelists recommend writing fears down, confronting fear in daily rituals and practicing general self care.

“Do something you hate every day, like taking a cold shower” says Andrej.

Step 2: Think abundance, think wild

So what’s the wild idea?

Elco asked: “If you had infinite resources, what would you do?”

Staying with the fear of surveillance and core crypto values, the idea of an anonymous DAO (or dark DAO) emerged. Stellar made it more concrete: what if a DAO were to fund the election campaign of a hypothetical Cypherpunk presidential candidate who, upon being elected, would pardon Julien Assange, Ross Ulbricht and others. How could this campaign be funded anonymously?

Zeugh pointed out that the infinite resource required towards managing this type of anonymous DAO at scale wouldn’t just be money and fancy tech, but a culture in which people not only know what it means to be part of a DAO, but where everyone’s familiar with the practices required for doing so anonymously. Imagining and building this type of culture is a wild idea in itself.

Step 3: Get real

So how do we fund the cypherpunk president? Could the DAO be designed with the help of DeepWorks? Andrej says there’s no problem for the team to work with anons in principle. And could it then be launched via Juicebox? Possibly, with a new frontend. However, building the required culture will take time.

Zeugh suggests starting small, progressively moving more activities under DAO governance,

“Make people see that it’s better to self-organize as a DAO than not. This eventually builds the culture we need to take on bigger tasks.”

While this is more of a way forward, it’s still not easy.

Getting real and finding the right trajectory for a wild idea is hard, as they tend to lead you off the beaten track. Here are three helpful tips to stay on course:

Prefer some text? Here it is:

Start small, iterate fast

  • ….is Zeugh’s recommendation and very much aligned with the agile culture practiced in large parts of the tech industry today. There’s no denying that frequent iterations help us calibrate the path ahead. But what about those wild ideas that feel like they’re your life’s mission?

Listen to your gut feeling

  • …is Stellar’s advice for the wild ideas that you don’t just want to do, but you want to do right. While she could have dropped a token for Black Sky years ago, she’s taking time to make sure that when it happens the initial conditions are set right and her gut feeling tells her she’s comfortable to move on to the next tip.

Relinquish control and get feedback:

  • The audience in our case acted like an open source community helping to review the emergent trajectory. People highlighted interesting edge cases that help to further refine the path ahead. For example: How can dark DAOs prevent large actors from using their capital to subvert the DAO’s decision making? (Hint: this gets tricky really fast; the design space for anonymous DAOs is huge!)

Overall then, using structured processes to explore wild ideas can be a fun and useful way towards materializing different futures.

As Andrej summarizes: “Understand the worst case scenario, map that against what you’d like to see in the world. That gives you a trajectory. This is how design sprints work, it’s a very powerful tool.”

Interested enough to see the whole panel?

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