Significant discussion developing here. The right question at right abstraction level. I suspect original @alexisohanian quote is taken a bit out of context but @edzitron is raising a concern that has already come up a lot and will come up more. And Illich is the right frame.
But something people inclined to be instinctively defensive about illichian“vernacular spaces” as @LMSacasas calls them downthread are missing is that the tech might actually allow them to go on the offensive and create an opening for vernacular spaces to invade tokenized ones
Cf this line from @keikreutler Prehistory of DAOs article:

“Because most DAOs represent governance rights through a token, in some sense tokens Trojan horse principles of cooperatives directly into highly financialized spaces.”…
In short, while Web3 in general and DAOs in particular *looks* like a technology designed to legibilize convivial vernacular spaces for capitalist extraction, in the long term, the reverse might end up being true. A weapon of the weak that looks like a weapon of the strong.
In the short term, yeah, due to the significant presence of VC money on the scene, it would be naive to assume that we’re witnessing an entirely organic boom. But there’s also such a thing as the ‘medium of the message’, and the Web3 stack smells very convivial/vernacular to me.
It would be a real pity if the most natural and potentially powerful stewards and users of a technology were to reject it simply because of the uncritical assumption that the politics of the medium faithfully reflects the politics of the creators and financiers at genesis.
There’s a weird poison pill/tainted origins effect in technology evolution that slows the rate at which a technology finds its politically natural uses. For eg, Lee de Forest, radio pioneer thought radio would bring classical music to the masses instead of catalyzing pop music.
Some of the speculations in this hostile article for eg are worth taking seriously. But just because VCs and traditional capital triggered Web3 doesn’t mean they necessarily own the future. The future belongs to the most politically natural suited…
While DAOs *can* work this way, and therefore exactly mirror say corporate bylaws or national constitutions, the point is *they don’t have to*. Tokens are a more expressive medium and can be designed to either faithfully reproduce familiar patterns or craft new ones.
Just as cinema is a more expressive medium along many key dimensions, but *can* be used to simply film a stage play, DAOs can express a greater variety of designs but can be used to reproduce traditional forms. But your imagination is the limit in designing tokens.
I’ve found it most useful to run with the “unstoppable machine” angle. Specifically, “unstoppable turing-complete machine” (since a full universal Turing machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine underlies what tokens can do), DAOs can be programmed in basically arbitrary ways.
In trad org theory, it is useful to deploy the metaphor of the organization as an artificial intelligence. The OG AGI in fact, running on paperwork-bureaucracy humanware computers. This metaphor informs Hobbes Leviathan, Rousseau’s social contract, Spencer’s social organism…
But this metaphor is in fact broken because the basic laws of trad orgs need not be turing complete. The bylaws of a corp or the constitution of a nation may or may not be turing complete. Which means they have a domain/history shaped path-dependent limited expressivity.
Or in less geeky terms, traditional orgs have the mission at their core. There’s limited ability to reshape the mission without destroying the org. This is why corporations rarely radically change business models.
But “unstoppable machine” means perhaps you can develop highly expressive machines that can pivot missions and stakeholder populations much more. For better or worse. Great power, great responsibility etc.
Human *language* is extremely expressive and turing complete since math and computer languages are subsets. But human behavior within trad orgs is *not* a full expression of this. It’s highly constrained. Hence the feeling of being turned into the cogs of a machine.
If you want radical mission-orientedness, you can design that into token so that (for eg) the machine is unstoppably vectored on say making cat memes. But if you want it to be a completely fluid vehicle of whatever mission might be most useful in 2320, you can do that too.
The US constitution is a good primitive example.

Some want it unstoppably vectored on an Anglo-heritage Euro-Christian identity.

Ohers want it to be an abstract expression of ideal principles. If that means the US is a Mexican-Chinese neo-Islamic country by 2320 so be it.
The reality is some messy combination of the two, with extremely leaky inter-penetrating “unstoppable automation” vs human-override capability. In computer science terms the US constitutional system is probably a Turing tarpit — “where everything is possible, but nothing is easy”
tldr, if you’re experiencing a visceral negative reactions to Web3 because of the haraam techbro/cryptobro/VC origins, and vaguely formed arguments about “blockchains emit more carbon than X”… try and entertain the possibility that something much bigger is going on here
There is a non-trivial chance that what’s taking root here will outlive all the ideologies and economic philosophies fighting over it today, and help solve climate change and shape societies centuries after climate change is a forgotten chapter and nobody knows what a VC is
Forget about specific missions that matter today and think in terms of long-lived (I’m talking centuries) unstoppable machines that embody powerful potentials. 99% of DAOs will likely be buggy, short-lived failures. But 1% may become arks across time. Asimovian foundations.
To me this stuff is exciting the same way ancient cities that survive the rise and fall of multiple civilizations and nations are exciting. Or the way the Long Now clock is exciting. Or the way Pioneer and Voyager space missions are exciting.
Coda: Sometimes history is made by the wrong people doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Sometimes it’s the only way history can be made. I’ve kinda made my peace with the idea that we’re in such a period. In a few areas (like China relations IMO) even Trump did that.
And every person is the “wrong person” to someone and every reason is they”wrong reason” from the perspective of some other reason. Gotta be de facto consequentialist in times when deontological thinking turns to noise and all virtue ethics is kindergarten caricatures.

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