AI’s Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs

By Paige Donner

*written with no ChatGPT assist; images by Paige & DALL-E2

DAOs are nothing if not Works-in-Progress. So as we witness AI’s creative disruption of society at large, DAOs can claim no exception to this blanket reconfiguration of workforce, task and job restructuring. In fact, not only can they claim no exception, the very core meaning of DAOs may stand to be reconfigured by this technological upheaval. We are already seeing the space morph from DAOs to DOs (decentralized orgs) and DACs (decentralized autonomous companies).

Much discussion about DAOs still persists today. Even as AI overtakes popular conversation threads, heated discourse and, perhaps, even, consciousness, DAO builders are a dedicated group. We don’t let go of the dream easily.  And ever since the team at Harvard  which includes Danielle Allen, Glen Weyl and Zoe Hitzig, announced on the Green Pill Podcast that they are studying DAOs, well, it almost feels like we’ve become (nearly) legitimate.

The Next Billion $$ Company Will Have 3 Employees…& AI

If you can sit through nearly 2 hours of this fabulous interview between Peter Diamandis, Salim Ismail and Tom Bilyeu, I encourage you to do so. Towards the end of this Impact Theory episode, in the final 20 minutes, they discuss DAOs specifically with Diamandis saying he recognizes the value of this type of organization but that ‘we’re not there yet.’

             “Every company should have a chief A.I. officer.” -          Peter Diamandis
AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 1
AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 1
AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 2
AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 2

The big takeaway, however, from this interview is their claim that the next billion dollar company will have 3 employees…& AI.  I don’t find this hard to believe. Back in January of this year, I may have been somewhat skeptical or assumed that this sort of scenario was years away. Now that I have tested out numerous AI tools, most of which are delivered to my inbox by There’s An AI For That, ProductHunt and, I have no doubt whatsoever that this will be the case.

*     “It takes time for all of us to switch from our old habits of how we do things to new      ways…Every single product and service is or will be digitized, and if you’re CEO of a      company and your products or services are not digitized, you’re in trouble cause      someone else is going to do it to you.” - Peter Diamandis*

So if AI is set to creatively disrupt the startup scene so drastically, how will it affect DAOs?

*     “You build an organization and overtime you spend more time trying to sustain the      organization than trying to solve the problem you set up to solve for.” -Salim Ismail*

The days of DAOs as big, sprawling communities akin to a beehive of busy workers getting all kinds of stuff done are gone…Or soon will be.  Even the biggest DAOs, with membership in the thousands (claimed at least by their number of token holders) often only had about 20, maximum, core staff working full-time - and this was during the heyday bull run. Since the bear market set in 14 months ago, staff were drastically reduced even from these modest numbers. Still, these core staff are/were often overburdened, which is why bounties and gig work became the norm in the DAO culture. These are short-term task assignments that can be fulfilled in a season (aka 3 months or so) and then delivered as a completed project.

Oftentimes these gig and bounty projects were for multimedia (AI can do that!), social media managing (AI can do that replacing the need for more than one person to manage), coding (an AI can do that, replacing the need for more than one principal Dev per project), marketing (AI can do that), market analysis (AI can do that), virtual assisting (Ai can do that!), art department (AI can do that!), email campaigns (AI can do that!) ... What am I leaving out? Whatever it is, no doubt, AI can do it. If not today, then soon.

*     Ck out these HACKS from the AI Solopreneur*

This means that the need for a big beehive of workers satisfied to contribute to building an organization, decentralized and autonomous, for remuneration in AltCoins or DAO native tokens, has just been cut drastically.  The same amount of output can be achieved with about ⅓ the human capital.

Core teams of DAOs, never large to begin with, can now safely reduce by about ⅔ and still maintain their current work loads and work streams.  All those governance forum posts that take so much time to manufacture? - Yep! ChatGPT to the rescue.

As a bootstrapped DAO builder myself, this feels like a big relief. We chose to structure, largely out of necessity, I’ll admit, as an agile guild and project focused DAO. In DAO native vernacular this is often referred to as ‘super modular.’ So rather than maintain an overwhelming organizational structure that exists just to govern itself into existence, we opted to pop up like project mushrooms or mycelia. In this format, you can remain a skeleton core, and then staff up according to the specific needs and budget of the project. If it’s an NFT collection you’re creating and marketing, then add talent accordingly, set timelines, articulate milestones and deliverables, pay out according to the agreed upon and stipulated budget allocations and you’re done.

AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 3
AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 3

We call this the, ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered,’ DAO project management operating manual. And it has worked for us so far. Albeit, on our projects to date, we have had teams of under 10. The advantages here to this model is that it keeps the budgets autonomous and fully project-dedicated (no purse snatching); it keeps the teams answerable to each other and not the sprawling DAO membership which can sometimes have conflicting interests depending on where their other professional loyalties lie; and it exacts a standard and level of performance by its definition of milestone based deliverables and payments.

AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 5
AI's Unyielding Creative Disruption of DAOs - image 5

But Why DAO At All?

One of the main motivations for founding a DAO was to bypass the stifling bureaucracy found in many research institutions and academia. So the intent was not to duplicate what already exists, but to fashion a new archetype that permits, encourages - demands! - agile, innovative, excellent work performance.

But back to AI’s Creative Disruption…

So what does this then mean for the DAO structure from a global view? Does this mean that communities are now much less ‘contributors’ and much more simply community members? Are DAOs now communities of token holders who stake DAO native governance tokens, perhaps cast a vote (or delegate their vote) but otherwise don’t do much?

How are we defining DAO members and ‘community’ now in light of this massive creative disruption unleashed by the unyielding competency of AI?

For Investment DAOs, the answer is pretty straightforward. Members are in it to invest together in worthy endeavors and shared causes.  But what about purpose-built DAOs? Or protocol DAOs? Or the creative guilds?

Now that AI can do so much of the ‘busy work’, will DAOs revert to being simply groups of people who like to hang out virtually together on Discord?

Or will DAOs fulfill the description put forth above? That the next billion dollar DAO (startup?) will be run by three people + a staff of AI? And perhaps add to this workforce an army of manufacturing and 3D printing robotics once DAOs venture into product manufacturing? Some people might be surprised by this fact, but the ZEISS Group, founded 175 years ago, operates much like a DAO in its corporate structure. Its core purpose is optical and semiconductor manufacturing. I find it useful to study their operating procedures since not just their longevity but also their €8.8B revenue speak for themselves.

WDYT? Please share your thoughts. Your input is welcomed as this is new terrain for all of us. Shared discourse can only help in navigating this new world where blockchain and AI seem to be disrupting the fundamental ways and means by which humans coordinate, produce, function, find meaning and make valuable contributions in society.

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