What is a DAO and why is it important for the future of space exploration?

A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), in most cases, is an organization that operates based on rules which are encoded in smart contracts that run on a blockchain.

For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing a specific kind of DAO — one where humans are collectively working together to achieve an end goal — establishing a new global space program. Sometimes people call this type of system a human work DAO.

Governance is at the core of every DAO

DAOs are not “one size fits all” structures. Mirroring the diversity of ordinary corporations — some of which have stock ownership structures and some of which do not — DAOs are flexible, nimble and therefore well-suited to cultivating new technology ventures.

Top: snippet of cooperative bylaws, bottom: snippet of DAO “bylaws” (Aragon Voting.sol smart contract)

Each DAO typically has at least one primary crypto token, and ownership of its tokens is used to enable governance privileges, which are written into the code of the network. Essentially, governance needs to be at the core of every DAO.

You can think of governance as applicable to establishing, updating, and practicing the bylaws of the organization, such as creating new proposals and voting on them.

Vlad Zamfir, an Ethereum researcher also recently provided this apt definition of governance:

The first principle of DAO governance is to keep power in check so that the insights and contributions of the entire organization (or most qualified members) plays a role in how that organization is managed over time. Decision making and dispute resolution processes are required components of human work DAOs to ensure that influence remains decentralized. If there is no intention to decentralize power or enable individual agency, might as well drop the D-A- … and form a traditional Organization.

The innovation with utilizing a DAO and operating with smart contracts is that we can experiment by mixing and matching multiple governance models to facilitate an organization’s ultimate end goal.

Why is a DAO important for space?

Space exploration has captivated humanity for decades, first as an idea and later as a reality. When space exploration initially became a reality, it did so largely due to public funding from the world’s most powerful governments. While state-based actors like the US, Russia and China are and should remain important contributors to our exploration of the cosmos, as a species we (a) severely under-invest in space exploration and (b) exclude talented individuals from participating in this domain.

With a DAO, we can help humanity realize that space exploration is underfunded at the species level, and enable hundreds of thousands of new actors to be a part of a global space agency not only as financial supporters, but also as integral contributors of knowledge regardless of nationality — all in a permissionless manner.

With a DAO, resource allocation and the prioritization of work can be more openly organized with all operational procedures agreed upon in advance and programmed in its underlying contracts.

With a DAO, we can facilitate trust with the public to opt-in to a new global space fund, since milestones can be publicly audited, code will be open source, and financial transactions can be traced directly to each project that is funded.

What the future can look like

Can you imagine the potential shift in the zeitgeist if a human space mission was planned by a global community, funded by a global community, and the astronauts of the mission were also selected by the global community?

Can you imagine these astronauts stepping foot on the Moon again, as a team with a diversity of genders and nationalities?

We see a DAO as an enabling organizational technology for the public to contribute to the future of space exploration at a scale that has never been attempted — to boldly go where no organization has gone before.

We aim to reduce the barriers to entry for almost anyone that has something meaningful to contribute to be able to do so in a decentralized fashion, and to be a trailblazer for the future of our species in the cosmos.

We aspire to inspire the next generation to envisage (and partake in) space exploration as a pursuit of human ingenuity as opposed to one of national pride.

If you feel aligned with this mission, we invite you to join us, become a leader, and help #DecentralizeSpace.

About Space Decentral

Space Decentral is a decentralized autonomous space agency that will leverage Aragon and the Ethereum blockchain to reinvigorate the push for space exploration with global citizens in control. Space missions will be designed collaboratively, research will be shared for peer review, science will be crowdsourced, and worthy projects that accelerate human expansion will be crowdfunded.

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