Crowdfunding, AI and the Smart Contract: A DAO Made in Heaven?
AI is no longer science fiction. Computing power has reached a point where the huge amounts of data processing required for machines to learn and make decisions of their own has become very available and highly affordable. Geniuses within the field of data science have been refining intelligence algorithms for decades.
The question for businesses now is not if they can use AI but in fact how they can.
Juxtaposed against the concerns around “the singularity”, and the impact automation is already having on the workforce, there is a huge movement underway that is identifying ways that AI can have a very positive impact on humanity and the world we live in.
At the recent SavedByTech event in Bristol, UK, the audience heard from a number of enterprises doing just this; 20Tree are building AI to detect patterns from satellite imagery to identify illegal deforestation globally and the Small Robot Company are building AI-powered robots to create more sustainable agricultural machinery!
The Acorn Collective are building a tokenised crowdfunding platform, building upon blockchain technology, which will deliver a new level of transparency and trust to the crowdfunding arena and open the doors to communities in developing countries that have otherwise been overlooked by the major players. But what does that have to do with AI and what other opportunities can this bring to the #TechForGood movement?
DAOs and Raised Eyebrows
The principals of a DAO (a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) can sometimes be hard to grasp. The very basic principle is that an organisation’s decision making can be performed by voting investors, and work agreements defined by smart contracts are executed by “contractors” (anyone able to perform the required tasks) who receive payment on delivery of that work. The idea being to democratise business structure and create more efficient, fairer and more successful enterprises.
To those more familiar with the term, the very thought of DAOs also come with some alarm bells. The DAO — at the time the most successful ICO to date and the crown jewel of the smart contract’s potential to change the world — was hacked. This led to the hard fork of Ethereum and, even though The DAO survived this hack, it has since all but disappeared from existence, possibly as a consequence of the 2017 report by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This however was just the start, albeit a rather bumpy one, of the journey of decentralised organisations. Much of the problems The DAO faced were attributed to lack of leadership that could have helped steer the organisation through the troubled waters. Such leadership decisions are born of the intuition that business leaders have developed over long careers, which directly counter the leadership-by-committee approach, where voting members of the committee may have absolutely no business- or industry-relevant experience at all.
At CogX ’18 we heard from Bitcoin Core developer and Lead Engineer at R3, Mike Hearn, on how such business leadership intuition can be learned and refined by AI, and become much more scalable and distributable. This intuition is indeed a perfect use case for AI, which can learn to identify causation from considerable datasets. But where does this data come from?
But not just any crowdfunding. Enter the type of crowdfunding that offers a complete business ecosystem, that transparently tracks business milestones, marketing activity, partnerships, community engagement, investment, and purchasing. That’s the Acorn Collective ecosystem. Thousands of ongoing crowdfunding campaigns generating this kind of data, including easily measurable success, will provide a very rich dataset from which an AI can learn and be built upon.
The picture is quite clear now. The question of how can our business use AI is plain as day: to develop massive-scale business intuition that can help guide business decision making for our platform’s project founders. This has the potential to genuinely improve the success of a crowdfunding campaign.
What’s that all got to do with DAOs?
Empowered now with a crowdfunding engine built upon blockchain technology, a marketplace of tool vendors and service providers that can help a business get off the ground — everything from marketing agencies and videographers to software engineers and data scientists — as well as the intuition of an AI with a proven track record in your specific market, we can see how a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation could overcome the problems that have faced those before it.
The Acorn Collective are absolutely not trying to recreate the past and build a better version of The DAO, but certainly, there is an opportunity for modern DAOs to form and use our platform to ultimately reach success. This would allow organisations to form from the ideas of individuals and small groups in areas in which building a team would have otherwise been impossible. Equally, this would allow individuals in remote areas or with limited mobility to become investors in or participating members of distributed business.
This is AI being levered to empower, not to replace a workforce but to generate one. This is #TechForGood.