DAOs can solve important dilemmas but more education is required

Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) have been a contentious situation within the blockchain and cryptocurrency world for some time now. 

From their early days as seen within the case of the the German startup that led to The DAO, to present iterations, DAOs have the potential to make or break the crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) business, and education might be a deciding issue.

If latest developments are something to go by, a misunderstanding of the true nature of the know-how behind most DeFi initiatives may very well be a contributing issue to the dearth of regulatory readability. Recent dialogue between MakerDAO delegates and Senator Elizabeth Warren proves that regulators do not have a firm grasp of the DeFi space or of how DAOs work.

In the dialogues, not solely did the senator present lack of curiosity within the group but one of many delegates claimed that a lot of the time was spent convincing the anti-crypto senator that MakerDAO and the defunct 2016 The DAO are completely different entities.

United States Senator Warren, who is a vocal crypto skeptic, has additionally expressed issues in regards to the quickly rising stablecoin market, suggesting a ban on United States banks holding reserves that again stablecoins. 

Could a lack of information of how DAOs, similar to MakerDAO, work be a contributing issue to how regulators understand the sector? In this text, we check out the assorted DAOs growing within the DeFi house and the way they serve their goal, and supply a primer that may allow you to get a greater understanding.

So, what is a DAO?

Simply put, a decentralized autonomous group is an idea for a blockchain-specific entity constructed and collectively owned by its members. For governance, such entities will depend on the decision-making protocols embedded in good contracts versus standard organizations that use central management methods. 

Since good contracts are impersonal, the group can be ruled by a more horizontal construction with out an entrenched hierarchy. Members of the DAO can resolve to have built-in treasuries that include restricted entry to authorised members who match pre-specified situations. 

Without a centralized governing physique, members of a DAO can make proposals and collectively resolve on what proposals to implement by means of a voting system. Smart contracts can assist all through the voting course of and routinely implement modifications based mostly on the votes.

What makes DAOs completely different?

At its core, a DAO is constructed to handle the perpetual principal-agent dilemma. 

This downside is a typical problem that happens when an agent (a centralized entity or a person) is caught in a scenario the place they must make choices that fulfill the divergent targets, priorities and wishes of the group (principal) with out compromising their very own pursuits. 

While this dilemma is prevalent amongst private and non-private entities throughout the globe, DAOs goal to get rid of this problem by changing hierarchical centralized types of decision-making with a trustless system constructed on autonomous good contracts.

Smart contracts can be programmed such that the incentives of all of the members of the group are aligned in a codified format constructed into the blockchain. 

With a correctly executed DAO, all of the stakeholders of the group will be capable to take part within the governance and decision-making of the group.

How a DAO works

Although the underlying mechanisms of DAOs fluctuate from one platform to the opposite, the overall formulation is one the place a sequence of good contracts is deployed. These good contracts can be programmed to permit for future modifications in case there is a necessity for an incentive program to assist the DAO develop and develop to new functionalities. 

A DAO can be created for virtually something starting from a freelancer community to a charitable group and even a political authorities. Smart contracts make or break the DAO, as they facilitate transparency and allow the group to run autonomously with out intermediaries. 

After the good contracts are created, examined and absolutely deployed, the DAO wants funding to incentivize members to handle and keep the group. Most DAOs will use a token that offers holders voting rights in addition to rewards for taking part within the upkeep of the platform. With audited good contracts and a funding process set, the DAO can launch and have its future managed by the members of the group.

Real-world examples of DAOs

There are numerous examples of DAOs that exist right this moment. Technically, Bitcoin can be thought-about to be an early model of a DAO, as its community grows by way of neighborhood agreements amongst its miners and node operators — plus, there is no central governing entity.


The Bitcoin community may very well be thought-about the primary instance of a DAO. It is run by a community of individuals (miners and node operators) who coordinate their actions for the good thing about the entire group in addition to their very own pursuits. However, it lacks a posh governance mechanism, which has change into a typical attribute of all DAOs, and by right this moment’s requirements, wouldn’t actually be thought-about a DAO.


The Dash cryptocurrency mission may very well be thought-about the primary actual try at a DAO. It is the primary recognized DAO, at the least by right this moment’s requirements, as its governance mechanism permits stakeholders to vote on how the treasury is used.

Dash first launched in 2015 and operates on a community made up of a set of 5,000 grasp nodes distributed all through the world. The Dash blockchain began as a Bitcoin fork, nevertheless, but has since advanced right into a privacy-centric cryptocurrency.


The DAO, a now-defunct decentralized autonomous group on Ethereum, was designed to function as a decentralized enterprise capital fund for decentralized purposes (DApp). The DAO was developed as an open-source platform by, a Germany-based startup. During its launch, The DAO managed to crowdfund 12.7 million Ether (ETH) value about $150 million on the time. 

The concept was to have DApp builders pitch their concepts to the neighborhood and obtain funding if authorised. Although The DAO was some of the closely funded crypto initiatives so far, hackers have been capable of exploit an error in its good contract lower than three months after its launch. It is important to notice that the error or bug within the good contract was not on Ethereum’s blockchain but the appliance developed by and deployed on Ethereum’s community.

As a results of the incident, Ethereum’s neighborhood opted for a tough fork to offset the assault, whereas dissenting voices maintained the previous chain that is now Ethereum Classic.


Similar to The DAO, MakerDAO is a decentralized group constructed on the Ethereum blockchain.

The mission, a DeFi lending protocol steered by the Maker Foundation, first turned public in 2015. The mission’s multi-collateral Dai stablecoin was launched in November 2019.

Per the Maker Foundation, Dai’s secure worth makes it a helpful digital asset for issuing loans and hedging towards crypto’s volatility. However, Dai is completely different from different stablecoins, as its worth is solely softly pegged to the U.S. greenback. This implies that there is no centralized entity with greenback reserves that again Dai tokens. Dai makes use of collateral within the type of Ethereum-based belongings locked in good contracts on the MakerDAO platform. 

With each Dai token generated, the worth of Ethereum-based belongings locked in good contracts should exceed that of Dai issued to debtors. This makes it attainable for anybody to lock more unstable belongings and obtain Dai, which is a more secure asset. 


Uniswap is one of many newest profitable DAOs within the DeFi house. After a profitable launch of its decentralized automated market-making protocol in 2018, the crew moved to launch a governance token that might transition Uniswap right into a decentralized neighborhood governed by its customers. Now, Uniswap customers should not solely capable of provide liquidity to the decentralized change but additionally submit governance proposals to the platform.

Risks of DAOs

DAOs are a novel organizational construction difficult conventional organizations, thus attracting quite a few regulatory, operational and authorized challenges. 

For occasion, given {that a} DAO can have its members distributed throughout numerous jurisdictions, the authorized problems with coping with cross-border contractual agreements and relationships can be fairly the problem. Furthermore, provided that DAOs are ruled with the assistance of good contracts, reaching consensus from the DAO’s stakeholders can be time-consuming. 

Also, malicious actors can exploit attainable loopholes within the code of the good contract to compromise the safety and performance of the DAO as was the case with The DAO in 2016.

The journey forward

While the rules behind a DAO are designed to allow best and utterly decentralized organizational buildings, the underlying know-how that DAOs are constructed on is something but good. At the second, present DAOs nonetheless depend on a sure diploma of centralization for environment friendly choice making particularly within the preliminary phases of the DAO’s growth. 

But regardless of the nascent stage of DAO growth, the idea represents a world-changing governance construction that can introduce equity and transparency throughout a number of industries.

When rightly executed, DAOs can additionally introduce decentralized types of regulation and authorized compliance, thus advancing the ethos of decentralization throughout a number of areas of society.