Our body DAO (and some metaphorical introspection)

While I tend to find the best use of these channels to be focused suggestions for improvement and feedback, I’m increasing finding generalized misalignment with the DAO, and rather than continue to hit this concern in an ad-hoc manner which is increasingly being perceived as a lack of empathy, I will outline some thoughts here; as ever feedback is welcome. I understand that this is unconventional formatting for a post and I ask that everyone bear with me, as I’m feeling some unconventional feelings toward this organization.

I’m a DAO maxi, through and through. It’s why I’m here in generalized terms. I don’t wake up and think, “I love Indices” (but I’d buy that tshirt, lol) yet it’s rare that I go 5 minutes without making some connection irl to a way to improve this DAO. My heart is here and it’s breaking and here’s why:

The reason I am here at IC DAO is not just because I vibe with the people and the mission, but I find the manner in which we work to be foundational to the way we grow . . . we’ll never ‘achieve’ our goals because we’re too driven to ever allow ourselves to lean on the goalpost. That said, we all live on trails and paths, as this is a journey I hope to be on for as long as I’m willing and you’ll have me.

The feeling generally expressed by those wishing to centralize to move forward, is that distributed governance doesn’t work effectively. I think that those who push hardest tend to withhold proper consideration around risk absorption and scalability in practical resourcing terms (liquidity), but that’s a contextual point of disagreement, not a foundational philosophical misalignment, and that’s where my concern mainly lies . . .

Power and influence tend to accumulate to those that want it, and traditionally to those that are capitalized regardless of capital-source (capitalism). The decentralized feature of DAOs is appealing because I can see and understand the parts, understand how I fit in, and consider the impacts of my actions well in advance of execution; in short I can pre-emptively act with empathy and efficiency through holding holistic context. Now that we’re more organized, I tend to see us a organs within a body; we all fill roles, some critical to sustainability.

That said, a body needs a brain and I believe that’s where my alignment is strained. I’m of the opinion that the body is a better signaling mechanism for sustainability than the brain; the brain tries to interpret the needs of the body, but the brain isn’t representative of the body, other than conceptually and that’s very different. What’s being considered currently are options around how to give this DAO a better brain, imo, and just like in a human unable decide, we’re taking a step back to zoom out and ask ourselves, “how do we give this DAO the best brain we can?”

In my time here, we’ve flip-flopped. We had a body-DAO for a year and it was fine because we were coming out of the mud. This organization started with a single cell, mitosis got us to working groups and we found that through time we needed a circulatory and organ system and just like any growing child, we want to play and explore. Then we delegated to a council and we had a brain-DAO that reflected that the body had grown a bit flabby and that the we needed to get more fit and functional by process-type . . . @BigSky7 put this well when he said on a call that really we can now focus on making our individual piece of the pie amazing.

Earliest forum post I can referencing a council:

We are now at a crossroads and have exponentially more information. We can function as a body, but not without challenges. We can reorganize with a brain, but sustainability can only be determined through time and the reorganization is not yet complete. We have 4x the amount of data availability re our body-DAO than we do our brain-DAO. We’re still young at trying to ‘think’ as a holistic organization via representative democracy, but can the body this council has sculpted move through time effectively? The harsh reality is that in a body with billions of cells, some get lost everyday, but new ones are grown, and largely the organism that is my body doesn’t have to give conscious thought to that process; in a DAO we really do.

As humans our existence is a call and response function between the wetware that sustains our higher functions, and the consensus network that is our brain which intentionally moves our body through time. The reason I know we can make consensus networks decide AND execute is because I can brush my teeth in the morning . . . billions of braincells directing billions more in constant communication; I still manage to get things done, and this DAO is the same. Just as we seek to be effective little modular consensus networks ourselves, we seek to build the best modular consensus network to serve our customers (product users) and keep our body-DAO healthy to keep doing so.

I currently believe the conversation we’re having is foundational. As a question, it’s effectively, “do we let the brain or body drive our actions”, and I really challenge this DAO to consider the features of both. Over time, I’ve found that no matter how effective I think I’m being at maintaining a positive decision function, the systems that support those functions and allow for execution (my body) are critical infrastructure, and the effects of even temporary dislocation can be jarring (I think very differently when I’m hungry, or cold) . . . we don’t like to admit it but this organization is an organism and our existence is dependent all the same on parity between the decisions we make and the ability of our executive arms to survive and thrive without dislocation.

As I see it, consensus mechanisms are the best way for the critical infrastructure of this DAO (contributors) to give meaningful feedback to inform a decision function (how do we spend our time?). That said, of late I’ve felt that the exhausted body that is this DAO have both been happy to offload the critical-thinking aspects in favor of focusing on functional excellence, but the feedback mechanism that both informs a decision function and signals pain has been effectively disconnected from the decision function (one hour/week of chatting). We lacked a mechanism for ongoing body-brain alignment at a periodicity less granular than 1-week. Essential representatives should be available representatives.

So the problem to solve for - how to establish a decision-function that is in perfect harmony with an executive function. The average individual spends a lifetime hoping to achieve this, as a DAO we’re beating the average human in comparative terms (in human years I’d put this DAO at about early adolescence; we just had some awkward changes we have new desires, we’re figuring out how to move through this ecosystem effectively, but have yet to really feel a sense of identity). Swinging from body to brain has shown what can be useful from each, so I’d like to propose we learn from that for a time knowing that both are possible and endeavor to take the best of both, apply them here, and move forward with a clear plan.

Again, I know this isn’t a conventional post and I appreciate your time here. I know I can present strangely to those that are steeped in command and control executive environments and it requires an immense amount of trust to even conceptually allow for a distributed-decision framework to inform or replace the centralized ones we all tend to default to. I’ll endeavor to act with empathy while we endeavor to reflect and iterate on improvement; as I see it, this seasonal conversation between the body and brain regarding what good communication looks like will drive our organization iteratively through time and allow for course adjustments that other more rigid DAOs may not be able to make.

@anthonyb.eth took the initiative to organize a meeting on alternative governance and while I am feeling pressure from some ex-council members who wish to stay in power to stand up some consensus constructs asap to provide a way for the body-DAO to express outside of forum polls and the INDEX token (with circulating supply representing ~1/50 of this DAO) I’m going to attend this session and garner as much feedback as possible to help inform what a useful decision/feedback mechanism is to keep the body of this DAO aligned with the decisions we make. Additionally a council<>DAO retrospective is being scheduled for 08Mar22 with details to follow here once available.

Alternative Governance Workshop
Monday, March 7 · 13:30 – 14:30 ET
Google Meet joining info
Updated: Video call link: https://meet.google.com/vor-shsa-rqm?authuser=1

Thank you for your focus and feedback.


I think a good framework would be to think about the areas where ‘body’ mechanisms work better and the areas where ‘brain’ mechanisms work better. We can then see if we can build a hybrid system that lets us apply the strengths of each approach to their respective domains. There’s probably a reason billions of years of evolution led to humans having both bodies and brains.


I am a brand new contributor, so please have mercy as I provide what I hope is a meaningful comment.

After reading your discussion, this quote felt like it captured the whole issue:

The body/brain metaphor notwithstanding, distributed decision making feels like the core issue democracies have been trying to solve for centuries, from Ancient Greece to modern America. I’m drawing on theories of public policy and public opinion from graduate Political Science. I’m going to borrow some from popular sources for definitions, but please trust that these were in the texts!

Would you clarify, as you think of the various organs/parts of the body whether you think of their decision making capability as purely rational (economically) or some less pure version of rational choice? I don’t think we have to completely abandon the idea that contributors can act as rational actors. It may be that factors such as imperfect information, uncertainty and time constraints, which limit rationality, account for the flab OR the reluctance of various organs to participate in direct self-governance.

Other concepts of bounded rationality like ‘satisficing’ and ‘optimizing’ suggest sometimes because of these factors, we settle for a decision which is good enough, rather than the best decision. This may continue the production of bodily flab instead of a higher level of functional excellence.

It sounds like your ideal is some form of emergent order that with cross-functional self-awareness forms into a high-functioning decentralized organization over time. This may be possible over time, but in fact IC has growth and product adoption opportunities right now, competitors right now, and very real product differentiation with product-market fit right now. Given limits to human decision-making (and the tendency for those in power to delegate authority to others - which I haven’t even addressed here - see U.S. Congress :blush:), why not run a time-limited experiment that sets up pods, nests, and wise owls? I would personally like to see safeguards in place in case the new, more centralized governance structure doesn’t work out or violates the vision and mission of IC, just to add.

As for the council members who are offering pressure to remain in power, that is a very real challenge. I’m in agreement with Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 51 that men are not angels, and therefore government with checks are necessary for long term sustainability.

I don’t know if this is helpful, but I am interested and passionate about innovative and distributed governance. I’m not quite a DAO-maxi yet, but I see great opportunity.



Thanks for your response here, I appreciate the perspective you bring as I’m using metaphors while building up a better vocabulary around some of these concepts and find myself pulling from political writings, autobiographies, science fiction, coordinated biological systems; literally anything I can find that demonstrates coordinated activity toward a common goal.

I think about this a lot and metaphors only carry me so far. When I think of the systems that support a coordinated whole I tend to think that they need to be efficiently useful to the whole (i.e. not wasteful), and provide sufficient feedback (economic or otherwise) as to inform required decision functions around same, (resourcing, efficacy, communication standards, outputs, maybe more). Another thing that is important is that reverse flow that the whole needs to provide around those very same considerations. We’re talking about trust; back to the body metaphor: if the circulatory system rugs, game over for the whole (system criticality to whole becomes important it gauge and understand). I don’t know what I’m missing here yet, but this is how I think through the challenge.

I appreciate you capturing that well, and while I certainly don’t want to be perceived as lobbing pamphlets from an ivory tower, I can confirm that that’s a working theory. Essentially just as no person can actively manage all of their parasympathetic functions (heartbeat, temperature regulation, etc.), a command model is poorly suited to scale in that all of the resourcing between systems has to flow through a decision function that can only hold one idea at a time in state. In a body/brain modal that empowers the nodes (cells) and pods (organs) to function based on norms and standards in a well-communicated decision framework, the parasympathetic (read standard or acceptable operating parameters) can largely continue unencumbered and without encumbering the whole. That said, our bodies do an amazing job of distilling billions of years of trial-and-error informed complexity into just a few things that our decision-function can interpret (hunger, pain, pleasure, fear, exhaustion) so that our brain can move the body through the world effectively, and stand up the next contestant.

I agree, and the beauty of the Nest/Pod model is that we can both be functionally excellent and iterate on command center improvement at the same time imo. Back to the metaphor . . . we sleep to let the body and mind rest, and we exercise our body and mind to keep them fit. While a decision function is required in a high-power state when the body needs to move in ways it’s not used to (Working Groups → Nests/Pods) it can have no active remit and simply be transparently responsive while in the execution phase of our seasonal modal (Season 1:01FEB22 to 30Jun22). This is highly dependent on how well the decision-function establishes all of the above (resourcing, efficacy, communication standards, defined output expectations)

One last note: I would like to start bookending the Nest/Pod conversation with IndexCoop/DAO/Nest/Pod/Owl, because that’s really the organizational taxonomy of networks at present and I’m unclear exactly what the council would be able to influence at each level and how, and I find that important for Owls in this construct to understand. In any coordinated system failure (this is a spectrum) by one functional area puts strain on adjacent functions until cascade takes over and the whole fails; in a DAO model this always pushes to node-level (Owl) pain and unless the nodes can communicate as a system that they are failing we lose the whole.

I drew a good bit of inspiration from @Pepperoni_Joe via both the seasonal model and the conception of a council, and I think they connect nicely. I believe that the 6-month seasonal model coupled with perhaps a 2/3-month shoulder-season committee (can’t help but think of something like change-facilitators) to manage the process would be useful. This would still require something like an increasingly high quorum for state-changes (i.e. when we need another feedback-layer in the representative democracy model Owl–>Pod–>Nest–>DAO<>Index Coop).

So much to consider holistically, but I agree wholeheartedly that performance at a high level needs to be more than naval gazing at this stage (to borrow a term from @MaryQ ). Part of my desire to see a council step back and reflect is that the council has set the course and given this DAO a form, now it’s time to allow it to execute as I have no confidence that a fresh council with a poorly defined remit wouldn’t cause more harm than just letting the newly formed Nests become more proficient and actually execute the established plan to seasonal term (effectively if there’s a new council and they are still tinkering, I can’t reliably plan and execute on a remit as a nest coordinator). The nodes and pods of this DAO will adjust, the Nests will be adjusted, and the DAO will evolve . . . each of those processes should occur at much different paces and a council can’t ‘evolve’ a DAO that isn’t ready, again. Thanks again for your reply @rallison5.

1 Like