Manifesto-based organizations

Manifesto-based organizations

How to prevent soulless corporations from making everyone miserable

A lot of the world's problems don't come from malice. They come from sustained ineptitude over the course of decades.

Ineptitude then manifests in many forms, and thus allowing incoherencies to flourish. Incoherencies can take many forms, including corruption and multiple kinds of contradictions.

For example, take Facebook. Its goal was to *make the world more open and connected. *But they ended up with make the world more open so we can gather people's private info and sell it to the highest bidder.

Mark even posted a manifesto, but only did so 13 years after Facebook launching. And I'd say that's even better than most organizations out there.

Truth is that most organizations don't have a real mission statement. Most have 2 paragraphs in their legal bylaws and that's it.

And without clear values set in stone, these organizations end up being soulless. It reminds me of the paperclip maximizer, which is a provoking thought experiment. It argues that an AI whose only goal is to produce more paperclips, will do anything to achieve its goal. Including killing all humans, so it can use all their resources to produce more.

This is happening today, only not controlled by an AI, but humans.

Some are doing unethical things just to increase metrics.

I doubt most founders of those organizations had evil goals in mind. If anything, they were negligent not to set incentives and values to avoid evil.

Another example are banks. They started helping entrepreneurs and ended enslaving them. Another example are many GMO companies. They started helping farmers and ended enslaving them too.

This happens for two reasons:

  • A broken incentive system. If your incentive is to take money off farmers and make more money for your investors, and there are no shared values or goals between the two... there's probably an incentive misalignment.
  • A broken or nonexistent mission and values. Does the organization have a mission? Is it written in clear language, or charted? Does it have values? Does it have a heart, or is it a soulless beast? If it has mission and values, are those aligned with the incentives? If they are not, no matter how cool your manifesto is, you won't adhere to it

About incentives, tokens are now blurring the line between consumers, producers and investors. Tokens may help prevent incentive misalignment in organizations and communities.

About mission and values... obviously having values and mission written in a manifesto helps. This provides accountability. If you are not following your values, someone can point at the incoherency and make it visible. There are also other steps you can take if your organization is incorporated in a traditional jurisdiction, such as being a Benefit Corporation.

Aragon has the Aragon Manifesto, and I trust the Aragon community members will uphold it.

If someone with power in the Aragon community betrays our values, anyone could point at them. Values are the most important part of being a human. Even if sometimes those values may seem banal, everyone has their own set. So you can compare your set with the organization's set and choose if you want to support it or not. Support may mean to buy a product from them, hold their token, or just work with them.

If values are so important, why does no one follow them? Turns out there's no accountability. With no direct and clear accountability, organizations can do whatever they want, as long as there are high enough barriers for recourse. Maybe suing a company that killed your son starts a 10 year long fight for a law to pass. With that friction, people lose hope in change, reinforcing the vicious cycle and giving more power to those organizations.

The ideal world

In the ideal world, every organization has a manifesto with its mission and values. Those values could be ranked, just like in the Aragon Manifesto.

If an organization fails to follow their manifesto, users can point out the value they broke.

There could be a dapp that indexes all those manifestos. A TCR based on the subjective question of has this applicant acted in accordance with its mission statement/values? The organizations could stake tokens, to signal commitment to their manifesto.

The dapp could then let anyone point out infringements, after staking tokens.

A decentralized court could look at the alleged infringements and rule against or in favor of the organization. The court could be set by the organization, so it could set a court who knows better its inner context. Yet if that court fails to serve its users, anyone can appeal to the parent court, until arriving to a Supreme Court.

You could even have entire groups of discontent users stake towards an infringement case, win it and split profits. It's a market for corporate integrity. In this world, you wouldn't trust any organization that doesn't put their money where their mouth is, right in their manifesto.

This would be trivial to implement with the Aragon Network. If you like these kind of discussions, hop into our research forum and our community chat! If you would like to help us build this, check openings in the Aragon community!

Thanks to John Light and Luke Duncan for their help with feedback