Cybernetics of 1Hive

Dear Friends,

I’ve been a sporadic contributor to 1hive over many years. I am a mathematician, mechanism designer and data science. I designed the original conviction voting algorithm, collaborated on some analysis for the monetary policy, and argued lovingly about the economic incentives underpinning Celeste. Recently I wrote a paper about Cybernetics and DAOs and submitted it for peer review to the IEEE Workshop on Decentralized Governance. I would like to share this preprint:

Aligning ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization’ to Precedents in Cybernetics


The concept of “Decentralized Autonomous Organization” has been popularized as part of the “Web 3.0” movement. This movement is characterized by digital infrastructures that are ‘decentralized’ in network architecture and permissionless to use. Decentralized autonomous organizations, referred to as DAOs, are a digital expression of the political will to self-organize. The granular entanglement of social and technical concepts makes it challenging to identify a historical precedent for DAOs. Yet, literature review and analysis reveals that this particular entanglement of information systems and self-organization is consistent with longstanding conceptual development and practice in the field of cybernetics. Drawing on Stafford Beer’s Viable Systems Model, this piece bridges DAOs and cybernetics via two main principles of organization: viability and purpose. Viability is a property of a system such that it has sufficient adaptive capacity to thrive in the face of change; adaptive capacity is characterized according to Ross Ashby’s concept of ‘variety’. Purpose is the ability to define and collectively pursue a goal in the sense of feedback control systems. Building on the control theoretic concepts of observability, controllability, and reachability, we examine the ‘governance surface’ of an organization and the associated trade-offs between resilience and robustness that emerge in governance surface design. We propose that this trade-off can be addressed with a constitutional archetype whereby an organization’s ability to update its code is constrained but not eliminated. A case study from a DAO known as ‘1Hive’ is explored to demonstrate this archetype in action. We consider the limitations of the cybernetics perspective by emphasizing the subjectivity of the governance designer. Finally, we conclude with future research directions.

as well as to invite feedback, or correction of any key details. Much of the description in case study part of the paper is based on my experiences within 1hive over the years. Given that i am submitting the paper for peer review by academics, it seems fitting to submit it for review by peers in 1hive.

Much Love,


May i ask what you mean by governance surface ?
How is a dao’s ability to update its code is constrained when alot of dao’s code is open source which allows anyone to be able to work on it ?

Depending on your audience its wordy and will take a couple reads to understand. Without knowing the Stafford beers viable systems model that connection gets lost the same with ross ashby , theres no prior discussion about them and or how they connect to what youre writing.
The last sentence doesn’t sound like a complete thought, do you have an example of the directions that you can go ?

I think the important thing here is that it is written for an academic audience and it builds upon existing academic literature. If you have a look at the literature review section it contains a range of definitions, explanations and tie ins to the relevant fields.

The governance surface in particular is a concept developed (by analogy to control surfaces) in the paper; it refers specifically to the set of parameters (including code or prose like the covenant) that can be changed by governance processes – for 1Hive, that means things that can be modified via decision voting.

The paper makes an effort to connect concepts that emerged naturally in DAOs, such as 1Hive with pre-existing concepts in the cybernetics literature.


Hello Michael! It’s great to see that you have picked 1HIve as a basis for this study. Being part of more than one DAO(1Hive, Gitcoin, UMA, TEC, etc) , I’ve always had the impression that 1Hive is a little special, I am very eager to read the paper and see this perspective explained by data science expert :slight_smile:

Thank you for taking the time to study 1Hive and for picking this archetype as the subject or your study. I’m sure this will help a lot of bees! :honeybee: :honeybee: :honeybee: :honeybee:

PS. See you in the FDD :smiley: