Disinformation via fake news is here to stay. People don't know who to believe anymore. Decision making based on fake news may not be a big deal for low-stake scenarios, but when human life is on the line, it is.
Fake news has accelerated the failure of democracy, as shown by the US.
Since we know this new threat is here to stay — it is so cheap and easy to manufacture fake news — what can we build that helps us defeat them?
Life itself is a quest for truth. But our own cognitive biases, combined with our vulnerabilities, make us highly irrational and confuse us in our search for truth.
While technology cannot change human nature, it can help shape our behavior in our quest for truth.
Fake news has proliferated in a highly specialized world. Because of markets incentivizing specialization of labor, we all know a lot about specific topics. For other topics, we may have blind spots. When we have those blind spots, it’s easier for us to believe what others want us to believe.
Again, I don't think we can change that. But we can make it easier for us to recognize who to believe.
Traditional credentialism has failed us — in the current outbreak, traditionally trusted institutions like WHO or CDC have lied to society.
When traditional credentialism fails, we need a new way for the mainstream to access curated truth.
But there is a DAO structure to tackle this problem — Expert DAOs.
Expert DAOs aren't a new concept — some Aragon team members have been thinking about this for a while. But the concept is more relevant now than ever.
A grassroots approach to truth
Instead of believing top-down institutions, bottom-up clusters of experts can emerge.
These clusters would be akin to membership clubs, with the members being recognized experts in a subject. Cluster creation is permissionless. In the context of COVID-19, Balaji could decide to create a cluster that includes Marc Andreessen, Bill Gates and Li Wenliang.
Each member would have a private key on Ethereum, so that they can sign messages with minimal risk of tampering — remember that deepfakes can already tamper video and photo proofs.
One of the experts would then submit a piece of information to the DAO. It could be as simple as a document with a few paragraphs explaining how people can protect themselves from COVID-19.
Each member reviews it and votes on that piece of information. If the vote passes, the piece of information gets released on a public feed. Everyone can verify that the piece of information has been voted as true by members, who have their social capital on the line.
No modifications are required, it can be done out of the box.
Votes can point to a document in IPFS to make sure that the information can be accessed from anywhere by anyone — even behind firewalls.
The only thing that would be needed is a simple public feed — even using Twitter — where people can see the pieces of information verified by the Expert DAOs. Trivial to implement.
After the concept is proven to work, we may then have an aggregator of all of the Expert DAOs by topic. You may be able to filter by reputation as well. But how would reputation be calculated?
Simple: if a piece of information turns out to be wrong, anyone can open a dispute in Aragon Court.
As time goes on, those who turned out to be right get rewarded with reputation, and those who were wrong get penalized.
We may also seek to integrate other open source reputation protocols such as SourceCred — already integrated with Aragon — into the expert network and filtering system.
Expert DAOs allow for the bottom-up formation of clusters of experts that can cryptographically attest truth.
With an adequate discovery platform Expert DAOs may become the canonical place for truth. They may even get better over time because of cryptoeconomic incentives.
Interested in building this? DMs are open!
PS: Someone is already building this! Check out Research Collective.
Inspired by Joel Monegro, Mario Laul and Joe Charlesworth