MaidSafe blog -- The Power of the Crowd series

I just read the third in a series of MaidSafe blog posts called The Power of the Crowd series.

Don’t find reference to them on the forum so I thought I should call everyone’s attention to them.

These articles deal with things we need to start considering deeply, especially as we anticipate the approach of the SAFE Network. These are things we need to be considering regardless of SAFE, but the impact of this technology will cross lines to make it impossible to pretend that we live in the same world as our ancestors.

No one person or group can control the evolution, but with good consideration of principles, perhaps we can start to reframe our thinking, and use good principles to guide us.

I look forward to more installations. (You writing these @nicklambert?


Yes, working on these in partnership with Cairbre, our PR guy. The three parts are all that have been written for now. Glad you liked them. We came across a lot of other really useful resources all related to similar topics, Mozilla has produced a lot of good work on the open internet including Five issues that will determine the future of Internet Health and A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow reads like poetry. Well worth checking out if you have time.


This almost feels like a softening up, before the proclamation of a governance structure for the safenetwork.

Several times Nick proclaims that ‘consensus is critical’ …well, consensus works in computer programs where constants and variable are know and rules are in place, but as humans we are all too easily manipulated into the dialectic…a preconceived outcome bounded by extremes. The oldest trick in the book, just keeps giving.

Governance…ouch! this word needs to be actively eliminated from human consciousness.

How? By building a platform that offers humans 100% privacy (for the first ever) and enables them to self-organize into whatever they want.

I would encourage Nick to read the Reinventing Organizations wiki

This video does a good job of explaining Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory (a model of psychology development that describes human development as following a set course of stages of development)

The next evolutionary step is self-organization which eliminates ‘consensus’. In place of consensus is the ‘advice process’ for decision making thus:

Any person can make any decision, after seeking advice from:

• Everyone who will be meaningfully affected
• People with expertise in the matter

Steps in the advice process:

  1. Someone notices a problem or opportunity and takes the initiative, or alerts someone better placed to act.
  2. Prior to a proposal, the decision-maker may seek input and other perspectives before proposing action.
  3. The initiator makes a proposal and seeks advice from those affected or those with expertise.
  4. Taking this advice into account, the decision-maker decides on an action and informs those who have given advice.

A real world example of an organisation using self-organising methods?

Buurtzorg “Neighborhood Care”

Buurtzorg was awarded Best Employer in the Netherlands for 3 years running, all the while providing savings of EUR 2bn a year to the Dutch social security system.

“Essentially, the program empowers nurses (rather than nursing assistants or cleaners) to deliver all the care that patients need. And while this has meant higher costs per hour, the result has been fewer hours in total. Indeed, by changing the model of care, Buurtzorg has accomplished a 50 percent reduction in hours of care, improved quality of care and raised work satisfaction for their employees.”

I really believe that self-organization can be utilised to assure the Safenetwork stays true to purpose, by side stepping the consensus trap.

Can the ‘advice process’ be guaranteed by a smart contract like function?


It’s not @chrisfostertv :). This is just a series of opinion pieces. I’ll take a look at self organisation. Cheers.


I agree 100% here, these are opinion pieces though and that’s all cool. Governance though bothers me a lot, it bothers me also that lack of governance also shows weaknesses etc. I keep coming back to smaller communities that somehow interact via simple rules like unidroit laws or something. It’s an interesting area, but I share the governance thing though it makes humans appear several degrees apart like eating burgers at mcdonalds but never killing a cow etc.

Anyway, I share the governance parts, it always starts simple then ego greed etc. creeps in so simply and takes it to an irrecoverable state (where I think we are very close to right now in the “west”).


Wow! THANK You. New concepts. I kept thinking real time anonymous/blinded decision systems to strip away the cult of personality and charisma in consensus along with true conflict free flatness but is a bit forced isn’t it? What you describe reminds me of first democracy where the so called leader was picked at random from an educatated populace for one limited term only. A service lottery. And where there were no standing rules because the people were the rule and every rule was only tentative subjected to endless inquiry and refinement.


Think you might find this interesting. Government has given “governance” a bad name. So we don’t have to be so sour about it @chrisfostertv :wink:

There are some really interesting concepts here, and Arthur has done some good thinking about it. There’s a second episode to be done on this, probably next week, so heads up and get this one under your belt!


Yep we’ve taken an evolutionary leap in human organisation. It’s now quite interesting to look at Maidsafe who are operating on a lower rung of on the evolutionary scale whilst building an evolutionary network.

It’s almost like Maidsafe need to jump the shark and be the future already in their organisation…I think the TBD problem will not get solved until they themselves evolve.

To be fair they have evolved technically and structurally as far as I can tell from limited intel…but the fabric that will facilitate hundreds of core Devs to keep the organism healthy can surely not be constructed via governance or consensus mechanisms.

I think this is what Nick is looking at by quoting others writings and manifestos…sorry this has to come from within, by becoming self organised and then replicating those simple patterns to the outside.

Once your on top of what self organization entails and how it is the very way that SAFE businesses will be raised from nothing (ie not by smart contracts), words like governance and consensus are big red flags for this worldwide p2p network.

Have a look at the Crisp DNA for a preliminary blueprint for how groups of people could run businesses on SAFE. I think they may still rely somewhat on consensus in part though.

Particularly impressed with their BUN protocol for handling new requests.

They are a group of 35+ geographically dispersed developer consultants.

We have no managers, not even a CEO. Instead we rely on self-organization and transparency. Almost everything is bottom-up, and anyone can drive any decision.


It is…[quote=“chrisfostertv, post:3, topic:12983”]
but as humans we are all too easily manipulated into the dialectic…a preconceived outcome bounded by extremes.

This is not an argument against consensus - it is an argument against fake news/ propaganda.

What you go on to propose is a governance model…

No…I don’t think it does.[quote=“chrisfostertv, post:3, topic:12983”]
Any person can make any decision

I’d have to disagree, as I see it:
Either 1. Any person can make some/certain decisions,
or 2.A person can make any decision…(requiring a leadership/hierarchical governance structure)
or 3. Some people can make any decision (requiring consensus)

Just take your own example here. imagine that getting rid of cleaners adversely affects cleaners but gives nurses a pay rise. Who is the “decision maker” here and which group of the “meaningfully affected” do they listen to?
Surely you have the hierarchical structure of a leader here, so how is there no governance?
Neither the nurse, nor the cleaner can consult their own “people with expertise” in the matter and make a decision, because it will adversely affect the other group.
Furthermore, what if the “people with expertise in the matter” disagree say 70%-30%…how do you avoid relying on consensus? :smile:


But you don’t have to have consensus, sometimes you wait for it and sometimes despite increased risk you act without it.

@chrisfostertv I am still trying to understand but it occurs to me that on some level its all self organizing whether we like it or not. But having an organiztion based on self organization seems to be an effort in getting the ego out of the way. We have to do that without losing drive.

Its almost like channeled works- at least you don’t have someone claiming to be the prophet. So many creative people will say they were just the instrument for something self organizing.


Like Trump you mean…lol? Yes, I’m not saying it is impossible to do, or possible in every case, just that it is a desired thing and crucial to seek where possible.
In a related way, whatever the size of the group, be it 3 people, or this forum… :wink: or 100m people,those doing the governing need the consent of the governed…otherwise it all comes crashing down in revolution. :wink:
Yes, you can say it’s not impossible to just dictate to others without consensus or consent. However it would be acting in a totally opposite way to the tenets of the “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”, which Nick Lambert enthuses about in his “Power of the Crowd” series.
Something to think about here perhaps… :smile:

Whether self-organising is a good thing or not, seems to depend on who the “self” is doing all the organizing. You need consent and consensus or run the risk of your group being taken over and dictated to. :smile:


The check on this is everyone feeling empowered. Its tricky because we at least want consultation of maturity. We don’t want the children running the show in the family but it won’t do to teach them attitudes of disempowerment. Its like you can’t ask people to consent to disempowerment. This is where I think its very helpful to have other people’s need to have certain experiences in life and need to make their own mistakes and live out their own development curve always in mind. No way to rush people’s growth path, its inviolate and some lessons can’t be rushed. Can provide them with opportunity and means but can’t make them utilize or appreciate it until they are ready This is where ultimately only love works and everything else complicates. I think life is largely about maturing ethically and lived experience is the only catalyst. People only respond to understanding. This is where I think Chris’s consult first is brilliant because self organization then aligns with human development. We can’t stop people from acting, its self defeating, we can’t even stop suicide. Love does not try to control, it trusts, it hopes, it sees things charitably, it understands and models love, love teaches love in an upward spiral. Old dictum, those who weren’t believed in have trouble telling the truth. The truth is love, fear or the absence of love is a lie. Love is reality.


Yes, agreed.[quote=“Warren, post:12, topic:12983”]
Its tricky because we at least want consultation of maturity. We don’t want the children running the show in the family but it won’t do to teach them attitudes of disempowerment. Its like you can’t ask people to consent to disempowerment.

This, to me appears to be an argument for representative Democracy and against direct Democracy. It also appears to be an argument that governance should be influenced/advised by those with knowledge/experience/expertise in the topic at hand. For example take Global warming or the alleged Autism/vaccine link - weight should be given to the consensus of opinion within the relevant scientists…again, I agree with all this.[quote=“Warren, post:12, topic:12983”]
This is where I think its very helpful to have other people’s need to have certain experiences in life and need to make their own mistakes and live out their own development curve always in mind.

Insofar as it does not violate the rights of others, I again agree. I’d say I’m as Libertarian as my Liberal values allow.[quote=“Warren, post:12, topic:12983”]
This is where I think Chris’s consult first is brilliant

I don’t personally see how this (at least theoretically) differs from current Liberal Democracies…this is unclear to me.
“All you need is Love” is a bit simplistic/idealistic/lacking to me, however I agree that “Love thy neighbour” is not a bad basic principle - treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself would be mine. :smile:

Yeah its just the golden rule. Its just the psychological projective principle. Try to control someone else and enslave yourself. We want friendship not servitude, trust not control. Its like we can’t live someone else’s life or even directly substitute their experience for our own. And yet we have these situations like in parenting where we say no and then have to let go of saying no at some point. Our “no” at some point becomes the equivalent of consent because we can’t even control our children. So the love really is a bit more like unattached compassion. Might be why Plato didn’t even want parenting and suggested the Kibutz type situation to prevent the tyranny of the family.

David I note your comment “I keep coming back to smaller communities that somehow interact via simple rules like unidroit laws or something” and agree that a similar model is needed for the “unification of data”. I also note Nicks comment that MaidSafe are looking to decentralise the management and maintenance of SAFE.

So as I understand it you are saying we need a system/model which enables smaller communities to i. self organise and set up their community in SAFE (using a unidriot governance model where governance is defined as the act or activity of looking after and making decisions about something) co-operate/interact in a way to create decentralised value that is sustainable and where the efficiency dividends created are shared amongst the community members via a new social contract to transition us to a decentralised internet or smart “communitylinked” society?

So in theory self-organising community (e.g. regions, industry and consumers etc) will establish their own SAFE data hub/exchange (?) to “access” the safenetwork and act as the Smart Investment manager of their own information, data and associated revenues and localised SAFE maintenance". They manage their localised data ownership, permission based data sharing, security, risk and “smart community” transition within a global decentralised, open information and data marketplace and engage via the unidriot general assembly/governing council to work with the Secretariat to protect their interests and support our global and systemic evolution. I note you speak of a digital voting capability so this could also include a "Citizens assembly focused on consumer/farmer “access” and network size to become practically completely secure.

As I see it the 4 key questions to enable this path are i. What is the system/business model? ii. What is the operating system? iii. How is it funded? iv. Where do we start?

I know this is nothing and they adress it but and its only there because of Swedish law but Id like to see versions in the wild without the board for Crisper. Thinking about whats going on with the Tesla board. Its ideological opponents are very clearly trying to get sabateurs added to the board. That is pathetic. Imagine that happening to Exxon.

Yes, self governance in small teams if the word has to be used. I’m referring there to governance as in a hierarchy, world level and down.

So were looking for a governance model for the SafeNetwork? Happy to have gotten the party started on this topic as the series of posts was intended to do.

How do you propose to solve The Benevolant Dictator problem?

I’m suggesting it can be solved by self management from the inside out by those who are intimate with the issues, distinct from any Network Governance model influenced by experts.

Regarding consensus from the wiki:

Consensus may sound appealing, but it’s not always most effective to give everybody veto power. In the advice process, power and responsibility rest with the decision-maker. Ergo, there is no power to block.

Ownership of the issue stays clearly with one person: the decision maker. Convinced she made the best possible decision, she can see things through with enthusiasm, and she can accept responsibility for any mistakes.

The advice process, then, transcends both top-down and consensus-based decision making.

A variation of the advice process is consent-based decision making. “Consent” is different from “consensus” in the sense of unanimity. The consent principle says that a decision can be made as long as no one has a reasoned, substantial objection (also known as a “block”). Consent doesn’t mean everyone loves the decision, but that they can live with it.

In practice, consent means that if one person raises a principled objection, the decision is blocked. The proposer must pause and, together with the objector, devise a solution that overcomes the objection. A block in a consensus process is a signal to the whole team to “swarm” to understand the objection and problem solve.

Everybody loves Ants here right?

The Remarkable Self-Organization of Ants

Self-organizing mechanisms are present everywhere in nature, from the development of an embryo to the organization of large animal populations

The organization of insect societies is a marquee example of a complex decentralized system that arises from the interactions of many individuals.

keywords: interactions of many individuals

The wisdom of the crowd: a diverse collection of independently deciding individuals is likely to make certain types of decisions and predictions better than individuals or even experts

keywords: independently deciding individuals


That it is NEVER otherwise, in actuality, is the thing to be reconciled, And it IS about the “interactions of many individuals” always. It is no more inherently desirable to be completely independent than it is to be completely dependent.

Granting free will (which it is meaningless to deny) there is no ultimate “right way” to do things. It always boils down to a game of preference and influence. Can’t be otherwise.

Most of us here are rather certain to prefer a system that honors those truths rather than denying it in favor of some system of “ultimate authority.” But I dare say that we are in the vast, though growing, minority. Self governance IS, by default, but most play the game as if it isn’t. That’s not necessarily good or bad; it’s just true.

That’s why the idea of “spreading democracy” is so squirrelly and generally destructive.

Bending my knee in complete fealty to some monarch would not be wrong at all, in my eyes, as long as I and the monarch recognize that the condition is always dependent not upon MAKING the pledge but MAINTAINING it perpetually. Forcing fealty and forcing democracy are similarly unworkable activities in the long run, and aesthetically ugly. But aesthetics are another area of preference, so there’s no ultimate “aught” there either.

All this philosophical aside is just to point out that it seems to me that you err in thinking that there is a “right” way to do things, in some ultimate sense.

I think that what we’re really trying to do is build tools that will most enable and most empower those who honor the fact that we all really DO exercise free will, though we usually pretend otherwise. We’re trying to limit the influence of central control that gets in between the individuals who want to connect individually, or in different kinds of agreed loyalties.

That will even allow rather new forms of hierarchical structures: cool, as long as the fact of individual choice is put in the spotlight. That’s our aesthetic preference.

Personally, I vote @dirvine for clan chief of the Freedom Subversives Clan.

Oops! That’s the existing situation we are trying to remedy!!

Never mind.

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Well no, that’s 180 degrees from what I’m trying to convey.

The right way to do something with self-organisation changes constantly based off what team members are sensing about the current situation.

I’m no expert but have been doing a business course that requires proofs that satisfy a conventional hierarchical business model. In my attempts to satisfy said proofs from a self-organised business perspective (and explaining it to lecturers) some lights went off that suggested this could be a good fit with the ethos of Safe and how we might connect to form businesses after launch.

i.e two evolutionary systems of organising, one of people and the other of data.

I’m thinking in terms of a worldwide developer community who are working on core development…projecting 10’s or 100’s of years forward and I’m not sure that POD’s are the answer.

Who decides, who gets the core Dev rewards? It’s tricky with a hierarchical, for profit company making decisions about network governance and reward models. They basically bragged about dominating core rewards in the equity raise literature…for profit org so why not.

I see an elephant, I could be seeing things, but it feels like Nick is doing a softly softly to broach this subject? :slight_smile:

An Idea from a self organised perspective and operating from within the network code system:

A core reward mechanism that pays out on a contribution, however small, to the whole. I’m not sure how it could work technically, but if a commit is made, can we recognise everyone that made that possible and each receive a reward based off amount of code etc in contrast to one commit one chunk of coin.

Persons instead of POD’s may be a natural mechanism for devs to grow in confidence and competence with every little win.

In the case of code and geographically dispersed devs, I would imagine that self organisation would be take the form of …eyeballs on the code at all times, issues are spotted and quickly rectified,because that’s money and they love what their building…I dont think POD’s could survive competition from the whole.