update 5 September 2021

Aragon DAO Review – An Utopia in the Making

One of the beauties of blockchain technology is that it enables the creation of multi-layered worlds. It is similar to our Universe in which countless galaxies contain numerous solar systems, which in turn consist of several planets, each with diverse ecosystems. In turn, these ecosystems follow the same hierarchical scale down to the smallest atom. The possibilities of development are endless.

Aragon is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that allows the development and existence of other DAOs within its realm. It is one of the many worlds on the blockchain that enable the creation of other worlds. Furthermore, it lets them create their governance model for as long as they abide by Aragon’s form of governance, which tends towards pure, unabating democracy.

It might be too soon for an Aragon review, as this DAO world is barely starting to evolve and expand. However, it is worth observing its remarkable progress, the way it works, and what it has in store for the future.

Since its launch in 2017, Aragon has supported the creation and development of over 1,500 DAOs in its network. These projects have stored more than $350 million in assets on the platform. It is a bright start for an ambitious project, and many are wondering if it has what it takes to live up to its promise.

What is Aragon?

Aragon is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that enables other entities to develop their own DAOs on the platform using preset templates of smart contracts. The templates vary depending on the project, and they can vary from corporations to startups and charities.

Aragon is built on the Ethereum blockchain. It aims to create an ever-expanding ecosystem of dAPPs, crypto protocols, and DAOs that would compete in the form of governance capitalism. The goal would be to discover the most effective governance model that could later be implemented in real-world organizations and institutions.

Aragon itself functions on several decentralized digital jurisdictions, like Aragon Court and Aragon One. It also uses no less than three different tokens, out of which the ANT token gives governance powers to the participants.

The internal decisions, developments, and disputes are settled based on a code of core principles, called the Aragon Manifesto. Some of the guiding values in the document include:

  • Freedom of choice
  • Disincentivization of violence
  • Decentralization of power
  • Long-term value over short term profit
  • User participation

Anyone who wants to develop a new project on Aragon has to abide by these rules. The developers consider this document to be in its “alpha” form and expect the community to develop it further in time.

What is the ANT token?

ANT stands for Aragon Network Token, and as its name suggests, it is the primary token on the Aragon network and the only one with governance purposes. It is an ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain, and which has been launched after a successful Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in May 2017.

The Aragon ICO allowed only investors from outside the US to purchase ANT tokens using Ether (ETH). The event kicked off with a $25 million soft cap accomplished in less than an hour. According to the ICO terms, 70% of ANT tokens’ total supply was put up for sale. Another 15% (almost 6 million ANT) was kept for the Aragon Foundation, and the other 15% went to the early contributors and founders of the network.

At the time of this writing, ANT has a market capitalization of $109,813,522. There are approximately 33,142,159 ANT tokens in circulation out of a total supply of 39,609,524 ANT units. One ANT is currently trading for $3.31.

Although Aragon is a promising project, there aren’t many places where you can buy ANT today. The only reliable crypto exchange that offers ANT for sale is Bittrex. Fortunately, there are plenty of crypto wallets to choose from if you want to store ANT. Thanks to its ERC-20 nature, the token is compatible with wallets like MyEtherWallet, Exodus Wallet, or Atomic Wallet.

A Brief History of Aragon

Aragon is the brainchild of two of the youngest and most promising minds in the crypto industry, Luis Cuende and Jorge Izquierdo.

The two Spanish developers have made important breakthroughs in the tech world from a tender age. Cuende is somewhat of a wunderkind who, at only 16-years old, was a tech advisor to the vice president of the European Commission. In 2016, at age 20, he made it onto the European list of Forbes’ 30 under 30.

Izquierdo is the Watson to Cuende’ Sherlock Holmes. He is a brilliant programmer with a knack for blockchain and crypto technology. Together, they have developed and run numerous startups in Spain and the United States by 25.

In 2017, they teamed up to develop Aragon, a DAO that would work on genuine democratic principles, which the two developers believe have disappeared from the current society. Their goal is to give “internet communities unprecedented power to organize around shared values and resources.”

How does Aragon work?

Aragon works a bit differently than other DAOs, and it’s mainly due to its unique structure of decentralized digital jurisdictions.

One of these jurisdictions is Aragon One, which is a for-profit development team in charge of maintaining the Aragon platform.

Responsible for commissioning Aragon One is The Aragon Foundation, a Swiss non-profit organization.

When the participants on the network vote on the next step in the platform’s roadmap, the Aragon Foundation funds Aragon One to make the changes that have been approved by the community.

ANT holders have the right to vote on community proposals. Until March 2020, participants had to deposit a minimum of 1% of their total ANT supply before submitting their votes.

A participant can submit a proposal if they deposit at least 1000 ANT. Additionally, a change to the network’s mechanism can occur only if at least 51% of the voters support the proposal.

The legality of the Aragon network is given and sustained by the Aragon Court.

What is the Aragon Court, and how does it work?

The Aragon Court is a judicial mechanism composed of smart contracts. It has the role to oversee the voting of community proposals, settle disputes between participants, and steer the network’s decisions according to its roadmap and align with the Aragon Manifesto’s core values.

Community members can participate in the Aragon Court’s judicial process as jurors, plaintiffs, or defendants, but they must put down a minimum stake of 10 000 ANJ tokens.

ANJ is an ERC-20 token that only has use within the Aragon Court. Participants have to create a smart contract and deposit ANT tokens to mint ANJ tokens before applying for an Aragon Court role.

The decision-makers in the Aragon Court are the jurors who are randomly selected from a pool of users previously enlisted in the process. Their decisions are made independently and anonymously, so the risk of tilting the scale of justice one way or another is minimal.

Jurors receive incentives in ANJ tokens for their participation. Therefore, users are motivated financially to take part in the democratic process.

As of now, the Aragon Court is a mechanism in full progress, and new changes apply to its functionality as the network expands.

In this regard, Aragon is working on issuing another ERC-20 token, called ARA, which will power the Aragon Chain.

The Aragon Chain will be a second layer of the Aragon network that will use Proof-of-Stake (PoS) to enable quick, cheap, and low-risk transactions between the many communities Aragon platform. This protocol is still “under construction,” and its use of ARA tokens will be possible by bonding them to ANT tokens through smart contracts.

The Bottom Line – Aragon DAO Review

Aragon has the wild ambition of creating a purely democratic society where countless communities operate under their own governance rules, but still under the Aragon Manifesto umbrella. It sounds promising, encouraging, but idealistic.

We know from real-world experience that a purely democratic system is nothing short of utopia. Numerous societies have tried it, but they had to make small concessions to authoritarian rules because human nature makes it impossible for such a system to function for very long.

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Will blockchain technology enable a perfectly democratic world, if only in the virtual medium through Aragon? It remains to be seen. The project’s low popularity and lack of support from the industry’s most prominent actors hint that it is unlikely.

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