Archeon was created for the final project of Post Planetary Design at Parsons School of Design. It was designed in collaboration with Erica Kermani.
Archeon is a speculative design proposal to leverage blockchain Distributed Autonomous Organisms (DAOs) as a new method for the collaborative funding, implementation, and value-sharing of technology for near-space exploration.
Archeon is a speculative exercise attempting to solve for a real lack of diversity in practical narratives for near-space exploration. Since even getting to space is expensive, most individuals are unable to access it, only allowing for well-funded and well-organized corporations to define how, why, and when space exploration will occur. If space really is a commons, there must be a way that common people can work together to access its benefits, and its responsibilities.
Archeons achieve this goal, but are unique in that they rely on a plantoid versus android, or plant vs. human definition of collective intelligence to reach it. In this way, they represent a “xenosectionalist” intervention into traditional human-centric organizational structures. They not only harness the very real potential of the emerging blockchain protocol to run autonomous code for the purpose of governance between people, but they base the ‘business intelligence’ behind that governance on a non-human model.
Read the paper about the Archeon project here.
Inspiration & Precedents
Archeon is inspired by Primavera De Filippi’s more artistically inclined Plantoid project, which are: “…autonomous blockchain-based lifeform[s] that [are] able to reproduce itself…a hybrid creature that lives both in the physical world (as a mechanical contraption made up of recycled steel and electronics) and in digital world (as a software deployed on top of a blockchain-based network).”
How Archeons Work
The creators of an Archeon build the machine with their own investment and set the rules by which people can interact with it once launched. People can interact with an Archeon by sending crypto-currency – which could theoretically be earned a variety of ways in the future (working, volunteering, donating computer time, resources etc.) Simple Archeons could then send back information like sensor readings, pictures, video, or broadband access in return for this funding.
Like plantoids, Archeons will reproduce when they reach a certain amount of funding, compensating the original creators with a predetermined percentage of the funding and using the remaining funds to give birth to a new Archeon by sending a request for proposals to create the next version, and rewarding the winning idea with the funding collected. While these proposals can be submitted by anyone, they must be congruent with the original Archeon’s DNA, or the logic and rules that govern its growth and reproduction set by the original creator. These rules can define things like what the Archeon must be used for (scientific research, network access), what types of materials can be used, how much dividends the Archeon’s offspring must pay to contributors, and what the voting process looks like for reproduction. Anyone submitting a proposal must comply with these initial requirements but are free to develop their ideas, create new use-cases, and set further rules for future descendants.
What Makes Archeons Unique | An Evolutionary Approach
As plantoids, Archeons also follow a darwinist approach, meaning that different people in different geographic locations and cultures can create distinct versions, whose offspring will conform to their goals and desires for space exploration and utilization. This allows Archeons to evolve into multiple branches, each with their own unique characteristics and use cases. From this perspective, each Archeon is based on an evolutionary algorithm, where new Archeons experiment with different purposes, builds, and governance mechanisms based on their environment. Only those that are successful will survive. For this reason,
Archeons represent a radically non-human business model in that they incentivize the reproduction of shareholder value, rather than converting profit into shareholder value. The people who create future Archeons will not only receive the funds to produce it, but also a small proportion of all funds collected from the Archeon they created and its descendants. Humans are thus incentivized to cooperate and collaborate rather than compete, not only creating the best Archeon possible, but actually encouraging others to remix and improve upon their design in future iterations. A single successful Archeon can’t use a good idea to monopolize markets, its success (from a shareholder’s perspective) will depend on the number and success of its descendents.
Putting the Speculation into Practice
While speculative in nature, Archeons could be built today as nano-satellites that give those not employed by large corporations or governments access to real-time, trustworthy data about on earth systems such as weather, climate information, migration information and more.Nanosatellites are smaller, lighter, and less expensive than those used by governments and industry, and can be built using standard or machine-fabricated parts accessible by many, especially as digital fabrication technology improves.
Looking Towards the Future
Archeons can go way beyond satellites. In the future, an Archeon could be used to seed a research station, space colony, or even a whole civilization. As a DAO, each Archeon can act as an autonomous entity mediating the rules and protocols its stakeholders agree to abide by, rather, a system of government. These rules could be financial, economic, political, cultural, or even environmental, supporting a wide variety of models for self-governance and organization. Imagine a self-funded space station where members earn and use cryptocurrency to access supplies and resources. If enough members disagree with the Archeons contractual rules, they can vote to create a new offspring, more in alignment with their goals and vision. A splinter civilization can fork off that conforms to how they want to interact with one another.