The Tao of DAO: Hardcoding Business Ethics on Blockchain

By Adam J. Sulkowski


The Taoist concept of “action without deliberation” helps frame the implications of automation in corporate governance, especially in the context of business entities that engrain operating rules into self-executing computer code. Taken to an extreme, it is possible to encode all operating
rules of a group of individuals, creating a so-called decentralized
autonomous organization (DAO). Businesses are using the technologies
underlying a DAO – blockchain and smart contracts – to limit human
discretion by “hardcoding ethics.” This article is the first to use this phrase,
to explain how Taoism may assist in understanding DAOs and their
components: blockchain and smart contracts, and to explore why the
nascent trend of hardcoding ethics is significant to any organization and its
managers and stakeholders.