Deliberation and Democratic Participation - George Zarkadakis

Submitted by: Dr. George Zarkadakis, CEO Voxiberate

Date: May 10, 2022

1.0 Background

The Proposal aims to organize and execute pilots, in collaboration with local communities and CityCoins Chapters, in order to explore how established methods and practices for democratic citizen deliberation can be applied in a DAO so that community members can meaningfully deliberate and arrive at consensus on issues that are potentially polarizing or complex.

A typical example of a potentially polarizing, or complex, issue would be the prioritization of spending goals of a community-owned fund. Indeed, one may argue that all decisions in the management of the "commons" are complex and polarizing; and that is why commons are presently governed - in the vast majority of cases - in a "top down", centralized, hierarchical, and representative way. However, these established ways are inefficient (as Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated) and suffer from the principal-agent problem. DAOs provide a unique historical opportunity to implement a bottom-up, decentralized, grassroots governance of commons at scale. Unfortunately, DAOs are currently missing an important "deliberation layer" in order to fulfill that historical opportunity.

At Voxiberate we are building that deliberation layer, and we would like to partner with CityCoins in order to introduce that layer to the CityCoins DAOs.

2.0 Motivation

Presently, DAO member discussions on proposals are limited by existing messaging systems (such as Telegram, Discord, Reddit, Twitter, etc.) that are unfit-for-purpose. Existing systems have been designed, and built, as mere messaging or discussion forum services. They are good at having general and unstructured conversations, which in many cases can easily digress into disagreement, exclusion and loss of trust. Moreover, these systems are disconnected from the actual voting process. In effect, what we have today are sub-optimal systems for open-ended and unstructured conversations, akin to ones a member might have in a cafeteria. But democratic deliberation is a radically different form of conversation: it is structured, disciplined, equitable, inclusive, goal-oriented towards consensus, and directly linked - via continuous voting - to the final decision that must be taken by the community.

At Voxiberate we are building a system that is delivering exactly this much-needed - and currently missing - “deliberation layer” for democratic deliberation on Web 3 (see Figure 1).  We are implementing a well-tested practice in democratic deliberation called "citizen assembly" (or "citizen jury") using advanced forms of NLP and a proprietary voting algorithm so that members of a DAO can have truly meaningful deliberations where their voice matters, they become exposed to opposing views, and they forge consensus with fellow citizens around potentially polarizing and complex issues.

Figure 1: The Missing Deliberation Layer in DAOs

We are proposing to pilot the Voxiberate MVP with CityCoins DAOs, sub-DAOs and City Chapters, in order to validate our hypothesis and to empower local communities so that they can take collective consensus decisions.

Our proposal will:

  • Facilitate and accelerate the adoption of CityCoins by local citizen communities.
  • Enable new forms of citizen activism and entrepreneurialism that can be built on top of CityCoins (for example, local initiatives for grassroots social care, transportation, financing local businesses, microfinancing, environmental initiatives, street security and safety, etc.)
  • Demonstrate at national and international level how CityCoins can be the foundational, positive change, factor in forging a renewed citizen mindset that delivers a more decentralized, more confident, and more socially inclusive, democracy.
  • Provide confidence to CityCoins’ DAO members that their voice and opinion are heard

3.0 Scope

We would like to set up three (3) Pilots with respective cities that have adopted a CityCoin, in the period July-September 2022.

Each Pilot will include the following steps:

  1. Determine a "Facilitator" for a Pilot who will work with the Voxiberate team in order to set up the Pilot.
  2. Determine a Proposal to be deliberated, as well as the Pilot Group of Citizens who will participate in the Pilot
  3. Introduce and train Citizen Group to the Pilot and how they will use the system (1hr Zoom call).
  4. Pilot (the deliberation will last approximately 1 hour and all citizens in the Pilot group will need to join the Voxiberate platform online)
  5. Send a brief survey questionnaire to Pilot Group members after the Pilot to elicit feedback and views
  6. Assess internal platform use metrics to understand deliberation dynamics
  7. Compile a report of the Pilot and share with the Citizen Group and City Coins.

4.0 Requirements

  1. A list of 3 Pilot cases (e.g. City Chapters to collaborate with)
  2. A Proposal to deliberate for each Pilot case. This Proposal should be meaningful and impactful. It is preferrable that the Proposal is an actual one.
  3. A Facilitator for each Pilot case
  4. A minimum of 20 citizens (and maximum 40) who would be willing to participate to: (a) 1hr introductory Zoom call; and (b) 1hr Voxiberation session.

5.0 Specifications

  1. The Citizen Group must be as diverse as possible and representative of the wider demographics of the City, Neighborhood, or Borough. At Voxiberate we have built a "Fair Sortition Algorithm" (FSA) that can help identify such a group, providing we have a census list of all (or most) citizens in a city or borough with basic demographics.
  2. The Proposal should be one that impacts directly on the lives and wellbeing of the citizens who will participate in the "Voxiberation".

6.0 Open Questions

Willingness of citizens to participate actively in a Voxiberation.

7.0 References

  1. Voxiberate website
  2. "How to rethink DAOs in a world of complexity and polarization” ( article)
  3. "Can we do better this time?" Keynote at Web 3 Summit (video):
  4. "Reclaiming democracy through citizen assemblies", TED Talk (video):
  5. "How to secure smart cities with decentralized identities" (article):