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Deep Dive with Luis Iván Cuende, Project lead Aragon

Project Lead @AragonProject. Previously cofounded @StamperyCo. Advisor to multiple crypto projects that awake my curiosity. @Forbes 30u30. @MIT TR35.

posted 11 months ago

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David Booth
In which industry/sector/geo/etc do you see the most interesting potential for decentralised governance? (whether or not it's actually working, yet)
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Luis Iván Cuende
@daveboothy I think the sectors that don't exist are the most interesting ones. Crypto projects where token holders can decide how the network/protocol/dapp works, open source projects with governance tokens, and token curated registries are three of my favorite use cases right now
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Jamie Pitts
What role (if any) do you see attorneys playing in Aragon? Will attorneys and/or experts in Aragon able to advise and help new users get started?
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Ben Tossell
What’s your advice for people who are just starting out in crypto?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@bentossell if the prices drop 90% tomorrow, would you still be in? If the answer is no, crypto is probably not for you at this stage
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David Booth
What role do you think "jurisdiction-less" entities will play in coming years? Do you see them overcoming identity issues at the state level, and be allowed to own property, etc?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@daveboothy I think they will be key to enable innovation that couldn't happen otherwise because of huge bureaucracy and stupid processes and legislations. In the meantime, we will need solutions to bridge the two realities. It would be awesome to have legal entities that can enforce the execution and ownership of smart contracts, so DAOs can own a house :)
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Adam J. Kerpelman
@daveboothy @licuende This. I’m founder of a startup called “Juris,” and this bridge is what we’re working on. I’d love to talk to anyone interested in this side of things.
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Spencer Noon
Hey Luis! It seems well established that Aragon has a great team and is addressing an absolutely fascinating market. With that said, there also appears to be some confusion about exactly what the Aragon token does and why it's necessary.

How would you address those open questions?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@spencernoon Sure thing! So ANT will basically become what the ANT holders decide. It's a governance token, and one important aspect of governance is that it is fully upgradeable in every way.
Right now we have been thinking about multiple use cases, one is just governance of the decentralized jurisdiction that the Aragon Network is, another one is upgradeability and sustainability for aragonOS app developers, another one is enabling validators to maintain our own chain, if we ever need to do so for scalability issues, etc.
At the end we are still early in the journey and we have to make DAOs happen before focusing on the Aragon Network. I'm very excited to start focusing on it fully, which will happen after our first release in a couple weeks.
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Erik Torenberg
Something you've recently changed your opinion on in the crypto space?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@eriktorenberg "One chain to rule them all". Seeing how scalability is becoming an issue, I'd say "One chain to settle them all, but a universe of chains to shard stuff in"
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Erik Torenberg
What do you believe in crypto that others disagree with you on?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@eriktorenberg Some believe that crypto needs "corporate adoption", "banks to use it" or "govs not to censor it" in order to be successful. I think it's just the other way around. Crypto should create new systems and a new order that doesn't exist now. For example, as my cofounder Jorge said, crypto's goal is not to unbank the unbanked, is to unbank the banks :) And then we can build better tools that are better and more inclusive that the outdated concept of banks
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Erik Torenberg
What do you think of stable coins?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@eriktorenberg I think it's a necessary step on the road to mainstream adoption, and we're actually doing some experiments at Aragon to see how a payments app powered by stablecoins would look like https://github.com/aragonlabs/pay-protocol/blob/master/README.md. I love DAI and the work MakerDAO is doing
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Erik Torenberg
What do you think of privacy coins?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@eriktorenberg I love them! Privacy is very much needed in this age of surveillance both from corporations and nation-states. I love the research some of them like Zcash have been doing too, and I'm looking forward for Ethereum to have confidential transactions
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Jamie Pitts
Has governance/participation for the Aragon OS spec and roadmap been defined? How do you see that developing?
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Ben Tossell
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@bentossell biggest obstacles have almost always been legal and operations stuff. We live in a different universe for the traditional world. You go and tell your accountants that your employees will be able to reclaim their payroll every block thanks to smart contracts, and they don't know if you're just crazy or high.
If I could do something differently, it would be to be more careful about hiring since the first day. We had a couple bad hires that really impacted the progress of the project. On the other hand, that made us really improve the process and now hiring is the thing I'm most proud of.
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Ben Tossell
How did you build an early community?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@bentossell we always have been honest and transparent, and that has paid off. Aragon is a very ideological project, so getting people passionate about it has never been hard. Our early community, and even our community now, talks about deep governance issues and research, and not about price or pump and dumps. We have never tried to shill the token or do any marketing, and I think that also helped keeping the quality of our community up
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Erik Torenberg
Can you walk us through the story of Aragon?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@eriktorenberg So Jorge and me met when we're 14 and 15 years old. Jorge read something about me in a newspaper and reached me out. We were both coding at a young age, so we started working together and hanging out and have been doing so since then. Last year we launched a startup to fight patent trolls in Silicon Valley, and the perfect storm of Trump winning the elections, Ethereum getting more mature and a bunch of other things made us realize that we're focusing on the wrong problems. Patent trolls existed because of a corrupt and broken government. We needed to fix governance and give freedom back to the people. So we got started doing that in Nov 2016, and it's been a crazy journey since then!
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Erik Torenberg
What do you think is the biggest existential threat to Bitcoin? Curious of your views on either a technical level, or a non technical level.
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Luis Iván Cuende
@eriktorenberg lack of governance. All the wave of forks we have seen is just a sign that people are exercising exit, instead of voice. Luke from our team had a very thoughtful post on how governance is a key differenciator that will make some tokens work, and some burn https://blog.aragon.one/thoughts-on-governance-and-network-effects-f40fda3e3f98
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Erik Torenberg
Can you walk us through the projects you advise, and, most importantly, what do you look for when advising?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@eriktorenberg I advise Keep, district0x, Gems, Decentraland and Stampery, which I also cofounded back in the day. They do very different things, I'll try to describe then as short as possible:
- Keep: Privacy layer for the blockchain, so you can decrypt and encrypt stuff from a smart contract, for example
- district0x: Network to seamlessly run decentralized marketplaces
- Gems: Amazon Mechanical Turk on chain
- Decentraland: VR world in which you truly own your properties
- Stampery's new project, Witnet: Decentralized oracle network to witness any kind of data offchain

I look for founders who would still work in crypto if prices went down 90%, and I look for projects that are crypto only, aka with no bridges to the traditional world. Overall stuff that would fit into my cypherpunk vision of the world
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Nick Neuman
How would you compare Aragon to Colony.io? Colony is also trying to address governance and management of decentralized organizations; what major differences does Aragon have in your approach to tackling this challenge vs them?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@Nneuman Colony is a very interesting app focusing on one kind of organization and doing it well. On our side, we're more generalist, since Aragon can run any kind of organizations, so Colony could totally be an Aragon app (I'd love to see that happen!)
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Nick Neuman
What do you see as the biggest challenges for DAO's in the future?

I find thinking about handling reputation & access (e.g. code access permissions) within an organization to be incredibly interesting, but mind boggling at the same time. Figuring out a fair and decentralized (hard to corrupt) way to handle it seems like a reeeal toughy.
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Luis Iván Cuende
@Nneuman I think access is already solved by aragonOS, but reputation is a hard one indeed. I think token curated registries can really help there. I think the biggest challenge is proving that decentralized governance works. As humans we have only experimented with dictatorships and very simple forms of democracy, so this is all new land for us.
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Nick Neuman
@Nneuman @licuende I do agree that TCRs could have a good impact on reputation measuring, particularly in isolated instances. For example you could have one TCR managing reputation in DAO-A, but that isn't relevant to DAO-B, which would have it's own.

IMO it gets really interesting when you start thinking about managing *persistent* reputation across different platforms. It could be useful in so many ways...but it could also turn into that one episode of Black Mirror 🙃.
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Luis Iván Cuende
@Nneuman exactly, having all the audit trail on chain doesn't help prevent the Black Mirror scenario... it's hard. I'm actually not worried at all about crypto taking over the world, I'm sure it will, but we have to make sure it takes over the world in the way we all want :)
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Taylor Pearson
Which cities (if any) do you expect will be the primary crypto/public blockchain hubs in 5-10 years?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@TaylorPearsonMe Zug and Berlin, overall Europe I'd say. I feel like the US is totally lagging behind with all the nonsense regulations around crypto and token offerings
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Stanley
I have heard great things about Keep project. What are your thoughts on it being widely adopted?
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Luis Iván Cuende
@stanleyhataria I think it's an awesome tool for dapp devs. I wrote a post about how it can be in the toolbox of every dapp developer https://blog.keep.network/why-keep-matters-b3b59911e14c
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