James Young

The Impact of AI on Crypto with James Young, from Collab.Land and Abridged

In this episode, Tim is joined by James Young, from Collab.Land and Abridged. Collab.Land a digital concierge for tokenized communities and a pioneer of the token gating system. It was created by Abridged, a platform that aims to give everyone, including non-coders, access to building applications using blockchain technology. James has over a decade of experience in the tech industry, having previously worked as a game developer consultant and Chief Technology Officer. 

Tim and James discuss why James thinks humans will be able to contain artificial intelligence, what seismic impacts AI shall have on crypto, and whether web3 has failed or not. 

To find out how Grindery is building a Swiss army knife for existing DAO frameworks, head to grindery.io.

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Tim - 00:00:01: This is Tim Delhaes and you are listening to DAO Talks Podcast. Over the last couple of years, we've seen DAOs go through a roller coaster ride from being nowhere to everywhere. But what exactly are DAOs or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations? And how can we use them as a lens to view the wider world? What is happening to them now in the beer market? Is it the end of it or are we just normal hype cycle? All of that and much more is what we want to find out together. Today I'm talking to James Young, co-founder of Collab.Land, famous for token gating and now becoming a distribution platform. Be chatting about ChatGPT and the future of AI, Web3 and DAOs. Hey, James. How are you?


James - 00:00:54: I am doing well, thank you.


Tim - 00:00:56: You're in Denver, close by.


James - 00:00:59: Denver, Colorado. That's right.


Tim - 00:01:01: And it's dumping snow, unlike here in the Alps, I heard.


James - 00:01:05: Yeah. Today it started snowing yesterday. It was in the mid 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so it was actually quite warm. And then today it snowed. So there was a 30 degree temperature drop here in Denver. I used to ski and I snowboard sometimes.


Tim - 00:01:23: Yeah, I think I stopped for ten years. My wife used to work in a ski resort in Chile for almost ten years and they've turned four and five. She's like, okay, enough from the beaches. We're going back into the mountains in the winter. So I've been like five seasons, like, full back in and I'm going back into the snow park. I'm reading this really cool book about learning tricks and new sports when you're over 40. And now I'm going to start working on my 180. So I'm jealous that it's snowing here. It's kind of drying out. Season is going to an end. Let's jump in first. Did you get screwed by Silicon Valley Bank?


James - 00:02:00: Not that I know of yet. Okay. I don't think we're affected by the first or second order effects. But what I've seen over the years, especially with crypto and you see this in Fiat Currencies as well. Like money is the great connector. And so I'm sure that there'll be some edge case or 3rd 4th order effect that will affect me. But so far I have not been directly affected, I would say. 


Tim - 00:02:26: Yeah, it could be good or bad news. Right. Sometimes it's good to as the saying goes, bad news travels first. Right. That if you hear about it early, it's good. When you hear about it very late, it's usually a really bad surprise. Right. So hope for best. Well, and second big news of the week, ChatGPT-4. Your user thinking about it. What's on your mind?


James- 00:02:49: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to ignore. I think that there is just like with crypto, a few years ago, this huge speculation, and I think that recently what I've noticed is just the pace of release from ChatGPT-3.5 to ChatGPT-Four. The new version of Midjourney coming out and I think that it's going to be a shift and with the shift there's going to be new winners and new losers. So I think about it from like, what can I imagine to happen in the next three, five years? Where before I was thinking more in terms of a ten year horizon, because the rate of acceleration, I think shortens kind of the timeline. And it's very difficult, at least for me, to predict what will happen in the next decade. So when I think about AI in general, I know that the big conversation is around safety. And really any technology brings in new philosophical and moral questions, whether it's the admin of the city, the automobile, the Internet in general, and now AI specifically. I think about like, what is the Utopian scenario and what is the Dystopian scenario and how does that combine with my efforts here being in Web3 in crypto? So the way I look at it from one lens is that there's going to be huge productivity gates. So I think that from a developer perspective, what used to take a team of developers may just need one developer now or half time developer. And so what I see in terms of augmentation of developer resources is you as a developer, you have two arms and maybe ten fingers, but now you have ten arms and 100 fingers. It just gives you that productivity. But with anything that we see, it can be weaponized. So I think also on the Dystopian perspective, it's the weapon of mass creation. So what happens when it's easy to have like a deep fake, right? So how do you know that it's really me that's talking to you, that I am not AI generated at this moment? Or how do I know that you're not AI generated at this moment? Right. These are questions that may actually be a reality three to five years from now with the pace of innovation of AI. So I think the positive side, you can have these huge productivity gains, especially when it comes to crypto and advancements with AI on the Dystopian section, I think three to five years from now, maybe it's that instead of believing everything that you see as being real, you assume that everything is fake. So what does that mean for crypto? I think that this is where cryptography becomes a necessity. Not blockchain or cryptocurrency, but like cryptography, the ability to be able to verify, and you only have the ability to verify your identity. So there actually is this emergence, I think, of decentralized IDs and verifiable credentials because you need to now prove that you are you and no one else can prove that you are you. Right? And so I think that there is this balance that we'll see and playing both sides of the emergence of AI.


Tim - 00:06:26: Yeah, I find that I haven't given much thought upon the identity part, but very much would agree with you. I had a conversation, don't recall, two, three weeks ago about this, also on AI and blockchain and what you just said in terms of how do I know that you are really you? And the information more importantly, whatever I'm getting as information from you is actually something that you're saying. And we talked about the scenario just from a text generation perspective. And I already know a bunch of people that by now pretty much just browse the Internet in summary form. So they don't actually go all the way to read the original articles. They go from question to question. And what you get in your user interface is never the original website anymore. Right. And this also brought up for me the same question of saying, well, you then basically rely on an interpretation of the information, right. What does that actually mean? And considering that we are already in this world of social media bubbles, right where it seems that people are already drifting apart from the realities they see, I'm kind of wondering in this sense, is this AI filter that you're putting on? Is that going to remove these bubbles and bring them closer together because it gives a more coherent picture, or is it going to drive it further apart? Right. Depending on who leverages the AI and what information it's based on and what it incorporates and what advertising strategy you pursue, it might be really dangerous. And 20 years ago, I worked in a project about food traceability, right? Like how food components come into some, whatever packaged food. Where do the pieces coming and how do you trace it back. I found this particularly interesting in the context of how cryptography and in this case Blockchain technology can play a role in tracing back the origins of the information that the AI used in order to present to you what you perceived. So I think this with the mix that you're talking about around identity, is a really fundamental question.


James- 00:08:48: Yeah, there's like this issue of Curation, right? People don't actually read source material, but they rely on it being predigested. Right. Instead of you chewing your own food, it's pre chewed and you just swallow it. And I think that there is this kind of interesting fork in the road. To your point, will humans be the messenger in the middle? Because creation of content is going to be so automated that you need specialization to be able to decipher what's real and what's not. And I don't have an expertise in advertising, but maybe someone that is domain expert there will curate. So instead of turning from creation, we turn into curators and that's how our reputation evolves. Or do we realize kind of in this Dystopian, I can imagine a movie kid grows up online and realizes all his friends are bots, right. Or something where you become so isolated. So I don't know which side of the coin things will land there. And then to your second point, when it comes to food, I think there is this issue of provenance. Where did it come from? And that was the ability to kind of authenticate not just food, but people. Did I actually say that? And so there's this whole supply chain issue. And so now we live in a world because when I grew up, I did a lot of things when I was a teenager, pre Internet that do not follow me on social media. But now we live in a world that is hyper connected. So everything that you say, and especially on the blockchain, every transaction that you make and you're going to be connected to someone else, and everyone is like connected somehow. So what is that connectivity? What is that meta information? What does that say about us right now that we can follow the tracks here from the moment for now, people or babies that are born now, kids that are growing up, are going to be fully traceable on a blockchain, kind of persistent. And you're seeing this a little bit with this backlash on social media, right, not being online. And it's kind of like how we've evolved. And I don't know if this analogy holds true with modern society. It's not about having food to eat. It's about not eating food or going on a diet, right? Is this kind of junk food for the brain, the info junk? Are we digesting and do we need to be able to have a filter for that? And how do we mediate that now? Because there's just going to be just an over proliferation when it comes to AI, when it comes to creating content, what took a day will take a second to make now when it comes to images, text, et cetera.


Tim - 00:11:38: So two questions really. One is where do you think AI is likely to impact Web3 at large? And the other way around, how do you think this AI, everything related to I has been around, but again, you put up some things, how cryptography is going to come in there. Do you think there's another aspects of what we know from Web3 today and Web3 technologies that are going to impact suddenly what's happening on the AI front?


James - 00:12:07: Yeah, I wish I had that answer. And I think that what I position myself is not trying to figure out what the answer is, but be involved in the mix so I know where things are going to trend instead of guessing where it's going to go. What can I do to pattern match and understand directionally? Because I don't know if anyone really knows because it's so like, again, going back to talking about money and it's the great connector, it's the best social graph that we have. And how do people react? And in this big network graph, what is going to emerge? I think it's really hard conceptually to understand 2nd 3rd order effects. What I think though, and this is how I frame it, is that it's going to happen pretty quickly. So if you don't think about it and you're not part of it, the world is going to look very different and it's hard to kind of connect the dots in a few years. So part of it is like just being in the mix and being part of the conversation so that you can construct your own mental model of where things are going to go. Because it's like if you took someone from the 80’s and they teleported now, they're like, what is this world of social media that's only 50 years ago or 40 years ago, but now we're going to see this kind of rapid acceleration. So that with AI, because technology accelerates, the world's going to look very different five years from now. So if you're not engaged in it and this is why I think there is the subconscious, like, okay, we need to understand this and we need to figure this out. Or what are you thinking? What am I thinking? Where is this going? Because I think we all kind of understand that it's going to happen quickly and no one really knows where it's going. So it's this constant conversation. So it's going to cause more dialogue to happen and other possibilities. But yeah, it's just being part of that conversation. I think that it's definitely going to increase creativity and productivity, right? So I can't draw, but I can make a prompt and I can play around in text to be able to have something that looks great. So what does that mean for art when the quality is that high? And when we look back 20 years from now, at this decade, it may be talking about how AI for a moment couldn't do fingers well, and you have these strange pictures with these odd fingers, but then eventually it gets solved. And so you'll have these different cultural moments that you can signify historically, but then what does it look like now in the present 2023? What is it going to look like five years from now? It's pretty unknown and I don't think you can stop it. You may try and slow it down, but it's one of those things that when it comes to AI, specifically the bet is like, you should embrace it and go with it. Because then if you're a denier or you want to stop it, you're going to get left behind.


Tim - 00:15:22: I think what came to my mind very frequently and I guess that's always personal experience and personal bias, right. Working in one of my other businesses, a marketing agency, and obviously we always said we don't run a marketing agency because one of the things I hate about marketing agencies online is the amount of bullshit content that's being produced every day and how we're being swamped with it. And everywhere is clickbait. And literally, I think one of the first thoughts that have come to my mind with the recent ChatGPT developments was like, man, we're going to get so flooded by crap. We're going to be so inundated that we're not going to know what is real, what is not, what's been written, what's there. Because it's going to come so cheap to produce, literally, garbage and produce the same stuff over and over, which obviously is going to have challenges to search engines. And I don't even know how they're going to deal with all that. But that's kind of the maybe in an ignorant way, I'm somewhat still not too concerned about getting a runaway AI. And it's going to take over the world because it's going to develop consciousness. I'm more concerned about getting inundated and crappy content and flooded with shitty information and the same images getting generated over and over and over and over again, becoming totally meaningless. It's not really a downside, right? It's not a dystopian future. It's somewhat of a sad dystopian future. It's like almost like something out of Futurama or something where the AI didn't wake up and kill us all. No, it just flooded. It's crap.


James - 00:16:58: It's interesting, too, is that everyone has this notion of what AI is, right? If you look back 30 years ago, we used to call autocomplete AI. Now it's called autocomplete, right? The computer can guess what you're trying to type. That was our conception of AI. And then it turns into, like, machine learning. So every time we figure out what we want to do with the technology, with computers at scale, we call it a different name. AI. Actually, I think is interesting because it's always a thing that's in the future and our imaginations go wild. And so, to your point, it may be that this whole ChatGPT, OpenAI, Midjourney, dolly, like all this will have its own name for it, and then we'll be able to, as humans, contain it. It's just that it sparks our imagination and technology has for decades. And then we finally, as humans, learn to kind of, okay, this is how we're going to use it, right? And so this is fun to talk about, and it's all the science fiction, but yeah, it might not be this huge dystopian thing. It may be that we're like, okay, now you may be able to tell. And it may be that humans will have to become a little bit more sharp because with AI, like, for content and written content specifically, it's like the best average of everything that's out there. There's no real innovative, no real new thought. It's meant to be kind of acceptable enough, right? And so it may be that our desire as humans is for novel ideas, and we may actually kind of develop a different part of our brain that can detect this average. And we're like, this is AI crap, right? Or whatever we call this kind of auto generated content or images. And I think that's kind of the human spirit is this kind of creativity that we don't know of yet that will potentially pop out and emerge and that we codify what we call AI now into some other word. For this era. And we use it right, so that a lot of content will never be bored because AI will be able to create text and create videos or movies or video games, and we can spend our time but then now that will maybe become the new, I don't know, drug, right? So people can spend their time on that, but those that aren't trying to escape or whatever the reasons people use drugs are and they want to move or advance things forward, maybe there's some elevated sense of humanity. I don't know, something like that. So I think as humans we will kind of always react to the things that we create.


Tim - 00:19:51: I love it. Obviously you talk very human centric, you talk about social fabric, talk money as the great connector is always somewhat the theme that I hear between the lines of what we're talking about. You obviously have been involved in communities and DAOs also for a good while. The other day I read an article, I think this was last Friday and somebody wrote Web3 failed. It's all AI. It's the AI of future, right? And I talked to somebody else a few weeks before that said no, dows failed. Like the entire idea of dows, it didn't work. Okay? And then I obviously also remember being in the dotcom boom and going through that cycle. Also remember in 2000 article in a major newspaper that said the Internet has failed. Okay, so has Web3 failed? I don't know. Question to you, what's going on as DAOs? As DAO is an idea that everybody is abandoning or where we add with it and maybe any relationship to what's going on in AI? What is your brain telling you? What connections are you making?


Tim - 00:20:57: The connection is what does the technology reflect about us that we need to change? So take for example, I was there when Amazon started and we're like, no one is ever going to buy anything online because you need to touch it, you need to feel it. That is the shopping experience. And that is true at that time, right? Because people are conditioned because that was the distribution mechanism to sell goods and items at the time. You want to look at it, you want to touch it, you want to kind of see the quality. And it was hard for those with that context to say, oh, I can click and that's more convenient and it's going to be delivered to my house the next day. I don't have to think about it. So those people that say ecommerce would never take off were right in the context of wanting to touch and wanting to see what they're purchasing. So they're right. And in the same way Web3 has failed, in the same way DAOs have failed, because we're trying to put it into the current context of how we are navigating the world. So when you look at it as a mirror and you see it as a reflection, you say, okay, well, what can I do with this that I could not do before? This is where it's like people and this is an abstract concept when it comes to the invention of time. They're like, what good is time? Like, I'm okay, sunrising, sunsetting, I'm doing my work. But now we can coordinate. We can coordinate. We can say, hey, let's have a podcast at my time zone, which is 1230 Mountain Time, right? And we can coordinate and we can meet, and it takes like, us, 5, 10 seconds to just do a chat and meet together. That would not be possible before the invention of time. Time is a great coordinator. In the same way, I don't know how we as humans will reflexively evolve because when I look at Web3 and when I look at DAOs, it is a similar vehicle for coordination. So I can not even meet someone in real life. But just have a thought out there, right? I want to buy a golf course. I want to solve climate change. I want to buy the constitution, I want to start this NFT project. I don't have to know anyone. I can put it out there on the Internet and people will be drawn out and we can start a group, right? What do we do with that? And we can be aligned from a financial incentive for good or for bad. What does that mean and what does that unlock? I think that's really the question, right? Because if we frame it in the current context, yeah, it's failed. It doesn't work. Just like ecommerce was not a thing 20 years ago, but who foresaw the invention of the mobile phone and the proliferation of being able to one click shop and get an item delivered to you or be able to call an Uber, right? We don't have that context. Like with Uber 20, 30 years ago, getting into a vehicle with a stranger hitchhiking was not good. Right. Totally changes. So I think that, yeah, it's true. Those that say that Web3 dials have failed in the current context, yes. But that, I don't think, is the question to ask. It's like, what is it that we are going to embrace and evolve into? Because I think that with reality of the current day, as people and as groups, it's not static, it's very dynamic. Right? We learn from COVID You can hit the pause button on the world and everyone can shut down. We can coordinate. Right? If there's an existential issue for the human race, people will sit up and will listen and they can coordinate. Now, what is it that we're going to do with DAOs and Web3 to be able to create that shelling point, that coordination? I don't know. Who's going to figure it out? I don't know. But that's what I'm looking for, signs of that future.


Tim - 00:24:59: So taking the same model as you described it, to say, hey, in that context, getting in a cab with a stranger was bad, right? I would never do that. That's crazy. Right.


James - 00:25:11: And then sleeping in someone's house that you don't know.


Tim - 00:25:15: And obviously the Amazon discussion of saying, well, yeah, okay, I can see how books work, but clothes, that's never going to work. Right? And what had to change ultimately, obviously, is the context and experience with it and realizing which gets used to it. Just going to order three different pieces and send two back, right? Like, I can still touch it. I just do it at the convenience of my home and actually like it. Right. What do you think when it comes to Web3? Okay. And blockchain crypto, what's the big pieces in the context that have to change to drive adoption? Where do you think that has to happen? We all know there's a lot of challenges in the Web3 and Blockchain technology, no doubt, but taking that out and projecting that there will be overcome. What do you think are the big things that society has to kind of start adopting as ideas that people suddenly go, hey, this makes a lot of sense.


James - 00:26:09: I think it's the old people that did things the old way need to get out, and the new people that are used to the technology that were born with the Internet actually go, okay, why are we doing things the old way? And the people are doing things the old way? Because that's how it was done before, but now we have maybe a different way to do things. So it takes, I think, generational kind of mentality change, right? I have kids and my daughter, when we moved, we had a flat screen TV and before we could mount it on the wall, we had it on the floor, right? And we turned the TV on and she tried to touch it because she thought it was a big iPad, because that is her reality, right? Like, as a child, I would never have even thought to imagine to do that because the context is different. And I think it's like it takes people with a different perspective. Like, I have a perspective still that is rooted in physical kind of IRL experiences because that's how I grew up. But kids nowadays, they have these experiences where their online friends are at the same level as their kind of physical friends, right? And it's really bizarre to me because I've been with my wife for over a quarter of a century before online dating apps existed. I would not know how to navigate dating apps and swiping, like all of that. There's a whole culture associated with that, right? And so I think that it's going to take people kind of taking things for granted, saying because they take things for granted, like the Internet, they're going to think of, like, why can't I do this? Why can't we do that? And it's that kind of thinking that I'm looking for. That's the kind of like where to look at between the lines here of removing your context and looking at the innovative ways of how people are going to move. And we've seen this over and over again, right? The whole notion of the modern city is because of the Industrial Revolution and factories, right? And so you had people that needed to be close together, highly populated, to be able to work in a factory, because the factory was the technology of the time. Before that, people were scattered and you had families, and it was a lot more rural, agricultural. And that changes society. So I think that people think that culture changes and technology follows along. I believe that technology is the root of change for society, right? Like, if you see just going back to our ecommerce and our Uber or the Airbnb example, look how quickly the context changes. I'm comfortable now, and some people opt not to even purchase a car if they don't drive enough because it's more economically sound to just get into an Uber with a stranger. And that happens within a generation. And so that's where I think, fundamentally, we have to look for these changes and not just say, the technology doesn't fit my paradigm now, but what is it that this technology is going to unlock and what are people doing that is viable? A lot of things and a lot of experiments will fail, but there will be a couple of things that you're like, wait a second. That makes a lot of sense.


Tim - 00:29:32: Yeah, I remember and you've been around and around the block a couple of times to see this. And I remember in the late 90s, there was a big well, I guess somewhat associated to the Matrix cultural phenomenon discussion about AI and this entire discussion about runaway and bad AI. The same discussions that are happening today happened 20 years ago, right? And when I was totally fascinated with it, I talked to my dad about it, and he's like, yeah, it's been around like 20 years ago. Also went to the same cycle. It's coming again and again. Right? And remember back then, I was like in discussions that I found really interesting was also a lot about Nanotechnology and the Foresight Institute. And I remember that with this emergence of post humanism as a philosophy, I think what you said reminded me of it in a way that technology changes culture, right? And this post humanism idea, really, to see technology as an extension of self, right? And not just a physical extension, but as an extension on how you perceive yourself, you are, what you can do and how you can change your world. And the fact that something is a piece of technology physically or in any other form, obviously changes how you looking at it. It kind of connects this dots. I like, this is very interesting. How important do you think is understanding of things like self-custody, of value, of money, right, so custodial versus noncustodial, how important is it? And do you think that the Silicon Bank failure recently actually contributes to the change of perception of this? Right? Because it's an idea you have to get used to, right? Like guess everyone I had, but once you get used to it, you take it as granted and you go like, I just wouldn't leave my money on any bank at this stage. Like not my personal money, not the company money, because I just don't trust them anymore. But do you think that this is an important aspect, this is a good starting point? And do you think that effectively something like Silicon Valley Bank has an impact on this in some form or did it go largely unnoticed?


Tim - 00:31:45: No, it has huge impact, I think, and I wish I had the background when it comes to knowing about history so I can better connect the dots. And this is where wanting to think about this holistically. It's not just a technology, it's in the context of human and society. And you need to know the technology. You need to know the science behind it. Not only like the hard science, but like the social science behind it, right. Because in a lot of ways, just broadly speaking, you had Monarchies and that was a total centralized system, right? And then that kind of evolved into these democracies. We have socialism, we have capitalism, and this human organizational experiment is still underway and in the same kind of light before, there was really no other way, technically that you can pull money together, but to trust someone to be the custody of that now technically because of the Internet as well. So it's not just cryptography. Cryptography doesn't just stand on its own for self-custody. It's like this connectedness that we have through the internet. So it's multiple technologies coming together. And what new innovation effects will that have? I don't know. Does that mean there is this kind of binary, okay, now that we have this, that we no longer trust any central authority? I don't know. It's really hard, almost impossible sometimes to draw the line forward, but looking back, it's easy to connect the dots. So it's always like looking forward a little bit and saying, does that make sense looking back? Right? So I don't know if responsibility of self-custody is that price everyone is willing to pay. There is some kind of risk assessment, I think, where it's like, it's not worth my time and I would rather have this free time and not think about how to manage my privacy or that it gets so easy that it then becomes worth my time. And this is where people in Web3 are like, we need mass adoption, so you have to make it more usable. But with self-custody, what you're really saying is you have the responsibility. Some people were like, yes please. I wanted that option my whole life. Others are like, whoa, that's too much for me. I'm not good at that, so I'll let someone else do it. Or maybe there's some kind of in between here and that's kind of really this kind of fine tune adjustment. So it's not like you want to say, let's abstract the blockchain and make it easy to use and that's what's going to cause mass adoption. Who knows? And the same thing goes for DAOs when it comes to voting. Some people want to be told what to do. They want to just enjoy their life, told what to do. They don't want to participate in voting or whatever it is for some areas of their life. Right. So you can't assume that everyone's going to want to take the responsibility, whether it's from a financial currency perspective or when it's from a governance DAO perspective. And everyone's view of that will be different. Right. And people are making those trade offs.

Tim - 00:34:56: So because you touched on that, projecting this forward and talking about Web3 and self custody and how perception and context change, obviously we touched on this earlier as well. This is obviously not the end of DAOs. What we're seeing is a repetition of a hype cycle, right? What I'm kind of curious from your vantage point of also being very deeply involved and seeing what's happening with a lot of communities is what are the things that you have seen now in this kind of down cycle somehow? What are the most exciting things that you have seen lately? Either because finally something that has been around for a while is actually starting to work or really new things that are not working yet, but where you go like, hey, this is going to have a major impact. What are the one, two, three things that you see happening in the DAO space in the broadest sense that you're excited about?


James - 00:35:50: Yeah, so I am completely biased. So I don't want this to sound too much like self.


Tim - 00:35:56: I thought I'm talking to an AI.


James - 00:35:58: Yeah, I am. I'm an AI that is being self aware enough to say that I have a full confirmation bias in terms of what we're doing at Collab.Land. And so that's what I'm bullish about because now that we're in this protracted bear market, who knows how long it's going to last? There's a lot more freedom of experimentation because it's not so hyper financialized and focused for that next profit at that next dollar. Right. There always that incentive, right? You're not going to want to do things that harm you. You want to benefit yourself. But I think in a bear market. What you can do is you can say, okay, what I'm self interested in, monetarily can be aligned more with what I'm curious about. Right? Because there isn't this like, oh, I have to win the next dollar or the short term incentive. So what we've done at Collab.Land, what I'm super excited about, especially in the DAO space, is that Collab.Land started at this Token gating. We invented the concept where everyone has a shared ownership of an asset. Let's call it like an NFT collection or they're part of the same DAO and you can check on the blockchain by signing a message knowing that that is your wallet, that you own that asset, or you have custody of that asset. And then you can get everyone that has that shared custody in a chat group together. So you don't have to learn a new chat interface. We're on Telegram or on Discord? And so what we can do here is we can have people that have a shared common asset come together. And it's been hugely popular. We have over 47,000 Tokenized communities that the Collab.Land bot manages. We invented this category. Doing it, I was trying to solve my own problem because we started this when COVID started and we tried to create a DAO that tried to pull resources together and give it to people that needed COVID relief. So in that way we're like, okay, are you a member of the DAO? Like, yeah, I'm part of this Telegram, member of this DAO. And then they would give their wallet address and we're like, wait, I know you can look up on the blockchain people's wallet address if they're like, how do we know that you are that person? So that's kind of where the concept of Collab.Land verification began and it took off with NFT communities. And so with that we invented this category and I didn't know that it was going to become this primitive. Now it seems somewhat obvious, retrospect, right? Looking forward is impossible to tell. Looking back, you're like, oh shit, that makes sense, right? And so now what we're doing is we see competition coming up and we're like, okay, where do we go from here? Do we then repeat history? Do we then raise a ton of money and then try to outcompete feature wise with the competition? And then what does that mean? Oh, that means that probably we'll have to sell user data. And one of our tenants at Collab.Land is we do not dox people, we do not share user data. Privacy is one of our main tenants. So what do we do? Right? So we're like, wait a second, since we have such a huge lead, we have over 8.2 million verified wallets. What we can do is we can turn this on its head and we can actually turn Collab.Land into a distribution platform. So how do you connect to those Token communities as a developer? What are you going to do? Are you going to buy Google AdWords? Are you going to buy Facebook ads? No. Collab.Land is the best and probably the premier distribution platform to get to Tokenized communities. And so when we think how do we do that? Well, this is where Tokens come into align incentives because the Token is a vehicle that accrues this shared value. And so this is why we have a Token so that value couldn't accrue to the Token. We also use the Token for voting in a DAO. Why do we have a DAO? Well, I don't want to be the next centralized arbiter of this marketplace of what apps can get in and out. We have the DAO to decide. So we had this exit to community event where now we have a DAO to curate our marketplace. So we flipped it on its head and it's a really interesting experiment because we pretty much have to reinvent ourselves. So Token gating is kind of like the bare bone foundational infrastructure. That's what we're known for. But what we really are is a distribution platform. In a lot of ways, I think this takes on the patterns of like a Google, right? Google has a utility of search and then they make money on advertising here. But Google accrues all that value. Now we know what these platforms do, the Google, the Facebooks of the world, right, where the Internet is peer to peer. But you have a handful of companies, pretty much from a financial perspective, owning the internet. Now they have an excuse. The Internet was this new phenomenon. Maybe they didn't know how to coordinate and organize. And all we had from an organizational perspective is top down hierarchy. We know better, we know what that leads to. But that also is an opportunity to say maybe now finally this peer to peer network of the internet can get out of beta. What if we look back and these platform providers were kind of the stepping stones into a new reality of shared ownership, right? So this is what's really interesting and really intriguing. And how does that play with AI? Well, I think with our marketplace, the cloud marketplace, instead of having a group of three or four developers creating an app in the Collab.Land marketplace, maybe you have one deaf or a part time deaf and you can iterate quickly and then you can get product market fit. Right? Before in crypto you had this white paper and then these ICOs and then you had this long time to build things. With Collab.Land, we are distribution platform. People are here, right? And they will come to where people are and build is kind of what I think is the kind of flipping of the script here that we can provide with Collab.Land. So I'm very bullish on that.


Tim - 00:42:21: It's very cool. So what does this mean for anyone who's listening to this? Like who should come to you guys who should really go and check out what you're doing in this context where you're saying distribution, like this example, come to where the people are and then build it there. So who can you help most?


James - 00:42:40: I think developers that have a great idea that want to kind of be in the demand cycle. Build a miniapp, go to the clubland Discord server. We have a Dev general channel. We'll give you information as a developer to start building your own Miniat and start testing it out, seeing if it will get traction. Because this is where right now tokenized communities are at. You can build a Discord/command within 30 minutes. Our documentation @dev.collab.land really easy to follow. We have a developer community. We've just released the marketplace a few weeks ago. So we are just starting to build this. So if you are knowing how other marketplaces have formed, like early on of Facebook, they had their marketplace. I was at Zynga, I helped create a game called Farmville early on, right, the Apple App Store. Like early on, developers that see the potential of a new and burgeoning marketplace, I would encourage them to see how the Collab.Land marketplace and be a part of it early on because that's where you get the asymmetric information advantage. That's what we're looking for. I am not looking for creating and figuring out the next best feature. I want to have the best microscope into the petri dish that is being concocted and brewing so I can pattern match. I want the best balcony view of the performance that's happening. Right. And I think that being part of the Collab.Land marketplace, being part of this community, you're seeing what is happening. And we don't know where AI is going to go, but we'll be able to see what people are experimenting with, and then we'll be able to see what they're doing and then look back and say, okay, does that make sense? So that we know how to move forward, like driving forward, you need to have a rear view mirror every once in a while and check what's on your side and what's behind you. You can't just always be looking forward. Right. So this is kind of this view that you can check in with other developers to see where things are going. And this is the community that I want to help foster and build. I don't think it's about like one person owning it and controlling it. It's about cultivating that community because there are many smart people out here. And I think that's the advantage of being online. It's like you're not always situated to being born at the right place at the right time. Right now everyone is connected and it's almost taken for granted that everyone will have an internet connection. So I want to create those spaces where like minded people that are looking to see how we can better coordinate conform and we have. Really, from my perspective, the only real distribution channel in Web3.


Tim - 00:45:40: James, that sounds like a very exciting petri dish. Thank you so much for your time.


James- 00:45:46: Yeah. Thank you, Tim. It was great chatting with you.


Tim - 00:45:49: DAO Talks is brought to you by Grindery. If you enjoyed this podcast, consider subscribing to DAO Talks on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or any other platform you fancy. To find out more about Grindery, visit grindery.io. Thanks for joining me. Tim out.

About the Show

Decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, are all the rage. We’re seeing explosive growth in this sector as people experiment with building companies on top of tokens and smart contracts. If you want to get a better understanding of why this is happening, listen to the people that work, build and invest in them: the members.

Join me on my personal journey of discovery, a series of talks with the Web3 builders about DAOs, Life and everything else.

Graham Spencer

How people share their availability and generate stronger commitments via token staking

Spencer is a product manager for DAOhaus, and a RaidGuild contributor. During his Web3 travels, he's noticed that there are usually 2 kinds of people in DAOs - those that dip their finger in multiple projects, and those who focus on one project only. Now, he's championing incentive based mechanisms that make people share their availability and generate stronger commitments via token staking. That, and he thinks that DAOs can be an answer to climate change.