Michael Gingras

Interested in lots of things, but mainly -- crypto, browsertech, and interfaces.

Nouns as an Idea Machine

February 20, 2023 crypto nouns

Coordinating a group of people towards a common goal has long been a difficult task. In the quest for an effective solution, the concept of an “Idea Machine” has emerged. The term refers to self-sustaining organisms that contain all the parts needed to turn ideas into outcomes. These “Idea Machines” are webs of ideologies, communities, agendas, funders, operators, scene builders and support organizations that take ideas as inputs and product outcomes as outputs. Traditionally, Idea Machines have operated on fuzzy social infrastructure that is ill-defined and mostly comprised of personal relationships and social networks. While effective, such systems are hard to replicate. The proliferation of DAOs have shepherded a new era of experimentation around group coordination. One DAO in particular, Nouns DAO, has totally changed the game. It contains the same web of ideologies, communities, agendas, funders, operators, scene builders and support organizations as the Idea Machines that precede it, but unlike the ill-defined fuzzy social infrastructure the holds together the last era of Idea Machines, Nouns DAO comes out of the box with a well defined process for turning ideas into outcomes. In this article, we will explore how Nouns has created the purest form of an Idea Machine, and in doing so has revolutionized the way we think about idea generation and coordination.

Nadia Asparouhova coined the term “Idea Machine” in her essay by the same name. In the Essay, Nadia uses the effective altruism movement as an example of a model Idea Machine. Effective altruism is a social movement that aims to maximize positive impact by directing resources (including time, money, and expertise) towards evidence-based interventions that have been proven to be effective. In many ways EA has been a success. [Maybe insert some ways it has been a success]].

All idea machines must start with an Ideology. Effective altruism started as a philosophical and social movement in the early 2000s. It was founded by a group of individuals who were concerned about the impact of their charitable giving and wanted to find a more effective way to make a positive impact in the world.

The movement was influenced by two key ideas. First, the idea of effective altruism, which argues that people should strive to maximize the positive impact of their actions by focusing on evidence-based interventions that have been proven to be effective. Second, the idea of existential risk, which argues that humanity faces serious long-term threats, such as climate change, pandemics, and nuclear war, that could potentially cause extinction or civilizational collapse.

The movement was initially started by a group of academics, philosophers, and philanthropists who were interested in finding ways to use their resources to have the greatest positive impact possible. They began by researching and evaluating different charitable interventions, using data and evidence to determine which interventions were the most effective at reducing suffering and improving lives.

Over time, the movement grew, and today effective altruism is a global community of individuals and organizations who are working together to maximize the positive impact of their actions. The movement continues to evolve, and is now focused on a wide range of issues, from global poverty and health to animal welfare and existential risk.