Context

Vote

A month ago, Aragon One called for a token holder vote on whether to integrate ANJ back into ANT. To make this change, we followed a similar procedure to how the Aragon Network originally adopted ANJ in AGP-126: hold a vote for ANT holders.

With the deprecation of the AGP process in February, this time around, the vote was more ad-hoc and we made the mistake of not holding a review period before it was put to a vote. Despite strong positive signals from ANT holders, it became clear the community, ANJ holders in particular, wanted time to discuss the proposal beforehand. As the proposal’s authors, we withdrew it.

Since then, we recently submitted a proposal to ANT holders about deploying an upgraded version of Aragon Court called Aragon Protocol, which you can read here.

The Aragon Association also developed a lightweight process and timeline for votes related to Aragon Court, which you can read here.

We're also holding a town hall tomorrow, November 6th, at 17:00 UTC on Discord where everyone is invited to ask us questions about our proposal, the process, or anything else related to Aragon Court or ANJ.

Below are our thoughts the future of Aragon and Aragon Court.

Towards Aragon 2

Aragon 2 is dependent on a subjective oracle to work. There's no Aragon 2 without an Aragon Court-like protocol, period.

Aragon Court was initially conceived as a subjective oracle to resolve subjective disputes like 51% attacks in DAOs. Before most projects had any form of token governance, our goal was to solve a predictable specific problem. All projects would need this when they shed their multisig for a DAO.

Since then, a lot has changed. The demand for governance automation and scalability has grown in lockstep with the explosion of DeFi. We realized that a subjective oracle, paired with an off-chain voting system like Snapshot, allowed for binding optimistic token votes.

Beyond optimistic votes, subjective oracles can facilitate various complex protocols expressed through natural language rather than computer code. Meaning the barrier to entry for reading or writing protocols is simple literacy, rather than computer programming. To put that into perspective, that's 5 billion literate people versus 26 million programmers globally. Domain knowledge related to whatever the protocol is doing may be needed but learning a programming language isn’t.

For example, let’s look at two versions of identical rollup verification instructions where one is written in English for Aragon Protocol and the other in code for computers. Keep in mind, these two sets of instructions accomplish the exact same thing.

Example 1: Rollup verification agreement in Aragon Protocol (English)

A batch is valid if:

  • It processes all deposits occurred in a the batch by adding balances to the state
  • It processes withdrawals occurred in the batch by subtracting the balances from the state
  • It applies all valid transactions loffed in the smart contract during the batch in order, which are defined as those in which the sender (or one of the two parties to a swap) has a enough balance to complete the transfer or swap at the closing time for batch inclusion after applying the previous transactions from that sender in the batch order, otherwise that transaction is invalid and not included
  • After applying all transactions, the submitted root hash for the state of the system corresponds to the merkle root of the rollup tree as specified in the spec.

Example 2: Part of Hermez’s zkRollup verification circuit (code)

Note that protocols built with subjective resolvers like the one above, although they can be built faster and are less prone to coding mistakes, are opened up to a new set of challenges. The security of the optimistic rollup in our example would rely on the security of Aragon Protocol, which is a function of the value of the staked ANT. On the other hand, Hermez’ is as secure as its zk-snark circuit, which is another way of saying that it is as secure as 1 + 1 being 2.

However, we do see the potential for new crypto protocols to be built first in English with Aragon Protocol, and only after there’s some traction, to make the investment to code up a robust protocol. Very rarely an early product or protocol fails because its code is not good enough, but many times because the idea sucks or it is not able to iterate fast enough. We believe Aragon Protocol can help crypto protocols iterate faster, and we are testing it for governance with Aragon Govern.

If Aragon Court becomes the centerpiece of the Network as planned, we want to make some functional and aesthetic updates befitting of that position.

ANT ← ANJ

Integrating ANJ into ANT was planned to be the first stage of an eight-week transition from Aragon 1 to Aragon 2.

Currently, governance rights over the Court protocol are granted exclusively to ANT holders, and participation rights (to earn dispute and usage fees) in the Court are granted exclusively to ANJ holders.

This separation was deemed necessary to isolate Court participation incentives from the incentives of other potential service protocols that might be created and connected to ANT in the future (e.g., Aragon Chain). It would have also ensured that court participants' incentives were divergent enough to provide a check on the decision-making power of a majority-rule-based voting policy.

With the Network solely focused on the Court the ANJ work token is superfluous. Isolating incentives this way is unnecessary in the absence of other service protocols competing for attention and resources in the Network.

From Court jurors to Protocol Guardians

One of the most noticeable changes in Aragon Court will be a complete overhaul of its brand and naming conventions.

The Court’s legally themed brand is a remnant of the original vision for how the Court would be used to settle subjective disputes for DAOs akin to a traditional jurisdiction. We now believe these legal terms are not able to encompass the broader scope of the new protocol. If ANT holders approve our proposal, the upgraded deployment of Aragon Court will instead be called Aragon Protocol and jurors will be renamed to Guardians.

From Court to Protocol

The new scope of the protocol opens up several areas of research. Keep in mind some of these are still early ideas towards an Aragon Protocol v2 and they are subject to change.

How the new Aragon stack looks and where developers will be able to build ($ means value capture occurs). Protocol at the center accruing value to ANT, applications on top of it, with different UIs. (Aragon Protocol runs on Ethereum)

Aragon Govern

Aragon Protocol will power Govern, our minimal developer-focused DAO framework that packs years of learnings from aragonOS and Aragon Agent into 500 lines of code.

Govern can be used by any application or protocol to build directly on top of Aragon Protocol to govern anything from a treasury to a complex set of protocol parameters.

Optimistic DAOs

Aragon Govern will power the L2 voting system called Optimistic Snapshot.

Unlike deterministic L2 voting systems like SVRP, we can write an English agreement detailing how to interpret Snapshot votes and when to consider an off-chain action for execution.

The protocol will work optimistically, meaning the smart contract code assumes all actions comply with the protocol. To submit actions submitters are required to stake some amount of collateral. If someone breaks the rules, their actions can be challenged and resolved by Protocol Guardians. If Guardians find their action to be illegitimate, they lose their stake.

In the regular flow that rational actors follow, actions will only be submitted to the DAO if the process has been followed and the action has been approved. If the mechanism works correctly, Aragon Protocol will not be used. It just needs to be a deterrent to ensure everyone behaves and the governance process runs smoothly.

Another stab at the OVM*

It is theoretically possible to build an actual “Aragon Chain” protocol based on the Ethereum yellowpaper running on top of Aragon Protocol, where state transitions are handled optimistically. If someone sees a block that’s illegitimate, they could create a dispute and have Aragon Protocol check whether it followed the protocol (yellowpaper).

Cross-chain optimistic bridging*

It may also be theoretically possible to complete a similar process  described above to sync block/bridge contract state hashes from a sidechain back to Ethereum. Aragon Protocol would protect withdrawals (only allowing them when someone triggered them on the other side of the bridge) on Ethereum, where most of the native value lives.

*Disclaimer: early research and subject to change.

How the Aragon ecosystem would look with things built at different levels of the stack

Our new proposal

Hopefully, this post has helped clarify the vision for Aragon Protocol and Aragon more broadly. We have submitted a new proposal for review which will be put up for a vote on November 9th at 16:00.

Read the full text of our new proposal here.

Read the new voting process and timeline here.


This post was a collaboration between

Jorge Izquierdo, Aragon One

  • Jorge Izquierdo
  • Aragon One