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Currency: re-defining the way we transact in a digital world

In May we held the third Thought Leadership event of our 2017 Programme at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, exploring the impact that digital technology is having on the way we are able to transact and how this is fundamentally altering what we understand as ‘currency’ in an increasingly connected world.

Delivered in conjunction with our partners, RAND Europe, the event was attended by senior leaders from across academia, business, government and non-government sectors, and explored how new models of transaction can help to create new opportunities for social benefit.

There was widespread agreement amongst participants that more traditional, monetary-based forms of currency are here to stay, however we are likely to see the emergence of a ‘mixed economy’ in the future, with data being increasingly viewed as a currency in our connected world. Interestingly, cryptocurrencies were considered as more of an asset management mechanism for storing value, rather than transacting.

However, we also heard how the speed and scale of change may have potential downsides for the economic well-being and stability of our society.  Ensuring equality of access and adequate levels of financial and digital literacy were also seen as key issues that need to be addressed if individuals are to be able to make the most of opportunities presented by the growing number of transaction platforms and mechanisms.

Our discussions highlighted how new platforms are facilitating the more efficient exchange of data during transactions.  This has the potential to impact price setting, enabling greater amounts of data about the products/services and the parties involved in a transaction to be shared during the transaction process.  Such bundling of data has the potential to alter the relationship between the vendor and the customer, enabling price to be set on a more informed basis.  It could support individuals to transact in a more informed manner, increasing confidence and trust, allow organisations to offer more personalised services and recommendations.  However, at the same time this could create unfair practices when such data are used by vendors to adjust price based on prior usage patterns to create unfair commercial advantage.  

Finally, we discussed which groups in society are most likely to benefit from changes, as well as the implications for policy and regulation in terms of economic and financial stability but also in terms of generating greater trust, and the behaviour changes required to encourage adoption of a broader range of transaction mechanisms.

Further details on the debate will be available in the form of Conference proceedings, which are to be published shortly. The Ci 2017 Thought Leadership Programme now moves forward to our final event in June, which will focus on civic society and the opportunities created by digital technology for more effective civic engagement.

To follow comments from the events on Twitter as they happen please follow the hashtag: #digitalsociety or if you’d like any more information please email:

Open Science: the citizen’s role and contribution to research

Open Science: the citizen’s role and contribution to research

The second event in our 2017 Thought Leadership Programme was held on April 6-7th, at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, and explored the opportunities for citizen science and how digital technology can support stronger citizen engagement in research activities.  

Working with our partners, Rand Europe, and attended by senior leaders from the UK, Europe and internationally, representing Academia, Business, Government and Non-Government organisations, our discussions focused on how citizen science has the potential to transform both the process of research and also the impact that research findings can have.

During the 24 hours that we were together we considered some critical questions on the role and purpose of citizen science, including:

  • What do we mean by the term ‘citizen science’, and what activities should we include within this definition?
  • Are we clear about the benefits and opportunities of involving citizens more centrally in the research process, and conversely what concerns and challenges are restricting greater involvement of citizens?
  • Does digital technology have a role to play in accelerating the growth of citizen involvement in research?
  • What should a forward thinking and aspirational vision for citizen science contain and who can help us realise the true potential of citizen engagement in research?

Some of the key conclusions we agreed included:

  • The term ‘Citizen Science’ has different meanings to different individuals and organisations;
  • Citizen engagement in research has been growing in importance and has the potential to transform research activities at scale and with speed;
  • When citizens are engaged in defining the research scope and brief, it supports stronger engagement because the research is focused on issues which matter most to the people supporting it;
  • Citizens need to develop good ‘research skills’ and this requires clear accessible advice and guidance as well as training;
  • Barriers to engagement and inequalities remain key challenges to be addressed;
  • Some academic researchers appear hesitant to recognise research led by citizens, and data collected by them as being a valid and value adding activity; and
  • Digital technology has the potential to amplify both the opportunities and also some of the challenges faced.

These are just some of the initial conclusions emerging from our discussions and more will follow in the conference proceedings currently being drafted, which will then be available from the Thought Leadership pages of our website.

At the end of our discussions and in keeping with our theme of scientific research, we were honoured to have a private demonstration of the Gömböc - the world’s first self–righting object, which was invented by Professor Domokos and Mr Péter Várkonyi.  To mark the presentation of the Gömböc to St George’s House and in advance of a lecture on natural numbers and shapes we were able to see the object in action.  More information The Gömböc and how the mathematics behind it were proved can be found on this link.

The Corsham Institute  2017 Thought Leadership Programme continues with our next event in May, which will focus on the role of currency and how this is being redefined, as we transact in a more connected world.

To follow comments from the events on Twitter as they happen please search for the hashtag: #digitalsociety, or if you’d like any more information please email:

Ci launches Thought Leadership Reports at House of Lords

On October 13th 2016, Ci was proud to launch our Thought Leadership Reports for 2016 at a packed House of Lords reception with over 150 guests representing academia, industry, Government and non-government organisations.

Lord Crisp, in welcoming people said that, “this launch shines a light on the benefits and challenges of our connected society” and he recognised the need “for a concerted effort around data privacy and digital inclusion to ensure solutions best serve the public good”.

Our Thought Leadership Reports for 2016 cover Digital Health, Cyber & Resilience, Digital Living and Trust & Ethics and were written after our Thought Leadership Consultations at St George’s House at Windsor Castle.

Jeffrey Thomas, the Founding Chairman of the Corsham Institute, thanked all the participants for engaging in such challenging & insightful debates that had, “created the impetus to address vital issues that the growth of digital accelerates”.

“We need a new framework”, he said, “which we are calling a ‘Digital Charter’, which will outline in clear, accessible language the role and responsibilities that we all have, as citizens and organisations, both in the public and private sector, to support an inclusive, safe and trusted digital world.”

Part of the work to develop a Digital Charter is a call for businesses, Government, organisations, as well as individuals, to find stronger and shared models of ethical behaviour, providing clear guidance on how to behave appropriately in the digital age.

At the Launch, Hans Pung, the President of Ci’s Thought Leadership Programme partner Rand Europe, said that, “the Programme has examined a number of crucial dimensions of our connected society”, and that “digital challenges are not just technical, they affect our social norms, ways of governance and ethical frameworks”.

All of the reports, together with a Key Findings Report summarising the 2016 Programme, are available to download from the Thought Leadership page of our website, together with details of our Programme for 2017.