UCD Centre for Innovation, Technology & Organisation

The CITO Lecture Series

We started 2021 with a series of lectures inspired by "Uncommon Economies".

Uncommon Economies: Successes, failures, and the circulation of values

This lecture series presents diverse perspectives on the “uncommon economies” that intersect bodies, media, and technologies. These economic realities surround us everyday but mark the exception to ordered life and are, as such, commonly absent from academic scrutiny. This event brings together scholars from across the academy to discuss a set of uncommon socio-technical phenomena, ranging from algorithms to biomedicine.

The tie that binds these diverse approaches is an implicit problematization of the circulation of values. For some of the topics, the values are negative—economic failure, antisocial behaviour, and broken technologies. Yet, the same values offer lessons for designs and architectures that, in relief, portray a truer image of humanity as one with evolving values and norms.

CITO Lecture Series - Uncommon Economies 01

Tuesday January 12th, 2021 at 15.00 GMT

Paul Cuffe (UCD)

“The Electricity Industry: It's boringly reliable and we mostly trust the incumbents. So, is there a role for blockchain at all?”

CITO Lecture Series - Uncommon Economies 02

Tuesday January 19th, 2021 at 15.00 GMT

Ryan Deschamps (Waterloo)

“Schrödinger's Threats: Uncertainty and Risk in the case of Quantum and Side-channel Cybersecurity”

Since 2011, countries across the United Nations have been developing plans to increase their resilience against disastrous global cyberattacks to critical infrastructure with potential cost of life. While existing prevention efforts can help manage traditional cyberattacks, they are useless against the small but growing risk of cyberattacks via quantum 'supreme' computers and so-called 'side channel' attacks. While the technical solutions for many quantum and side-channel attacks are already underway, it is an open question about how little or much attention our social institutions should spend to address such low probability but high-risk concerns. This presentation provides a lay explanation of quantum and back-channel cybersecurity challenges, arguing that a policy design approach can offer a robust response to these and other problems where scientific solutions outmode the social and economic will to apply them.

CITO Lecture Series - Uncommon Economies 03

Tuesday January 26th, 2021 at 15.00 GMT

John McCallig (UCD)

“Reporting on Receivables: Designing Trust into Accounting Systems”

Investors and other external users of financial statements need to be able to trust that the financial statements reflect the economic reality of the firm’s business. The research objective of this paper is to design a system that allows external users to trust that an entity’s individual receivables balances are accepted as obligations by these counterparties and are aggregated properly, without disclosing the individual balances that make up the total for receivables. The paper uses a design science research approach, to design and build an artefact that achieves its research objectives, by using Shamir [1979] secret sharing to provide privacy, and a blockchain and smart contracts to provide public access to total receivables.

CITO Lecture Series - Uncommon Economies 04

Tuesday February 2nd, 2021 at 15.00 GMT

Wessel Reijers (EUI)

“Social Credit: The Circulation of Reputational Value”

Since 2014, China has been implementing a comprehensive programme to introduce a Social Credit System. The programme has a sweeping ambition, though it is to date only partly implemented, and aims to subject virtually all societal interaction to an assessment of trustworthiness. China’s initiative goes well beyond Western practices of credit scoring precisely because it stretches the notion of trustworthiness from the purely financial realm to the realm of reputation and morality. And yet, we see a similar shift in Western countries, considering the rise of reputation mechanisms on Internet platforms, in the crypto sphere, but also on the local level. On a speculative note, we might be witnessing a re-emergence of an ethics of reciprocity (think of the Thomist idea of a “just price”) in the political economy. In this talk, I will do three things. First, I will give a high-level overview of China’s Social Credit System. Second, I will situate this within a broader context of emerging reputational mechanisms. Third, I will raise some critical questions concerning the new trend: 1) what it means for the relation between the public and private sphere, 2) what it means for the distinction between law and morality, and 3) how it affects our understanding of civic virtue.

CITO Lecture Series - Uncommon Economies 05

Tuesday February 9th, 2021 at 15.00 GMT

Vicki Lemieux (UBC)

“Multidisciplinary Blockchain Research and Design: A Case Study in Moving from Theory to Pedagogy to Practice”

The application of multidisciplinary theoretical models in an emerging field of study like blockchain can improve both collaborative learning and solution design, especially by creating a valuable shared language for colleagues from different disciplinary areas. This presentation traces a journey from theory to practice by outlining the origin and development of the theoretical ‘three layer trust model’ for blockchain technologies, discussing the pedagogical utility of this model within a virtual education setting, and describing a student’s application of the learned model in a technical blockchain product design setting. By providing a thorough grounding in the complex multidisciplinary balance involved in designing blockchain systems (and adding the reflections of participants in this multi-setting focal design application) the presentation outlines the potential value of such theoretical models to establish shared language for complex concepts across disciplinary divides.

CITO Lecture Series - Uncommon Economies 06

Tuesday February 2nd, 2021 at 15.00 GMT

Koray Caliskan (New School)

“The Rise and Fall of Electra: An Ethnography of a Cryptocurrency Project”

Electra was developed in 2017 by a young man who use the pseudonym Electra01. Following its emergence in cryptocurrency markets in 2018, it’s market capitalization briefly reached 180 million USD as a result of its original supply mechanism. The coin was designed to lose value, yet to still retain enough to build a community of its own. In 2019, the coin and its community have been regarded as among the most successful projects, winning a prestigious vote organized by Binance, whose research department published a report about its community and technology. The project’s community had written its white paper, and released two new versions, updated its blockchain, developed and maintained a platform that has 40.000 members in a variety of channels, instituted a foundation in the Netherlands, introduced a payment system, and has become the only cryptocurrency project to be accepted to ETA (Electronic Transactions Association). However, following a controversy between its community leaders and its founder, the Electra collapsed as its founder Electra01 decided to dump his own Electras in November 2020, bringing the market capitalization down to less than a million dollars, effectively killing the project. This paper presents a discussion of the rise and fall of a cryptocurrency project drawing on two years of fieldwork among its community and interviews with its anonymous founder who accepted to meet me in person. It describes how actors see their engagement in a data money community, how they build and maintain a digital platform, innovate tools of new economization in crypto contexts and finally lose the very platform they stood. The paper ends with a discussion of the future of Electra community whose leading community members are now building a new platform.

CITO seminar: Meaningful Work and Hermeneutics

Wednesday December 9th, 2020 at 16.30 GMT

Todd Mei

Todd Mei is founder of the public philosophy and consultation organization Philosophy2u. He calls himself a `public philosopher’. It involves adapting abstract concepts and ideas from philosophy and employing them to frame new ways of understanding work as meaningful and virtuous beyond obligatory, functional or mere utilitarian views.


Meaningful work is the idea that work holds an important role in the flourishing of societies and individuals. While there are many debates about what meaningful work is and whether we should take it seriously, this talk will focus on what I call the work-flourishing gap (WFG). Because work is a physical activity, there tends to be controversy as to how it can participate in those kinds of intellectual and imaginative activities we tend to associate with self-actualisation and flourishing. I will discuss how Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutical theory of action (based on speech acts) can help dissolve the WFG by demonstrating how the activity of work bears features of linguistic meaning. This linguistic claim enables us to see work as more than just a bare physical phenomenon; it is communicative in the broad sense of being assertoric (locutionary), conventional (illocutionary), and transformative (perlocutionary). I will conclude with a reflection on some practical examples.

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