Global inquiry into citizens in the digital age



Digital technologies are transforming the way we live, work, and play. Businesses are responding by innovating new products and services, and governments are responding by investing in the digital economy and developing new laws and regulation. How are citizens responding? How should citizens respond? What does it mean to be a citizen in the digital age? What actions can citizens take? These are some of the questions The Fourth Group’s inquiry into citizens in the digital age will provide insights on.

Throughout 2018, The Fourth Group (in partnership with Democracy.Earth, One Young World, Newspeak House, and the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network) is running an inquiry to learn what problems citizens want to sort out and what actions they want to take in regards to the impact of digital technologies. To achieve this, we are hosting conversations in every region of the world, and giving everyone the opportunity to engage through our online survey. After listening, we will develop an agenda of issues and solutions which will be launched at Politics Summit 2018 in London. This agenda will form the basis of The Fourth Group’s actions in 2019 and beyond.

Throughout history, citizens have organised and mobilised to tackle societal problems, securing fair wages, banning children working in factories, winning the ability to vote. We have the power to change things. Today, citizens have campaigned on new issues such as social media echo chambers, fake news, privacy, and data misuse. The recent response to the Cambridge Analytica exposé demonstrates that we are the cusp of a public awakening to the new dangers brought about by exponential advancements in digital technology. The Fourth Group ran a petition calling for Mark Zuckerberg to testify in front of US and UK authorities and to investigate violations by other third parties, a campaign backed by 174,295 people.  This inquiry will uncover other issues citizens care about, and provide guidelines on ways in which they can take action for impact and real change.

What is the digital age? It is a term used to describe new technological changes that the world is experiencing right now. These technologies include social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), gig economy apps (Uber, Deliveroo), the internet of things (Amazon Echo, smart cars, smart cities), and exponential developments in artificial intelligence (Google DeepMind, Xiaoi). Digital technologies are changing the way we live, work, and play, and brought huge disruptions to our economies and societies.

What is a citizens’ inquiry? This refers to the process of having action-oriented conversations with citizens on issues, with the view to understanding problems from real and diverse experiences, and to develop practical responses to those problems.


This inquiry aims to do the following:

  • Uncover citizens’ rights and responsibilities in the digital age;
  • Understand what citizens believe is the impact of technology on their lives;
  • Understand what citizens believe are the forthcoming issues global society will face;
  • Develop a global agenda for citizens to rally around;
  • Develop solutions in the form of policy, technology, and civic action, and;
  • Build an organised group of citizens worldwide who will take forward this agenda.

Throughout the inquiry, our mission is to renew and strengthen global citizenship worldwide, and respond to the major challenges posed by the fourth industrial revolution.


The Inquiry has three phases:

  1. Listen and learn (June to August 2018)
    • We will have conversations with citizens in every region of the world through an online survey and offline focus groups
    • We will outline the major problems as proposed by citizens worldwide
  2. Develop responses (September to November 2018)
    • We will run a hackathon in East Sussex at Byline Festival to develop solutions
    • We will run policy commissions to develop policy solutions
    • We will launch a Global Agenda, which will include a set of issues and solutions, at Politics Summit 2018.
  3. Action (January 2019 and beyond)
    • Citizens worldwide will work with business and government to implement change and impact

Before phases 1-3, we are reaching out to potential advisors, partners, volunteers, and community organisers worldwide who want to be a part of the inquiry. If you want to get involved, email us at join@fourth.group outlining how you’d like to help and why.

Get involved

As a global citizen, you can participate in the following ways:

  • Submit your views on what the major problems are online or at one of our focus groups
  • Submit your views on the solutions to these problems online or at one of our focus groups
  • Share our survey with friends, family, and colleagues through email, social media, and word-of-mouth
  • Organise a listening session in your community by applying to become a Volunteer Community Organiser for the Inquiry (see below for more information)
  • Support us financially by contributing through our website or becoming a patron
  • Propose partnerships through your professional work and network

Who’s behind this?

The Fourth Group is a global community of people in politics and technology, established to respond to the major problems caused by the fourth industrial revolution. The Fourth Group is organising the Global Citizens’ Inquiry.


The Fourth Group team are organising the Inquiry.

Advisory Steering Group

The Inquiry is supported by an advisory steering group, including:

  • Malini Mehra (CEO, GLOBE Legislators)
  • Dr Jason Blackstock (Head, STEaPP Department, UCL)
  • Jon Barnes (Author, Democracy Squared)
  • Toni Cowan-Brown (Vice President, NationBuilder)
  • John Lazar CBE (Former CEO, MetaSwitch Ltd)
  • Tanya Filer (Cambridge Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge)

Volunteer Community Organisers

The conversations are led by Volunteer Community Organisers worldwide, including members of The Fourth Group.

If you would like to lead a conversation in your community, email join@fourth.group your CV and a cover letter outlining why you want to be a Volunteer Community Organiser, where you would run a conversation, and how you would run it. Thanks.


We wouldn’t be able to do the inquiry without the support of the following amazing organisations. Thank you to all of our partners for working with us to make it happen. If you would like to partner with us, email join@fourth.group.


Solutions Partner

We have partnered with the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network who are working with us to identify solutions provided by social entrepreneurs worldwide.

Media Partner (for Politics Summit 2018)

We have partnered with Quartz who are working with us to promote the inquiry and engage a global audience through our annual flagship event, Politics Summit 2018.

International Partner

We have partnered with One Young World, the global forum of young leaders, to help engage Millennials throughout our inquiry.

Regional Partners

Europe: Newspeak House, who nurture emerging communities of practice in the public sector & civil society, will help engage citizens in Europe.


For more information, email join@fourth.group.