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IDSS Distinguished Seminars

The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work

October 18, 2016 @ 4:00 pm

Cryptography rearranges power: it configures who can dowhat, from what. This makes cryptography an inherently political tool,
and it confers on the field an intrinsically moral dimension. The Snowden
revelations motivate a reassessment of the political and moral positioning
of cryptography. They lead one to ask if our inability to effectively
address mass surveillance constitutes a failure of our field. I believe that
it does. I call for a community-wide effort to develop more effective means
to resist mass surveillance. I plead for a reinvention of our disciplinary
culture to attend not only to puzzles and math, but, also, to the societal
implications of our work.

MIT Statistics + Data Science Center
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307