Democratizing Cryptography - The Work of Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie | Rebecca Slayton, Andrei Broder, Susan Landau, and John Markoff

Thursday, February 23, 2023
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

William J. Perry Conference Room

  • Andrei Broder,
  • Susan Landau,
  • John Markoff
  • Rebecca Slayton

Seminar Recording

Co-sponsored with the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS)

About the Event: Today public key cryptography provides the primary basis for secure communication over the internet, enabling e-commerce, secure software updates, online work, government services, and much more. But public key cryptography has not always been widely available; for many decades, the U.S. government monopolized cryptography by keeping it highly classified. By inventing public key cryptography in the mid-1970s, Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman helped make cryptography widely accessible. In 2015 the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) awarded Diffie and Hellman the Turing Award, computer science’s highest honor, for their work on public key cryptography. ACM has published a new book, Democratizing Cryptography contextualizing the invention of public key cryptography and explaining its significance.  In this book launch event, a distinguished panel of experts will discuss the past and present significance of public key cryptography, in dialogue with Diffie and Hellman. Time will be reserved for audience questions and discussion.

About the Speakers: 

Andrei Broder is a distinguished scientist at Google. Previously, he was a research fellow and vice president of computational advertising for Yahoo!, and before that, the vice president of research for AltaVista. He has also worked for IBM Research as a distinguished engineer and was CTO of IBM's Institute for Search and Text Analysis.

Susan Landau is Bridge Professor in Cyber Security and Policy at The Fletcher School and the School of EngineeringDepartment of Computer ScienceTufts University. Landau has written four books, including with Whitfield Diffie, Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption (MIT Press, rev. ed. 2007). Landau has testified before Congress, written for the Washington PostScience, and Scientific American, and frequently appears on NPR and BBC. Landau has been a senior staff Privacy Analyst at Google, a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, and a faculty member at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Wesleyan University. She received the 2008 Women of Vision Social Impact Award, was a 2010-2011 fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, a 2012 Guggenheim fellow, was inducted into the Cybersecurity Hall of Fame in 2015 and into the Information System Security Association Hall of Fame in 2018

John Markoff is an award-winning author and journalist. From 1998 until 2017, he was a reporter at The New York Times. He has also been a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism and an adjunct faculty member of the Stanford Graduate Program on Journalism. In 2013 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting as part of a New York Times project on labor and automation. In 2007, he was named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization’s highest honor. He is an affiliate of Stanford’s Institute for Human-Center Artificial Institute. He is also a research affiliate at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences or CASBS, participating in projects focusing on the future of work and artificial intelligence. He is currently researching a biography of Stewart Brand, the creator of the Whole Earth Catalog.

Rebecca Slayton is Associate Professor, jointly in the Science & Technology Studies Department and the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, both at Cornell University. She is also a 2022-23 fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Her research examines the relationships between and among risk, governance, and expertise, with a focus on international security and cooperation since World War II. Her first book, Arguments that Count, shows how the rise of computing reshaped perceptions of the promise and risks of missile defense, and won the 2015 Computer History Museum Prize. Slayton’s second book, Shadowing Cybersecurity, examines the emergence of cybersecurity expertise through the interplay of innovation and repair.


 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.