Department of Culture and Learning

Cryptic Commons

Cryptic Commons

This workshop brings together noted researchers interested in the development of cryptography and cyber-physical systems, and their social impacts.


20.05.2021 kl. 13.30 - 21.05.2021 kl. 17.15


Cryptographers often refer to notions of the ideal world and the real world in the development and
implementation of cryptographic primitives and protocols. This framing allows them to evaluate the
trustworthiness of cryptographic tools, by comparing them against an ideal standard, in which there are no
security breaches, total honesty and zero corruption. But how useful is this utopian framing of the “ideal”
for tools that are meant to function in the cryptographic “real” world and significantly, in cyber-physical
and social “actual” worlds? The workshop “Cryptic Commons” seeks to probe these questions with a
series of keynote speakers from different disciplines, short examples from ongoing research and
moderated, transdisciplinary debates.

‘Cryptic commons’ refers to the common language and understandings across disciplinary boundaries that
are necessary to secure the development of future cryptographic tools that are socially, culturally and
ethically sound. Researchers and developers from engineering, data science and
cryptography often work in disciplinary silos where specialized developments can be pursued, and
expertise honed. These are valuable fora for cutting-edge research. But this sometimes comes at the cost of
insight from other disciplines. If data represents citizens, and data analytics is used to make fundamental
decisions about citizens, then securing this data and how it is interpreted is a deeply social endeavor.
Engineers, data scientists and cryptographers are however not trained to grasp social insights that are not
quantifiable. At the same time, social science and humanities researchers often work far from the sites at
which data tools and analytics are developed, and so they lack an understanding of the technical logics and
methods within which their colleagues work.

AAU researchers from the SECURE research project have invited distinguished keynote speakers and presenters to probe what it means to be “stuck in the gap” and how to create “cryptic commons” across technical and social/human sciences.


  • Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering, University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh.
  • Harold Vincent Poor, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Princeton University.
  • Helen Nissenbaum, Professor at Cornell Tech and in the Information Science Department, Cornell 
  • Susan Landau, Professor of Cyber Security and Policy, The Fletcher School and Tufts School of Engineering University.
  • Michael Fischer, Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies, MIT


Read more about the workshop


Department of Culture and Learning • Kroghstraede 3 • 9220 Aalborg East • Phone: +45 9940 8005 • Email: • VAT no: DK 29102384
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