Department of Culture and Learning



Transdisciplinary Probes of the Ideal and Real World in Actual Cyber-Physical Systems

An international research workshop
ONLINE - May 20-21, 2021.


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

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.

Keynote speakers and roundtable participants

  • 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 the School of Engineering, Tufts University 
  • Michael Fischer, Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies, MIT.


Online, on Zoom. Link will be sent upon registration.


For late registration, please send an e-mail to our excellent student assistant Signe Helbo Gregers Sørensen:


Pictures and videos might be taken during the workshop. By registering for and attending the workshop, you agree to appearing in these pictures and/or videos. The pictures and/or videos may be used to promote the conference and the Department of Culture and Learning.


organization committee

Associate Professor Astrid Oberborbeck Andersen

Assistant Professor Adrienne Mannov

Student Assistant Signe Helbo Gregers Sørensen 

Professor Rafal Wisniewski

Professor Mads Græsbøll Christensen