Just before Christmas, I was invited by my friend and colleague Steve Weis to give a talk about voting with cryptography at Google. I’ve done about 10-15 talks of this kind, but this was a fun challenge: a very talented audience with an introductory understanding of cryptography (Steve had given 3 prior lectures on cryptography). I was able to start at the beginning but go quite a bit deeper than I usually do.
Oh yeah, and the whole thing, all 92 minutes of it, is available on YouTube.
I’ve just watched it: nothing like watching yourself on video to give you a new year’s worth of cringing. I’m particularly annoyed with myself that I gave no credit to Josh Benaloh, and that, while I gave some credit to Ron Rivest, David Chaum and Andy Neff, I did not give them nearly enough. These guys are the fathers of modern cryptographic voting. Nothing I’ve done compares to what they’ve done. Here are a few things I should have said:
- Josh Benaloh came up with the first coercion-resistant voting protocols, the first homomorphic tabulation protocols, and a number of ideas that pre-date and inspire Scratch & Vote.
- David Chaum invented blind signatures, the Punchscan system which pre-dates and inspires Scratch & Vote, and a number of fantastic ideas that are the crux of many voting protocols.
- Andy Neff designed and built the practical human-verifiable interactive protocols I refer to in passing, you know, the protocols that go from the toy-feel of Scratch & Vote and make crypto voting truly workable and practical. He’s thought more about and done more to explain/characterize forced randomization attacks than anyone else.
- Ron Rivest, beyond his numerous contributions to modern cryptography, has been the strongest driving force on the policy front to create a future for cryptographic voting.
Thanks to Steve for the opportunity to give this talk and have it recorded on YouTube for everyone’s benefit/entertainment. And thanks to the Google crowd for a great turn-out (the video doesn’t do it justice, a lot of folks had to leave before the Q&A session and the audience shots in the end), the fantastic questions, and generally the openness to this kind of talk.
(At minute 46, you hear some noise, I make a comment about how “my wife will find this amusing”, and it’s not clear what’s going on: Google is a dog friendly environment, and there was a loose beagle in the crowd. I’m a dog person, so no problem, and the Google work environment is pretty cool, I have to say.)