Monday, March 20, 2017

Lunch Talk: Jay Kaplan: Crowdsourcing Cybersecurity (at Stanford)

Entrepreneur Jay Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of Synack, describes how the idea of creating a cybersecurity service for enterprise businesses by crowdsourcing hackers went from sounding like a long shot to launching as a venture capital-backed startup. Kaplan, previously a senior analyst at the National Security Administration, talks about the virtues of government work and the nuances of “white hat” hacking.

Direct link to Youtube.

tags:network, security, enterprise, control

Friday, March 10, 2017

LunchTalk: Alan Burdick: "Why Time Flies" (at Google)

Alan Burdick is a staff writer and former senior editor at The New Yorker. His most recent book, "Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation," was published in January by Simon & Schuster.

“In his lucid, thoughtful, and beautifully written inquiry about time — what is it, really? Did we invent it, or does it invent us? - Burdick offers nothing less than a new way of reconsidering what it means to be human.” (Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life and The People in the Trees)

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Creative Solution of the Day: the Publication Dilemma

Typically, inventors face a disclosure dilemma: on the one hand, you want to explain your idea to a potential investor or a customer; on the other hand, you don't want to explain it because the idea can be easily stolen. Researchers face a similar dilemma when they consider publishing their results that  might have valuable commercial implications.

In the 1840s, Samuel Colt used the US patent system to overcome the dilemma:
When Samuel Colt, of revolver fame, was trying to sell the U.S. government a system of naval mines, he had to establish that his device was original without giving away its secret. His imaginative solution was to submit the plan to the Patent Office, obtain a confirmation of its originality, and then withdraw the application before the patent was granted, thereby avoiding the publication of the patent specifications.*
The Colt's approach exemplifies a powerful problem-solving technique often called "Separation in Time." According to the principle:
- you perform the useful action first — in the Colt's case: explaining the invention via a patent application — at the time when your potential customer needs to be convinced;
- then you perform a reverse action — withdraw the patent application — at a different time, so that the competition doesn't learn about the idea.

Snapchat provides the most recent example of a successful application of the "Separation in Time" principle along the lines of Samuel Colt's solution. That is, a Snapchat picture or a post is published for a short period of time to a limited group of subscribers; then, the post disappears, so that the information doesn't leak out to the general public. Clearly, the technique can be used for a broad variety of "limited offers."

* Source: Alex Roland, "Secrecy, Technology, and War: Greek Fire and the Defense of Byzantium, 678-1204." 1992.

tags: dilemma, problem, solution, social, separation