The Ultimate Physical Limits of Privacy

Among those who make a living from the science of secrecy, worry and paranoia are just signs of professionalism. Can we protect our secrets against those who wield superior technological powers? Can we trust those who provide us with tools for protection? Can we even trust ourselves, our own freedom of choice? Recent developments in quantum cryptography show that some of these questions can be addressed and discussed in precise and operational terms, suggesting that privacy is indeed possible under surprisingly weak assumptions.


About the Speaker:

Artur Ekert is the Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, U.K. He is also Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor and Director, Centre of Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore. He is one of the pioneers of quantum cryptography. In his doctoral thesis (Oxford, 1991) he showed how quantum entanglement and non-locality can be used to distribute cryptographic keys with perfect security. He has worked, communicated and advised several companies and government agencies. His current research extends over most aspects of information processing in quantum-mechanical systems and the nature of randomness. He is a recipient of several awards, including the 1995 Maxwell Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics and the 2007 Royal Society Hughes Medal. In his non-academic life he is an avid bush pilot and scuba diver.