Privacy and Rights

Vol. 7 No. 8 – September 2009

Privacy and Rights

A Conversation with David Shaw:
In a rare interview, David Shaw discusses how he’s using computer science to unravel the mysteries of biochemistry.

In this interview, Hanrahan and Shaw discuss Shaw’s latest project at D. E. Shaw Research: Anton, a special-purpose supercomputer designed to speed up molecular dynamics simulations by several orders of magnitude. Four 512-processor machines are now active and already helping scientists to understand how proteins interact with each other and with other molecules at an atomic level of detail. Shaw’s hope is that these "molecular microscopes" will help unravel some biochemical mysteries that could lead to the development of more effective drugs for cancer and other diseases. If his track record is any indication, the world has a lot to be hopeful for.

Communications Surveillance: Privacy and Security at Risk:
As the sophistication of wiretapping technology grows, so too do the risks it poses to our privacy and security.

We all know the scene: It is the basement of an apartment building and the lights are dim. The man is wearing a trench coat and a fedora pulled down low to hide his face. Between the hat and the coat we see headphones, and he appears to be listening intently to the output of a set of alligator clips attached to a phone line. He is a detective eavesdropping on a suspect’s phone calls. This is wiretapping. It doesn’t have much to do with modern electronic eavesdropping, which is about bits, packets, switches, and routers.

by Whitfield Diffie, Susan Landau