Attendees at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas booed and ridiculed a sponsored talk on Thursday called “The 2019 Discovery of Quasi-Prime Numbers: What Does This Mean For Encryption?” that touted a bizarre technology called “Time AI,” Motherboard reported on Saturday, with the conference even going so far as to delete material on the talk from its website.
According to Motherboard, the talk was delivered by Robert Grant of a company named Time Sterling, with attendees quickly accusing him of making bullshit claims about the technology and potentially defrauding users:
People in attendance, as well as security researchers who were following it on Twitter, made fun of the talk and criticized the conference for letting Grant speak. Dan Guido, the CEO of cyber security consulting firm Trail of Bits even got up and challenged the speaker, accusing him of potentially putting people in danger by pitching an unproven encryption technology.
“They’re scamming people. They’re here to use Black Hat to trick people into giving them money. It’s fraud,” Guido said in an interview after the talk. “Other people in the audience tried to reason with them, that the math isn’t right etc, but they don’t care about that. It’s offensive, and they shouldn’t get the benefit of using our names and our event to commit fraud.”
In a video posted to YouTube by Crown Sterling, the company claims that it had identified “for the first time an infinitely predictable prime number pattern,” as well as rolled out buzzwords ranging from “infinite wave conjugations” and “quasi prime numbers” to the “nano-scale of time” and “speed of AI oscillations.” It also stated unspecified “academic researchers believe” its discovery could lead to a “unified physics cosmology,” seemingly referring to an all-encompassing theoretical framework of physics (something that has so far eluded the greatest scientific minds in the world, let alone a cryptography company).
It is unclear whether the presentation could possibly be some kind of prank, but there is also a bunch of futurist woo about the human body and the iris of the eye for some reason.
Cryptographer and former Facebook employee Steve Weis, who reviewed Crown Sterling informational materials, told Motherboard that its staff “look like scam artists.” As a sponsored talk, Crown Sterling’s presentation was subject to a lower level of pre-scrutiny than others speaking to the conference; a Black Hat spokesperson told the site via email that the conference is “aware of the situation with the Crown Sterling talk,” had removed the talk from their site, and is “working to implement a stronger vetting process moving forward to avoid this happening in the future.”
Crown Sterling told Motherboard that it stands by “the accuracy of the talk and will continue to do so.” Grant has also sent numerous tweets about the issue, as well as expressed confusion when compared to Timecube, an infamous and now-defunct website continually updated with nonsensical garb about the nature of time and reality.
Update: 8/11/2019: In a statement on their website, Grant defended Crown Sterling’s “legitimate multi-dimensional encryption technology” and suggested others in the industry are just resistant to change.
“Crown Sterling has announced a legitimate multi-dimensional encryption technology that challenges the paradigm of today’s encryption framework,” Grant wrote. “We understand that the discovery completely transforms the way we secure data and that some members of the security industry are resistant to change or accepting of new technologies that do not conform to traditional approaches. We completely stand behind all content presented at Black Hat 2019 and we look forward to presenting further developments about the company and our quantum AI encryption technology. Stay tuned for more exciting developments from Crown Sterling.”