Technology Visionaries: In conversation with Professor Ross Anderson FREng FRS

12 November 2012

Speaker: Professor Ross Anderson FRS FREng

Facilitated by: Sue Nelson

Ross Anderson is Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He asks the question: How does software change engineering? Much has been written about software engineering, but a deeper question may be how software changes the rest of engineering. As computers and communications become embedded invisibly everywhere, from power grids to payment systems and transport networks,  the world is changing subtly.

Software can act at a distance, and in arbitrarily complex ways; and global scale means that actors often do not enjoy (or suffer) the full economic consequences of what they do. Engineers have to start paying attention to incentives, and designing mechanisms to be 'strategy-proof' - which means that participants who behave selfishly should not thereby wreck the system for everyone else.

Dependability is no longer something we can engineer directly; it rather emerges from the self-interested actions of firms who may be competitors and people who may even be in conflict with each other. He discusses a number of examples of failure and fragility, from payment systems through cybercrime to the resilience of the internet itself.

Keywords: Professor Ross Anderson, Sue Nelson, cryptography, online security, security engineering, systems design, cybercrime, globalisation, embedded systems,internet, Technology Visionaries

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