Cryptographic Creativity – Tech Tribune France

The students of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) spent the end of their summer vacation at Hack Lodge, a week-long camp with locations in California and New York where participants lived, studied and designed projects together. In California, students focused on cryptocurrency, blockchains and Web3, showcasing completed projects over the weekend.

“There are very few times when you live in one space with 20 other people who are there to learn, very excited about the areas they work in, and very smart,” said SEAS third-year student Walden Yan. . computing and economics. “You can see everyone grinding and seeing you making progress on your product. We started on Sunday and Tuesday we had to ship something that worked. On Thursday it needed polishing and on Saturday we presented a final draft to some awesome people who came to see. The mentorship and culture is truly amazing, and everyone has taken a lot out of it.

For his project, Yan worked with cryptographic primitives, which are random generators and other low-level operations essential to encryption. He developed pre-existing algorithms to create a program that allows users to withdraw, deposit, and trade assets without being publicly traceable on a blockchain.

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“We worked on using a cryptographic primitive called zero-knowledge proofs to create an extension of an existing technology known as private mixing tools,” Yan said. “These types of technologies can protect information about the assets you own.”

While Yan focused on private crypto transactions, Hao Wang was more interested in public activities. Wang, a third-year computer science student, has focused on open-source projects that are accessible to everyone and maintain transparency in blockchain activity. He created a website that makes it easier for people with limited coding experience to use open source projects.

“All of my previous work focused on cryptographic infrastructure, so I continued with that,” Wang said. “People can normally only access open source projects using a command line directly in the operating system, but this can be difficult for people unfamiliar with the process. With our project, people can access our website and use the basic interface to access it instead of a command line. »

While Wang and Yan designed projects directly related to cryptocurrency and blockchain algorithms, sophomores AhnPhu Nguyen and Alice Cai took a slightly more offbeat approach. The duo designed a collaborative storytelling platform, which then created illustrations using DALL-E, an artificial intelligence art program. These illustrations could then be transformed into non-fungible tokens or NFTs, which are blockchain assets associated with physical or digital assets that can be bought and sold.

“The human generates the text, then the AI ​​helps produce an illustration,” Cai said. “Humans may want to guide the direction of the story, but creating artwork is a pretty intensive process. To speed it up, we use AI.

Their project was indirectly linked to a special concentration they designed, which they call “Human Augmentation”. Their courses for the degree will include elements of computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering, as well as bioengineering. Linking technology and biological design has always interested Cai, who had previously considered studying how AI and human creativity intersect with programs like DALL-E.

“Humans become more curators than creators when you have generative AI tools, so we’re exploring how we can use technology to augment our intelligence,” Cai said. “We are also trying to increase the human body, to become better, faster and stronger.”

For Cai and Nguyen, Hack Lodge introduced an area of ​​computing they had never studied before.

“Living with people who really like these things, talking to them and seeing what they do, was really interesting,” Nguyen said. “All week I’ve been talking to people who are very knowledgeable in math and technology. It was intellectually interesting. It was a left-field subject that we knew nothing about.

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Cryptographic Creativity – Tech Tribune France


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