Planning For This Year’s World-Wide Hackathon on November 5th

Update October 28th: This year’s focus, as always, will be SecureDrop.

We were going to try to do a post quantum crypto track, in parallel, but it didn’t work out.

Here’s the rest of this original blogpost:

Chelsea Manning has taken a special interest in participating in this year’s Aaron Swartz Day Hackathons.

As Chelsea explains herself in a blog post this morning:

It’s important to keep our encryption safe in the post-quantum world. Luckily, you don’t need to be a quantum math or quantum computer expert in order to be able design stronger algorithms to protect our current encryption methods against quantum attacks. These algorithms are classical, and don’t require any kind of complex understanding of anything quantum. We can let the PhDs deal with that.

I am putting together a collection of materials on this topic, and I thought perhaps we could all explore this together during this year’s Aaron Swartz Day Hackathons.

Using SageMath, an open source python-like mathematics software system, I am hoping to start things off with a generic construct that anyone can easily start working from.

I’ll be putting up pages soon for the different participating cities. Please write me at lisa(at) if you’re putting on a hackathon in your town, and I’ll make a page for it here that you can populate accordingly, as your event develops.

I’m lining up some incredible speakers for San Francisco, and I’ll make sure they get questions from all the hackathoners participating all over the world.

Chelsea is putting together some materials that I will be distributing to everyone a few months before the hackathon, to get us all ramped up. This isn’t like the year 2000 problem –> there’s no ticking time bomb yet, as far as we know. (Although when advances are made, they will undoubtedly happen quickly :) To be clear:  We’re approaching this problem way before it gets to that point.

That’s the whole point of starting this conversation now in our community, while it’s still a fun thing we have lots of time to prepare for, so it’s not only huge government institutions and multi-national corporations that have a handle on the implications of this technology.

Also, rest assured, there will be lots of other things to work on if post-quantum cryptography isn’t your bag. But I encourage you to please not write it off yet, as it’s a lot of fun to think about hypothetically, even if you are not a programmer. (Boy was I relieved to find that out when Chelsea started down this path :-)