back to article Biz forked out $115k to tout 'Time AI' crypto at Black Hat. Now it sues organizers because hackers heckled it

Crown Sterling, a Newport Beach, California-based biz that calls itself "a leading digital cryptographic firm," is suing UBM, the UK-based owner of the Black Hat USA conference, in America for allegedly violating its sponsorship agreement. The complaint [PDF], filed late last week in a New York district court, blames the …

  1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    I would post a comment but Crown Sterling would probably sue me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If only...

      If only they were in a country with Freedom of Speech...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If only...

        Freedom of Speech only applies to talking about the government, which I believe they're not..

        1. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: If only...

          Downvote brigadiers in force today, but you're quite right.

          The freedom of speech means that the GOVERNMENT cannot tell you what to/to not say, not that you enjoy legal protections from the consequences of saying things that others find to be bollockry beyond the normal protections of law prohibiting certain actions against others.

          The freedom of speech means you cannot be jailed for expressing the view that all members of a given race/ethnicity/religion/sexual orientation/profession are bad/wrong/unclean/deserve to die; nor does it protect you from retaliation from those groups in and of itself. It would not be lawful for such a person to brutally rearrange your face with a tire iron in response; it does not protect you from them organizing many others to have you shunned and heckled and exposed for the thundering fuckstick you are.

          1. Fungus Bob

            Re: If only...

            Right. The rest of the world finds Crown Sterling's statement to be utter bollockry, and that Crown Sterling are a bunch of thundering fucksticks.

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: If only...

          Freedom of Speech only applies to talking about the government

          huh? what kind of inane blathering is that?

          1. Kientha

            Re: If only...

            Freedom of Speech in this context means that the government cannot censor you or penalize you for speaking and sharing ideas. It has limitations and is not absolute but it in general applies to the government rather than other individuals.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: If only...

              ok , so a website can censor what you say on their site.

              And an employer can remove you from their employ because of your views?

              even so , the phrase "Only applies when talking about the government" is incorrect

              1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                Re: If only...

                No, a website can't censor what you say, because censorship is the sole prerogative of the government. A privately run website can remove your content for any number of reasons; concern of liability, speling mistakes, because they're lickspittle corporate toadys, or because you're a flaming c**t. It's still not censorship.

                Yes an employer can remove you from their employ because of your views. You can sue for unfair dismissal, if you're lucky enough to have a job contract and a state that recognises employees rights.

                Yes, that phrase is incorrect. A government could censor your views on religion, for example.

                1. JohnFen Silver badge

                  Re: If only...

                  "a website can't censor what you say, because censorship is the sole prerogative of the government."

                  What? Of course a website can censor you. It's done all the time -- any time a website removes a comment (for being spam, abusive, whatever), that is censoring by definition.

                  1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                    Re: If only...

                    'Androgynous Cupboard' seems to think censorship is only called censorship if the govt does it , but if a website does it its called something else.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: If only...

              The First Amendment to the US Constitution does indeed enjoin the government from most types of restraint on speech and writing (and has been construed to apply to other forms of expression).

              However, it is in no way limited to "talking about the government". It applies regardless of subject matter. That includes criticizing the products and claims of private industry.

              While the First Amendment's protection of expression is not absolute, and the US does have laws regarding defamation, they're quite restricted. A US corporation suing on grounds like those claimed by Crown Sterling is very unlikely to get anywhere, and as the article points out, they're inviting trouble under anti-SLAPP law.

          2. georgezilla

            Re: If only...

            " ... what kind of inane blathering is that? ... "

            This kind ....

            " ... Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ...

            The keyword .............. CONGRESS.

            You know, the part of the U.S. Government that actually is charged with making laws?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If only...

              The keyword .............. CONGRESS.

              You know, the part of the U.S. Government that actually is charged with making laws?

              There's also that little thing called the 14th Amendment that applies such restrictions to the States as well.

            2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: If only...

              sorry George , i still cant see what this blathering

              has got to do with that quote from your Constitution thing.

              That appears to say "The govt will not make laws that stop you having the right of free speech"

              whats that got to do with

              "Freedom of Speech only applies to talking about the government"

              which hasnt got anything to do with anything as its a totally bogus statement

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If only...

        You're confusing freedom of speech for responsibility for what you say.

        Unfortunately it is a common mistake.

        Having said that, setting lawyers on your critics following a public product launch seems to be a very bold strategy - I'm not sure you'd want to focus more public attention on your products, ummmm, challenges.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If only...

          "Having said that, setting lawyers on your critics following a public product launch seems to be a very bold strategy - I'm not sure you'd want to focus more public attention on your products, ummmm, challenges."

          Especially bold in states with SLAPP statutes.

          1. Kientha

            Re: If only...

            There really needs to be a federal anti-SLAPP law at this point. You're getting more and more baseless defamation suits fighting to be heard in states without anti-SLAPP legislation like Depp. The fact they're trying this in California is incredibly laughable but you do see it still as a way to silence critics knowing that they can either eat the penalty or that the threat of a lengthy suit is more than most critics are willing to deal with

  2. My-Handle Silver badge

    Openly and fairly...

    ... does not necessarily mean -nice-. If people don't like what they hear, it would be both open and fair for them to voice their concerns and criticisms.

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: Openly and fairly...

      Simply means treating you like any other exhibitor to be honest, Black Hat isn't known for tolerating nonsense.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Coat

        And, by filling their PR with terms like "multidimensional", just reading their blurb smacks of bull.

        Oh, and I'm glad that the encryption takes time into account. That's nice. And they're using a statistical analysis machine, for all the good that will do.

        They missed working blockchain in, though. Too bad. That would have clinched their success to be sure.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "They missed working blockchain in, though."

          That was the next step, obviously. Blockchains based on their cryptography, with the side effect you can even play them and get a full symphony...

          1. Roland6 Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: "They missed working blockchain in, though."

            Richard MacDuff - got there first: sometime prior to 1987 he wrote "an accounting program for the Apple Macintosh. This became Anthem, which on top of its accounting functions could turn the spreadsheet numbers into music pieces.".

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: "They missed working blockchain in, though."

              What was their other package that "generated data to match the already decided conclusion" that they sold to the US military?

              It seems to have been widely adopted!

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: "They missed working blockchain in, though."

                That was Reason, which allowed: "users to specify in advance the decision they want it to reach, and only then to input all the facts. The program's task was to construct a plausible series of logical-sounding steps to connect the premises with the conclusion. The only copy was sold to the US Government for an undisclosed fee."

            2. ibmalone Silver badge

              Re: "They missed working blockchain in, though."

              Funnily I didn't remember the name, just where I'd seen the idea before. So my first thought was, "Hang on, did someone actually..."

        2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

          Blockchain?

          I had that but I fixed it with Picolax.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Blockchain?

            Based on the product video, I suspect TIME AI may have chosen Gigalax instead.

        3. ibmalone Silver badge

          "multidimensional" isn't particularly bad in this context, algorithms like Mersenne twister are multidimensional. Time and music on the other hand...

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            My dog creates n=3 multi-dimensional output - but I'm required to pick it up.

            1. HorseflySteve

              My horse produces n=6 multidemensional output when you consider its temperature, water content and not inconsiderable mass. I have to use a shovel...

            2. ibmalone Silver badge

              Are you certain it's not fractal?

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            "multidimensional" isn't particularly bad in this context, algorithms like Mersenne twister are multidimensional

            But that's the problem. In this context, the term is either trivial or nonsense, depending on how it's used. When a vendor picks a technical term and waves it about as a flag to proclaim the novelty of their product, they'd best be prepared to back that up with a plausible, coherent, specific explanation of how they're using the term, and what the novelty is.

            1. Vector

              Proof is in the pudding (why is that?)

              I'd say if they are so sure they can break RSA-2048 then go break RSA-2048! Don't bang on about how you could do it.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge
                Headmaster

                Re: Proof is in the pudding (why is that?)

                Proof is in the pudding (why is that?)

                The full phrase is, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, in other words, however good something looks you can't know how good it actually is until you try it.

                M.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Almost.

          You can make something "multidimensional", a GAN might be "multidimensional" in it's analysis, but the slides and maths would show this...

          These were not. They were using specific complex language, as magical spells to cast on prey.

          (Quantum is the new "millenium" and AI is the new "led into gold" :( )

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Almost.

            Well, yes, I just mean for "multidimensional" in this context you don't necessarily light up the bat-shit sign until you actually look at the detail. "Entangled" on the other hand...

    2. EricM
      IT Angle

      Re: Openly and fairly...

      Judging just by the video linked in this article, I think it's perfectly open an fair to call bullshit on this "solution".

      In fact, if the presentation maintained only about half the fantasy level of the video , I'm surprised they were even able to finish the presentation ...

      Both, hackers and engineers, are not known to tolearate fantasy marketing very well.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Openly and fairly...

        Exactly. If it looks like BS, smells like BS, don't step in it.

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Openly and fairly...

        "Both, hackers and engineers, are not known to tolearate fantasy marketing very well."

        Unless it has boobies in it.

        And/Or Dragons.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Unless it has boobies in it.

          What is it with (sub)tropical marine birds that they' attract hackers and engineers?

      3. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Openly and fairly...

        Both, hackers and engineers, are not known to tolearate fantasy marketing very well.

        Yes.

        Most companies appear to have now realised that many of us are violently allergic to vague fantasy, vapourware and frankly anything other than a good working product at a realistic, reasonable price. Probably due to darwinism; i've lost count of the number of salesdroids i've told that i've lost interest in their product and then hung up on on the phone, walked away from at events, or terminated meetings with due to having got me a full set of bullshit bingo.

        I can't be the only person doing that, and *most* companies appear to have -eventually- gotten the message.

        1. Fungus Bob

          Re: Openly and fairly...

          It's more fun if you baffle them with reason and logic and make them start twitching as they leave.

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Openly and fairly...

      If even Apple fanboys protested at that monitor stand, no one is safe from well deserved criticism.

    4. sijpkes

      Re: Openly and fairly...

      Seriously what did they expect?

      Everyone's wearing their black hat at Black Hat. And they never submitted their paper to a peer reviewed journal.

      They may have avoided some ridicule if they'd gone through the peer review process first.

      They've spent $115k on something they could have got done for free through the right channels.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Openly and fairly...

        They spent $115k on getting global publicity in such august journals as el'reg.

        If they can manage to spin the response into "the security solution that made the worlds best hackers furious" and "that black hats tried to ban" ... they can probably convince a few CEOs to pay

        But on balance they are probably just a wunch of bankers

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Openly and fairly...

          That would require intelligence in the "scam". No doubt a lot of overselling of features work like that already, do a proper well done presentation of standard but novel/fun tech at Blackhat, use it as marketing to overcharge/boost marketing... but that requires work and some ability. Scamming with "music/quantum/magic" requires only marks.

          1. Kientha

            Re: Openly and fairly...

            Eh most business people know of Blackhat at least as a vague understanding. I doubt the idea was ever to sell it to anyone at Blackhat but to just be able to say they presented there to some purchasing managers who don't know better to get them to pay up. I doubt they expected the level of backlash hence the suit to try and reclaim the narrative. It's just a grift to pretend they have a cutting edge product to earn quick cash from companies who want to just buy a product rather than do any real work for security

          2. Vector

            Re: Openly and fairly...

            You just reminded me of a youtube video I saw last night of Tim Michin...

            Tim Michin Rant about Storm at the Reason Rally

  3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Poor babby

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Yes, music"

    Tom Holt, another fantasist, got there first in Flying Dutch (1991):

    “[W]hen I first invented the computer in seventeen—sixteen ninety-four, the nearest approximation to a letter-free system of abstract notation was written music, and I adapted the principle for my own purposes. Minims, crotchets and quavers each have their own quantitative value in base seven, and as it happens it’s an extremely powerful and flexible system: much better than the binary systems that I used in the first commercial models.” — Professor Montalban who, having discovered the elixir of life, needed to invent the computer and many other things in order to counter its effects.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Yes, music"

      Why not just toss the Time Cube at it? Or let amanfrommars present it?

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: "Yes, music"

        I would pay money to listen to amanfrommars explain the Time Cube.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Go

          Re: "Yes, music"

          As would I.

          1. ds6

            Re: "Yes, music"

            Hear hear!

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Toys from pram moment?

    Sounds like it. Sore losers sue critics, real engineers prove their critics wrong. If you talk rot at any science conference, you will get negative reactions. These may vary depending on your seniority, with more senior people drawing a lot more flak than e.g. starting PhD students. Much also depends on the level of arrogance on display. Trot out nonsense while projecting a "listen to me, I am a genius" attitude, and you will be in for a very rough ride.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Toys from pram moment?

      Probably they hoped for a softer audience at Black Hat than at a scientific conference... but probably they should have presented it at Worldcon....

      W. Crusher: "Captain! Those are quantum-entangled keys!"

      Data: "Captain, play your pipe to feed a disentanglement algorithm while I modify the warp field to move back in time!"

      Q appears: "How little do you mortals understand time. Must you be so constant, Jean-Luc? In Q-universe constants are not constants!".

      In other news: MagicLeap buys Crown Sterling technology to deliver encrypted VR.

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: Toys from pram moment?

        Probably they hoped for a softer audience at Black Hat than at a scientific conference... but probably they should have presented it at Worldcon

        Or Comic-Con.

        1. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: Toys from pram moment?

          .. as Clown Sterling?

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: Toys from pram moment?

            Clown Sterling? Is that what they're calling our currency these days?

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Toys from pram moment?

      All they had to do was demonstrate that they could use their technology to break 2048-bit RSA, as they claimed. By which I mean, unknown (to them) encrypted data sets provided by outside parties with no connection to their company. Prove it or STFU.

      1. Tomato42

        Re: Toys from pram moment?

        They could even go the route of researchers behind ROBOT and provide a signature using a key they clearly don't control: the one used for www.google.com should be good enough; of a message that they clearly do – that I leave to their imagination.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Toys from pram moment?

      Hey, they're going to prove their critics wrong. They're just having some problems getting the demo system running, as it uses a novel quantum processor technology based on the EmDrive and is powered by an ECAT.

  6. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Junk "science"

    It is worth reading the article just to get a taste for what this kind of nonsense looks like when about primes. You can get tons of truly terrible and deeply deluded articles form http://vixra.org/ (intentionally no an active link).

    Btw. I do not think that everybody can post to arxiv.org, at least it didn't use to be the case. Cannot find anything pertinent at https://arxiv.org/help/submit, though.

    1. Joe W Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Junk "science"

      The paper is distributed through preprint server ArXiv, which accepts submissions, without peer review, from anyone who chooses to register.

      Ah, so it is not a paper, which has to be peer reviewed (oh, and accepted to go into review before that), then accepted and finally published. Otherwise it counts as "other publication", like the sci-fi "novel" you wrote when you were 14 and that was a cheap knock-off of Star Wars (but which has, in fact, not been published, like the stuff on ArXiv).

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Junk "science"

        Technically you are correct. But if you compare good arxiv "preprints" with published versions you'll find that many have only very minor changes. Some are changed into a worse form (two-column layout tends to screw things up). Bad preprints appear nowhere else or (unchanged) in one of those crap-journals.

        These observation are from math and compsci articles.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Junk "science"

          "Technically you are correct. But if you compare good arxiv "preprints" with published versions you'll find that many have only very minor changes."

          In general, Wikipedia provides a useful, comprehensive, well-researched, and balanced summary of pretty much every topic. It's a great start for gaining some basic knowledge about something. And if I want to, I can go in and mess it all up. So can a lot of other people, so there's always some chance that the page you see there has been recently vandalized to contain incorrect information. Similarly, Arxiv is a great resource, given it allows members of the public to access papers without having to pay a journal that isn't actually doing the important part, and for that I'm quite grateful. Still, Arxiv can be polluted by useless documents, too. I haven't read the "paper" produced by these people, and I don't intend to, but just because they've posted it on a mostly reputable site doesn't mean that its contents are of any use to anyone.

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

            Re: Junk "science"

            Maybe I need to clarify: I do not say "on arxiv" ==> "good". The paper is a fine example for "sadly, there are some crap preprints on arxiv".

            I consider it my responsibility as a researcher to be able to tell good articles form bad ones.

            In the other direction, if you want an example of a reputable journal spiraling into barking madness, lookup "Chaos and Fractals" from Elsevier. I also have seen enough "why the heck was this accepted" articles in top-tier journals to not blindly assume "good journal" ==> "good article".

            1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

              Re: Junk "science"

              Correction: "Chaos and Fractals" should have been "Chaos, Solitons & Fractals", here is the Wikipedia paragraph on it.

          2. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Junk "science"

            Wikipedia has been proven to be flawed, skewed and intentionally biased on almost anything political, or that people pushing political agendas feel will support them.

            Its quality is sadly falling year by year. Use it only to learn terms and find references, then conduct your own research to find the truth.

            1. Danny Boyd

              Re: Junk "science"

              @Cederic:

              Please ping me when you find truth in politics. I need to see that.

      2. DCFusor Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Junk "science"

        Peer review is often utterly fake nowadays. People have gotten pets, relatives etc as reviewers. It was already bad enough when it was presumably legit scientists, but all in the academic same "club" patting each other on the back...

        And then there's this, just one example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ras_VYgA77Q

        (Defcon testing peer review)

        Junk science is all over, and the old attempts to cure it don't work. Fraud abounds. Plenty of people get quite a few papers in before being discovered as total frauds.

        At this point, the old "appeal to authority" is revealed as the BS it always was.

        https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fake+science+journals

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Junk "science"

      Stopped reading with the first spelling mistake "deviser" - but thanks anyway.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Junk "science"

        > Stopped reading with the first spelling mistake "deviser"

        Oh, you are so negative! May I suggest the fine article titled "Three Principles of Akkie Management": http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=35542

        Authentic scirp.org quality, you'll be not disappointed.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Junk "science"

        You mean "their lack of any deviser but themselves"? It could be a typo for "divisor", sure; but the authors could also mean that prime numbers created themselves, as some sort of class of numerical auto-ontological demiurges.

        That would make as much sense as anything else in the paper.

        Hell, just the abstract is painful. Sure, I'll be reading a number-theory paper from a couple of authors who aren't familiar with the term "composite". Very plausible.

        But, really, this paper is a gift that keeps on giving. Guys, did you know that "the last digit of any prime number can only be 1, 3, 7 or 9"?!! (Except for 2, I guess, though the authors may not be aware that 2 is a prime number.) And this is (according to the paper) somehow a property of primes, and not of base-10 representation! And many other things which are astonishing, assuming you are a competent student of mathematics at no more than the introduction-to-algebra level, and have never before given these matters much thought!

    3. NLCSGRV

      Re: Junk "science"

      It certainly reads like prime BS.

  7. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

    From https://timeai.io/

    "TIME AI™ is a dynamic non-factor based quantum encryption utilizing multidimensional encryption technology including time, music’s infinite variability, artificial intelligence, and most notably mathematical constants to generate entangled key pairs."

    1. Pete4000uk

      Re: Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

      BINGO!

      Where do I collect my £5?

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

        Darn, I only have 'blockchain' left on my card.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

          Come on! Paradigm shift, synergy, etc. etc.

          Excuse me while I shoot myself.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

            Only if you promise to be very humane. And take a whole lot of BS merchants with you.

            1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
              Angel

              Re: Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

              > And take a whole lot of BS merchants with you.

              And I'll make them pay for it! As in "death as a service" (DaaS).

      2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

        > Where do I collect my £5?

        You get 0.5, which is the fractal value of 5.

        P.S.: that guy actually really honestly, no, I am not making this up, uses "fractal value" for value divided by ten. May god have mercy with his soul.

    2. IceC0ld Silver badge

      Re: Exploding BS-meters, part 1729

      T - ime

      I - n

      T - his

      S - etup

      U - nusually

      P - recocious

  8. alain williams Silver badge

    Crown Sterling wants is $115k back

    It was, presumably, hoping for more than $115k in profit from sales.

    If Crown Sterling's product is the nonsense that their detractors say it is - will Crown Sterling give those who bought it their money back ?

    I thought not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BTW: why the company is called Crown Sterling?

      To make it sound as something that makes noble metals eggs? Or maybe they pivoted from making AI teapots, using proprietary teabags and dried water?

      1. rg287

        Re: BTW: why the company is called Crown Sterling?

        To be honest, I thought "Crown Sterling" put it in a very similar category to other young organisations trying to make themselves sound established, grand and reliable - respected investment broker Stratton Oakmont comes to mind...

  9. Mike 125

    quick, hide.

    https://www.crownsterling.io

    Enjoy the Matrix visuals- classic.

    Then go down and follow 'Meet the Team'

    'Page not found'

    That'll be 'Team not found'.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: quick, hide.

      The Time AI video is fascinating, I have bookmarked it in the Sci-fi and fantasy folder on my browser.

    2. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: quick, hide.

      That’s not the Matrix, that’s the Lowenbrau logo with a chrome finish.....

      (As someone observed on an ArsTechnica thread)

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: quick, hide.

        Bloody hell!

        You're correct.

        And they thought no one would notice?

        // saved money on whalesong, I guess....

    3. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: quick, hide.

      Then go down and follow 'Meet the Team'

      The link to the Management Team seems to work... unfortunately. I discovered that one Joseph J Hopkins is a thought leader, and as I had just had lunch seeing that nearly cost me a keyboard.

      How simply ghastly. If for a moment I had an inkling I might be a "thought leader" then the last thing I would do would be to tell everyone about it.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: quick, hide.

        I haven't looked, do they also have a vision director?

        1. mics39
          Happy

          Re: quick, hide.

          But I’m available as chief aromatherapist.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: quick, hide.

            And if you load me up on beans and cabbage, I will be a superior gas producer.

            Mine's the one with the gas mask.

    4. Grooke

      Re: quick, hide.

      Also from the site:

      "This video content is available for general informational and promotional purposes only. It is not intended to be, nor shall it be taken as, a technical exposition, description, or warranty with respect to the features or capabilities of TIME AI."

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: quick, hide.

        Translation: "This video is purely bullshit"

    5. fidodogbreath Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: quick, hide.

      'Page not found'

      Obviously the quantum entanglement between there and the real team page became disentangled. Duh.

  10. Harry Stottle

    Look into my eyes

    not around my eyes, into my eyes... 3,2,1, you're under...

    I predict that video will attract a cult following among geeks who collect the finer examples of fermented snake oil.

    Have you noticed there is a common feel to most of the popular snake oil presentations. They are obviously aimed at anyone EXCEPT the very people they really need to persuade, should what they're peddling have any chance of being anything more than fantasy. They're peppered with scientific jargon but in a naive and pseudo-scientific way; slick and PR glossy, with no sign of ironic awareness of the enormous gaffs or gaps they inevitably expose.

    Their ideal target is the kind of consumer who NEEDS something they desire to be true, but cannot find any academic support for their desired truth. There are hundreds of examples in homeopathy and quack medicine generally. More dangerously, this approach also appeals to authoritarians (leaders and followers); for example, the myriad politicians who insist on "secure" back-doors to encryption.

    The difficulty for those of us less easily hypnotised is that proving this kind of negative (your argument is bullshit) is MUCH more difficult than the presentation itself and much harder to follow and understand; as illustrated by Mark C's excellent demolition paper (my favourite line from which is: Thus, this method is simply the following: “skip the even numbers")

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Look into my eyes

      "They are obviously aimed at anyone EXCEPT the very people they really need to persuade"

      Not really. They're aimed at management who'll have made their minds up before anyonewho'd go WTF! gets anywhere near it.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Look into my eyes

        They're aimed at management who'll have made their minds up

        Minds? What minds?

    2. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Look into my eyes

      Like those people who make an entire video explaining the benefits of running your car on water without proving that they have it working. I think we know what the benefits would be, what we want to know is how to do it.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Look into my eyes

        Like those people who make an entire video explaining the benefits of running your car on water without proving that they have it working. I think we know what the benefits would be, what we want to know is how to do it.

        This is how https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws-Kp2aLcEc, though I'm not that clear on the benefits.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    FAIL

    Excuse me sir,

    There is a lady on the phone who would like to talk to you. Her name? Barbra.

  12. David Austin

    Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

    That would have probably done well at a middle manager or PHB conference (Much to the chagrin of their technical underlings that would have to implement it)... but why would you take that *Style* of talk to a bunch of highly technical users that have been trained through years of BOFH and atrocity archives to smell PR bullshit a mile off?

    Giving them the benefit of the doubt that their technology actually works and isn't just buzzwords strung together, surely you'd tailor the talk to be nuts and bolts engineering, given the audience?

    This sounds like the wrong talk to the wrong audience, and with this lawsuit, I predict they're about to do a Juicero and learn first hand about the Streisand effect...

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

      They actually believe in it!

      Here are four more junk-science articles for your, ahem, amusement: https://archive.org/details/@tghannam (no clickable link, because reasons).

      For the depth of knowledge, see https://www.amazon.com/Talal-Ghannam/e/B00APUF532%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share The book titled "Mystery of Numbers" has the tagline "Unraveling the Hidden Design of the Universe Through the Digital Root of Numbers".

      See also https://www.robertedwardgrant.com/ for ... something.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

        I speculate with no actual knowledge: Perhaps the money being spent doesn't belong to the people spending it, but to their investors. Who at the time perhaps were being strung along, and still are?

        1. Wayland Bronze badge

          Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

          Strung along is exactly it. The plan to put it in front of some serious techies would show investors that you're serious. Actually doing it was a mistake.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

      They obviously took it to Black Hat because of the credibility ("as announced at Black hat 2019"), but for some reason they were unable to pass that Black Hat oral test. Why? Why were they unable to do the very thing they had paid and come to do?

      If they are scammers, they are definitely incredibly stupid to go (and even pay to do so!) to the very place they know nobody will fall for their scam.

      So the only possibility is they are deluded, they honestly believe they have made the breakthrough of the century, and they wanted to enlighten the world. Obviously they had expected ecstatic applause, not mockery, which explains their deception and anger...

      (What if their idea is real, could one ask. Well, I'm just an amateur in that domain so I can't really judge, but their inability of expressing/explaining their idea to what should be their pairs bodes ill for its credibility. Announcing it to Black Hat is like the orals of your PhD, I'd assume you'd spend a couple hours preparing yourself for that.)

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

      "hat would have probably done well at a middle manager or PHB conference"

      Maybe they thought that that's what Black Hat was. Didn't do their research on it? Their problem.

    4. Brian Miller

      Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

      Why would they pay over $100,000 to do it?? Ars Technica has their invoice posted, and I am flabbergasted that the clowns "illustrious mathematicians" gave a talk like that, being billed for an enormous sum like that. I was at Black Hat, no, I didn't see their presentation, but I'm sure security might have asked me to leave if I had seen it.

      For the money people are paying just to attend Black Hat, and now that I see the booth prices, that show is way over priced. And it doesn't seem to have a filter for snake oil! Or else the oil peddlers are suckers themselves to pay that much for a presentation...

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

        > Or else the oil peddlers are suckers themselves to pay that much...

        Yes, and this is the beauty of it! Now read the complaint, a self-goal of epic proportions IMO, and prepare for the ensuing amusement.

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

        The real question is why anybody would now pay to go to Blackhat, given its organisers appear to be happy to present utter tosh purely because someone threw money at them.

        I'm not naive enough to think all conferences are pure, innocent and trying just to educate you, but this is egregious.

        1. Grikath

          Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

          "The real question is why anybody would now pay to go to Blackhat, given its organisers appear to be happy to present utter tosh purely because someone threw money at them."

          Well... Every convention needs a comic relief act?

          Besides.. I can see a proper BOFH use a thing like this to thin the herd of possible PFY's a bit.. The pill..errm.. partners presenting the thing effectively Carpeting themselves like this lot is an added bonus.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

        "that show is way over priced"

        Let's be honest here -- all such conventions are way over-priced.

      4. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: Why would you take that talk to BlackHat?

        If they really are mathematicians then they could have shown the maths and the Black Hat nerds could have tested it.

    5. Christian Berger

      Because they saw that as a marketing opportunity

      They even apparently paid for that talk, something that wouldn't be thinkable at a CCC conference.

      They thought that this being presented at Blackhat gives them some credibility which is important if you don't have any rational indication that your product could possibly "work" as anything else than a scam.

  13. ShortLegs

    Imagine the auduence reaction had they presented ar DEFCON...

  14. GX5000

    The Empirical has no hashdumps

    Here we go again with a Sue-ball because SalesPitch>Critical Thinking.

    A Black Hat Conference is not a safe space, bad ideas not only will be criticized, but coded into digital hell.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The Empirical has no hashdumps

      >Here we go again with a Sue-ball because SalesPitch>Critical Thinking.

      No just another outing of lawyers doing marketing & brand awareness building.

      Aside: Thinking of a career in marketing? suggest getting a law degree if you want those really fat retainers and pay cheques.

  15. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    Strategic synergies

    I'm predicting a joint venture between Crown Sterling and Andrea Rossi to be announced any day now.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Strategic synergies

      > ...Crown Sterling and Andrea Rossi...

      Lukewarn fusion AI? Yeah, sounds good enough.

  16. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    defence of thesis failed.

  17. Blackjack Silver badge

    They try to sell a crypto currency to hackers...

    And then they are surprised they get heckled?

    This is definitely a "What an Idiot!" moment.

  18. Jeffrey Nonken

    "Fairly" isn't the same as "uncritically."

    Sounds like they were treated quite fairly, in fact.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Black Hat security did in fact throw out some of the hecklers who were preventing them from speaking, so that sounds pretty fair to me. Let them speak then take the piss out of their nonsense.

  19. Steve 114
    FAIL

    Protocol

    Presentations I chaired did NOT have heckling (different sector). If anyone started, I would suggest they formulate a question for the following Q&A session. If several persisted, I would suggest they each write down their observations and bring them quietly to the Chair, so that I could structure the following debate. If people got disruptive, I would call an impromptu 10-minute tea break (no tea outside) and restart with bouncers on call. In Italy, I had red and yellow cards like a football referee and that was totally respected. Incidentally, do read the initial paper, which was somewhat puzzling, and then the refutation, which is quite instructive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Protocol

      I was once at an IEC meeting where a pair of Americans* asked to be present as observers, and then one of them interrupted the meeting with a completely embarrassing marketing rant having nothing to do with the topic or the agenda. When he eventually wound down the chairman mildly observed "Well, I'm sure nobody paid any attention to that, we will now resume the meeting."

      *I mention the nationality merely because the chairman was also an American, and in fact from the same State,

  20. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Sounds like Lightsquared all over again.

    When technically savvy people point out that your alleged multi squillion dollar business is unworkable shit made of fairy stories, sue.

    Emperor's new suit 2.0. Which is the same thing, only the tailors bugger off with the investment capital for the Emperor's magic clothes as soon as someone notices that he's starkers.

  21. SVV Silver badge

    music’s infinite variability

    All notes in music can be represented by twelve numbers, corresponding to the piano keys in an octave. Which octave you want needs another number. (Ignore microtonal music for this example : that would just need more numbers) A sequence of these numbers can then represent any piece of music, and there are an infinite number of possible sequences using this small number of notes. Therefore they could just have said "the infinite variability of sequences of a small set of numbers". I wonder why they didn't?

    I should also like to point out that numerous US businesses that try and appeal to the less sophisticated with royalty-associated names, have been known to sell goods which are not of the quality that would invite sufficient custom in a UK "pound shop".

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: music’s infinite variability

      I expect they are using music CDs as seed numbers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: music’s infinite variability

      1s and 0s have an infinite variable set of sequences.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      All notes in music can be represented by twelve numbers

      Western music.

    4. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: music’s infinite variability

      there are an infinite number of possible sequences using this small number of notes

      I found an old Tedx from Crown Sterling where Robert Grant proposed using random YouTube links for the seed.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Yep

    Streisand effect ahoy!

  23. fidget

    They didn't use TeX / LaTeX

    I've had a look at the arxiv article. Its PDF says it's written in Microsoft Word.

    According to "Ten Signs a Claimed Mathematical Breakthrough is Wrong", the first sign is "The authors don't use TeX", with few false positives. However, I know much more about TeX than I know about security, so perhaps I'm wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They didn't use TeX / LaTeX

      "However, I know much more about TeX than I know about security, so perhaps I'm wrong"

      I'm betting you still haven't put out any crackpot security papers (in TeX,.docx, or any other format).

  24. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    I brought my musical encryption key on a cassette tape

    Any other number/signal theory scams that haven't been used in the past few years? A revolutionary DSL/WiFi/6G/HDD codec that breaks theoretical bandwidth for a given spectrum and SNR? Imaging far beyond aperture limits? Incredible lossless compression? Projecting large holographic images directly into your eyes from a small source?

  25. CommanderGalaxian
    Joke

    Magic Crystals anybody?

    I have these beautiful pastel coloured magic crystals that can cure all ills...you are all so intelligent...you'd hate yourselves if you didn't talk this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy them...

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Magic Crystals anybody?

      When I see someone wearing one of those quartz crystal pendants, I usually make some kind of comment about precision cuts and resonance at 3.579545* MHz.

      * not only is it the NTSC color burst carrier frequency, it's also an 80m CW frequency!

      // the one with the Morse key in the pocket

  26. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    "Accurate and Infinite Prime Prediction"

    1. There is another prime. (accuracy)

    2. I could repeat this forever. (infinity!)

    (some Greek guy)

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: "Accurate and Infinite Prime Prediction"

      You can simplify it into an algorithm by replacing step 2 with “goto 1”.

      Do I get a co-author credit?

  27. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    1. send them another bill...

    with a large charge for the technical support and constructive criticism they received from the audience.

    2. Counter-sue when they fail to pay

    ...

    Profit?

  28. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "Disruptive"? Checked. "AI". Checked.

    OMG, they forgot "blockchain"!

  29. Confuciousmobil

    How much?

    How much do you have to pay to get a good, positive hearing at Black Hat when selling Snake oil?

    Asking for a friend.

  30. steviebuk Silver badge

    Jesus....

    ....what a way to kill your company. I'll never now knowingly buy anything from Crown Sterling and will never recommend them to anyone. What the fuck did you think would happen at black hat. Instead of suing, prove them wrong. Suing has now just killed your business as most people will now avoid you. They'll assume if they use your tech, they'll never be able to point out issues with it for fear of being sued.

  31. trevorde

    Missing a few things

    * blockchain

    * quantum computing

    * virtual reality

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Missing a few things

      * blockchain

      * quantum computing

      * virtual reality ..... trevorde

      Essential vital future assets/condiments/confections, trevorde. Without their assistance is future power and energy lost to that and those finding and engaging with new theatres of irreprehensible remote command and ethereal control?

      And shared as a question for answering with a simple aye or nay ....... which tells us all how far along and/or how far back El Reg Commentards really are? :-)

      Yes, of course it is.

      And, of course, IT BetaTests Spooky IntelAIgent Services everywhere, ... which we are blindly led to believe are assiduously listening out for all sorts of unusual and unconventional things. You know. the spaghetti alphabets crowd ...... GCHQ/CIA/FSB/DFS/etc./etc. ........ they're lurking everywhere apparently, skulking in the shade of shadows ....... and they don't like the bright white red hot light of public engagement and that has them seriously disadvantaged and horrendously handicapped ....... although that is a black hole plugged with the employment of an able enabling foreign agent/proxy intelligence source.

  32. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    3-D Bullshit Crypto

    music’sBullshit's infinite variability

    I reckon the random factor can be obtained by processing 3-D images of... Bullshit.

  33. Wayland Bronze badge

    Staged Event

    So they paid $115k to stage their disruptive technology event which was disrupted. It seems they can dish it out but can't take it.

  34. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  35. Raedwald Bretwalda

    When something is this bad, I wonder if it was an attempted hoax that failed to hoax. That is, their plan was to later claim "we presented word salad BS at BlackHat, and nobody noticed, see how uncritical the hacker community is", but the "nobody noticed" proved to be false.

  36. rg287

    Crown Sterling?

    I can't be the only person hearing "Crown Sterling" and thinking "Stratton Oakmont" can I?

    1. Ima Ballsy
      Pint

      Re: Crown Sterling?

      Naw .... I keep seeing Crown Royal and reaching for a glass ....

  37. adam payne Silver badge

    filed late last week in a New York district court, blames the conference organizers for allowing Black Hat attendees to disrupt Crown Sterling's talk about supposedly disruptive cryptographic technology – a presentation Crown Sterling paid $115,000 to present to hackers. The heckling then spilled online.

    They were mean so i'm going to lob sue balls. Talk about throw your toys out of the pram.

  38. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Oops...

    Sounds to me like they should have demonstrated the version without the Streisand Effect extension installed...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Barbara Streisand called

    She's claiming royalties on use of her effect

  40. heyrick Silver badge

    Accurate and Infinite Prime Prediction from Novel Quasi-Prime Analytical Methodology

    Uh...

    Hmm...

    Um...

    Okay...

    Could somebody please explain in itty bitty baby words what the hell that even means?

    1. Keven E

      Re: Accurate and Infinite Prime Prediction from Novel Quasi-Prime Analytical Methodology

      Would anyone choose "quasi-prime rib" when the prime rib is right next to it?

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Accurate and Infinite Prime Prediction from Novel Quasi-Prime Analytical Methodology

        "quasi-prime rib" when the prime rib is right next to it?

        "prime rib" is Quality EU Pork Prime Rib

        "quasi-prime rib" is American Pork Prime Rib that will get dumped on the UK post BREXIT after Trump and Boris "Pork Pie" Johnson have done a deal.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Accurate and Infinite Prime Prediction from Novel Quasi-Prime Analytical Methodology

      I had one of those but the wheels came off

    3. Brian Miller

      Re: Accurate and Infinite Prime Prediction from Novel Quasi-Prime Analytical Methodology

      Just relax, turn on, tune in, use those good Raspberry tabs, and start singing it like Jimi Hendrix... then you'll get the answers... wow...

  41. Peter Galbavy

    Not sure about the Land of the Free (TM) but isn't "truth" a valid defence against defamation, or is that just in the written form (libel) ?

  42. d3vy Silver badge

    Suing the organisers of Blackhat... what could possibly go wrong.

  43. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    No-one could possibly anticipate that a bunch of total nerds and geeks would slag off something they believe is phoney. No way!

    I know I would NEVER do that... (OK, perhaps sometimes.)

    I'm sure Torvalds would agree with me.

  44. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  45. drankinatty

    Laughable -- Sometimes "The Truth Hurts..."

    We all remember the dot-coms with the new "algorithm" that was going to change the world. And we've all watched them implode when it turns out the algorithm was not what it was represented to be (or just downright vaporware in some cases) There are many parallels in "AI". Ironically one of the most overused and misunderstood marketing phrases of the day. The suit by Crown Sterling is more a publicity stunt than an actual suit with merit. The bigger question is why would Black Hat allow presentation of such non-peer reviewed methods that with a cursory mathematics review looks more like Swiss-cheese than some new quantum-leap in cryptographic efficiency. (alas, we all know the answer to that one too -- "for the money", integrity of the conference seems to mean very little when UBM has dollars are waived at it...)

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