Security and Human Behavior (SHB) 2023

I’m just back from the sixteenth Workshop on Security and Human Behavior, hosted by Alessandro Acquisti at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

SHB is a small, annual, invitational workshop of people studying various aspects of the human side of security, organized each year by Alessandro Acquisti, Ross Anderson, and myself. The fifty or so attendees include psychologists, economists, computer security researchers, criminologists, sociologists, political scientists, designers, lawyers, philosophers, anthropologists, geographers, neuroscientists, business school professors, and a smattering of others. It’s not just an interdisciplinary event; most of the people here are individually interdisciplinary.

Our goal is always to maximize discussion and interaction. We do that by putting everyone on panels, and limiting talks to six to eight minutes, with the rest of the time for open discussion. Short talks limit presenters’ ability to get into the boring details of their work, and the interdisciplinary audience discourages jargon.

For the past decade and a half, this workshop has been the most intellectually stimulating two days of my professional year. It influences my thinking in different and sometimes surprising ways­ 00 and has resulted in some unexpected collaborations.

And that’s what’s valuable. One of the most important outcomes of the event is new collaborations. Over the years, we have seen new interdisciplinary research between people who met at the workshop, and ideas and methodologies move from one field into another based on connections made at the workshop. This is why some of us have been coming back every year for over a decade.

This year’s schedule is here. This page lists the participants and includes links to some of their work. As he does every year, Ross Anderson is live blogging the talks. We are back 100% in person after two years of fully remote and one year of hybrid.

Here are my posts on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth SHB workshops. Follow those links to find summaries, papers, and occasionally audio/video recordings of the sessions. Ross also maintains a good webpage of psychology and security resources.

It’s actually hard to believe that the workshop has been going on for this long, and that it’s still vibrant. We rotate between organizers, so next year is my turn in Cambridge (the Massachusetts one).

Posted on June 16, 2023 at 3:07 PM4 Comments


modem phonemes June 17, 2023 9:09 AM

@ Winter

idea that people were all free to think and live as they see fit

This formula includes its own contradiction, so offers no principles for ethics, politics, or society. Likewise the slogan “ Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”. These rapidly reveal their totalitarian essence.

An worthwhile book in the context is The Ancient City by Numa Fustel de Coulanges. (The Wiki entry is mostly useless.)

modem phonemes June 17, 2023 11:19 AM


newspeak in action

Yes, the slogans and actions of the French Revolution were newspeak in action.

The model of its totalitarian essence was the earlier English revolutions of Henry VII, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I (one can throw in Oliver Cromwell too), and followed by the twentieth century examples. All of these share the characteristic of flagrantly arbitrary rule, unlimited by any rational principle, and intolerant of debate or criticism, flying under a flag of pseudo-justice.

Aristotle and Aquinas, though possibly in error, try to provide arguments based on human nature and reason. They invite debate and criticism.

left to their own devices, people are very good at structuring their lives well

“Left to their own devices” is again a meaningless formula and states no real principle. Subsidiarity is perhaps what this is trying to say.

Clive Robinson June 17, 2023 11:34 AM

@ mac,

Re : Attending

“Can anyone attend the annual SHB conference?”

The answer is probably no.

Because as @Bruce indicates it’s an

“invitational workshop”

So you have to be invited.

Such invitation only events are becomming more and more frequent these days for various reasons (I’m going to an industry not academic based one this week).

One reason that “invitation” workshops / seminars / etc are rising is because of greater concern with the issue many call “Fake News” or more correctly “Influencer driven dialogue” hijacking proceedings.

But as we have seen with GCHQ, NSA, et al “finessing standards organisations” it’s an issue that is very real, and quite difficult to solve.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.