New Doctoral College SecInt for Secure and Intelligent Human-Centric Digital Technologies at TU Wien

Digitalization is transforming our society, making our everyday life more and more dependent on computing platforms and online services. These are built so as to sense and process the environment in which we live as well as the activities we carry on, with the ultimate goal of returning predictions and taking actions to support and enhance our life. Prominent examples of this trend are autonomous systems (e.g., self-driving cars and robots), cyber-physical systems (e.g., implanted medical devices), apps in wearable devices (e.g., Coronavirus contact tracing apps), and so on. Despite the interest of stake holders and the attention of media, digital technologies that so intimately affect the human life are not yet ready for widespread deployment, as key technical and ethical questions are open, such as trustworthiness, security, and privacy. If these problems are not solved, supposedly intelligent human-centric technologies can lead to death or to other undesirable consequences: e.g., the learning algorithms of autonomous cars can be fooled so as to cause crash accidents, implanted medical devices can be remotely hacked to trigger unwanted defibrillations, and contact tracing apps can be misused towards an Orwellian surveillance system or to inject false at-risk alerts.

The goal of SecInt is to develop the scientific foundations of secure and intelligent human-centric digital technologies. This requires interdisciplinary research, establishing synergies between different research fields (Security and Privacy, Machine Learning, and Formal Methods). Research highlights brought forward by the synergies across projects include the design of machine learning algorithms resistant to adversarial attacks, the design of machine learning algorithms for security and privacy analysis, the security analysis of personal medical devices, the design of secure and privacy- preserving contact tracing apps, and the enforcement of safety for dynamic robots. The research development is accompanied by a supporting educational and training programme, which encompasses the ethics of secure and intelligent digital technologies, interdisciplinary technical knowledge, as well as internships in international elite research partners, which expressed interest to collaborate with SecInt.

SecInt is organized jointly by ViSP members Laura Kovács, Martina Lindorfer, Matteo Maffei, Semeen Rehman and Tanja Zseby, as well as Ezio Bartocci, Efstathia Bura, Thomas Gärtner, Andreas Kugi and Georg Weissenbacher and provides funding for 10 PhD students over the course of four years.

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Article by TU Wien