I'm a researcher with a multidisciplinary background in computer, data, and social sciences, business, and philosophy.
My current research foci are privacy engineering and software assurance.
Current Research Roles
Information Law Institute and Center for Cybersecurity
I'm a Research Scholar at NYU, jointly appointed at the
Information Law Institute and the Center for Cybersecurity.
Working out of the School of Law and Tandon School of Engineering,
I do research at the intersection of computer science
and technology policy.
I'm also a data scientist at Ion Channel, a software supply chain intelligence startup. Check out this presentation of some of our cybersecurity work:
Sebastian Benthall. Context, Causality, and Information Flow: Implications for Privacy Engineering, Security, and Data Economics. Ph.D. dissertation. Advisors: John Chuang and Deirdre Mulligan. University of California, Berkeley. 2018. (eScholarship) (slideshare)
Abstract:The creators of technical infrastructure are under social and legal pressure to comply with expectations that can be difficult to translate into computational and business logics. This dissertation bridges this gap through three projects that focus on privacy engineering, information security, and data economics, respectively. These projects culminate in a new formal method for evaluating the strategic and tactical value of data: data games. This method relies on a core theoretical contribution building on the work of Shannon, Dretske, Pearl, Koller, and Nissenbaum: a definition of situated information flow as causal flow in the context of other causal relations and strategic choices.
*** - indicates a refereed publication.
Security and Privacy
Nissenbaum, H., Benthall, S., Datta, A., Tschantz, M. C., & Mardziel, P. (2018). Origin Privacy: Protecting Privacy in the Big-Data Era. Technical Report. New York University. (link)
***Benthall, S., Gürses, S., and Nissenbaum, H. (2017) Contextual Integrity through the Lens of Computer Science. Foundations and Trends in Privacy and Security, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1–69, 2017. DOI: 10.1561/3300000016. Winner of PLSC 2017 Junior Scholars Award.(pdf)
Benthall, S. (2017) Assessing Software Supply Chain Risk Using Public Data. IEEE STC 2017 Software Technology Conference. (link)
***Benthall, S., Pinney, T., Herz, J., Plummer, K. (2016) An Ecological Approach to Software Supply Chain Risk Management. Proceedings of the 15th Python in Science Conference. p. 136-142. Ed. Sebastian Benthall and Scott Rostrup. (link)
Fanti, G., David, Y. B., Benthall, S., Brewer, E., and Shenker, S.. (2013) Rangzen: Circumventing Government-Imposed Communication Blackouts. Technical Report UCB/EECS-2013-128, EECS Department, University of California, Berkeley, Jul 2013. (link)
Empirical Social Science
***Benthall, S. (2015) Testing Generative Models of Online Collaboration with BigBang. SciPy 2015. Ed. Kathryn Huff and James Bergstra. (link)
Benthall, S. (2013) “Why Weird Twitter”, Ethnography Matters. (link) A brief and unlikely foray into social media ethnography...
Philosophy of Science and Technology
Benthall, S. (2017) Don't Fear the Reaper: Refuting Bostrom's Superintelligence Argument. Preprint, arXiv:1702.08495 (link)
Benthall, S. (2016) Philosophy of Computational Social Science. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 12, No 2. (link)
Benthall, S. (2016) The Human is the Data Science. Workshop on Developing a Research Agenda for Human-Centered Data Science. CSCW 2016. (link)
***Benthall, S. (2007) "Kudos for the Mindless Expert." Review of Expert Political Judgment, by Philip Tetlock. Critical Review, Volume 19, Issue 1, January 2007, pages 65-79. (link)
***Benthall, S. (2015) Designing Networked Publics for Communicative Action. Jenny Davis & Nathan Jurgenson (eds.) Theorizing the Web 2014 [Special Issue]. Interface 1.1. (link)
Benthall, S. and Chuang, J. (2013) “Computational Asymmetry in Strategic Bayesian Networks,” Poster at W-PIN+NetEcon 2013, Pittsburgh. arXiv:1206.2878 [cs.GT] (arXiv)
Benthall, S. (2009). An open source web GIS solution-the OpenGeo stack. GEO informatics, 12, 40-43.
My research involves writing a lot of software.
BigBang is a toolkit for the scientific analysis of open collaborative communities.
@TheTweetserve is a Twitter bot that's an experiment in subverting preferential attachment dynamics in networked public formation. (github)
poll.emic - a tool for gathering egocentric networks of mentions on Twitter
GeoNode, an open source geospatial data management system. I worked on this at OpenGeo, which is now called Boundless. There is still a great team working on it and deploying it as a product.
In Fall 2013 I co-instructed a course on Open Collaboration and Peer Production with Thomas Maillart. It was aimed primarily at Masters students at the School of Information, fulfilling a Management requirement. My instruction was based mostly on my professional experience working in and managing open source software communities.