This past week RSA Conference was proud to roll out its 2017 line up of marquis keynote speakers. The editorial team was able to catch up with Linda Gray Martin, director & general manager, RSA Conference to answer some of our questions about the keynote process.
RSAC: That is a very robust list of speakers. For any new attendees that may be wondering, how are keynotes determined?
Gray Martin: Although we have a very hotly pursued open call for speakers for our track sessions and panels, some keynotes are presented by sponsoring companies and others by guest speakers. Guest speakers are selected based on message, value, or life lessons. Sometimes they relate directly to industry issues we face in our day to day jobs; sometimes, they offer a different perspective that we might be able to learn from.
RSAC: Interesting. Would there be anything in the life lesson category this year attendees should expect?
Gray Martin: Absolutely. We have a few keynotes that immediately come to mind. The first is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson is the recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. Dr. Tyson appeared as the on-camera host of PBS-NOVA's spinoff NOVA ScienceNOW and recently served as Executive Editor and on camera Host & Narrator for Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, the 21st century continuation of Carl Sagan's landmark television series.
The second would be Dame Stella Rimington, formerly Director General of the Security Service (MI5) in the U.K. – the first woman to take the post and the first Director General to be publicly named. She is known to billions of people worldwide as the role model for the character of “M” played by Dame Judi Dench in the James Bond 007 films. Her autobiography Open Secret has been followed by a series of acclaimed thriller novels featuring MI5 agent Liz Carlyle.
Then of course, we’ll also have Seth Meyers.
RSAC: Did you say Seth Meyers?
Gray Martin: Yes, something new for 2017 will be the addition of closing entertainment taking place on Friday, February 17.
RSAC: Why Seth? What will he be discussing?
Gray Martin: After an intense week of learning we wanted to give our attendees a different kind of closing experience. Seth Meyers is an Emmy Award-winning writer and current host of “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” he has been named one Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, and hosted the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. He’s also razor sharp and extremely funny, and will end the week on a high-note.
Stephen Colbert filled a similar role a few years ago and still maintains one of our highest speaker ratings in our history. I have a feeling Seth is up to the task to beat that rating. As for what he’ll share with the audience, I guess you’ll have to come and find out!
RSAC: Well, what if a comedian isn’t everyone’s cup of tea? What else should they look forward to?
Gray Martin: There is plenty for everyone at this year’s event. In addition to the more than 500 sessions you could see throughout the week, we have also added three blockbuster keynotes that our technical audience should be able to sink their teeth into.
Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of "The Great A.I. Awakening” will interview Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc, the company that owns Google Inc and other technology businesses. Schmidt joined Google in 2001 as its CEO, and helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology. He is a regular speaker and writer on topics related to the future of technology, with a focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
We have added a new Keynote Panel “The Seven Most Dangerous New Attack Techniques, and What's Coming Next” featuring SANS Panelists Ed Skoudis, Michael Assante, Johannes Ullrich and moderator Alan Paller. This line up will provide audiences an update on the most dangerous new attack techniques, how they work, how can they be stopped and how to prepare for what’s coming next. The fast-paced session will provide answers from the three people best positioned to know them: the head of the Internet Storm Center, the top hacker exploits expert/teacher in the U.S., and the top expert on cyberattacks on industrial control systems.
For veterans of RSA Conference they can also view a crowd favorite “The Cryptographers’ Panel.”
Moderated by Paul Kocher, President and Chief Scientist, Cryptography Research division of Rambus, the panel will include Ron Rivest, MIT Institute Professor; Adi Shamir, Borman Professor of Computer Science, The Weizmann Institute, Israel; Whitfield Diffie Cryptographer & Security Expert, Cryptomathic; and Susan Landau, Professor of Cybersecurity Policy and Professor of Computer Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Attendees will join the founders and leaders of the field for an engaging discussion about the latest advances and revelations in cryptography, including research areas to watch in 2017 and new threats facing the field of cryptography.