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 …

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      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?

    1. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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 Silver badge

      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.

  3. ShortLegs

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    defence of thesis failed.

  7. Blackjack

    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.

  8. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    "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.

  9. 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. Benson's Cycle

      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,

  10. 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.

  11. 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. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      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.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Yep

    Streisand effect ahoy!

  13. 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).

  14. 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?

  15. 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

  16. 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?

  17. 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?

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge

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

    OMG, they forgot "blockchain"!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

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