Martin Hellman Urges More Ethical Behavior at Meeting of Nobel Laureates


Martin Hellman speaking at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.
Photo credit: 
Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering MARTIN HELLMAN recently served as the Heidelberg Lecturer at the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (#LINO19).

The annual, week-long event occurs each summer on Germany’s Lindau Island. Nobel Laureates are invited to the meeting, along with selected young scientists. The Heidelberg Lecture is given by a Heidelberg Laureate—the winners of the top prizes in mathematics and computer science. Hellman became a Heidelberg Laureate when he received the ACM Turing Award in 2015 with fellow cybersecurity innovator WHITFIELD DIFFIE, a consulting scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, for making critical contributions to modern cryptography.

Hellman’s lecture, “The Technological Imperative for Ethical Evolution,” called for scientists and laureates to accelerate the trend toward more ethical behavior. Hellman drew parallels between global and personal relationships as a foundation to build trust and security – regardless of past adversarial history. He shared eight lessons from his own personal and professional evolution.

Martin encouraged #LINO19 attendees to revisit the Mainau Declaration of 1955 and the Mainau Declaration of 2015, underscoring the efforts of prior attendees – and the responsibilities of today’s attendees – to consider global and future consequences when making decisions and to appeal to decision-makers to do the same.

Hellman’s Heidelberg Lecture is available online.

The 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting drew 39 laureates and 600 young scientists from 89 countries – the highest number to date. The meeting was dedicated to physics. The key topics were dark matter and cosmology, laser physics and gravitational waves.

Hellman’s recent work has focused on rethinking national security, including bringing a risk informed framework to a potential failure of nuclear deterrence and then using that approach to find surprising ways to reduce the risk. His earlier work included co-inventing public key cryptography, the technology that underlies the secure portion of the internet. Besides the ACM Turing Award, Hellman’s many honors include election to the National Academy of Engineering.

One of his recent projects is a book written with his wife, Dorothie Hellman, “A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love at Home and Peace on the Planet,” that one reviewer said provides a “unified field theory” of peace by illuminating the connections between nuclear war, conventional war, interpersonal war and war within our own psyches.