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Authors | Quinn DuPont

Quinn DuPont studies human and social dimensions of cybersecurity, cryptography, and code. He is a Research Associate at the Information School, University of Washington. He has a PhD in Information Science (Toronto), and is an ALA-accredited librarian (Western) with a decade of IT industry experience, previously at IBM. His forthcoming book, Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains (Polity), is a scholarly survey of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies in society.

Articles on Amodern by Quinn DuPont


From al-Kindi to Weaver

I argue that the origins of machine translation are to be found in the archeology of cryptanalysis (or “code-breaking”). I trace this archeology through the cryptanalysis and translation practices of medieval Arabic scholars, the machine translation efforts of Renaissance and Early Modern universal language planners, the cryptanalysis techniques developed by NSA chief cryptanalyst William Friedman, and through Warren Weaver’s “Translation” memorandum. Together, these histories reveal some of the ways that various machineries were developed to “crack” unknown text, be it a foreign language or ciphertext. As such, this history also points to a deeper, ontological relationship between language and cryptology.