“Cryptography is the bedrock of today’s IT systems. It is utilized in various proofs including ID management and proof of transactions.”
Hi Kazuhiro Gomi-san, welcome to our Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your role and responsibilities at NTT Research.
How did you start here?
I lead NTT Research, Inc. as president and chief executive officer (CEO). In this role, I oversee each of our three Labs – the Physics & Informatics (PHI) Lab, the Cryptography & Information Security (CIS) Lab, and the Medical & Health Informatics (MEI) Lab – and work directly with each director to ensure we are continuing to develop groundbreaking research and innovation. Prior to joining NTT Research, I held several roles within NTT.
In fact, I have dedicated over three decades of my career to NTT, initially focusing on product management and product development.
In September 2009, I achieved the prestigious recognition of being included in the Global Telecoms Business Power100, which acknowledges the top 100 individuals with the greatest influence in the telecommunications industry. Subsequently, I held the position of CEO at NTT America Inc. from 2010 to 2019 and served on the Board of Directors at NTT Communications from 2012 to 2019. My academic background includes earning an MSIE degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MSEE from Keio University in Tokyo. Furthermore, I actively contribute to fostering stronger ties between the United States and Japan through my board membership at the US-Japan Council, a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening bilateral relations.
Could you tell us more about the genesis of NTT Research? Which industries rely on your research and innovation works?
NTT Research draws its strength from a distinguished heritage of pioneering research and development that has been taking place in NTT for over 100 years. With Moore’s Law reaching its limits, unsustainable energy consumption, privacy and security concerns on a global scale, and the skyrocketing costs of medical care, NTT Research’s unwavering commitment to fundamental research is critical. We believe invention is necessary – and non-linear thinking is the beating heart of our enterprise. We do this across diverse domains such as physics, cryptography and medical informatics.
Currently, NTT Research consists of three research laboratories, the Physics & Informatics (PHI) Lab, the Cryptography & Information Security (CIS) Lab, and the Medical & Health Informatics (MEI) Lab. We gather the most brilliant and highly motivated scientists, employ the most sophisticated research modalities, and partner with the world’s most highly respected research institutions – all with one goal in mind, to Upgrade Reality in game-changing ways that improve lives and brighten our global future.
What is the most impactful digital technology that you are currently excited about?
There are several areas across digital technology that I am excited about and that we are exploring at NTT Research.
Autonomous therapeutic systems, for patients with cardiovascular medical issues, such as heart failure who may suffer from a heart attack, are emerging as a pivotal advancement in future medical technology. These systems assume the responsibility of patient care, replacing human providers, through the analysis of patient conditions, the determination of appropriate treatments and the autonomous administration of these treatments (e.g., precise medication dosages at optimal intervals).
To realize such systems, an accurate simulation of the patient’s medical status, referred to as the Patient’s Bio Digital Twin, is imperative. Current digital twin initiatives are underway, with a focus on specific organ systems, such as the cardiovascular system. These systems are poised to mitigate human errors and curtail the costs associated with medical care.
Tell us more about your NTT Research Labs for IT and Security (CIS).
The Cryptography & Information Security (CIS) Lab at NTT Research is embarking on a mission toward a more secure future that benefits everyone. Under the guidance of Dr. Brent Waters, and through the recruitment of exceptionally skilled cryptography researchers, the CIS Lab has grown to become the premier cryptography lab in the world. Brent Waters, CIS Lab Director, has recently been awarded his second Test of Time Award at the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR). Brent is one of only a handful of individuals who have been awarded this prestigious honor more than once. Brent’s first award was for his work on Attribute-Based Encryption which revolutionized cryptography by achieving data access control while assuring data security based on a cryptographic technology. His second award introduced a “dual-mode” cryptosystem framework for Oblivious Transfer protocols using a variety of assumptions, which effectively creates a basis for privacy-preserving communications and computations.
At NTT Research, our CIS Lab considers cryptography as the bedrock of a Smart World. As technology’s reach continues to expand, touching every aspect of our lives beyond current experiences, ensuring security and preserving privacy become paramount for our collective future. Our CIS Lab is committed to addressing fundamental challenges in cryptography that promise long-term impact.
Why should IT leaders pay attention to cryptography technology?
What are the benefits of using cryptography tools in modern IT companies?
Cryptography is the bedrock of today’s IT systems. It is utilized in various proofs including ID management and proof of transactions. Maintaining privacy is another interesting and much-needed topic, that cryptography plays an important role in achieving.
On top of that, cryptography technologies are evolving further. For example, Attribute-Based Encryption accommodates data access control and multi-party computation realizes privacy-preserving computation. With these technologies implemented, the IT systems can be more resilient and, to some extent, flexible to meet various application needs.
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Another area IT managers should keep an eye on is PQC (Post Quantum Cryptography). This is based on the fact that there is a known quantum algorithm, called Shor’s algorithm, which can break today’s public key encryption systems based on difficulty in prime factorization. Today, public key encryption systems are widely used in many Internet protocols such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer). To run Shor’s algorithm effectively you need a quantum computer, which is not available today, rendering today’s public key encryption safe to use. But once such a quantum computer becomes available, the safety of today’s public key encryption is no longer assured. PQC is the new type of public key encryption based on complex mathematics even quantum computers cannot resolve easily. The conversion of conventional public key systems to PQC is not a trivial task.
IT managers need to keep an eye on this development in terms of standards (the initial standard was released by NIST last year), PQC-based products, tools for conversion, and industry trends.
What are your predictions for the future of AI and automation in IT and cybersecurity operations?
In order to unlock the immense potential of extensively interconnected and fully interoperable digital systems that form our society, we must address privacy and cybersecurity challenges. In the coming years, we will witness a surge in more powerful, energy-efficient AI technology. This advancement will enable us to shift computational tasks to sensors at the network’s edge, facilitating rapid intelligent analytics while significantly reducing energy consumption. This development is especially crucial for AI engines, which presently rely on extensive GPU clusters equipped with massively integrated circuit chips, consuming substantial amounts of energy.
Furthermore, achieving a harmonious coexistence of humans and AI is paramount, necessitating a careful examination of AI ethics.
The ongoing dialogue regarding AI’s potential impact on society, culture, and economics is only in its nascent stages.
Specifically for cybersecurity, AI-based attacks (and defenses) are expected to escalate. When you look at the history of cybersecurity and the tug-of-war between attacks and defense, each side is deploying new tactics and tools.
With more powerful tools, i.e., AI, this back and forth will be further escalated.
Your goals for 2024 at NTT Research: Would it focus on ESG and net zero programs?
Our main office is located in Sunnyvale, CA, which opened in 2021. It was designed with various features that aim to contribute to environmental sustainability which included solar panels, fuel cell-based backup energy systems, automatically tinted window glass, occupation sensors, etc.
On a Lighter Note
Burn the midnight candle or soak in the sun?
Soak in the sun
Coffee, or Tea?
Your favorite NTT Research product marketing initiative that you want everyone to know about?
We have a variety of videos introducing our researchers (you can find them on our corporate web page linked here). You will find it interesting to learn how world-class researchers came to be interested in their research and how they approach topics.
First memorable experience in your career as an IT and security ops leader?
In early 2000, when I was in charge of a global CDN (Content Distribution Network) Service, we were able to manage a constant 2GB of web traffic without any glitches, which was a big deal back then. Also, around the same time, one of our customers, a very popular SNS service, was experiencing constant DDOS attacks for a week or so. My team members and I worked very hard to mitigate the impact of the attacks.
One thing you remember about your employee (s):
I certainly learn many things from the employees with similar backgrounds as myself (i.e., Tech). However, I learned more from the employees with different backgrounds such as finance/accounting, legal, marketing, HR, etc.
Most useful app that you currently use:
An app called “Camcard” is very helpful. This app helps me manage business cards through image recognition and contact information.
Thank you, Kazu-san! That was fun and we hope to see you back on CIO Influence again.
Kazuhiro “Kazu” Gomi is the president and CEO of NTT Research Inc. Mr. Gomi has held several key roles within NTT, including VP in charge of global IP-network business, and president and CEO of NTT America Inc. Mr. Gomi received his MS in electrical engineering from Tokyo’s Keio University in 1985 and his MS in industrial engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1992.
NTT Research opened its offices in July 2019 as a new Silicon Valley startup to conduct basic research and advance technologies that promote positive change for humankind. Currently, three labs are housed at NTT Research facilities in Sunnyvale: the Physics and Informatics (PHI) Lab, the Cryptography and Information Security (CIS) Lab, and the Medical and Health Informatics (MEI) Lab.
The organization aims to upgrade reality in three areas:
1) quantum information, neuroscience and photonics;
2) cryptographic and information security; and
3) medical and health informatics.
NTT Research is part of NTT, a global technology and business solutions provider with an annual R&D budget of $3.6 billion.