Snake oil or genius? Crown Sterling tells its side of Black Hat controversy

Crown Sterling's presentation at Black Hat triggered cryptography experts.
Enlarge / Crown Sterling’s presentation at Black Hat triggered cryptography experts.

Crown Sterling

Robert Grant is a reluctant cryptographer.

“The last thing I would’ve wanted to do is start another company,” Grant, the CEO and founder of Crown Sterling, told Ars. “It’s like my wife asking me if we can have another child… I have two. And I am not looking forward to another child.”

But he and a collaborator believed that they had made a profound discovery, one that would fundamentally shake the core of modern encryption. “We thought, well, just out of a sense of responsibility, we should start a non-factor-based encryption technology,” Grant said. “And that’s what we did with Time AI.”

Crown Sterling claims that its Time AI cryptographic system will fix the breakable-ness of RSA cryptography by using an entirely different method of generating keys, one that doesn’t rely on factoring large prime numbers. Time AI is intended to resist cracking even by advanced quantum computing technology—which has concerned cryptographers because of its potential to more rapidly perform algorithms capable of solving the difficult math problems that cryptography relies on.

Time AI, announced by Grant in a controversial sponsored presentation at Black Hat USA earlier this month, is not yet a product. In fact, Crown Sterling has not published any technical details of how Time AI works. (Grant said that the company is working on a “white paper,” and it should be out by the end of the year.) An academic-style paper published by Grant and presented at Black Hat claims that most Internet cryptography can be cracked, but it has been challenged by mathematicians and cryptographers. And the company’s recent Las Vegas presentation was interrupted by one very persistent heckler and then disavowed by Black Hat, leading to a lawsuit against the conference.

So when Crown Sterling’s spokesperson reached out to offer Ars the company’s side of the story, around both Time AI and the now-legendary Black Hat event, we were eager to hear it.

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Who are these guys?

Grant, a self-proclaimed polymath, has a background in the healthcare industry. “I helped lead the Botox brand,” he said. “I was formerly president of Allergan Medical—it’s a multi-billion dollar business. And I launched products that became household names to consumers [such as Natrelle breast implants, Juvederm injectable cosmetic gel, and Lap-Band adjustable gastric bands for weight loss surgery] even though they were sold through intermediaries.”

After leaving Allergan, Grant was president of an eye surgery equipment unit of Bausch and Lomb. When Bausch and Lomb sold that unit out from under him—an experience Grant discussed in his TEDx Orange County talk—he moved back into the “lifestyle health” industry. Almost all of the businesses that operate under the banner of his Strathspey Crown holding company are in some way connected to cosmetic or “wellness” focused health.

Grant claims to speak Japanese, French, Korean, and German fluently. His Crown Sterling biography states that he “holds several patents and various intellectual property in the fields of DNA and phenotypic expression, human cybernetic implantology, biophotonics, and electromagnetism.” And it also states that he “has multiple publications in unified mathematics and physics.”

Grant is also the director of the board of the Resonance Science Foundation, “the intersection of science, community and consciousness.” Grant has produced two video lecture series for Resonance Academy “delegates”. The first is called “The Etymology of Number,” a four-part series that “examines the discovery and evolution of the human understanding of numbers and their role in physics, chemistry, photonics, gravity, music, art, architecture, mathematics, measurement, time and human awareness.” The fourth lecture in the series “culminates in the presentation and discussion of a new unified ‘theory of everything.’”

The second series is called “The Language of Light,” an advanced six-part series that:

dives deeply into the ground-breaking discovery of new mathematical constants, derived from prime number patterns and their interactive role with known constants in forming the universe of geometry and embodied as a beautiful symphony of matter and life. This course attempts to unlock the mysteries of science and esoterica from a holistic perspective, combining history and ancient sites, ageless symbology, polymathic philosophy, biology, musical theory and alchemy… We also explore the practical application of these mathematical discoveries and how they can be utilized along with hertz EMGR (Electro-Magneto-Graviton-Radioactivity) to better understand time, the Inverse Square Law, biology, DNA genotypic and phenotypic expression, vacuum energy and matter transmutation.

Grant is also a scheduled speaker this October at the Conference of Precision and Ancient Knowledge (CPAK), where he will discuss “the real DaVinci Code,” as detailed in this trailer posted by CPAK:

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A teaser video for Robert Grant’s CPAK talk.

Joseph Hopkins, Crown Sterling’s chief operating officer, is a senior partner and COO for Grant’s Strathspey Crown, and he also worked at Allergan in sourcing and procurement. Prior to joining Strathspey Crown, Hopkins was a procurement and operations advisory leader at KPMG. He claims to be a “thought-leader in the AI space,” according to his LinkedIn and Crown Sterling biographies, and to have “authored key patent applications about network security, identity verification, content security, as well as network tracking/use verification.”

Alan Green (who, according to the Resonance Foundation website, is a research team member and adjunct faculty for the Resonance Academy) is a consultant to the Crown Sterling team, according to a company spokesperson. Until earlier this month, Green—a musician who was “musical director for Davy Jones of The Monkees”—was listed on the Crown Sterling website as Director of Cryptography. Green has written books and a musical about hidden codes in the sonnets of William Shakespeare.

Many of the people involved in Crown Sterling are connected either to Strathspey Crown or the Resonance Foundation. But Grant insists that Crown Sterling has nothing to do with either of them.

“We are financed by ourselves as individuals, family offices and other accredited investors and there’s no investment whatsoever from Strathspey,” Grant said. The only relationship [to Strathspey Crown] is that my partner, Vic Malik, and myself are the founders of both organizations.”

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