Mani Srivastava

Smiley face

In Sensors We Trust - A Realistic Possibility?

Sensors of diverse capabilities and modalities, carried by us or deeply embedded in the physical world, have invaded our personal, social, work, and urban spaces. Our relationship with these sensors is a complicated one. On the one hand, these sensors collect rich data that are shared and disseminated, often initiated by us, with a broad array of service providers, interest groups, friends, and family. Embedded in this data is information that can be used to algorithmically construct a virtual biography of our activities, revealing intimate behaviors and lifestyle patterns. On the other hand, we and the services we use, increasingly depend directly and indirectly on information originating from these sensors for making a variety of decisions, both routine and critical, in our lives. The quality of these decisions and our confidence in them depend directly on the quality of the sensory information and our trust in the sources. Sophisticated adversaries, benefiting from the same technology advances as the sensing systems, can manipulate sensory sources and analyze data in subtle ways to extract sensitive knowledge, cause erroneous inferences, and subvert decisions. The consequences of these compromises will only amplify as our society increasingly complex human-cyber-physical systems with increased reliance on sensory information and real-time decision cycles.

Drawing upon examples of this two-faceted relationship with sensors in applications such as mobile health and sustainable buildings, this talk will discuss the challenges inherent in designing a sensor information flow and processing architecture that is sensitive to the concerns of both producers and consumer. For the pervasive sensing infrastructure to be trusted by both, it must be robust to active adversaries who are deceptively extracting private information, manipulating beliefs and subverting decisions. While completely solving these challenges would require a new science of resilient, secure and trustworthy networked sensing and decision systems that would combine hitherto disciplines of distributed embedded systems, network science, control theory, security, behavioral science, and game theory, this talk will provide some initial ideas. These include an approach to enabling privacy-utility trade-offs that balance the tension between risk of information sharing to the producer and the value of information sharing to the consumer, and method to secure systems against physical manipulation of sensed information.


Mani B. Srivastava is on the faculty at UCLA where he is associated with the Electrical Engineering Department and the Computer Science Department. His research is broadly in the area of networked human-cyber-physical systems, and spans problems across the entire spectrum of applications, architectures, algorithms, and technologies. His current interests include issues of energy efficiency, privacy & security, data quality, and variability in the context of systems and applications for mHealth and sustainable buildings. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, and has previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing. His research interests are in embedded wireless systems, power-aware systems, wireless networks, and pervasive sensing.