In the 1980s, Shafi Goldwasser co-invented “zero knowledge proofs,” a cryptographic breakthrough that, improbably, enables someone to prove a fact as true without revealing any information about that fact. For example, an investor seeking to prove her status as an accredited investor could demonstrate that her salary exceeds a certain minimum threshold while withholding the exact amount. (You can read more about the concept--one of the hottest area of research in the field of blockchain tech--in this Fortune feature from last year.)
Now Goldwasser, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also holds posts at University of California at Berkeley and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, is helping build a business that combines cutting edge data privacy with machine learning techniques. She’s co-leading a new startup, Duality Technologies, which aims to take a buzzy technology called “homomorphic encryption” mainstream.