Professor at Harvard University, Harry Lewis decided to be a member of a digital security startup
Harry Lewis (left), alongside Milo Stevanovich and Andrew Auerbach, their partners in the startup Zerho
SÃO PAULO After teaching two of the richest men in the world, mathematics and computer science professor Harry Lewis, 71, decided to become a technology company partner himself.
At the prestigious Harvard University since 1974, Lewis had among his pupils Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. The two left the course before the end to bet on startups, which came to be Microsoft and Facebook.
Now, with a lighter class schedule and on the way to retiring, which will happen in the middle of 2020, Lewis has been dedicated to the digital security startup Zerho.
The professor states that, in addition to the longer available time, the decision to enter the business was made taking into account the intellectual challenge that the market in which it will act brings.
Lewis, who became one of the company's directors early in 2017, participates in the business both as a technical consultant for the development of artificial intelligence used in the company's service and as a director and a member of its board of directors.
The startup was created by one of its alumni, Andrew Auerbach, 30, who has been the president of the company and known to Lewis for ten years.
The teacher said that he had already received other invitations to join his students' companies, but although the projects were good, he did not feel motivated to be a part of them.
"I would not go into a business that was more of a digital advertising company. Not that there is a problem, but there would be an intellectual interest for me, "says the professor.
Auerbach argues that Zerho's differential over its competitors lies in the fact that it uses artificial intelligence to monitor computer and network operations, prevent cyber attacks, provide guidance on how to combat them, and learn from previous invasion attempts and simulations made by the company's own system.
In addition to being provoked by the technical difficulty imposed by this proposal, Lewis says that he was attracted to the business because of its social importance.
"I am committed to the privacy of individuals, with the control of information. When we see data leaks, it's not just a cost to businesses. It is a fundamental violation of the rights of its clients, "says the professor.
About user privacy, Lewis says he saw the Facebook project with some concern about the topic already in its early days, when Zuckerberg, still a student, presented him with his ideas.
The first prototype of what would later be the social network was called Six Degrees to Harry Lewis (six steps to Harry Lewis) and showed how far in terms of personal connections each individual was in relation to the then university rector. The system calculated from newspaper news from the school.
"I said they could use my name on the project, it was public information. But at some point, when you add a lot of public information, it seems to be invading privacy. "
Facebook has been criticized for its treatment of users' personal information since it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultant hired by US President Donald Trump's campaign, obtained data from voters without their authorization to do so. sending personalized advertisement. The lawsuit would have helped the Republican win the election in 2016.
In this sense, the former master says he was very happy with the recent news that Zuckerberg wants to extend the privacy and protection of the users of his service privileging the private conversations in the network, to the detriment of the public communication.
Zerho, which has been testing its service with a small group of customers and has just launched in the market, will have one of its priority regions in Brazil, being among the five with the highest number of cyber attacks, according to Auerbach.
The startup president will be in the country this month in search of investors and in meetings with potential clients.