Contribution: Jim Gillogly on Kryptos

Some time ago, I ToingToinged!! Kryptos – a cryptic sculpture standing in the courtyard at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). I mentioned that a Californian computer scientist and cryptographer named James (Jim) Gillogly was able to crack three of the four sections of the Kryptos (meaning “hidden” in Greek), code in 1999, using a Pentium computer. is obviously getting places, because I’d just received an e-mail from Jim Gillogly himself.

In the course of our short correspondence, I was able to ask for is take on the fact that fourth and final section of Kryptos is said to have been cracked in November of 2016. Gillogly’s response is published here verbatim: 

“I’m not convinced by the proposed solution to K4.  While Scheidt has said it is obfuscated, I would expect it to actually make some sense after it’s decrypted.  The proposed solution appears to be a bare announcement from some internal CIA team about an unidentified contest of some sort with an unrelated word (“slogan”) stuck on the end, and it’s my impression that Sanborn (a) did not have CIA contacts at that level, and (b) would have chosen some message more in line with the rest of his sculpture.  If you perform enough arcane and lightly motivated operations on any text you can come up with individual words: witness the bogus “Bible Codes” of a decade or two ago, and the response from Brendan McKay who applied the same techniques to Moby-Dick and came up with even more impressive results – see http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/moby.html.  While I think the author of this K4 “solution” had some interesting observations (e.g. “nuance” being a synonym for “subtle shading”), I don’t think the destination is compelling enough to justify the obscure path that’s twisted to get there.” 

Thanks, Jim! 

Contribute to ToingToing!