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The news archive provides access to past news stories from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.

December 2014


From ACM News

The Dominant Life Form in the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

The Dominant Life Form in the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

If and when we finally encounter aliens, they probably won't look like little green men, or spiny insectoids.


From ACM News

Rosetta Orbiter to Swoop Down On Comet in February

Rosetta Orbiter to Swoop Down On Comet in February

The European Space Agency's orbiting Rosetta spacecraft is expected to come within four miles (six kilometers) of the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in February of next year. The flyby will be the closest the comet


From ACM TechNews

U.K. Government to Lead Review Into Computer Science Degrees

U.K. Government to Lead Review Into Computer Science Degrees

The U.K. government launched a £6 billion Science and Innovation strategy, including the funding of an independent review into computer science degree accreditation to improve quality and graduate employability.


From ACM TechNews

German Researchers Discover a Flaw That Could Let Anyone Listen to Your Cell Calls

German Researchers Discover a Flaw That Could Let Anyone Listen to Your Cell Calls

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could enable hackers, spies, and criminals to listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages. The revelation is the most recent indication of widespread insecurity


From ACM News

Is There a Cyber Security Equivalent of 'SEAL Team Six'?

Is There a Cyber Security Equivalent of 'SEAL Team Six'?

When a cyber breach goes down…who you gonna call? Many different U.S. government agencies, it turns out.


From ACM Opinion

Sony Made It Easy, but Any of Us Could Get Hacked

Sony Made It Easy, but Any of Us Could Get Hacked

Earlier this month, a mysterious group that calls itself Guardians of Peace hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer systems and began revealing many of the Hollywood studio’s best-kept secrets, from details about unreleased


From ACM TechNews

Stanford Team Combines Logic, Memory to Build a 'High-Rise' Chip

Stanford Team Combines Logic, Memory to Build a 'High-Rise' Chip

Stanford University researchers say they have developed a method for creating high-rise chips that could outperform conventional single-story logic and memory chips.


From ACM TechNews

Disney Research Builds Computer Models to Analyze Play in Pro Basketball and Soccer

Disney Research Builds Computer Models to Analyze Play in Pro Basketball and Soccer

Disney researchers used player-tracking data from more than 600 basketball games from the NBA to develop models that can make accurate in-game predictions of what each player is likely to do next in a game situation.


From ACM TechNews

NASA Tests Software That May Help Increase Flight Efficiency, Decrease Aircraft Noise

NASA Tests Software That May Help Increase Flight Efficiency, Decrease Aircraft Noise

NASA has developed air traffic management software that could make flights more efficient. The software assists pilots with precise spacing of planes by delivering specific speed information and guidance.


From ACM News

The Big Business of Selling Prescription-Drug Records

The Big Business of Selling Prescription-Drug Records

Since the days of 19th century remedies such as castor oil laxatives and mercury syphilis tablets, pharmacists and patients have had a tacit understanding: Whatever you buy is confidential. No longer.


From ACM News

How to Fool a Computer With Optical Illusions

How to Fool a Computer With Optical Illusions

Computers, like people, understand what they see in the world based on what they've seen before.


From ACM News

Comet Lander's Location Still Eludes Scientists

Comet Lander's Location Still Eludes Scientists

More than a month after the Philae spacecraft bounced to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, European Space Agency scientists still have not been able to figure out where it came to rest.


From ACM TechNews

Quantum Physics Makes Fraud-Proof Credit Cards Possible

Quantum Physics Makes Fraud-Proof Credit Cards Possible

Researchers at the University of Twente have used quantum mechanics to develop a method for protecting financial data and personal information. The method can confirm the identity of a person or object even if essential data


From ACM TechNews

Forget Passwords, a Student Research Team Wants You to Log in By Speaking a Sentence

Forget Passwords, a Student Research Team Wants You to Log in By Speaking a Sentence

Student researchers at California State University, Fullerton are developing new biometric security technologies, including those based on facial recognition, fingerprints, and heartbeat sensors.


From ACM TechNews

Microsoft to Release Project Orleans as Open Source

Microsoft to Release Project Orleans as Open Source

Microsoft plans to open source Project Orleans, a distributed computing research framework for building cloud services. The company will release the code under an MIT license and publish it on the GitHub site in early 2015.


From ACM TechNews

Algorithm Identifies Networks of Genetic Changes Across Cancers

Algorithm Identifies Networks of Genetic Changes Across Cancers

Brown University researchers used an algorithm that analyzes genetic data to identify networks of genes that, when hit by a mutation, could play a role in the development of multiple types of cancer.


From ACM News

Bots Now Outnumber Humans on the Web

Bots Now Outnumber Humans on the Web

Diogo Mónica once wrote a short computer script that gave him a secret weapon in the war for San Francisco dinner reservations.


From ACM News

Amputee Simultaneously Controls Two Prosthetic Arms with His Mind

Amputee Simultaneously Controls Two Prosthetic Arms with His Mind

Replacement limbs that completely replicate the functions and abilities of real limbs are the current white whale of prosthetics, and we're getting closer: mind-controlled robotics are becoming much more common, tapping into


From ACM News

Thought Control Makes Robot Arm Grab and Move Objects

Thought Control Makes Robot Arm Grab and Move Objects

A woman paralysed from the neck down can now grab a ball with a robotic arm—just by thinking about it.


From ACM News

How Disney Is Perfecting Animated Eyeballs

How Disney Is Perfecting Animated Eyeballs

Creating lifelike animated characters is hard.


From ACM News

NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill.


From ACM TechNews

Students' Raspberry Pi Computers to Run on International Space Station

Students' Raspberry Pi Computers to Run on International Space Station

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has partnered with the U.K. European Space Agency and U.K. space companies to offer an Astro Pi competition that will challenge students to use Raspberry Pi computers to devise and code apps for experiments


From ACM TechNews

Stanford to Host 100-Year Study on Artificial Intelligence

Stanford to Host 100-Year Study on Artificial Intelligence

Stanford University will spearhead a century-long initiative to study and predict the impact of artificial intelligence in all aspects of people's lives.


From ACM TechNews

As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up

As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up

Economists and technologists have long said the march of technological progress and increased automation will create new jobs and opportunities that offset the jobs they make obsolete, but experts are increasingly less sure this


From ACM TechNews

CODE2040 Helps Tech Plan for a Non-White-Majority USA

CODE2040 Helps Tech Plan for a Non-White-Majority USA

By 2040, the United States will have a non-white majority, a demographic trend that is spurring tech companies to increase the diversity of their workforces. CODE2040 wants to help Silicon Valley companies make the industry as


From ACM TechNews

Why Neural Networks Look Set to Thrash the Best Human Go Players for the First Time

Why Neural Networks Look Set to Thrash the Best Human Go Players for the First Time

University of Edinburgh researchers have applied machine-learning techniques and a vast database of games to train a neural network to find the next move in a game of Go.


From ACM News

Venus Express Goes Gently Into the Night

Venus Express Goes Gently Into the Night

ESA's Venus Express has ended its eight-year mission after far exceeding its planned life. The spacecraft exhausted its propellant during a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit following the low-altitude aerobraking earlier


From ACM News

Undersea Robot Explores Life Below Arctic Ice

Undersea Robot Explores Life Below Arctic Ice

While 2014 has not been kind to rockets, it has been a banner year for robots of all stripes.


From ACM News

Innovators of Intelligence Look to Past

Innovators of Intelligence Look to Past

Inside the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, known as AI2, everything is a gleaming architectural white.


From ACM News

New Way to Turn Genes On

New Way to Turn Genes On

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells.

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