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Communications of the ACM

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

September 2014


From ACM Opinion

The Toughest Case: What If Osama bin Laden Had an iPhone?

The Toughest Case: What If Osama bin Laden Had an iPhone?

In rebuking Apple and Google for their new smartphone encryption polices on Thursday, FBI Director James B. Comey became the latest law enforcement official to evoke worst-case scenario arguments: What of the child predator,their


From ACM Opinion

When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

Everyone understands what it means to own a plunger.


From ACM Opinion

A Computer Scientist Tells Mathematicians How To Write Proofs

A Computer Scientist Tells Mathematicians How To Write Proofs

Believe it or not, I do have friends who would describe themselves as not liking math, and every so often one of them will share this meme on Facebook: And then Satan said, "Put the alphabet in math."


From ACM TechNews

Jeff Hawkins on Why His Approach to AI Will Become the Approach to AI

Jeff Hawkins on Why His Approach to AI Will Become the Approach to AI

In an interview, Numenta founder Jeff Hawkins says he expects his vision of brain-inspired artificial intelligence (AI) to win out over other approaches. He says Numenta's technology is "a foundation for the next 60, 70, 100


From ACM Opinion

Three Questions with the CEO of D-Wave

Three Questions with the CEO of D-Wave

Vern Brownell, CEO of quantum computing startup D-Wave, says the company now has customers using its computers to tackle real problems.


From ACM Opinion

What the Inside of a Spaceship Might Really Look Like

What the Inside of a Spaceship Might Really Look Like

The starship Enterprise has got to be one of the most beautiful fictional spacecraft ever created.


From ACM Opinion

Alibaba's Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China

Alibaba's Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China

Alibaba founder Jack Ma and the Notorious BIG may seem like two very different people—OK, fine, they're polar opposites—but on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative’s Annual Meeting in New York City on Wednesday, Ma made it


From ACM Opinion

Virtual Reality Is More Than Just Video Games for Palmer Luckey

Virtual Reality Is More Than Just Video Games for Palmer Luckey

Palmer Luckey is on top of the world.


From ACM Opinion

The History of the Predator, the Drone that Changed the World

The History of the Predator, the Drone that Changed the World

These days, the word drone is used to refer to just about any kind of remote-controlled, unmanned aircraft.


From ACM Opinion

Why Is Our Sci-Fi So Glum About A.I.?

Why Is Our Sci-Fi So Glum About A.I.?

When I was 12, I invented a superhero named Boy Genius, a guy my age who awakens one morning with access to 100 percent of his brain power.


From ACM Opinion

Visualizing 4-Dimensional Asteroids

Visualizing 4-Dimensional Asteroids

One of the largest treasure troves of astronomical data comes from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), an ongoing scan of the firmament that began 15 years ago.


From ACM Opinion

Technology Stalled in 1970

Technology Stalled in 1970

Peter Thiel has been behind some prominent technologies: he cofounded PayPal and was an early investor in such companies as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tesla Motors. But he’s convinced that technological progress has been stagnant


From ACM Opinion

The Few, The Proud: The Millennials Who Still Use Flip Phones

The Few, The Proud: The Millennials Who Still Use Flip Phones

Some people care a lot about the new iPhone, available in stores Friday. This is about people who don't.


From ACM Opinion

Is Apple Watch's Pressure-Sensitive Screen a Bigger Deal Than the Gadget Itself?

Is Apple Watch's Pressure-Sensitive Screen a Bigger Deal Than the Gadget Itself?

Forget about the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Pay and even the company's bold step into wearables.


From ACM Opinion

College Students Learning COBOL Make More Money

College Students Learning COBOL Make More Money

Yes, you read the title of this column correctly.


From ACM Opinion

Tim Cook Interview: The iPhone 6, the Apple Watch, and Remaking a Company's Culture

Tim Cook Interview: The iPhone 6, the Apple Watch, and Remaking a Company's Culture

Steve Jobs’s office remains Steve Jobs's office.


From ACM Opinion

The Internet Is Losing Interest in Computers

The Internet Is Losing Interest in Computers

You may know Google Trends.


From ACM Opinion

Q&A: John Durant and David Kaiser on Spurring Public Interest in Science

Q&A: John Durant and David Kaiser on Spurring Public Interest in Science

John Durant, director of the MIT Museum, and David Kaiser, director of MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, discuss the best ways to get the general public interested in science.


From ACM Opinion

Julian Assange on Snowden, Disliking Google, and His 'Inevitable' Freedom

Julian Assange on Snowden, Disliking Google, and His 'Inevitable' Freedom

It would be too much to say that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange feels optimistic.


From ACM Opinion

NSA Chief on Tech-Savvy Islamic State: 'I'm Watching'

NSA Chief on Tech-Savvy Islamic State: 'I'm Watching'

While U.S. military leaders appeared before Congress to outline their strategy to fight Islamic State militants on the battlefield, the National Security Agency chief said on Tuesday he was watching the media-savvy group's cyber


From ACM Opinion

The $3.2 Billion Man: Can Google's Newest Star Outsmart Apple?

The $3.2 Billion Man: Can Google's Newest Star Outsmart Apple?

Lounging poolside in 93-degree July heat as Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" thrums through the patio speakers, Tony Fadell takes a sip of nonalcoholic beer and sinks far enough back into his chair that his belly peeks out from under


From ACM Opinion

The Sci-Fi Optimist

The Sci-Fi Optimist

Best-selling science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson's works cover everything from cryptography to Sumerian mythology.


From ACM Opinion

The Magic in Apple's Devices? The Heart

The Magic in Apple's Devices? The Heart

During the last seismic Apple announcement, in 2010, I was at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco as Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, a device he said was so singular it would create its own landing strip.


From ACM Opinion

On Death and iPods: A Requiem

On Death and iPods: A Requiem

Have you ever loved a car? Maybe it was an old truck you drove for hundreds of thousands of miles, or maybe it was your very first car: where you had your very first beer and your very first kiss.


From ACM Opinion

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong.


From ACM Opinion

You Should Be Terrified of Superintelligent Machines

You Should Be Terrified of Superintelligent Machines

In the recent discussion over the risks of developing superintelligent machines—that is, machines with general intelligence greater than that of humans—two narratives have emerged.


From ACM Opinion

Apple's Watch Will Make People and Computers More Intimate

Apple's Watch Will Make People and Computers More Intimate

A fundamental quest of the digital age has been to make our devices more personal.


From ACM Opinion

It’s Tim Cook's Apple Now

It’s Tim Cook's Apple Now

The Tim Cook era at Apple emerged onto the public stage today in full force, and it bears subtle differences from Steve Jobs’s Apple.


From ACM Opinion

Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away

Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away

I teach theory and practice of social media at NYU, and am an advocate and activist for the free culture movement, so I’m a pretty unlikely candidate for internet censor, but I have just asked the students in my fall seminar


From ACM Opinion

Our Cyborg Future

Our Cyborg Future

In June 2014, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Riley v. California, in which the justices unanimously ruled that police officers may not, without a warrant, search the data on a cell phone seized during an arrest

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