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

April 2016


From ACM Opinion

This Top Scientist Offers a Solution for the Havoc Driverless Cars May Wreck on Workers

This Top Scientist Offers a Solution for the Havoc Driverless Cars May Wreck on Workers

Proponents of autonomous vehicles are in a sticky situation.


From ACM Opinion

Who's Downloading Pirated Papers? Everyone

Who's Downloading Pirated Papers? Everyone

In increasing numbers, researchers around the world are turning to Sci-Hub, the world's largest pirate website for scholarly literature, to access research papers. Who are Sci-Hub's users, where are they, and what are they reading


From ACM Opinion

Making the Web Just a Second Faster Would Be a Big Deal

Making the Web Just a Second Faster Would Be a Big Deal

The web is too damn slow.


From ACM Opinion

Can Starshot Work?

Can Starshot Work?

A couple of weeks ago the world heard about the most seriously funded (and perhaps the most serious) effort yet for starting us on the pathway to interstellar travel.


From ACM Opinion

The Secret Signals That Rule Transport Networks

The Secret Signals That Rule Transport Networks

It is early morning on Brighton beach, and we are sitting on a slope of pebbles, looking out to sea.


From ACM Opinion

Will Smell Ever Come to Smartphones?

Will Smell Ever Come to Smartphones?

Two years ago, at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, I witnessed David Edwards receive what he claimed was the world's first transatlantic scent message—a soupçon of champagne and passion-fruit macarons, dispatched


From ACM Opinion

One Easy Way to Make Wikipedia Better

One Easy Way to Make Wikipedia Better

The Pacific Northwest tree octopus existed years before Wikipedia was founded. I’m using "existed" loosely here, of course, because there's no such thing as a Pacific Northwest tree octopus.


From ACM Opinion

Scott Aaronson Answers Every Ridiculously Big Question I Throw at Him

Scott Aaronson Answers Every Ridiculously Big Question I Throw at Him

Quantum-computer whiz riffs on simulated universes, the Singularity, unified theories, P/NP, the mind-body problem, free will, why there's something rather than nothing, and more.


From ACM Opinion

Europe's Web Privacy Rules: Bad for Google, Bad for Everyone

Europe's Web Privacy Rules: Bad for Google, Bad for Everyone

It's been a rough few months for Google in Europe.


From ACM Opinion

New Encryption Technology Is Aiding Terrorists, Intelligence Director Says

New Encryption Technology Is Aiding Terrorists, Intelligence Director Says

The Edward Snowden leaks have accelerated the sophistication of encryption technologies by "about seven years," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told reporters this morning. 


From ACM Opinion

Scott Aaronson Answers Every Ridiculously Big Question I Throw at Him

Scott Aaronson Answers Every Ridiculously Big Question I Throw at Him

Scott Aaronson has one of the highest intelligence/pretension ratios I’ve ever encountered.


From ACM Opinion

What Cyberwar Against ISIS Should Look Like

What Cyberwar Against ISIS Should Look Like

Pentagon officials have publicly said, in recent weeks, that they're hitting ISIS not only with bullets and bombs but also with cyberoffensive operations.


From ACM Opinion

Q&A: Python Creator Guido van Rossum on How He Got His Start in Programming

Q&A: Python Creator Guido van Rossum on How He Got His Start in Programming

Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python, tells of growing up, discovering computers in the Netherlands, creating one of the world's most popular programming languages, and landing at Dropbox in San Francisco.


From ACM Opinion

Who's Responsible When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

Who's Responsible When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

Valentine's Day was a bummer in Mountain View, Calif. For the first time, one of Google's self-driving cars, a modified Lexus SUV, caused a crash.


From ACM Opinion

A Year with the Apple Watch: What Works, What Doesn't, and What Lies Ahead?

A Year with the Apple Watch: What Works, What Doesn't, and What Lies Ahead?

About a year ago, Apple announced and released its first Apple Watch. The long-rumored product was Apple’s first all-new product category since the iPad and its first under CEO Tim Cook. To say that expectations were high would


From ACM Opinion

Reinvent Yourself: The Playboy Interview with Ray Kurzweil

Reinvent Yourself: The Playboy Interview with Ray Kurzweil

Many think author, inventor and data scientist Ray Kurzweil is a prophet for our digital age. A few say he's completely nuts.

 


From ACM Opinion

700 Million People Just Got Encryption That Congress Can't Touch

700 Million People Just Got Encryption That Congress Can't Touch

Last month, WhatsApp, the hugely popular messaging service that Facebook owns, made end-to-end encryption the default for its 1 billion users. On Tuesday, Viber said it will do the same for the 700 million people who use it.


From ACM Opinion

You Pay to Read Research You Fund. That's Ludicrous

You Pay to Read Research You Fund. That's Ludicrous

In 2011, developer and researcher Alexandra Elbakyan launched Sci-Hub, an online archive that shares research articles freely and openly without paywalls or restrictions.


From ACM Opinion

Have Comment Sections on News Media Websites Failed?

Have Comment Sections on News Media Websites Failed?

Many newspapers and online media companies have begun disabling comment sections because of widespread abuse and obscenity.


From ACM Opinion

All Hail Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, King of the Bots

All Hail Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, King of the Bots

Mark Zuckerberg was once the boy king of Silicon Valley. Now he wants to be the bot king of Silicon Valley.


From ACM Opinion

A Court Is About to Make One of the Most Important Decisions in the History of the Internet

A Court Is About to Make One of the Most Important Decisions in the History of the Internet

If you thought the battle over net neutrality ended when the Federal Communications Commission slapped a series of unprecedented rules on Internet providers last year, think again.


From ACM Opinion

How Early Computer Games Influenced Internet Culture

How Early Computer Games Influenced Internet Culture

Sometimes it seems the Internet is, at its core, a tremendous nostalgia machine.


From ACM Opinion

Intelligence Committee Leaders Release Discussion Draft of Encryption Bill

Intelligence Committee Leaders Release Discussion Draft of Encryption Bill

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016; draft legislation which reinforces that all entities


From ACM Opinion

I'm the First Quadriplegic Person to Regain Thought-Control of My Arm

I'm the First Quadriplegic Person to Regain Thought-Control of My Arm

I'm the first quadriplegic person in the world to use my own thoughts to control my own arm. It's a pretty neat experience.


From ACM Opinion

The Internet Archive, Bricks and Mortar Version

The Internet Archive, Bricks and Mortar Version

A heavily rusted cast iron ring sits on a bookshelf inside a neoclassical church a few blocks north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The ring is about an inch deep and as wide as a sheet of paper, and, according to its description


From ACM Opinion

Unite to Build a Quantum Internet

Unite to Build a Quantum Internet

Almost 25 years ago, physicists discovered a way of 'teleporting' a quantum system from one place to another without moving it.


From ACM Opinion

Synthetic Biology Is … Complex. But This Exhibit Makes It a Blast

Synthetic Biology Is … Complex. But This Exhibit Makes It a Blast

It takes at least a master's degree to fully understand synthetic biology, but grasping its importance requires far less.


From ACM Opinion

Why Robots Need to Be Able to Say 'No'

Why Robots Need to Be Able to Say 'No'

Should you always do what other people tell you to do?


From ACM Opinion

Why The FBI Director Puts Tape Over His Webcam

Why The FBI Director Puts Tape Over His Webcam

FBI Director James Comey gave a speech this week about encryption and privacy, repeating his argument that "absolute privacy" hampers law enforcement. But it was an offhand remark during the Q&A session at Kenyon College that


From ACM Opinion

Why Apple's Stand Against the F.B.I. Hurts Its Own Customers

Why Apple's Stand Against the F.B.I. Hurts Its Own Customers

Two weeks ago, privacy advocates across the country celebrated as the Federal Bureau of Investigation backed off its request for Apple to help gain access into the iPhone of Syed Farook, one of the terrorists who killed 14 people

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