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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 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


From ACM Opinion

The Man Who Will Build Google's Elusive Quantum Computer

The Man Who Will Build Google's Elusive Quantum Computer

John Martinis is one of the world's foremost experts on quantum computing, a growing field of science that aims to process information at super high speeds using strange physics of very tiny particles such as electrons and photons


From ACM Opinion

The Internet Power Vacuum Worsens

The Internet Power Vacuum Worsens

The United States hasn't even abandoned its Web protection yet, and authoritarian governments are already making their move.


From ACM Opinion

Want to Reform the NSA? Give Edward Snowden Immunity

Want to Reform the NSA? Give Edward Snowden Immunity

In 1970, Christopher Pyle disclosed in public writing that the U.S. Army was running a domestic intelligence program aimed at anti-war and civil-rights activists.


From ACM Opinion

Robot Servants Are Going to Make Your Life Easy. Then They'll Ruin It

Robot Servants Are Going to Make Your Life Easy. Then They'll Ruin It

Jibo, the "world's first family robot," hit the media hype machine like a bomb.


From ACM TechNews

Scala Founder: Language Due for 'Fundamental Rethink'

Scala Founder: Language Due for 'Fundamental Rethink'

Scala programming language designer Martin Odersky says he sees the industry in the midst of a paradigm shift, and Scala is leading the move toward a new balance between functional and object-oriented programming.


From ACM Opinion

The Hazards of Going on Autopilot

The Hazards of Going on Autopilot

At 9:18 P.M. on February 12, 2009, Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, took off from Newark International Airport.


From ACM Careers

The Coming Age of the Internet Naturalist

The Coming Age of the Internet Naturalist

Three years ago, Shaun Winterton was looking at photos of bugs on Flickr.


From ACM Opinion

The Case for Kill Switches in Military Weaponry

The Case for Kill Switches in Military Weaponry

This summer the insurgent group ISIS captured the Iraqi city of Mosul—and along with it, three army divisions' worth of U.S.-supplied equipment from the Iraqi army, including Humvees, helicopters, antiaircraft cannons and M1

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