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

May 2016


From ACM Opinion

Checklist of Worst-Case Scenarios Could Help Prepare for Evil AI

Checklist of Worst-Case Scenarios Could Help Prepare for Evil AI

Artificial intelligence—what's the worst that can happen? For Roman Yampolskiy, a computer scientist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, the sky’s the limit.


From ACM Opinion

Why SETI Researchers Must Change the Way They Announce First Contact

Why SETI Researchers Must Change the Way They Announce First Contact

One of humanity’s most significant events will be the discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in universe. Back in the 1980s, a group of astronomers involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence became concerned about


From ACM Opinion

The Oracle-Google Case Will Decide the Future of Software

The Oracle-Google Case Will Decide the Future of Software

The legal battle  between Oracle and Google is about to come to an end. And nothing less is as stake than the future of programming.


From ACM Opinion

To Write Better Code, Read Virginia Woolf

To Write Better Code, Read Virginia Woolf

The humanities are kaput. Sorry, liberal arts cap-and-gowners. You blew it. In a software-run world, what's wanted are more engineers.


From ACM Opinion

My 10 Favorite Books: Bill Gates

My 10 Favorite Books: Bill Gates

"Seveneves," Neal Stephenson: This novel about how the human race responds to the end of life on Earth rekindled my love for sci-fi. Some readers will lose patience with all the technical details about orbits and spaceflight,


From ACM Opinion

Let's Hope Drone Users All Follow These 8 Simple Government Guidelines

Let's Hope Drone Users All Follow These 8 Simple Government Guidelines

Don't be a jerk. That's essentially what a new set of U.S. government guidelines boils down to when it comes to flying drones.


From ACM Opinion

NASA and the Author of 'The Martian' Tell Us Exactly How We'll Get to Mars

 NASA and the Author of 'The Martian' Tell Us Exactly How We'll Get to Mars

In "The Martian," Matt Damon plays a NASA astronaut who's been stranded on Mars and has to figure out how to survive until the space agency can devise a daring plan to rescue him.


From ACM Opinion

Google Doubles Down on AI

Google Doubles Down on AI

Google announced something for everyone yesterday at its 10th annual I/O developer conference.


From ACM Opinion

How Will Virtual Reality Change Our Lives?

How Will Virtual Reality Change Our Lives?

And it's not just gamers who are benefiting from the immersive possibilities it offers.


From ACM Opinion

Eske Willerslev Is Rewriting History With DNA

Eske Willerslev Is Rewriting History With DNA

As a boy growing up in Denmark, Eske Willerslev could not wait to leave Gentofte, his suburban hometown. As soon as he was old enough, he would strike out for the Arctic wilderness.


From ACM Opinion

Q&A: Hitomi Researchers Talk About Satellite's Tragic End and the Data It Sent Home

Q&A: Hitomi Researchers Talk About Satellite's Tragic End and the Data It Sent Home

Three researchers from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, explain the circumstances of Hitomi's tragic accident and express their hopes for future X-ray satellite missions.


From ACM Opinion

What If Facebook Gave Us an Opposing-Viewpoints Button?

What If Facebook Gave Us an Opposing-Viewpoints Button?

Imagine if you could flip a switch on Facebook, and turn all the conservative viewpoints that you see liberal, or vice versa. You'd realize your news might look nothing like your neighbor's.


From ACM Opinion

Peek Into the Weird and Wonderful Age of AI (Yes, There's a Chatbot)

Peek Into the Weird and Wonderful Age of AI (Yes, There's a Chatbot)

On March 23, Microsoft revealed Tay, a Twitter bot trained to chat like a millennial. It worked … too well.


From ACM Opinion

Six Creative Ways to Solve Biomedicine's Big Data Problem

Six Creative Ways to Solve Biomedicine's Big Data Problem

Biomedical research generates an obscene amount of data. Now, three funding agencies are trying to spur the development of tools and platforms to improve researchers' ability to find, access, and use that data.


From ACM Opinion

Is Big Data and Artificial Intelligence a (R)evolution in Outsourcing?

Is Big Data and Artificial Intelligence a (R)evolution in Outsourcing?

The combination of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are playing an increasingly useful role in a broad spectrum of traditionally outsourced functions such as recruitment, HR, finance, and supply chain, through to security


From ACM Opinion

Doom Is a Gleefully Gory Ballet Set in a Nightmare

Doom Is a Gleefully Gory Ballet Set in a Nightmare

My instinct upon leaping into id Software's hyper-gruesome Doom, a gonzo shooter out May 13 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, is to dawdle.


From ACM Opinion

The Coming Horror of Virtual Reality

The Coming Horror of Virtual Reality

If Kitchen, a five-minute virtual-reality demo created by the Japanese studio Capcom, were a short film, few viewers would be moved to panic by its misery of horror-movie clichés.


From ACM Opinion

OkCupid Study Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science

OkCupid Study Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science

On May 8, a group of Danish researchers publicly released a dataset of nearly 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid, including usernames, age, gender, location, what kind of relationship (or sex) they're interested in


From ACM Opinion

Should We Synthesise a Human Genome?

Should We Synthesise a Human Genome?

At Harvard today, an invitation-only group of about 150 scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs, met to discuss if and how to construct from scratch an entire human genome–the heritable genetic material that in nature is transferred


From ACM Opinion

IBM Researcher: Fears Over Artificial Intelligence Are 'Overblown'

IBM Researcher: Fears Over Artificial Intelligence Are 'Overblown'

The debate over artificial intelligence has divided some of Silicon Valley's brightest minds.


From ACM Opinion

After Three Weeks in China, It's Clear Beijing is Silicon Valley's Only True Competitor

After Three Weeks in China, It's Clear Beijing is Silicon Valley's Only True Competitor

After selling my startup, Shopkick, to SK Planet in 2014, and handing over my CEO role a year later, I packed up my 1- and 3-year-old sons and my wife Angel, and flew to Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong for three weeks, hoping


From ACM Opinion

Huawei Prepares for Robot Overlords and Communication with the Dead

Huawei Prepares for Robot Overlords and Communication with the Dead

Chinese technology giant Huawei is preparing for a world where people live forever, dead relatives linger on in computers and robots try to kill humans.


From ACM Opinion

The Seven Deadly Social Networks

The Seven Deadly Social Networks

Almost five years ago, in a soliloquy transcribed by The Wall Street Journal, Reid Hoffman suggested a comprehensive theory of social-network success.


From ACM Opinion

Like It or Not, Facebook Has the Right to Choose Your News

Like It or Not, Facebook Has the Right to Choose Your News

There's an old saying that you shouldn't pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.


From ACM Opinion

The Creators of Siri Just Showed Off Their Next AI Assistant, Viv, and It's Incredible

The Creators of Siri Just Showed Off Their Next AI Assistant, Viv, and It's Incredible

Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer created the artificial intelligence behind Siri, Apple's iconic digital assistant, and one of the first modern apps to capably handle natural language queries on a smartphone.


From ACM Opinion

What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

The radio signal that is the lifeblood of the Global Positioning System originates from a constellation of twenty-four satellites, orbiting more than twelve thousand miles above Earth.


From ACM Opinion

After Moore's Law: Predicting The Future Beyond Silicon Chips

After Moore's Law: Predicting The Future Beyond Silicon Chips

For several decades now, Georgia Tech professor Tom Conte has been studying how to improve computers: "How do we make them faster and more efficient next time around versus what we just made?"


From ACM Opinion

How Wooden Toys Teach Kids to Code

How Wooden Toys Teach Kids to Code

Like most parents,  I want my young children to be prepared for the future—one in which knowing how to program a computer will be a basic skill, like clicking "Skip Ad" on YouTube.


From ACM TechNews

Promoting Women in Science

Promoting Women in Science

Utrecht University professor Lynda Hardman discusses the pressing need to promote participation of women in science in the Netherlands. 


From ACM Opinion

The Future of Encryption Is in These Politicians' Hands

The Future of Encryption Is in These Politicians' Hands

Encryption is complicated. Legislating for it, even more so.

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