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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.

January 2015


From ACM Opinion

How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

When Microsoft stock was at a record high in 1999, and its market capitalization was nearly $620 billion, the notion that Apple Computer would ever be bigger—let alone twice as big—was laughable.


From ACM Opinion

In the Future, Your Touchscreens Will Touch You Back

In the Future, Your Touchscreens Will Touch You Back

You comfort your grieving friend online over chat, but you can't reach out and touch their shoulder.


From ACM Opinion

Netflix's Secret Special Algorithm Is a Human

Netflix's Secret Special Algorithm Is a Human

On the opening night of this year's Sundance Film Festival, two films, as usual, had their premières, gaining maximum exposure to reporters and critics.


From ACM Opinion

AI Will Not Kill Us, Says Microsoft Research Chief

AI Will Not Kill Us, Says Microsoft Research Chief

Microsoft Research's chief has said he thinks artificial intelligence systems could achieve consciousness, but has played down the threat to human life.


From ACM Opinion

3 Questions: Dara Entekhabi on NASA's Soil-Moisture Mission

3 Questions: Dara Entekhabi on NASA's Soil-Moisture Mission

Dara Entekhabi, an MIT professor of civil and environmental engineering and of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, is the science team leader of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite, scheduled to be launched…


From ACM Opinion

Andreessen Horowitz Reveals the 16 Trends It's Closely Watching

Andreessen Horowitz Reveals the 16 Trends It's Closely Watching

It's hard to predict what startups Andreessen Horowitz wants to get behind.


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin and the Digital-Currency Revolution

Bitcoin and the Digital-Currency Revolution

About a half-billion dollars worth of it vanished from an online exchange in Tokyo.


From ACM Opinion

A Graphene Discoverer Speculates on the Future of Computing

A Graphene Discoverer Speculates on the Future of Computing

In 2010 two physicists at Manchester University in the U.K. shared a Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on a new wonder material: graphene, a flat sheet of carbon just one atom thick.


From ACM Opinion

Microsoft HoloLens: A Sensational Vision of the PC's Future

Microsoft HoloLens: A Sensational Vision of the PC's Future

It's generally wise to take demonstrations of new technologies with a grain of salt.


From ACM Opinion

How the Home Telephone Sparked the User-Centered Design Revolution

How the Home Telephone Sparked the User-Centered Design Revolution

Have you ever thought about why doorknobs are positioned at around two-fifths of the door's height, instead of right in the middle? Or why a washing machine is of its particular shape and size?


From ACM Opinion

Hands-On With Microsoft's Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles

Hands-On With Microsoft's Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles

It's the end of October, when the days have already grown short in Redmond, Washington, and gray sheets of rain are just beginning to let up.


From ACM Opinion

Will Autocomplete Make You Too Predictable?

Will Autocomplete Make You Too Predictable?

Do you know what you really want?


From ACM Opinion

Ex Machina: Quest to Create an AI Takes No Prisoners

Ex Machina: Quest to Create an AI Takes No Prisoners

It's a rare thing to see a movie about science that takes no prisoners intellectually.


From ACM Opinion

A Retreat for Google Glass and a Case Study in the Perils of Making Hardware

A Retreat for Google Glass and a Case Study in the Perils of Making Hardware

You won't have Glass to kick around anymore. At least not for a while.


From ACM Opinion

'Soft' Artificial Intelligence Is Suddenly Everywhere

'Soft' Artificial Intelligence Is Suddenly Everywhere


From ACM Opinion

The Cathedral of Computation

The Cathedral of Computation

Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly.


From ACM Opinion

Blackhat Brings Some Hacking Realism to Hollywood, but to What Effect?

Blackhat Brings Some Hacking Realism to Hollywood, but to What Effect?

During one scene in the upcoming hacker action movie Blackhat, a team is sent into the control room of a burned-out nuclear power plant to gather clues about the evil computer saboteur who sparked its catastrophic meltdown.


From ACM Opinion

The Voice-Activated Video Game

The Voice-Activated Video Game

When he was in grad school, the roboticist Daniel Wilson installed 150 binary sensors in his house.


From ACM Opinion

9 of the World's Leading Designers Talk About What Matters Now

9 of the World's Leading Designers Talk About What Matters Now

Design is in flux.


From ACM Opinion

Rosie or Jarvis: The future of the Smart Home Is Still in the Air

Rosie or Jarvis: The future of the Smart Home Is Still in the Air

The tech industry once again can't decide: When it comes to the home of the future, will it have a centralized computer telling you when to mop floors, clean windows and cook breakfast, or will there be an all-in-one robot doing…


From ACM Opinion

Why the Silk Road Trial Matters

Why the Silk Road Trial Matters

Ross Ulbricht is finally getting his day in court, 15 months after plainclothes FBI agents grabbed him in the science fiction section of a San Francisco library and accused him of running the billion-dollar online drug bazaar…


From ACM Opinion

The Importance of Deleting Old Stuff—Another Lesson from the Sony Attack

The Importance of Deleting Old Stuff—Another Lesson from the Sony Attack


From ACM Opinion

Death by Robot

Death by Robot

Imagine it's a Sunday in the not-too-distant future.


From ACM Opinion

Robots Are Sneaking Up On Congress (Along with Four Other Tech Trends)

Robots Are Sneaking Up On Congress (Along with Four Other Tech Trends)

One of the best Twitter accounts inside the Beltway or out—belongs to former representativeJohn Dingell (D-Mich.), who announced his retirement with self-effacing posts such as "Added the 'F' word to my Twitter bio" and "Also…


From ACM News

Snowden: U.S. Has Put Too Much Emphasis on Cyber-offense, Needs Defense

Snowden: U.S. Has Put Too Much Emphasis on Cyber-offense, Needs Defense

In an on-camera interview with James Bamford for an upcoming episode of PBS' NOVA, Edward Snowden warned that the U.S. Department of Defense and National Security Agency have over-emphasized the development of offensive network…


From ACM Opinion

Linux's Creator Wants Us All to Chill Out About the Leap Second

Linux's Creator Wants Us All to Chill Out About the Leap Second

The leap second is the rare and obscure practice of occasionally adding a second to the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) system that most of us use to set our watches.


From ACM Opinion

A 100-Year Study of Artificial Intelligence? Microsoft Research's Eric Horvitz Explains

A 100-Year Study of Artificial Intelligence? Microsoft Research's Eric Horvitz Explains

It's challenging enough to sustain any scientific study for a decade. Now Eric Horvitz, managing director of the Microsoft Research lab in Redmond, Washington, is launching a project he wants to last a century.


From ACM Opinion

The Little-Known Programming Problem Inside Dynamic Scoring

The Little-Known Programming Problem Inside Dynamic Scoring

Dynamic scoring, as adopted on Jan. 6 by the House of Representatives, seems like the ultimate no-brainer.


From ACM Opinion

Why Cheap Cameras and Boring Sensors Make the Best Smart Home Stuff

Why Cheap Cameras and Boring Sensors Make the Best Smart Home Stuff

The twin fixations of CES this year are, to no one's surprise, wearable technology and the internet of things.


From ACM Opinion

This Mathematician Figured Out How to Solve for Zero

This Mathematician Figured Out How to Solve for Zero

To mathematician Amir Aczel the most important number of all might just be zero.

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