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

October 2012


From ACM Opinion

What Tumblr Can Tell Us About the Future of Media

What Tumblr Can Tell Us About the Future of Media

If there was any doubt left that Tumblr is trying to become more of a mainstream media entity, albeit with its own odd twist, it was removed recently when the service hired bloggers to cover the Republican and Democratic national…


From ACM Opinion

Science Is the Key to Growth

Mitt Romney said in all three presidential debates that we need to expand the economy. But he left out a critical ingredient: investments in science and technology.


From ACM Opinion

Is Failure to Predict a Crime?

Is Failure to Predict a Crime?

I learned with disbelief last Monday about the decision of an Italian judge to convict seven scientific experts of manslaughter and to sentence them to six years in prison for failing to give warning before the April 2009 earthquake…


From ACM Opinion

The Future Of 'Short Attention Span Theater'

The Future Of 'Short Attention Span Theater'

We've been looking at how technology has totally changed what it means to watch television or a movie. One of the biggest changes has been in demand—people want a baseball game—on their smartphone, wherever they are, right now…


From ACM Opinion

Does a Public "Find My iPhone" Search Violate Personal Privacy?

Does a Public "Find My iPhone" Search Violate Personal Privacy?

A guy stole my iPhone. I tracked it and posted his address online. Was that wrong?


From ACM Opinion

The Flop That Saved Microsoft

The Flop That Saved Microsoft

It wasn't very easy to get my hands on a Zune. After Microsoft's long-pitied music player wonSlate's Reader Takeover poll—in which I'd promised to reassess an overlooked technology of yore—I had to scramble to get hold of a device…


From ACM Opinion

The Consequences of Machine Intelligence

The Consequences of Machine Intelligence

The question of what happens when machines get to be as intelligent as and even more intelligent than people seems to occupy many science-fiction writers.


From ACM Opinion

Rapture of the Nerds: Will the Singularity Turn Us Into Gods or End the Human Race?

Rapture of the Nerds: Will the Singularity Turn Us Into Gods or End the Human Race?

Hundreds of the world’s brightest minds—engineers from Google and IBM, hedge funds quants, and Defense Department contractors building artificial intelligence—were gathered in rapt attention inside the auditorium of the San Francisco…


From ACM Opinion

Few Winners in Heated Cellphone Wars

Few Winners in Heated Cellphone Wars

If you are wondering who will be your cellphone provider next year, so are the cellphone companies.


From ACM Careers

Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2013

Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2013

On Monday, the research firm laid out "10 critical tech trends for the next five years." Tuesday, it took a look at a little closer in, providing a list of the "Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013."


From ACM Opinion

The Michigan Fight Song and Four Other Reasons to Avoid Internet Voting

The Michigan Fight Song and Four Other Reasons to Avoid Internet Voting

In a Monday article, we described the security and reliability problems that have undermined public confidence in electronic voting machines within the United States. We described how several states started scrapping paperless…


From ACM Opinion

Q&A: What's Needed to Get a Big Data Job?

Q&A: What's Needed to Get a Big Data Job?

Big data will change training in all corporate units, says Michael Rappa, who created the first U.S. post graduate program in data analytics.


From ACM Opinion

Cybercrime: Mobile Changes Everything—And No One's Safe

Cybercrime: Mobile Changes Everything—And No One's Safe

The FBI recently put out a mobile malware alert, providing us with a sobering reminder of this "evil software" for phones and tablets.


From ACM Opinion

Can We Trust Voting Machines?

Can We Trust Voting Machines?

Last week, a congressional report claimed that using Chinese telecommunications companies’ goods and services in the United States could threaten national security.


From ACM TechNews

Intel Strives to Develop Tiny Chips to Run Wearable Computers

Intel Strives to Develop Tiny Chips to Run Wearable Computers

Intel researchers are developing tiny microprocessors that would power wearable computers. 


From ACM Opinion

DARPA-Funded Radio HackRF Aims to Be a $300 Wireless Swiss Army Knife for Hackers

DARPA-Funded Radio HackRF Aims to Be a $300 Wireless Swiss Army Knife for Hackers

Since the days of Alan Turing, the promise of a digital computer has been that of a universal machine, one that can be a word processor one minute and a robot brain the next.


From ACM Opinion

iPad Mini Launch: Why Steve Jobs Thought 7in Tablets Would Fail

iPad Mini Launch: Why Steve Jobs Thought 7in Tablets Would Fail

So if Apple is really launching a 7.85in "iPad mini", how does that square with what Steve Jobs said two years ago?


From ACM Opinion

3 Questions: A Web for Everyone

3 Questions: A Web for Everyone

During the opening ceremonies of this summer’s Olympic games in London, a musical performance culminated with a stage-set house rising into the rafters to reveal Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, sitting at…


From ACM Opinion

Capitol Hill Rhetoric Takes Aim at Wrong Cybersecurity Targets

Capitol Hill Rhetoric Takes Aim at Wrong Cybersecurity Targets

Defense secretary Leon Panetta couldn't resist, could he? He couldn't fight the urge to dig deep into the information security cliché handbook and yank out that old chestnut about a Cyber Pearl Harbor.


From ACM Opinion

Fresh Windows, but Where’s the Start Button?

Fresh Windows, but Where’s the Start Button?

Over the years, Keith McCarthy has become used to a certain way of doing things on his personal computers, which, like most others on the planet, have long run on Microsoft’s Windows software.


From ACM Opinion

Star Trek Technology: How 21st Century Scientists Are Making It So

Star Trek Technology: How 21st Century Scientists Are Making It So

Destination Star Trek London has kicked off at the ExCeL exhibition centre, and I'm willing to bet that among those heading down for a weekend of pointy-eared fun, there'll be a high proportion of scientists and engineers.


From ACM Opinion

In Constant Digital Contact, We Feel 'Alone Together'

In Constant Digital Contact, We Feel 'Alone Together'

As soon as Sherry Turkle arrived at the studio for her Fresh Air interview, she realized she'd forgotten her phone.


From ACM Opinion

Science in an Election Year

Science in an Election Year

More than a dozen science and engineering organizations worked with ScienceDebate.org to draft 14 top science questions to ask the two main presidential candidates this election year.


From ACM Opinion

Meet a Science Committee that Doesn't Get Science

Meet a Science Committee that Doesn't Get Science

In general, we only become aware of a politician's position on scientific issues during the campaign season. And, with a few exceptions like energy and climate policy, they rarely become campaign issues for anyone other than…


From ACM Opinion

And the Firewalls Came Tumbling Down

And the Firewalls Came Tumbling Down

There's much to like about "This Machine Kills Secrets," Andy Greenberg's well-reported history of WikiLeaks and the many projects it has inspired, but one unintentionally hilarious quotation stands out in particular. "You can’t…


From ACM Opinion

Craig Venter Imagines a World with Printable Life Forms

Craig Venter Imagines a World with Printable Life Forms

Craig Venter imagines a future where you can download software, print a vaccine, inject it, and presto! Contagion averted.


From ACM Careers

Jack Dorsey: Leadership Secrets Of Twitter And Square

Jack Dorsey: Leadership Secrets Of Twitter And Square

You cover a lot of ground hanging out with Jack Dorsey.


From ACM TechNews

At Stanford, Scholars Debate the Promises, Pitfalls of Online Learning

At Stanford, Scholars Debate the Promises, Pitfalls of Online Learning

Although online learning has great potential to enhance the education process, Princeton University president emeritus William Bowen cites three obstructions to deployment--little hard data, a lack of shared software platforms…


From ACM Opinion

Will Neuroscience Radically Transform the Legal System?

Will Neuroscience Radically Transform the Legal System?

Although academic fields will often enjoy more than Andy Warhol's famous 15 minutes of fame, they too are subject to today's ever-hungry machinery of hype. Like people, bands, diets, and everything else, a field gets discovered…


From ACM Opinion

MIT Alums Recount Their Martian Experiences

MIT Alums Recount Their Martian Experiences

Since NASA's Curiosity rover made its extraordinary Aug. 6 touchdown on Mars, it has been roving the Martian landscape, returning startling images.

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