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

December 2013


From ACM News

Dogecoins and Litecoins and Peercoins Oh My: What You Need to Know About Bitcoin Alternatives

Dogecoins and Litecoins and Peercoins Oh My: What You Need to Know About Bitcoin Alternatives

By now, most people have heard of Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer currency whose value has soared over the past couple of years.


From ACM Opinion

I Had My DNA Picture Taken, With Varying Results

I Had My DNA Picture Taken, With Varying Results

I like to plan ahead; that much I knew about myself before I plunged into exploring my genetic code.


From ACM Opinion

7 Gadgets to Watch for in 2014

7 Gadgets to Watch for in 2014

Turn an ordinary table into a touch screen, monitor your kids' whereabouts, and place the power of 3D printing in the palm of your hand—and there’s more.


From ACM Opinion

Correcting the Record on the NSA Review

Correcting the Record on the NSA Review

One of the dangers of a 304 -page report on a complex subject is that everyone gets to choose what he or she thinks is the bottom line.


From ACM Opinion

How Microsoft's 1 Percenters Balance Basic Research with Short-Term Success

How Microsoft's 1 Percenters Balance Basic Research with Short-Term Success

When Microsoft launched its research labs in 1991, the personal computer was just beginning to blossom into a worldwide phenomenon, thanks in no small part to Windows.


From ACM Opinion

The Great Ideas Hiding Under the Invisibility Cloak

The Great Ideas Hiding Under the Invisibility Cloak

Physicist John Pendry talks about the profound physics obscured by his invisibility cloak and how metamaterials could help realise the perfect lens.


From ACM News

The One Big Question About RSA and Its Relationship With the NSA

The One Big Question About RSA and Its Relationship With the NSA

Last week, the Internet security world was jolted by a Reuters report detailing a secret $10 million payment to the security company RSA from the National Security Agency.


From ACM Opinion

The Dollar Will Never Fall to Bitcoin

The Dollar Will Never Fall to Bitcoin

Last month, several people appeared before a U.S. Senate committee to defend bitcoin, among them Patrick Murck, general counsel of the Bitcoin Foundation...


From ACM Opinion

Bits and Barbarism

This is a tale of three money pits.


From ACM Opinion

Stanford Researchers: It Is Trivially Easy to Match Metadata to Real People

Stanford Researchers: It Is Trivially Easy to Match Metadata to Real People

In defending the NSA's telephony metadata collection efforts, government officials have repeatedly resorted to one seemingly significant detail: This is just metadata—numbers dialed, lengths of calls.


From ACM Opinion

Do We Want an Erasable Internet?

Do We Want an Erasable Internet?

This is going to sound silly, but I think Snapchat was the most important technology of 2013.


From ACM Opinion

James Kuffner, Google Robotics Researcher

James Kuffner, Google Robotics Researcher

At a racetrack in Florida this weekend, 16 robots competed to complete a series of tasks inspired by challenges faced in cleaning up the destroyed Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant.


From ACM Opinion

Whither Net Neutrality?

Whither Net Neutrality?

As the new Federal Communications Commission chairman, Tom Wheeler, has kicked up some dust in the tech community by laying the groundwork for a grand vision for the next generation of networks but then walking back one of the…


From ACM Opinion

The Predictive Power of Big Data

The Predictive Power of Big Data

Right now, the average person's data footprint—the annual amount of data produced worldwide, per capita—is just a little short of one terabyte.


From ACM Opinion

Edward Snowden, After Months of NSA Rvelations, Says His Mission's Accomplished

Edward Snowden, After Months of NSA Rvelations, Says His Mission's Accomplished

The familiar voice on the hotel room phone did not waste words.


From ACM Opinion

NSA Debate Shifts in Favor of Surveillance Limits

NSA Debate Shifts in Favor of Surveillance Limits

In a sharp and unexpected shift, the national debate over U.S. government surveillance seems to be turning in favor of reining in the National Security Agency's expansive spying powers at home and abroad.


From ACM Opinion

Google's Robot Army

Google's Robot Army

A couple of weeks ago, shortly after the Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos unveiled, on "60 Minutes," that his company plans to deliver packages to customers with a swarm of autonomous, flying drones, Google made an announcement that…


From ACM Opinion

Former FCC Chairman: 'Be Careful Not to Let Licensing Become a Tool of Monopoly'

Former FCC Chairman: 'Be Careful Not to Let Licensing Become a Tool of Monopoly'

New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler faces a number of important decisions about the future of the wireless industry.


From ACM Opinion

Meet Kathy Brown, the Internet Society's New CEO

Meet Kathy Brown, the Internet Society's New CEO

If you're the kind of person who keeps track of Internet policy and governance debates, you should know that the Internet Society has a new CEO.


From ACM Opinion

Academics Should Not Remain Silent on Hacking

Academics Should Not Remain Silent on Hacking

The revelation that U.S. and British spy agencies have undermined a commonly used encryption code should alarm researchers.


From ACM Opinion

Metadata Isn't Going Away. Here's How to Control It.

Metadata Isn't Going Away. Here's How to Control It.

It's a good bet that, in the next few weeks, President Obama will impose some serious reforms—and ask Congress to enact a few more—on how the National Security Agency scoops up and stores data from the phone and Internet records…


From ACM Opinion

Tor Is Supposed to Hide You Online. In this Harvard Student's Case, It Did the Opposite.

Tor Is Supposed to Hide You Online. In this Harvard Student's Case, It Did the Opposite.

At 9 a.m. Monday, fire alarms went off in Harvard's Emerson Hall.


From ACM Opinion

An Homage to Douglas Engelbart and a Critique of the State of Tech

An Homage to Douglas Engelbart and a Critique of the State of Tech

Theodor Holm Nelson, who coined the term hypertext, has been a thorn in the side of the computing establishment for more than a half century.


From ACM Opinion

The Judge and the NSA

The Judge and the NSA

Federal Judge Richard Leon has become a sudden political celebrity after his remarkable opinion holding that antiterror surveillance is unconstitutional and, even more remarkably, enjoining the entire program.


From ACM Opinion

Internet's Sad Legacy: No More Secrets

Internet's Sad Legacy: No More Secrets

Anyone who can watch you will watch you.


From ACM Opinion

Randolph Kirchain on the Spread of Electronic Waste

Randolph Kirchain on the Spread of Electronic Waste

Randolph Kirchain, a senior research scientist in MIT's Engineering Systems Division, has long specialized in analyzing the raw materials used to manufacture new products and the waste generated by those projects at the end of…


From ACM Opinion

An NSA Coworker Remembers The Real Edward Snowden: 'A Genius Among Geniuses'

An NSA Coworker Remembers The Real Edward Snowden: 'A Genius Among Geniuses'

Perhaps Edward Snowden's hoodie should have raised suspicions.


From ACM Opinion

Why Bitcoin Needs Banks

Why Bitcoin Needs Banks

On a mission to convince the world that Bitcoin is enduring and serious, enthusiasts convened at a place that symbolizes the ephemeral and the glitzy: Las Vegas.


From ACM Opinion

The Shape of Things to Come

The Shape of Things to Come

On Alpine Road in Portola Valley, a few miles southwest of the campus of Stanford University, where the flat suburban landscape begins to give way to the vistas of the Santa Cruz Mountains, there is an old wooden roadhouse called…


From ACM Opinion

NASA's Chief Scientist on Mars, Moons, and Money

NASA's Chief Scientist on Mars, Moons, and Money

Planetary geologist Ellen Stofan joined NASA in August as the agency's chief scientist, an overarching role in which she advises on the science of all NASA programmes.

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