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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.

December 2015


From ACM Opinion

Driverless Cars Are Colliding with the Creepy Trolley Problem

Driverless Cars Are Colliding with the Creepy Trolley Problem

Philosophers have been gnawing on the infamous Trolley Problem for decades, and it’s always been a purely intellectual exercise with no "right" answer.


From ACM Opinion

The Dark Side of the Coming Chatbot Revolution

The Dark Side of the Coming Chatbot Revolution

Artificial intelligence is coming to a messaging app near you.


From ACM Opinion

The Cybersecurity Argument For and Against Device Encryption

The Cybersecurity Argument For and Against Device Encryption

Government officials argue that encrypted communication poses national security risks. But tech companies say that making it possible to unlock devices would make the tools less secure for everyone.


From ACM Opinion

Genome-Editing Revolution: My Whirlwind Year with CRISPR

Genome-Editing Revolution: My Whirlwind Year with CRISPR

Some 20 months ago, I started having trouble sleeping.


From ACM Opinion

How the Internet of Things Limits Consumer Choice

How the Internet of Things Limits Consumer Choice

In theory, the Internet of Things—the connected network of tiny computers inside home appliances, household objects, even clothing—promises to make your life easier and your work more efficient.


From ACM Opinion

The Science to Look Out For in 2016

The Science to Look Out For in 2016

A Swiss company is set to become the first firm to capture carbon dioxide from the air and sell it on a commercial scale, a stepping stone to larger facilities that could one day help to combat global warming.

 


From ACM Opinion

The Death of American Research and Development

The Death of American Research and Development

When rumors began to fly about a merger between chemical giants Dow Chemical  and DuPont , it was obvious the deal was not your ordinary fee-driven scheme dreamed up by investment bankers.


From ACM Opinion

Grandfather of VR: The Virtual Can Show the Beauty of the Real

Grandfather of VR: The Virtual Can Show the Beauty of the Real

Thomas Furness is known as the pioneer who stood at the inception of what we know today as virtual reality.


From ACM Opinion

A Pause to Weigh Risks of Gene Editing

A Pause to Weigh Risks of Gene Editing

The technology for altering defects in the human genome has progressed so rapidly in the last three years that it has outstripped the ability of scientists and ethicists to understand and cope with the consequences.


From ACM Opinion

Can This Man Make AI More Human?

Can This Man Make AI More Human?

Like any proud father, Gary Marcus is only too happy to talk about the latest achievements of his two-year-old son.


From ACM Opinion

5 Amazing and Alarming Things That May Be Done with Your DNA

5 Amazing and Alarming Things That May Be Done with Your DNA

"You're a male, you're 34-years-old and your 5-foot-10 1/2 inches tall." That's a prediction that Craig Venter, long a pioneer on the frontier of genomics, offered to me while we spoke on the phone.


From ACM Opinion

Elon Musk's Billion-Dollar AI Plan Is About Far More Than Saving the World

Elon Musk's Billion-Dollar AI Plan Is About Far More Than Saving the World

Elon Musk and Sam Altman worry that artificial intelligence will take over the world. So, the two entrepreneurs are creating a billion-dollar not-for-profit company that will maximize the power of AI—and then share it with anyone…


From ACM Opinion

What the Government Should've Learned About Backdoors from the Clipper Chip

What the Government Should've Learned About Backdoors from the Clipper Chip

In the face of a Federal Bureau of Investigation proposal requesting backdoors into encrypted communications, a noted encryption expert urged Congress not to adopt the requirements due to technical faults in the plan.


From ACM Opinion

Let's Outlaw Math

Let's Outlaw Math

In the name of protecting us against terrorists, law enforcement agencies want high tech companies to relinquish their Golden Keys, backdoors to their otherwise unbreakable encryption algorithms.


From ACM Opinion

How the Science in 'Star Wars’ Is Actually Real

How the Science in 'Star Wars’ Is Actually Real

For a story that takes place "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" a great deal of the technology in the "Star Wars" series actually has parallels today on planet Earth.


From ACM Opinion

The End of Work?

The End of Work?

Welcome to the era of AI-human hybrid intelligence, where people and artificial intelligence systems work together seamlessly.


From ACM Opinion

Driverless Cars Are Like Elevators

Driverless Cars Are Like Elevators

One of the challenges in describing the potential of self-driving cars is that they promise to do so much.


From ACM Opinion

Google's New Autoreply Sounds Great!!!!

Google's New Autoreply Sounds Great!!!!

On April 1, 2009, Google unveiled Gmail Autopilot, a plug-in that promised to read and generate contextually relevant replies to the messages piling up in users' inboxes.


From ACM Opinion

Why Yahoo Faded: The Internet Changed, But It Didn't

Why Yahoo Faded: The Internet Changed, But It Didn't

Yahoo and I go way back.


From ACM Opinion

A Conversation with CRISPR-Cas9 Inventors Charpentier and Doudna

A Conversation with CRISPR-Cas9 Inventors Charpentier and Doudna

At the American Society of Human Genetics meeting in October, CRISPR-Cas9 inventors Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier accepted the Gruber Genetics Prize, then stopped by the press room. For me, this was a little like…


From ACM Opinion

Eric Schmidt on How to Build a Better Web

Eric Schmidt on How to Build a Better Web

Turning Point: The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria declares a war on Twitter.


From ACM Opinion

Big Data's Mathematical Mysteries

Big Data's Mathematical Mysteries

At a dinner I attended some years ago, the distinguished differential geometer Eugenio Calabi volunteered to me his tongue-in-cheek distinction between pure and applied mathematicians.


From ACM Opinion

Huge MIT Media Lab Inventions That Transformed Our World

Huge MIT Media Lab Inventions That Transformed Our World

For the last 30 years, the MIT Lab has been a breeding ground for technological progress that’s pushed the world into the future.


From ACM Opinion

Pop Culture Is Finally Getting Hacking Right

Pop Culture Is Finally Getting Hacking Right

The idea of a drill-wielding hacker who runs a deep-web empire selling drugs to teens seems like a fantasy embodying the worst of digital technology.


From ACM Opinion

In Defense of Algorithms

In Defense of Algorithms

OK, I'm biased, given the countless hours I have spent over the past three decades creating algorithms, implementing them on computers, and then writing about them in academic papers that few people read.


From ACM Opinion

Dark Clouds Over the Internet

Dark Clouds Over the Internet

The Internet is routinely described as borderless, and that is often how it feels.


From ACM Opinion

Crispr Is Getting Better. Now It's Time to Ask the Hard Ethical Questions

Crispr Is Getting Better. Now It's Time to Ask the Hard Ethical Questions

When Chinese scientists announced in April they had edited human embryos using a new genetic tool called Crispr, the headlines blared "designer babies," and the world woke up to Crispr's power.


From ACM Opinion

No, NSA Phone Spying Has Not Ended

No, NSA Phone Spying Has Not Ended

At 11:59 P.M. on Saturday night, the U.S. National Security Agency supposedly yanked the cord on its bulk telephone records collection, thereby ending an expansive surveillance program that the nation's intelligence community…


From Communications of the ACM

Increasing the Participation of Individuals with Disabilities in Computing

Increasing the Participation of Individuals with Disabilities in Computing

Lessons learned from a decade of practice.


From Communications of the ACM

Why Our Theories of Innovation Fail Us

Why Our Theories of Innovation Fail Us

Until we moderate our fascination with creating ideas, we will not achieve the rate of innovations we seek.

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