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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.

June 2013


From ACM Opinion

Software Recognition Technology Is Amazing, but Not Amazing Enough

Software Recognition Technology Is Amazing, but Not Amazing Enough

The gadget blogs may work themselves into a frenzy over megapixels and processor speed. But if you want to know what really dazzles the masses, consider a feature that's rarely called out by name: machine recognition of real-world…


From ACM Opinion

Snowden, Through the Eyes of a Spy Novelist

For a spy novelist like me, the Edward J. Snowden story has everything. A man driven by ego and idealism—can anyone ever distinguish the two?—leaves his job and his beautiful girlfriend behind.


From ACM Opinion

Connecting the Dots, Missing the Story

Connecting the Dots, Missing the Story

Could Big Data have prevented 9/11? Perhaps—Dick Cheney, for one, seems to think so.


From ACM News

Mathematicians Think Like Machines for Perfect Proofs

Mathematicians Think Like Machines for Perfect Proofs


From ACM Opinion

Ways to Make Your Online Tracks Harder to Follow

Ways to Make Your Online Tracks Harder to Follow


From ACM Careers

The Quantum Company

The Quantum Company

"I've been doing combative stuff since I was born," says Geordie Rose, leaning back in a chair in his small, windowless office in Burnaby, Canada, as he describes how he has spent most of his life making things difficult for…


From ACM News

The Most Amazing Map You'll See Today (No Matter What Day It Is)

The Most Amazing Map You'll See Today (No Matter What Day It Is)

There are many way to celebrate your 70th birthday.


From ACM Opinion

Sorry, It's Not 1984

Sorry, It's Not 1984

After leaker Edward Snowden revealed the existence of massive domestic-surveillance programs operated by the NSA, the airwaves were clotted with pundits and politicians summoning a man with whom they appeared to possess only…


From ACM Opinion

U.S. Offensive Cyberwar Policy

Today, the United States is conducting offensive cyberwar actions around the world.


From ACM Opinion

What the Digital Brains of the Future Might Be Like

What the Digital Brains of the Future Might Be Like

It is the rare entrepreneur who hits it truly big twice. Those who do—such as Ev Williams, Ted Turner, and Elon Musk—tend to stay within the original industry that made them. In recent memory, Steve Jobs sticks out for his success…


From ACM Opinion

QR Codes Aren't Dead Yet

QR Codes Aren't Dead Yet

My favorite mobile device isn't my phone, my iPad, or my car. It's my Canon digital SLR camera.


From ACM Opinion

Phew, NSA Is Just Collecting Metadata. (You Should Still Worry)

Phew, NSA Is Just Collecting Metadata. (You Should Still Worry)

We now know that every day, U.S. phone companies quietly send the government a list of who called whom and when—"telephony metadata"—for every call made on their networks, because of a secret order by the Foreign Intelligence…


From ACM Opinion

Google's Chief Legal Officer: Eight Things We Learned

Google's Chief Legal Officer: Eight Things We Learned

David Drummond, Google's senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, took part in a live Q&A on Wednesday to answer questions about internet security, privacy, and surveillance, and the NSA and Prism…


From ACM Opinion

The German Prism: Berlin Wants to Spy Too

The German Prism: Berlin Wants to Spy Too

Just a few days ago, the man whom many Germans now see as one of the greatest villains in the world visited Berlin.


From ACM Opinion

I Would Have Hired Edward Snowden

I Would Have Hired Edward Snowden

I don't know Edward Snowden, but I know his kind.


From ACM Opinion

Tech Moves to the Background as Design Becomes Foremost

Tech Moves to the Background as Design Becomes Foremost

In the last few decades, the computing industry has passed through several different eras.


From ACM Opinion

The Prism

The Prism

An extraordinary fuss about eavesdropping started in the spring of 1844, when Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian exile in London, became convinced that the British government was opening his mail.


From ACM Opinion

Will the NSA Rethink Its Data Collection System?

Will the NSA Rethink Its Data Collection System?

Weekend Edition Sunday Host Rachel Martin talks to Joel Brenner, former senior counsel at the National Security Agency, about whether the NSA can protect Americans' privacy while also collecting foreign intelligence through its…


From ACM Opinion

Microsoft's U.S. Law Enforcement and National Security Requests for Last Half of 2012

This afternoon we are publishing additional information about the volume of law enforcement and national security orders served on Microsoft. For the first time, we are permitted to include the total volume of national security…


From ACM Opinion

Connecting the Dots on PRISM, Phone Surveillance, and the NSA's Massive Spy Center

Connecting the Dots on PRISM, Phone Surveillance, and the NSA's Massive Spy Center

Physically, the NSA has always been well protected by miles of high fences and electrified wire, thousands of cameras, and gun-toting guards.


From ACM Careers

The Secret to a Video-Game Phenomenon

The Secret  to a Video-Game Phenomenon

All video-game makers are minor gods.


From ACM Opinion

Why Google Is the Big Data Company That Matters Most

Why Google Is the Big Data Company That Matters Most

Every now and then, someone asks "Who’ll be the Google of big data?"


From ACM Opinion

It's Time to Rewrite the Internet to Give Us Better Privacy, and Security

It's Time to Rewrite the Internet to Give Us Better Privacy, and Security

Almost 15 years ago, as I was just finishing a book about the relationship between the Net (we called it "cyberspace" then) and civil liberties, a few ideas seemed so obvious as to be banal...


From ACM Opinion

Balancing Security and Liberty in the Age of Big Data

Balancing Security and Liberty in the Age of Big Data

A very large Internet company once had the noble impulse to share some of its data with the research community.


From ACM Opinion

Blowing a Whistle

I'm glad I live in a country with people who are vigilant in defending civil liberties.


From ACM Opinion

Fixing the Digital Economy

Fixing the Digital Economy

Two big trends in the world appear to contradict each other.


From ACM Opinion

Let's Rescue Metadata From the Spy Agencies

Let's Rescue Metadata From the Spy Agencies

Once the civil libertarians have had their say, let's hope the really interesting questions start being asked.


From ACM Opinion

What Would Happen If All Satellites Stopped Working?

What Would Happen If All Satellites Stopped Working?

We may not always realise it, but we depend on space technology orbiting the Earth.


From ACM Opinion

'We Will Be Amazed By the Diversity of Exoplanets'

'We Will Be Amazed By the Diversity of Exoplanets'

The Kepler space telescope's search may be at an end, but Didier Queloz, who found the first world around a sunlike star, says more planet hunts are afoot.


From ACM Opinion

Apple's New Mobile OS Is All about Ive

Apple's New Mobile OS Is All about Ive

For Apple, there's a lot riding on iOS 7, the newest version of its mobile software and the first refresh overseen by veteran industrial design head Jonathan Ive. 

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