The coming decade is fraught with geopolitical tension, competition, and rapid technological change. Computing's dramatic growth has intertwined it with the fabric of our world. And, to our great pride, it continues to transform society at an accelerating rate. Still, computing is also a commercial and social technology, a tool for disinformation and autocratic control, and a military technology.
But the ACM's growth has not matched computing's ascendance, and as a result ACM is declining in relevance. To fulfill its responsibility as the world's preeminent computing professional society, the ACM must transform itself to lead. As a long-time member and five-year Editor-in-Chief of Communications, here are my four aspirations for ACM:
While computing has grown exponentially over the past 25 years, ACM membership has barely grown at all—level at 100,000 since 1998. Meeting this goal requires approximately 17% growth per annum, far slower than the expansion of computing employment and big tech companies. Breadth and scale are essential for perspective, representation, and influence. This is not just a numbers game, ACM leaders must be drawn from all of these constituencies to strengthen ACM.
Today, ACM's membership continues to be concentrated in North America (~50%) and Europe (~25%), with Asia (China and India) accounting for the rest. We launched Communications' Regional Special Sections to drive global reach, and other excellent ACM initiatives are driving in this direction.
Computing has been reinvented by each new generation, through powerful new insights and applications, making strong engagement and leadership by young computing professionals critical to ACM's leadership and future.
These goals are challenging. But ACM has the reputation, talent, and resources to accomplish them. ACM members' must encourage, assist, and drive ACM leadership—both volunteer and paid—to achieve these goals. Today, ACM excels in research, conferences, and publications. With broad disciplinary expansion (AI, AI applications, data science, and more) combined with new opportunities to reach and serve the computing professional community, ACM has a tremendous opportunity for growth. These goals are worthy ambitions for the "World's Leading Computing Professional Society."
I welcome your thoughts and ideas for how to achieve these goals.
Andrew A. Chien, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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