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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.

April 2018


From ACM Opinion

Why Police Should Monitor Social Media to Prevent Crime

Why Police Should Monitor Social Media to Prevent Crime

In February, the ACLU of Massachusetts released a damning report detailing prejudice in social media surveillance efforts by the Boston Police Department (BPD).


From ACM Opinion

The 'Terms and Conditions' Reckoning Is Coming

The 'Terms and Conditions' Reckoning Is Coming

Eleanor Margolis had used PayPal for more than a decade when the online payment provider blocked her account in January. The reason: She was 16 years old when she signed up, and PayPal Holdings Inc. insists she should have known…


From ACM Opinion

If (Virtual) Reality Feels Almost Right, It's Exactly Wrong

If (Virtual) Reality Feels Almost Right, It's Exactly Wrong

We can all remember the crisply beveled edges of our cheery-yellow No. 2 pencil, the cool, smooth feel of a chalk-powdered blackboard, the gritty red bricks of the schoolhouse walls. Surely that all wasn't just an illusion?


From ACM Opinion

Why Silicon Valley Shouldn't Work With the Pentagon

Why Silicon Valley Shouldn't Work With the Pentagon

Is Silicon Valley going to war?


From ACM Opinion

Here's How Hackers Could Cause Chaos in This Year's US Midterm Elections

Here's How Hackers Could Cause Chaos in This Year's US Midterm Elections

On November 6, Americans will head to the polls to vote in the congressional midterm elections. In the months before the contest, hordes of foreign hackers will head to their keyboards in a bid to influence its outcome.


From ACM Opinion

What the History of Math Can Teach Us About the Future of AI

What the History of Math Can Teach Us About the Future of AI

Whenever an impressive new technology comes along, people rush to imagine the havoc it could wreak on society, and they overreact. Today we see this happening with artificial intelligence (AI).


From ACM Opinion

Regulate Artificial Intelligence to Avert Cyber Arms Race

Regulate Artificial Intelligence to Avert Cyber Arms Race

Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent, sophisticated and destructive. Each day in 2017, the United States suffered, on average, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks, which encrypt computer files until the owner pays to release…


From ACM Opinion

The White House Loses Its Cybersecurity Brain Trust

The White House Loses Its Cybersecurity Brain Trust

Today, the White House confirmed that cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce will head back to the National Security Agency, where he previously ran the nation's top hacking team.


From ACM Opinion

Can Europe Lead on Privacy?

Can Europe Lead on Privacy?

"We have a responsibility to protect your information," Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, declared recently in a full-page newspaper advertisement. "If we can't, we don't deserve it."


From ACM Opinion

A Revealer of Secrets in the Data of Life and the Universe

A Revealer of Secrets in the Data of Life and the Universe

In statistics, abstract math meets real life. To find meaning in unruly sets of raw numbers, statisticians like Donald Richards first look for associations: statistical links between, say, smoking and lung cancer, or the closing…


From ACM Opinion

We May Own Our Data, But Facebook Has a Duty to Protect It

We May Own Our Data, But Facebook Has a Duty to Protect It

Two years ago, Jack M. Balkin, a constitutional-law professor at Yale, published a fifty-page article in the U.C. Davis Law Review examining what he called problems "at the intersection of information privacy and the First Amendment…


From ACM Opinion

Amazon Robotics: An Interview With VP And Distinguished Engineer Brad Porter

Amazon Robotics: An Interview With VP And Distinguished Engineer Brad Porter

Brad Porter, Amazon's Vice President and Distinguished Engineer of Robotics, is responsible for driving improvements in the company's worldwide operations.


From ACM Opinion

Three Problems with Facebook's Plan to Kill Hate Speech Using AI

Three Problems with Facebook's Plan to Kill Hate Speech Using AI

Mark Zuckerberg told the US Congress this week that Facebook will increasingly rely on artificial intelligence to catch hate speech spread on the platform.


From ACM Opinion

The Questions Zuckerberg Should Have Answered About Russia

The Questions Zuckerberg Should Have Answered About Russia

Over the last two days, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned for more than 10 hours by two different Congressional committees. There was granular focus on privacy definitions and data collection, and quick footwork by …


From ACM Opinion

The Era of Fake Video Begins

The Era of Fake Video Begins

In a dank corner of the internet, it is possible to find actresses from Game of Thrones or Harry Potter engaged in all manner of sex acts. Or at least to the world the carnal figures look like those actresses, and the faces in…


From ACM Opinion

The Internet Has Serious Health Problems, Mozilla Foundation Report Finds

The Internet Has Serious Health Problems, Mozilla Foundation Report Finds

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepared to face nearly half of the Senate today to explain what went wrong with his company's handling of personal data for millions of Facebook users, the Mozilla Foundation released a report…


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin Would Be a Calamity, Not an Economy

Bitcoin Would Be a Calamity, Not an Economy

Earlier this year, Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter and CEO of Square, declared that Bitcoin would become the world's "single currency" within a decade.


From ACM Careers

Tom Lehrer at 90: A Life of Scientific Satire

Tom Lehrer at 90: A Life of Scientific Satire

In 1959, the mathematician and satirist Tom Lehrer—who turns 90 this month—performed what he characteristically called a "completely pointless" scientific song at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (He was a PhD …


From ACM Opinion

New Brain Maps With Unmatched Detail May Change Neuroscience

New Brain Maps With Unmatched Detail May Change Neuroscience

Sitting at the desk in his lower campus office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the neuroscientist Tony Zador turned his computer monitor toward me to show off a complicated matrix-style graph. Imagine something that looks like…


From ACM Opinion

Here's How the US Needs to Prepare for the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Here's How the US Needs to Prepare for the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Politicians worldwide are stealing one of the US government's best ideas by drawing up ambitious plans to make the most of advances in artificial intelligence.


From ACM Opinion

The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete

The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete

The scientific paper—the actual form of it—was one of the enabling inventions of modernity. Before it was developed in the 1600s, results were communicated privately in letters, ephemerally in lectures, or all at once in books…


From ACM Opinion

How Mark Zuckerberg Protects His Own Privacy Online

How Mark Zuckerberg Protects His Own Privacy Online

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a rare conference call with reporters on Wednesday as part of the company's newfound spirit of openness with the media in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.


From ACM Opinion

Einstein, Bohr and the War Over Quantum Theory

Einstein, Bohr and the War Over Quantum Theory

All hell broke loose in physics some 90 years ago. Quantum theory emerged—partly in heated clashes between Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.


From ACM Opinion

Why 2001: A Space Odyssey's Mystery Endures, 50 Years On

Why 2001: A Space Odyssey's Mystery Endures, 50 Years On

Michael Benson's new book Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece offers a fresh look at the making of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a movie about space travel and the inception…


From ACM Opinion

What '2001' Got Right

What '2001' Got Right

It's a testament to the lasting influence of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's film "2001: A Space Odyssey," which turns 50 this week, that the disc-shaped card commemorating the German Film Museum's new exhibition on the…


From ACM Opinion

The Ageless Appeal of 2001: A Space Odyssey 

The Ageless Appeal of 2001: A Space Odyssey 

In 1968, film-maker Stanley Kubrick and his screenwriting colleague, science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, presented 2001: A Space Odyssey. Half a century later, this unprecedentedly detailed speculation about our place in…


From ACM Opinion

It's Not My Fault, My Brain Implant Made Me Do It

It's Not My Fault, My Brain Implant Made Me Do It

Mr. B loves Johnny Cash, except when he doesn't. Mr. X has watched his doctors morph into Italian chefs right before his eyes.


From ACM Opinion

Enough With the Trolley Problem

Enough With the Trolley Problem

You know the drill by now: A runaway trolley is careening down a track. There are five workers ahead, sure to be killed if the trolley reaches them.


From ACM Opinion

It's Not Just Facebook. Thousands of Companies Are Spying on You 

It's Not Just Facebook. Thousands of Companies Are Spying on You 

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, news articles and commentators have focused on what Facebook knows about us. A lot, it turns out.


From ACM Opinion

How Cambridge Analytica's Facebook Targeting Model Really Worked, According to the Person Who Built It

How Cambridge Analytica's Facebook Targeting Model Really Worked, According to the Person Who Built It

The researcher whose work is at the center of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data analysis and political advertising uproar has revealed that his method worked much like the one Netflix uses to recommend movies.

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Blog at CACM
Integrating CS to Improve Scores in Math, Science, and English Language Arts: New Result from Code.org and Outliers
Integrating CS to Improve Scores in Math, Science, and English Language Arts: New Result from Code.org and Outliers
04.17.2018

Evidence from Broward County of integrated CS curriculum having an impact on standardized tests 

Examples of Phenomenology in Computing
Examples of Phenomenology in Computing
03.29.2018

The branch of philosophy known as phenomenology can broaden our understanding of what is really going on in the tasks …

What Went Wrong? Facebook and 'Sharing' Data with Cambridge Analytica
What Went Wrong? Facebook and 'Sharing' Data with Cambridge Analytica
03.28.2018

The road to the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal is strewn with failures.

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