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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.

November 2012


From ACM Opinion

Bluebrain: Noah Hutton's 10-Year Documentary About the Mission to Reverse Engineer the Human Brain

Bluebrain: Noah Hutton's 10-Year Documentary About the Mission to Reverse Engineer the Human Brain

"Nothing quite like it exists yet, but we have begun building it," Henry Markram wrote in the June 2012 issue of Scientific American. He was referring to a "fantastic new scientific instrument"—a biologically realistic and detailed…


From ACM Opinion

Instead of 'dead Dropping,' Petraeus and Broadwell Should Have ­sed These Email Security Tricks

Instead of 'dead Dropping,' Petraeus and Broadwell Should Have ­sed These Email Security Tricks

Having an extramarital affair in 2012 is not an easy task if you’re the chief of the world’s most renowned spy agency.


From ACM News

Will We Ever ­nderstand How Our Brains Work?

Will We Ever ­nderstand How Our Brains Work?

When it comes to the human brain, many scientists believe that we are incapable of understanding how it works because we lack the tools and intelligence to measure its mind-blowing complexity. Others are starting to question…


From ACM Opinion

The Greatest Bond Villain of All: Technology

The Greatest Bond Villain of All: Technology

Tech has always played a prominent role in the Bond franchise; it's a key element of the plot formula: Bond opens with a chase scene, the core mission is revealed, and then Bond meets with Q for the latest and greatest gadgets…


From ACM TechNews

The True State of Artificial Intelligence

The True State of Artificial Intelligence

Monash University researcher Kevin Korb recently discussed what stage artificial intelligence research has reached.  


From ACM Opinion

Physicist Elected to Congress Calls For More Scientists-Statesmen

Physicist Elected to Congress Calls For More Scientists-Statesmen

Bill Foster, member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives, wants more scientists in Congress who can bring to bear an analytical mind-set to lawmaking.


From ACM Opinion

Moore's Law Is Becoming Irrelevant

Moore's Law Is Becoming Irrelevant

Companies like Apple and Samsung are the public face of the smartphone and tablet boom, but they all rely on ARM, the British company that licenses the energy-efficient processor designs required by mobile devices. 


From ACM Opinion

Data Doesn't Belong to the Democrats

Data Doesn't Belong to the Democrats

One of the leading narratives of the 2012 campaign is that data trumped all.


From ACM Opinion

Eye Am a Camera: Surveillance and Sousveillance in the Glassage

Eye Am a Camera: Surveillance and Sousveillance in the Glassage

Digital eye glasses like Google’s Project Glass, and my earlier Digital Eye Glass, will transform society because they introduce a two-sided surveillance and sousveillance.


From ACM Opinion

How Star Wars Tech Changed Silicon Valley

How Star Wars Tech Changed Silicon Valley

When Oren Jacob was a teenager, he hung up Star Wars posters on his bedroom wall. In his early 20s at a college dorm at Berkeley, he replaced them with a small jumping desk lamp image, Pixar's famous logo. 


From ACM Opinion

Long Day For a Professor Who Puts Elections ­nder a Microscope

Long Day For a Professor Who Puts Elections ­nder a Microscope

Monday afternoon, just half a day before the polls opened, Prof. Mark Crispin Miller was feeling pessimistic about the electoral process.


From ACM TechNews

Security Experts Push Back at 'Cyber Pearl Harbor' Warning

Security Experts Push Back at 'Cyber Pearl Harbor' Warning

Security experts are pushing back against what they see as alarmist rhetoric from U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano and Department of Defense secretary Leon Panetta, who warn about the potential…


From ACM Opinion

Why Nate Silver and Others Predicted the Election Perfectly

Why Nate Silver and Others Predicted the Election Perfectly

Guess what, accurately predicting the outcomes of elections really isn't a partisan affair.


From ACM Opinion

A Sample Security Agenda For Obama's Second Term

When Barack Obama was sworn in four years ago for his first term, there was genuine optimism that he would make meaningful improvements to the security of the nation's critical infrastructure as well as the policies that govern…


From ACM Opinion

How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away

How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away

Not long after I began writing about cybersecurity, I became a paranoid caricature of my former self.


From ACM Opinion

Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win

Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win

In late spring, the backroom number crunchers who powered Barack Obama's campaign to victory noticed that George Clooney had an almost gravitational tug on West Coast females ages 40 to 49.


From ACM Opinion

Wrath of the Math: Obama Wins Nerdiest Election Ever

Wrath of the Math: Obama Wins Nerdiest Election Ever

Congratulations, Barack Obama: You have prevailed in the nerdiest election in the history of the American Republic.


From ACM Opinion

Q&a With Salman Khan

Q&a With Salman Khan

Salman Khan, the amateur teacher who rocketed to fame on the Internet, tells how he'll take his free video tutorials to the next level.


From ACM Opinion

Future Mars Missions: Can Humans Actually Trump Robots?

Future Mars Missions: Can Humans Actually Trump Robots?

For decades scientists have backed the idea of sending robots to collect Martian rocks and return them to Earth, a project that should be possible well before humans crunch their boots into the distant dunes of the Red Planet…


From ACM Opinion

I Meet Tumblr Whizz-Kid David Karp

I Meet Tumblr Whizz-Kid David Karp

There's a joke running around about social media: Facebook is how you want people to see you, Twitter is how you see yourself; Tumblr is—"Hey look! Funny cat picture meme!"


From ACM Opinion

Why Jony Ive Shouldn't Kill Off Apple's Skeuomorphic Interfaces

Why Jony Ive Shouldn't Kill Off Apple's Skeuomorphic Interfaces

Last week Apple fired Scott Forstall, the architect of its iOS platform, and handed his duties over to the company's chief industrial designer, Jonathan Ive. Ive and Forstall had an infamously chilly working relationship, and…


From ACM Opinion

The Strange Science of Translating Sarcasm Online

The Strange Science of Translating Sarcasm Online

Seriously, did he really mean that?


From ACM Opinion

The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years

The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years

If you were asked to name the most important innovation in transportation over the last 200 years, you might say the combustion engine, air travel, Henry Ford’s Model-T production line, or even the bicycle. The list goes on. Now…


From ACM Opinion

Probability Versus Prediction in Volcanic Hazards (and Elections)

Probability Versus Prediction in Volcanic Hazards (and Elections)

Unless you've been living on the far side of the moon for the past two years, you'll know that the U.S. presidential election is next week. Now, I'm by no means going to get into politics here, but I am going to talk a little…


From ACM Opinion

Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar?

Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar?

This week, Apple fired Scott Forstall, its longtime chief of mobile software. In the wake of the shake-up—which reportedly had to do with Forstall's refusal to sign a public apology for Apple's troubled Maps app—a strange, one…


From ACM Opinion

Can You Do a Day's Work on a Cell Phone?

Can You Do a Day's Work on a Cell Phone?

"It’s really a little computer." You remember the first time you said it, a few years ago, when you grasped just how much a smartphone can do.


From ACM Opinion

Killing the Computer to Save It

Killing the Computer to Save It

Many people cite Albert Einstein's aphorism "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." Only a handful, however, have had the opportunity to discuss the concept with the physicist over breakfast.


From Communications of the ACM

Oracle v. Google: Are APIs Copyrightable?

Oracle v. Google

Assessing the first phase of the trial based on claims that Google's Android platform infringes Oracle's Java-related copyrights and patents.


From Communications of the ACM

Decentralization Versus Centralization in IT Governance

Decentralization Versus Centralization in IT Governance

It's not as simple as you might think.


From Communications of the ACM

The Research Value of Publishing Attacks

The Research Value of Publishing Attacks

Security research can be improved by more effectively sharing what is learned from attacks on information systems.

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