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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.

March 2014


From ACM Opinion

Oscar-Winning Visual Effects Mastermind Behind Gravity, Talks Physics Lessons, Nasa Imagery, and Defining the Art of Cg 'weightlessness' in Space

Oscar-Winning Visual Effects Mastermind Behind Gravity, Talks Physics Lessons, Nasa Imagery, and Defining the Art of Cg 'weightlessness' in Space

Tim Webber is a visual effects supervisor who has worked on an array of critically acclaimed blockbusters.


From ACM Opinion

Waiting For the Black Box

Days after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 shortly after midnight on Saturday, investigators considering a range of possible causes—mechanical failure, pilot error and terrorism—have yet to turn up solid clues…


From ACM Opinion

At Sxsw, the Next Big Thing May Be No Thing at All

At Sxsw, the Next Big Thing May Be No Thing at All

Every year, just before South by Southwest Interactive starts, the froth starts churning. Everybody begins wondering what this year’s breakout hit app will be.


From ACM Opinion

Why Robots Will Not Be Smarter Than Humans By 2029

In the last few days we've seen a spate of headlines like 2029: the year when robots will have the power to outsmart their makers, all occasioned by an Observer interview with Google's newest director of engineering Ray Kurzweil…


From ACM Opinion

Are You Too Paranoid About Digital Privacy, or Not Paranoid Enough?

Are You Too Paranoid About Digital Privacy, or Not Paranoid Enough?

Let's start with one thing you hear over and over again when interviewing people about privacy: "I've got nothing to hide."


From ACM Opinion

One-Hit Wonders

One-Hit Wonders

For more than a year now, tens of millions of Americans have found time each day to devote themselves to an essential task: swiping at their phones and tablets to arrange colorful candy icons in rows.


From ACM Opinion

There's No Real Difference Between Online Espionage and Online Attack

There's No Real Difference Between Online Espionage and Online Attack

Back when we first started getting reports of the Chinese breaking into U.S. computer networks for espionage purposes, we described it in some very strong language.


From ACM Opinion

Language Barriers

Language Barriers

The British scientist and polymath Stephen Wolfram has always had big ambitions.


From ACM Opinion

Why Copyrighted Coffee May Cripple the Internet of Things

Why Copyrighted Coffee May Cripple the Internet of Things

With its single-serving coffee pods, Green Mountain Coffee has transformed the business of brew.


From ACM Opinion

Social Physics

Social Physics

Since 2001, the Human Dynamics Laboratory at the MIT Media Lab has used digital technologies—from home-brewed portable sensors to cellphone call records—to try to get a quantitative handle on the nature and the consequences of…


From ACM Opinion

Ballmer: Microsoft Missed the Mobile Market Over Last Decade

Ballmer: Microsoft Missed the Mobile Market Over Last Decade

Microsoft Corp largely missed the mobile market in the last decade, its recently departed chief executive officer said Tuesday.


From ACM Opinion

Remembering Mit, When There Were Just 50 Women in a Class of 1,000

Remembering Mit, When There Were Just 50 Women in a Class of 1,000

When Radia Perlman attended MIT in the late '60s and '70s, she was one of just a few dozen women (about 50) out of a class of 1,000.


From ACM Opinion

Encryption Would Have Stopped Snowden From ­sing Secrets

Encryption Would Have Stopped Snowden From ­sing Secrets

Edward Snowden could have been thwarted from leaking classified U.S. documents if the National Security Agency encrypted the information to make it unreadable, two former senior cybersecurity officials said.


From ACM Opinion

The Job After Steve Jobs: Tim Cook and Apple

The Job After Steve Jobs: Tim Cook and Apple

Shortly after Tim Cook succeeded Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple in August 2011, he told a confidant that he got up every morning reminding himself just to do the right thing—and not to think about what Steve would have done.


From ACM Opinion

What Do Data Brokers Know About Me?

What Do Data Brokers Know About Me?

I once ran into a friend and her husband at the playground in our neighborhood in Manhattan.


From ACM Opinion

Hackers Allegedly Stole $400 Million in Bitcoins. Here's How to Catch Them.

Hackers Allegedly Stole $400 Million in Bitcoins. Here's How to Catch Them.

On Friday, what had been the world's leading Bitcoin exchange declared bankrutpcy, claiming that hackers had exploited a technical issue called "transaction malleability" to steal 750,000 bitcoins.


From ACM Opinion

Futurist Says We'll ­se Lasers to Beam Our Minds Into Space Someday Soon

Futurist Says We'll ­se Lasers to Beam Our Minds Into Space Someday Soon

The idea of erasing and implanting memories is a common feature of science fiction films such as Total Recall and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin Mania Worse Than Tulip Craze

The global bitcoin community was rocked this week by a pair of tragic mishaps.


From Communications of the ACM

Why Software Engineering Courses Should Include Ethics Coverage

Why Software Engineering Courses Should Include Ethics Coverage

Encouraging students to become comfortable exercising ethical discernment in a professional context with their peers.


From Communications of the ACM

'Surfing Toward the Future'

'Surfing Toward the Future'

A new report from Chile about improving economic competitiveness advances a novel interpretation of innovation. Timing is everything.


From Communications of the ACM

Mass Digitization as Fair Use

Mass Digitization as Fair Use

Considering the implications of the late-2013 ruling in favor of Google in the Authors Guild case.


From Communications of the ACM

How to Build a Bad Research Center

How to Build a Bad Research Center

Sharing lessons learned from experiences creating successful multidisciplinary research centers.


From Communications of the ACM

The Impact of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Impact of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Codifying human rights and inclusiveness in a technical context for people with disabilities.

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