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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.

August 2013


From ACM Opinion

The Giant Hurdle For the Internet of Things

The Giant Hurdle For the Internet of Things

Everyone's talking about the Internet of Things, a proposed network of intelligent devices that could one day automate much of the world around us. HVAC and lighting systems would adjust depending on a user’s whereabouts. Lawns…


From ACM Opinion

Lego Mindstorms Ev3 Means Giant Robots, Powerful Computers

Lego Mindstorms Ev3 Means Giant Robots, Powerful Computers

Gummi Bears. That's what playing with Lego bricks reminds me of—sitting cross-legged on the floor in the back room of my parents' house on Saturday mornings, a giant tub of Lego pieces open in front of me while animated bears…


From ACM TechNews

Attracting the Next Cybersecurity Pros

Attracting the Next Cybersecurity Pros

Winnie Callahan, director for business, education, government, and health innovations at the University of Southern California Viterbi's Information Sciences Institute, discusses the school's new master's degree in cybersecurity…


From ACM Opinion

How Wearable Technology Could Transform Business

How Wearable Technology Could Transform Business

Once upon a time seeing your life flash before your eyes was something people did their best to avoid. The arrival of Google Glass seems to have changed that.


From ACM Opinion

Pgp Inventor and Silent Circle Co-Founder Phil Zimmermann on the Surveillance Society

Pgp Inventor and Silent Circle Co-Founder Phil Zimmermann on the Surveillance Society

Phil Zimmermann might be a technologist, but he tends to get philosophical when it comes to the issues of privacy and security and how they intersect with our society.


From ACM Opinion

We Need a Moratorium on 'Brain-Like' Tech Stories

My "aha" moment arrived two decades ago while I was an undergrad student (and dilettante "futurist," though I didn’t know the word then), sitting in the Great Hall at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota.


From ACM Opinion

Lavabit Chief Predicts 'long Fight' with Feds

Lavabit Chief Predicts 'long Fight' with Feds

Ladar Levison can't talk for legal reasons about the specifics of why he shut down Lavabit, his encrypted Web e-mail company, but he is hardly tight-lipped about the subject.


From ACM Opinion

Counterfeits Can Kill ­.s. Troops. So Why Isn't Congress and Dod Doing More to Stop It?

Counterfeits Can Kill ­.s. Troops. So Why Isn't Congress and Dod Doing More to Stop It?

Sometime in the not-to-distant future, a submarine will sink. An air defense missile will detonate far from its intended target. These chilling scenarios will directly result from a $2 counterfeit electronic tucked deep within…


From ACM TechNews

Jeff Hawkins: Where Open Source and Machine Learning Meet Big Data

Jeff Hawkins: Where Open Source and Machine Learning Meet Big Data

Smartphone pioneer Jeff Hawkins says that he primarily concentrates today on building machines that operate on neuroscientific principles.


From ACM Opinion

Professor Emeritus Rodney Brooks Refines the Sequel to Irobot

Professor Emeritus Rodney Brooks Refines the Sequel to Irobot

Professor emeritus Rodney Brooks gained fame in the 1990s for co-founding iRobot, an MIT spinoff that brought the world the Roomba and other innovative, helpful robots. He's since moved on to robots that are bigger, but no less…


From ACM Opinion

WikiLeaks' Teenage Benedict Arnold

WikiLeaks' Teenage Benedict Arnold

When he met Julian Assange for the first time, Sigurdur Thordarson admired the WikiLeaks founder's attitude and quickly signed up to the cause.


From ACM Opinion

What Motivates Free Software Licencing Decisions?

What Motivates Free Software Licencing Decisions?

Free software licenses can be divided into two broad categories: copyleft licenses and permissive licenses. The licenses reflect a particular view about fairness: a sense that it is wrongful for others to take from the commons…


From ACM Opinion

How Steve Jobs Turned Technology — And Apple — Into Religion

How Steve Jobs Turned Technology — And Apple — Into Religion

The technological values promoted by Apple are part of the Faustian bargain of technology, which both giveth and taketh away.


From ACM Opinion

Craig Venter on the Hail Mary Genome and Synthetic Meat

Craig Venter on the Hail Mary Genome and Synthetic Meat

Where are we in the hype cycle of synthetic biology?


From ACM Opinion

In Pursuit of Quantum Biology With Birgitta Whaley

In Pursuit of Quantum Biology With Birgitta Whaley

As an undergraduate at Oxford University in the mid-1970s, K. Birgitta Whaley struggled to choose between chemistry and physics.


From ACM Opinion

If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?

If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?

Most of what scientists know of Jupiter's moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s.


From ACM Opinion

The End of Integrated Systems

I always travel with a pair of binoculars and, to the puzzlement of my fellow airline passengers, spend part of every flight gazing through them at whatever happens to be below us: Midwestern towns, Pennsylvania strip mines,…


From ACM Opinion

Former Nsa Chief on Latest Leaked Dragnet Spy Program: It's Real, and It's Spectacular

Former Nsa Chief on Latest Leaked Dragnet Spy Program: It's Real, and It's Spectacular

Does the NSA really operate a vast database that allows its analysts to sift through millions of records showing nearly everything a user does on the Internet, as was recently reported?


From ACM Opinion

Snowden—Facts, Fictions, and Fears

Snowden—Facts, Fictions, and  Fears

"Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere ... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President. …" Thus spoke…


From ACM Opinion

Online Courses Can Improve Life on Campus

Online Courses Can Improve Life on Campus

The future of on-campus learning lies in the right combination of digital and traditional tools.


From ACM Opinion

One Year on Mars: Curiosity Rover's Chief Scientist John Grotzinger Speaks Out

One Year on Mars: Curiosity Rover's Chief Scientist John Grotzinger Speaks Out

One year ago Monday (Aug. 5), NASA's Mars rover Curiosity pulled off a stunning and unprecedented landing inside Gale Crater, kicking off a two-year surface mission to determine if the Red Planet could ever have supported microbial…


From ACM Opinion

Hacktivist Richard Stallman Takes On Proprietary Software, Saas, and Open Source

Hacktivist Richard Stallman Takes On Proprietary Software, Saas, and Open Source

Richard Stallman, revered by some as a genius (after all, he won a McArthur "genius" grant in 1990) and by others as a crackpot, was in New York Monday where he warned against the dangers of using proprietary software, SaaS,…


From ACM Opinion

Tech Essentials: How Cory Doctorow Gets Around

Tech Essentials: How Cory Doctorow Gets Around

The co-editor of Boing Boing, novelist and fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation shares his tools for circumventing censorship in airports, easing back pain and sparking the curiosity of his 5-year-old daughter


From ACM Opinion

Google's Science Fellows Challenge the Company's Fund-Raising For Senator Inhofe

Ten years ago this week, Senator James M. Inhofe, the Republican from Oklahoma, used a two-hour floor speech to launch his campaign on the credibility of climate science pointing to dangers from the unabated release of greenhouse…


From ACM Opinion

The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership

The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership

Imagine the government passed a law requiring all citizens to carry a tracking device. Such a law would immediately be found unconstitutional. Yet we all carry mobile phones.


From ACM Opinion

How Moocs Can Help India

How Moocs Can Help India

Online courses have the potential to dramatically transform Indian higher education by alleviating faculty shortages and delivering education on a scale and at a quality not possible before.


From ACM Opinion

The Machine Zone: This Is Where You Go When You Just Can't Stop Looking at Pictures on Facebook

The Machine Zone: This Is Where You Go When You Just Can't Stop Looking at Pictures on Facebook

"People love Facebook. They really love it," Biz Stone wrote earlier this month. "My mother-in-law looks hypnotized when she decides to put in some Facebook time."


From ACM Opinion

Miscreants of the Internet Love to Torture Brian Krebs

Miscreants of the Internet Love to Torture Brian Krebs

What is Brian Krebs?


From ACM Opinion

They Know Much More Than You Think

They Know Much More Than You Think

In mid-May, Edward Snowden, an American in his late twenties, walked through the onyx entrance of the Mira Hotel on Nathan Road in Hong Kong and checked in.


From Communications of the ACM

The Air Gap: SCADA's Enduring Security Myth

The Air Gap

Attempting to use isolation as a security strategy for critical systems is unrealistic in an increasingly connected world.

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