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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.

January 2014


From ACM Opinion

The Lost Ancestors of ASCII Art

The Lost Ancestors of ASCII Art

ASCII art is as much a part of the Internet as emoticons, cats, or lol.


From ACM Opinion

When Big Data Marketing Becomes Stalking

When Big Data Marketing Becomes Stalking

Many of us now expect our online activities to be recorded and analyzed, but we assume the physical spaces we inhabit are different.


From ACM Opinion

How Real Is Spike Jonze's 'Her'? Artificial Intelligence Experts Weigh In

How Real Is Spike Jonze's 'Her'? Artificial Intelligence Experts Weigh In

In Spike Jonze's Oscar-nominated, futuristic film 'Her,' computers compose music, carry on seamless conversations with humans, organize emails instantaneously, and even fall in love.


From ACM Opinion

ICANN CEO Sets Off Explosion of New Internet Names

ICANN CEO Sets Off Explosion of New Internet Names

Starting next week, the Internet is going to look very different—and ICANN Chief Executive Fadi Chehade is the one who'll get both the credit and the blame.


From ACM Opinion

Here's Why Tech Companies' NSA 'Transparency Reports' Are Mostly a PR Stunt

Here's Why Tech Companies' NSA 'Transparency Reports' Are Mostly a PR Stunt

Technology companies will soon be able to disclose more details about the number of national security orders and requests they receive, according to a joint statement from Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National…


From ACM Opinion

Virtual Worlds Are Real

Virtual Worlds Are Real

Ever since virtual worlds and online games emerged in the mainstream consciousness around 2005, the media has insisted on framing them as escapist fantasies.


From ACM Opinion

Udacity Founder: MOOCs Can Help the Economy, Even If They Can't Replace College

Udacity Founder: MOOCs Can Help the Economy, Even If They Can't Replace College

Sebastian Thrun was instrumental in building Google's self-driving car and Glass projects, and helped launch the company's Google X wing to spearhead "moonshot" projects like Project Loon.


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin and the Fictions of Money

Bitcoin and the Fictions of Money

How should we think about a currency like Bitcoin?


From ACM Opinion

I See You: The Databases That Facial-Recognition Apps Need to Survive

I See You: The Databases That Facial-Recognition Apps Need to Survive

Privacy concerns have been ignited by "NameTag," a facial-recognition app designed to reveal personal information after analyzing photos taken on mobile devices.


From ACM Opinion

How a Database of the World's Knowledge Shapes Google's Future

How a Database of the World's Knowledge Shapes Google's Future

For all its success, Google's famous Page Rank algorithm has never understood a word of the billions of Web pages it has directed people to over the years.


From ACM Opinion

The White House Is Going to Study Big Data. Here Are 5 Things It Should Know

The White House Is Going to Study Big Data. Here Are 5 Things It Should Know

The White House announced via blog post on Thursday that it's forming working group focused on understanding the promises and pitfalls of big data (with a heavy emphasis on privacy, apparently) and how they might affect government…


From ACM Opinion

An AI Pal That Is Better Than 'Her'

An AI Pal That Is Better Than 'Her'

In the movie Her, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture this year, a middle-aged writer named Theodore Twombly installs and rapidly falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system who christens herself…


From ACM News

An Open Letter from U.S. Researchers in Cryptography and Information Security

An Open Letter from U.S. Researchers in Cryptography and Information Security

Leading members of the U.S. cryptography and information-security research communities express their outrage over U.S. surveillance practices.


From ACM Opinion

5 Questions for Edward Snowden That Aren't Exactly About the NSA

5 Questions for Edward Snowden That Aren't Exactly About the NSA

The world's most famous former intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, is scheduled to answer questions posted on Twitter in an hour-long Webcast on Thursday.


From ACM Opinion

What If Your Autonomous Car Keeps Routing You Past Krispy Kreme?

What If Your Autonomous Car Keeps Routing You Past Krispy Kreme?

On a future road trip, your robot car decides to take a new route, driving you past a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop.


From ACM Opinion

Why Bitcoin Matters

Why Bitcoin Matters

A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers.


From ACM Opinion

Ann Cavoukian

Ann Cavoukian

Ann Cavoukian is the information and privacy commissioner in Ontario, Canada, and a longtime advocate of default online confidentiality.


From ACM Opinion

Pretty Good Privacy

Pretty Good Privacy

Few critics of the NSA will find much satisfaction in President Obama's speech this morning or in the set of reforms that he announced.


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin Is Not Just Digital Currency. It's Napster for Finance.

Bitcoin Is Not Just Digital Currency. It's Napster for Finance.

In 2013, bitcoin's valuation didn't just skyrocket, but its infrastructure, services, and adoption exploded as well, culminating in recent announcements that major online retailer Overstock.com and NBA team the Sacramento Kings…


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin—Boom or Bubble?

The baffling Bitcoin boom is either an exercise in self-delusion—a high-tech Ponzi scheme that will come crashing down—or an imaginative new Internet technology that could change how millions of people around the world conduct…


From ACM Opinion

It's the 30th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's Monumental Decision About Betamax

It's the 30th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's Monumental Decision About Betamax

Those of us who came of age in the Internet era may not know that they owe their ability to go online to a court decision 30 years ago today about a mechanically intricate analog tape recorder.


From ACM Opinion

When Google Closes the Nest Deal, Privacy Issues for the Internet of Things Will Hit the Big Time

When Google Closes the Nest Deal, Privacy Issues for the Internet of Things Will Hit the Big Time

Google rocked the smart home market Monday with its intention to purchase connected home thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion, which will force a much-needed conversation about data privacy and security for the Internet of…


From ACM Opinion

How Isaac Asimov Got 2014 Both So Right and So Wrong

How Isaac Asimov Got 2014 Both So Right and So Wrong

In 1964, legendary writer of science fiction and science fact Isaac Asimov visited the World's Fair, where a General Electric pavilion chronicling advances in electric appliances inspired him to imagine how that progress might…


From ACM Opinion

'A FEMA-level Fail': The Law Professor Who Coined 'Net Neutrality' Lashes Out at the FCC's Legal Strategy

'A FEMA-level Fail': The Law Professor Who Coined 'Net Neutrality' Lashes Out at the FCC's Legal Strategy

Back in 2003, when he was a law professor at the University of Virginia, Tim Wu wrote the definitive paper on net neutrality.


From ACM Opinion

'Net Neutrality' Ruling Opens Door for Two-Tiered Internet Market

'Net Neutrality' Ruling Opens Door for Two-Tiered Internet Market

An "Open Internet" became endangered this week at a time when the U.S. increasingly relies on Internet services to deliver everything from education to entertainment.


From ACM Opinion

A Victory for an Unfettered Internet

A Victory for an Unfettered Internet

A federal appeals court in Washington slapped the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday for overstepping its legal authority by trying to regulate Internet access.


From ACM Opinion

I Spent Two Hours Talking With the NSA's Bigwigs. Here's What Has Them Mad

I Spent Two Hours Talking With the NSA's Bigwigs. Here's What Has Them Mad

My expectations were low when I asked the National Security Agency to cooperate with my story on the impact of Edward Snowden’s leaks on the tech industry.


From ACM Opinion

'What Everyone Needs To Know' About Today's Cyberthreats

'What Everyone Needs To Know' About Today's Cyberthreats

Even if cybersecurity isn't a subject you think about a lot, the data breach of credit card information from Target and Neiman Marcus customers has probably increased your level of cyber-anxiety.


From ACM Opinion

Why Google Bought Nest: A Theory

Why Google Bought Nest: A Theory

Google is acquiring Nest, makers of a smart thermostat, for a reported $3.2 billion.


From ACM Opinion

This Company Sold Google a Quantum Computer. Here's How It Works.

This Company Sold Google a Quantum Computer. Here's How It Works.

I thought it would be interesting to hear from D-Wave, a start-up that has raised more than $130 million in venture capital and employs over 100 people.

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