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The opinion archive provides access to past opinion stories from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.

January 2016


From ACM Opinion

There May Be a Way to Allow Mass Surveillance and Preserve Our Privacy at the Same Time

There May Be a Way to Allow Mass Surveillance and Preserve Our Privacy at the Same Time

If we've learned anything over the past few years, it's that governments will make all sorts of excuses to justify the surveillance of its citizens.


From ACM Opinion

The Language Barrier Is About to Fall

The Language Barrier Is About to Fall

It used to be the case when I traveled abroad that I would take a little pocket dictionary that provided translations for commonly used phrases and words.


From ACM Opinion

Will Machines Eliminate Us?

Will Machines Eliminate Us?

Yoshua Bengio leads one of the world's preëminent research groups developing a powerful AI technique known as deep learning.


From ACM Opinion

Digital Intuition

Digital Intuition

Napoleon had it and so did Charles Darwin. Tennis champion Roger Federer has it in spades. The dictionary defines intuition as knowledge obtained without conscious reasoning.


From ACM News

Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age?

Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age?

There are not many occasions when one can give an unqualified thumbs-up to something the government does, but this is one such occasion.


From ACM Opinion

Go Players React to Computer Defeat

Go Players React to Computer Defeat

For decades, the ancient game of Go has stood out as the one board game that computers couldn't crack.


From ACM Opinion

If Killer Robots Arrive, the Terminator Will Be the Least of Our Problems

If Killer Robots Arrive, the Terminator Will Be the Least of Our Problems

Autonomous weapons experts sounded the alarm last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, cautioning that unless governments act to limit these weapons’ risks, it may be too late.


From ACM Opinion

A New and Stunning Way to See the Whole Earth

A New and Stunning Way to See the Whole Earth

The Japanese weather satellite Himawari-8 sits 22,000 miles from Earth in orbit. On August 5, 2015, it peered down at the half of Earth that it can see, a hemisphere with Japan at its center.


From ACM Opinion

Why We'e So Vulnerable

Why We'e So Vulnerable

In an age of continuing electronic breaches and rising geopolitical tensions over cyber-espionage, the White House is working on a national cybersecurity strategy that’s expected in early 2016.


From ACM Opinion

To Make AI More Human, Teach It to Chitchat

To Make AI More Human, Teach It to Chitchat

Tom was discussing the film star Tang Wei with a chatbot named XiaoIce, and the bot was excited: "A goddess! She stole my heart … and then went off and married!" Married who? "Haven’t you heard?" XiaoIce replied.


From ACM Opinion

Power Wars: How Obama Justified, Expanded Bush-Era Surveillance

Power Wars: How Obama Justified, Expanded Bush-Era Surveillance

Over the winter holidays, I took some well-needed time offline, away from e-mail and social media.


From ACM Opinion

PSA: Do Not Use the New Prime Number for RSA Encryption

PSA: Do Not Use the New Prime Number for RSA Encryption

You may have heard that there’s a new largest prime number in town.


From ACM Opinion

The Case for Looking to the States, Not the Federal Government, to Protect Your Privacy

The Case for Looking to the States, Not the Federal Government, to Protect Your Privacy

A year ago, President Obama stood behind a podium at the Federal Trade Commission and called for legislation that would set a single national standard for when companies have to tell consumers that their personal information…


From ACM Opinion

Forget AI—The Human-Friendly Future of Computing Is Already Here

Forget AI—The Human-Friendly Future of Computing Is Already Here

For many of us, the concept of artificial intelligence conjures up visions of a machine-dominated world, where humans are servants to the devices they created.


From ACM Opinion

Planet Nine May Help Us Slingshot Our Way to Interstellar Space

Planet Nine May Help Us Slingshot Our Way to Interstellar Space

In his famous sonnet, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, John Keats describes the moment he first came to appreciate some of the great works of classical antiquity.


From ACM Opinion

5 Big Changes Coming to Social Media in 2016

5 Big Changes Coming to Social Media in 2016

It's been a memorable year in social media. 2015 saw the birth of live social streaming, with apps like Periscope and Meerkat winning over early adopters.


From ACM Opinion

The 'Pluto Killer' Who Thinks He's Found the True Ninth Planet

The 'Pluto Killer' Who Thinks He's Found the True Ninth Planet

Mike Brown is an astronomer at Caltech who's been instrumental in the discovery of more than 30 dwarf planets and asteroids at the far reaches of our solar system.


From ACM Opinion

Tech's 'Frightful 5' Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future

Tech's 'Frightful 5' Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future

There's a little parlor game that people in Silicon Valley like to play. Let's call it, Who's Losing?


From ACM Opinion

The Long and Winding History of Encryption

The Long and Winding History of Encryption

Never in history have more people had access to advanced encryption in their homes, offices, and pockets.


From ACM Careers

Sarah Parcak, Space Archaeologist

Sarah Parcak, Space Archaeologist

Sarah Parcak can see looting at ancient sites—from space.


From ACM Opinion

Wikipedia Turns 15

Wikipedia Turns 15

It must be difficult for the roughly half a billion people who visit Wikipedia every month to remember a world without the free online encyclopedia.


From ACM Opinion

Space Mining Could Set Off a Star War

Space Mining Could Set Off a Star War

Space is lousy with profits.


From ACM Opinion

China's Quantum Space Pioneer: We Need to Explore the Unknown

China's Quantum Space Pioneer: We Need to Explore the Unknown

Physicist Pan Jian-Wei is the architect of the world's first attempt to set up a quantum communications link between Earth and space—an experiment that is set to begin with the launch of a satellite in June.


From ACM Opinion

What Will It Take for Humans to Colonize the Milky Way?

What Will It Take for Humans to Colonize the Milky Way?

The idea that humans will eventually travel to and inhabit other parts of our galaxy was well expressed by the early Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who wrote, "Earth is humanity's cradle, but you’re not meant…


From ACM News

The President Wants Every Student to Learn Computer Science. How Would That Work?

The President Wants Every Student to Learn Computer Science. How Would That Work?

President Obama used his final State of the Union address Tuesday night to reflect on his legacy. But he also put forth some specific proposals for his remaining year in office. And the very first one was "helping students learn…


From ACM Opinion

Werner Herzog Talks Virtual Reality

Werner Herzog Talks Virtual Reality

"I'm a skeptic of 3-D, but when I saw the paintings I knew I had to use it," Werner Herzog told Judith Thurman in 2010, after the New York première of his documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."


From ACM Opinion

'Crispr' Breaks Out Of the Lab

'Crispr' Breaks Out Of the Lab

A new gene-editing technology has been relentlessly hyped over the past year, and it goes by a catchy if rather incongruous acronym: Crispr.


From ACM Opinion

What Makes a 'Smart Gun' Smart?

What Makes a 'Smart Gun' Smart?

Every time a toddler accidentally shoots a friend or family member, a teen kills himself via gunshot or a shooter perpetrates an act of mass violence, public discussion circles back to "smart gun" technology.


From ACM Opinion

2015 Was the Best Year Ever in Space

2015 Was the Best Year Ever in Space

With 2015 now behind us, what truly stands out?


From ACM Opinion

Google Chairman Thinks AI Can Help Solve World's 'Hard Problems'

Google Chairman Thinks AI Can Help Solve World's 'Hard Problems'

Google's chairman thinks artificial intelligence will let scientists solve some of the world’s "hard problems," like population growth, climate change, human development, and education.

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