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Communications of the ACM

Opinion Archive


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

October 2011


From ACM Opinion

The New Einsteins Will Be Scientists Who Share

In January 2009, a mathematician at Cambridge University named Tim Gowers decided to use his blog to run an unusual social experiment. He picked out a difficult mathematical problem and tried to solve it completely in the…


From ACM Opinion

The Genius of Jobs

One of the questions I wrestled with when writing about Steve Jobs was how smart he was. On the surface, this should not have been much of an issue.


From ACM News

Kevin Mitnick Rates Today's Blackhats

Kevin Mitnick was hacking when the LulzSec kids were still in training pants.


From ACM Opinion

Why Steve Jobs Is Right about Android

Why Steve Jobs Is Right about Android

Over the weekend I wrote, "What If Steve Jobs Is Right?" As the title implies, the post was a hypothetical look at the possibility that Steve Jobs' assertion that Android is a "stolen product" is true.


From ACM Opinion

Jack Zylkin, USB Typewriter Guy

Jack Zylkin, USB Typewriter Guy

Jack Zylkin created the USB Typewriter. I interviewed him about his creation, the response he's received, and why people are so interested in "the muggle magic of gears and pulleys and solenoids."


From ACM News

You Are Data

Bits and Base Pairs explores the concept that the information encoded in our DNA can be compressed down to just 4MB, the equivalent, for example, of "the three floppy disks you owned in 1999."


From ACM Opinion

Ice Cream Sandwich: A Deep-Dive Tour With Android

Ice Cream Sandwich: A Deep-Dive Tour With Android

There are few things in this world I despise more than software updates. Downloading hundreds of files, waiting for the progress bar to fill, restarting the device—it’s all a thankless chore. Usually.


From ACM Opinion

Wireless Demand Soon Outstripping Capacity

A new report from the Global Information Industry Center at the University of California, San Diego examines the projected disconnect between U.S. wireless infrastructure capacity and consumer demand.

According to “Point…


From ACM Opinion

Patriot Act Turns 10, With No Signs of Retirement

The USA Patriot Act, the law granting the government vast surveillance powers that was adopted in the wake of September 11, turns a decade old Wednesday. But despite its namesake of "United and Strengthening America by Providing…


From ACM Opinion

Why Do Big IT Projects Fail? Part One: The Professionals

Academics, CIOs, lawyers, a professor of outsourcing, a consultant, and an investigative journalist answer the question on the minds of many a business and IT professional: Why do big IT projects fail?


From ACM Opinion

What Open Source Can Learn From Steve Jobs, Part 1

The passing of Steve Jobs earlier this month triggered reactions that spanned the gamut—from expressions of appreciation and sober reflection to some tasteless extremes of zealotry from a subset of the open source community…


From ACM News

Animators Distill Steve Jobs's Bio Into 90 Seconds

Animators Distill Steve Jobs's Bio Into 90 Seconds

Animators from NMA.TV have reached a new high in campy 3D synthesis of real-world events, boiling down all 630 pages of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio into a 90-second joyride through the book's most juicy revelations.


From ACM Opinion

Did Android Copy iOS? We Asked Google's Product Manager...

Did Android Copy iOS? We Asked Google's Product Manager...

Has Android copied elements from Apple's iOS? It's not a matter that Google's senior managers for the Android operating system want to get involved in.


From ACM Opinion

The Shocking Strangeness of Our 25-Year-Old Digital Privacy Law

The Shocking Strangeness of Our 25-Year-Old Digital Privacy Law

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was signed into law on October 21, 1986. Although it was forward-looking at the time, ECPA's privacy protections have remained stuck in the past while technology has raced…


From ACM Opinion

Running Out of Bandwidth

At a time of slow economic growth and declining competitiveness, wireless technology remains a shining example of innovation. In the last 10 years, wireless communications companies in the United States have invested hundreds…


From ACM News

11 Most Startling Revelations in 'Steve Jobs'

11 Most Startling Revelations in 'Steve Jobs'

Full disclosure: Steve Jobs was my white whale, the interview I wanted more than any other and the day he died I fashioned a black band across the Apple logo on my MacBook. But after reading "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson…


From ACM Opinion

Don't Underestimate the Singularity

Although Paul Allen paraphrases my 2005 book, The Singularity Is Near, in the title of his essay (cowritten with his colleague Mark Greaves), it appears that he has not actually read the book. His only citation is to an essay…


From ACM Opinion

Technology and the Innovation Economy

Technology and the Innovation Economy

By adopting policies such as a permanent R&D tax credit, more effective university knowledge commercialization, improving STEM worker training, and regional economic clusters, the U.S. can build an innovation economy and…


From ACM Opinion

The Scary Prospect of Global Drone Warfare

 Drone technology is spreading rapidly. As many as 50 countries are developing or purchasing these systems, including China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran. Even non-state actors are involved. Hezbollah reportedly has deployed…


From ACM Opinion

When Technology Disrupts Enforcement of Judicial Decisions

When Technology Disrupts Enforcement of Judicial Decisions

The relationship between law and technology has been described accurately as a cat and mouse game. Technology readily fills the role of mouse, always outpacing its counterpart. This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable…


From ACM Opinion

Ballmer: Android Users Need To Be 'Computer Scientists'

Ballmer: Android Users Need To Be 'Computer Scientists'

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, said that people need to be 'computer scientists' to be able to use Android smartphones, which he compared unfavorably to a Windows phone.


From ACM Opinion

The Cyber Arms Race Has Begun

The Cyber Arms Race Has Begun

The Stuxnet virus was the starting gun for an arms race in cyberspace. Not only do all major powers feel compelled to develop threatening malware; many smaller countries, which could not compete in a conventional arms race,…


From ACM Opinion

The Importance of Word Choice: Terms with Multiple Meanings for Scientists and the Public

If you haven't seen the excellent post on Mountain Beltway—Words matter—you should head over there and take a look. The post brought up some interesting ideas about word choice, and how the common definition of a word may convey…


From ACM Opinion

Dennis Ritchie: The Other Man Inside Your iPhone

The groundbreaking work he did with Ken Thompson led to the operating system behind everything from set-top boxes to the iPhone, but who sings the praises of the late Dennis Ritchie?


From ACM Opinion

Steve Jobs and the User Psyche

Steve Jobs and the User Psyche

In a 1989 interview, Steve Jobs of NeXT Computer impressed Communications Editor Peter J. Denning as viewing the future as infinitely malleable, as something he worked not to predict, but to build. 


From ACM Opinion

With Siri, Apple Could Eventually Build A Real AI

With Siri, Apple Could Eventually Build A Real AI

As iPhone 4S's flood into the hands of the public, users are coming face-to-face with something they weren't quite expecting: Apple's new voice interface, Siri, has an attitude.


From ACM Opinion

Making Robots with Open Source: An Interview with Steve Cousins, CEO Willow Garage

Steve Cousins, President and CEO of Willow Garage, creators of the PR2 robot and the TurtleBot—both based on the open source ROS (Robot Operating System) platform—discusses the business model and challenges involved in using…


From ACM Opinion

Apple's Siri Is as Revolutionary as the Mac

The initial reaction to the iPhone 4S was cooler than Apple might have hoped. Expectations had been hyped to such a point that people were looking for a leap forward equivalent to the first iPhone. When they couldn't immediately…


From ACM Opinion

Dennis Ritchie: The Shoulders Steve Jobs Stood On

The tributes to Dennis Ritchie won’t match the river of praise that spilled out over the web after the death of Steve Jobs. But they should.


From ACM Opinion

The Singularity Isn't Near

 Futurists like Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil have argued that the world is rapidly approaching a tipping point, where the accelerating pace of smarter and smarter machines will soon outrun all human capabilities. They call this…

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