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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.

October 2011


From ACM Opinion

Do Volunteer Programmers Produce Better Code?

Do Volunteer Programmers Produce Better Code?

Volunteer programmers do better if they are in it for the long haul, says blogger Robert Pogson. "It's human nature to do better work when you are doing something you choose to do instead of something the boss orders."


From ACM Opinion

Cold-Calling Dennis Ritchie

Cold-Calling Dennis Ritchie

When I was a grad student at the University of Wisconsin in 1978, I called Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs to tell him about the work I was doing with the Unix line editor. I had added structure. You could nest lines under other…


From ACM Opinion

Ada Lovelace and Brazil's Female It Pros

Ada Lovelace and Brazil's Female It Pros

Computer science higher education classes today are heavily skewed towards men. Researcher Jamie Swim's Master's thesis at the University of Texas was focused on female IT professionals in São Paulo, and explores unusual truths…


From ACM Opinion

­.s. v. Jones: Where Privacy, Technology and the Constitution Collide

­.s. v. Jones: Where Privacy, Technology and the Constitution Collide

What is at stake in United States v. Jones is nothing less than the continued vitality of the Fourth Amendment in the modern technological age.


From ACM Opinion

Rise of the Robot Journalists

Rise of the Robot Journalists

The New York Times reported recently that artificial intelligence is being used to compose news stories. Advocates argue that the articles created by "robot journalists" replace low-level coverage that many newspapers no longer…


From ACM Opinion

The Future of American Business and Innovation

The Future of American Business and Innovation

When IBM CEO Sam Palmisano kicked off a nationwide speaking tour celebrating IBM's 100th anniversary at Johns Hopkins University? recently, he devoted a chunk of time explaining a decision made more than half a decade ago to…


From ACM Opinion

Prospero's Tempestuous Family

Abdulfattah "John" Jandali is a casino manager outside Reno, so he knows about odds.


From ACM Opinion

Meters Could Spy On ­s

Meters Could Spy On ­s

If you bought an appliance in the last three years, odds are it was 'smart,' meaning it probably contains a wireless radio. Once hooked up to a smart meter, an appliance's operations can be shifted remotely by your utility…


From ACM Opinion

Why iOS 5 Is a Big Deal

While most of this week's attention is going to be on Apple's new iPhone 4S and how it sells, the most important thing to come out of the company is a new version of its iOS software, which arrives today.


From ACM Opinion

Reality Is Borken

Reality Is Borken

U.K. Education Secretary Michael Gove recently declared that games offer "huge potential for maths and science teaching," but progress has been slow. The trick, of course, is to keep the 'cool' of games as part of the programming…


From ACM News

IBM Bets on Data-Centric Computing

IBM Bets on Data-Centric Computing

Jai Menon, chief technology officer and vice-president for technical strategy for IBM's Systems and Technology Group, holds 52 patents and is arguably most famous for his contribution to the Raid storage technology.


From ACM Opinion

Cloud-Powered Facial Recognition Is Terrifying

Cloud-Powered Facial Recognition Is Terrifying

"I never forget a face," goes the Marx Brothers one-liner, "but in your case, I'll be glad to make an exception." Unlike Groucho Marx, unfortunately, the cloud never forgets.


From ACM Opinion

Despite Hopes, Computer Sector Not Making A Dent In Joblessness

Despite Hopes, Computer Sector Not Making A Dent In Joblessness

Despite a few success stories, most Internet, software and information technology service firms headquartered in Connecticut are not adding many employees. That includes some whose sales are growing rapidly.


From ACM Opinion

Miracle Pill or Cheap Gimmick?

Miracle Pill or Cheap Gimmick?

Aakash, the world's cheapest tablet computer, has the potential of being a game-changer that empowers India's poor. But its introduction raises important questions about its supporting infrastructure and suitability for India's…


From ACM Opinion

Steve Jobs and Me

 He said my 1971 article inspired him. His iBook obsessed me.


From ACM Opinion

What I Learned from Steve Jobs

 Many people have explained what one can learn from Steve Jobs. But few, if any, of these people have been inside the tent and experienced first hand what it was like to work with him. I don’t want any lessons to be lost or forgotten…


From ACM Opinion

Steve Jobs: A Man of Contradiction and Genius

Steve Jobs: A Man of Contradiction and Genius

When historians look back at the life of Steve Jobs, they will chronicle a man of contradiction and genius. But for the legions of Apple fans, it's personal.


From ACM Opinion

The Steve Jobs I Knew

The Steve Jobs I Knew

That Steve Jobs was a genius, a giant influence on multiple industries and billions of lives, has been written many times since he retired as Apple’s CEO in August. He was a historical figure on the scale of a Thomas Edison…


From ACM News

Playboy Interview: Steven Jobs (1985)

Playboy Interview: Steven Jobs (1985)

If anyone can be said to represent the spirit of an entrepreneurial generation, the man to beat for now is the charismatic cofounder and chairman of Apple Computer, Inc., Steven Jobs. He transformed a small business begun…


From ACM Opinion

Steve Jobs: 1955

Steve Jobs: 1955

Steve Jobs is dead. One big question is whether the unbelievably innovative culture he forged will live. Jobs was not a great human being, but he was a great, transformative, and historical figure.


From ACM Opinion

Innovation Starvation

My lifespan encompasses the era when the United States of America was capable of launching human beings into space.


From ACM Opinion

Apple's Cook to Woo Shoppers Without Pizzazz of Iphone 5

Apple Inc. this holiday season will have to prove it’s what’s on the inside that matters most.


From ACM Opinion

A Hint of Deterrence in ­.s. Drone-War Strategy

Here’s the trickiest counterterrorism puzzle for U.S. policymakers: How do you stop al-Qaeda from attacking the American homeland without getting bogged down in protracted wars against insurgents?


From ACM Opinion

Off-Shoring and Cyber Security

Big U.S. and European software companies are increasingly developing code for mainstream products overseas, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite the temptation of cost savings, analysts say the bulk off-shoring…


From ACM Opinion

IT Inferno: The Nine Circles of IT Hell

Spend enough time in the tech industry, and you'll eventually find yourself in IT hell—one not unlike the underworld described by Dante in his "Divine Comedy." But here, in the data centers, conference rooms, and cubicles,…


From ACM Opinion

In Profile: Ramesh Raskar

In Profile: Ramesh Raskar

In 2007, Ramesh Raskar was one of the most promising young researchers at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs in Cambridge, Mass. Four years earlier, Technology Review had honored him as one of its top innovators under 35


From ACM Opinion

The ­niversity of Wherever

For more than a decade educators have been expecting the Internet to transform that bastion of tradition and authority, the university. Digital utopians have envisioned a world of virtual campuses and "distributed" learning…


From ACM Opinion

Ron Rivest on Fixing Ssl, Apts, and the Future of Security

Ron Rivest on Fixing Ssl, Apts, and the Future of Security

One of the biggest talks at this year's Black Hat Briefings was a presentation on the structural problem with digital certificate authorities by Moxie Marlinspike. The subsequent hack of Dutch certificate authority DigiNotar…


From ACM Opinion

­se It Better: The Worst Trends in Tech

­se It Better: The Worst Trends in Tech

Consumer technology doesn't always get better, faster and cheaper. Here are four bad moves that prove the future isn't always bright.


From Communications of the ACM

Modernizing the Danish Democratic Process

Modernizing the Danish Democratic Process

Examining the socio-technological issues involved in Denmark's decision to pursue the legalization of electronic elections.

Blog at CACM
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Time to Assess National AI Policies
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