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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 2017


From ACM Opinion

The Physics of Time Travel Isn't Just the Stuff of Science Fiction

The Physics of Time Travel Isn't Just the Stuff of Science Fiction

We're all time travelers nowadays. We project ourselves mentally into the misty past and the risky future.


From ACM Opinion

Learning to Spot Fake News: Start with a Gut Check

Learning to Spot Fake News: Start with a Gut Check

Which of these statements seems more trustworthy to you?


From ACM Opinion

Does Facebook Even Know How to Control Facebook?

Does Facebook Even Know How to Control Facebook?

Later today, executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify about the ways that Russian operatives used these platforms to plant and spread disinformation, and generally…


From ACM Opinion

Behold, the World's Most Famous teapot

Behold, the World's Most Famous teapot

Martin Newell was worried about his Ph.D. research as he sat down to tea with his wife one day in 1974.


From ACM Opinion

The End of an Era Came Long Before the End of Cassini

The End of an Era Came Long Before the End of Cassini

I have now been writing about science for nearly a dozen years, which means my career more or less overlaps with that of the Cassini probe.


From ACM Opinion

5 Star Trek Technologies That Are More Truth Than Science Fiction

5 Star Trek Technologies That Are More Truth Than Science Fiction

It's easy to get sucked in by the wild and wacky science of Star Trek, from beaming and materializing in other places, to the intense blast of deadly light from a phaser, to the incredible disappearing act called "cloaking" used…


From ACM Opinion

Google's 'quantum Supremacy' Moment May Not Mean What You Think

Google's 'quantum Supremacy' Moment May Not Mean What You Think

Any day now, Google is expected to achieve quantum supremacy—the use of a quantum computer to solve a problem that even the most advanced supercomputer can't unravel.


From ACM Opinion

Fiction That Gets AI Right

Fiction That Gets AI Right

Even the most futuristic applications of AI, from robotic servants to instant health scans, somehow already seem familiar because they have been endless fodder for pop culture.


From ACM Opinion

Why We Shouldn't Teach Tech in Kindergarten

Why We Shouldn't Teach Tech in Kindergarten

The development of skills like coding is not what tomorrow's leaders need in order to walk confidently into the future.


From ACM Opinion

Russia Is Pushing to Control Cyberspace. We Should All Be Worried. 

Russia Is Pushing to Control Cyberspace. We Should All Be Worried. 

Russia's cyber-meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been accompanied by what U.S. and European experts describe as a worrisome Kremlin campaign to rewrite the rules for global cyberspace.


From ACM Opinion

There's No Good Decision in the Next Big Data Privacy Case

There's No Good Decision in the Next Big Data Privacy Case

In 2013, United States agents served a warrant on Microsoft seeking the emails of a suspect in a drug case.


From ACM Opinion

Driverless Cars Made Me Nervous. Then I Tried One.

Driverless Cars Made Me Nervous. Then I Tried One.

On my fourth day in a semi-driverless car, I finally felt comfortable enough to let it stop itself.


From ACM Opinion

Computing and the Fermi Paradox: A New Idea Emerges--The Aliens Are All Asleep

Computing and the Fermi Paradox: A New Idea Emerges--The Aliens Are All Asleep

Anders Sandberg and Stuart Armstrong of the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, working with Milan Ćirković of the University of Novi Sad in Serbia and Montenegro, recently offered a new way to link the Fermi…


From ACM Opinion

The Supreme Court Is Allergic to Math

The Supreme Court Is Allergic to Math

The Supreme Court does not compute. Or at least some of its members would rather not. The justices, the most powerful jurists in the land, seem to have a reluctance—even an allergy—to taking math and statistics seriously.


From ACM Opinion

Smartphones Are Weapons of Mass Manipulation, and This Guy Is Declaring War on Them

Smartphones Are Weapons of Mass Manipulation, and This Guy Is Declaring War on Them

If, like an ever-growing majority of people in the U.S., you own a smartphone, you might have the sense that apps in the age of the pocket-sized computer are designed to keep your attention as long as possible.


From ACM Opinion

Will AI and Blockchain Be Game-Changers?

Will AI and Blockchain Be Game-Changers?

This week saw another major achievement by Google's Deep Mind, when it showed that a neural network could learn to play Go in just three days, without even looking at how humans play this complex game.


From ACM Opinion

Andrew Ng Has a Chatbot That Can Help with Depression

Andrew Ng Has a Chatbot That Can Help with Depression

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I've been seeing a virtual therapist.


From ACM Opinion

Can We Get a Critical Mass of Women in Tech Within a Decade?

Can We Get a Critical Mass of Women in Tech Within a Decade?

Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, talks about how a failed bid for Congress started it all, how some of the biggest tech companies responded to her elevator pitch, and why the real problem is bro culture. …


From ACM Opinion

Pioneering Virtual Reality and New Video Technologies in Journalism

Pioneering Virtual Reality and New Video Technologies in Journalism

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Marcelle Hopkins, deputy video editor and co-director of virtual reality at The Times, discussed the tech she is using.


From ACM Opinion

The 15 Most Influential Websites of All Time

The 15 Most Influential Websites of All Time

The web, or "world wide web" as we used to say, turns 27 years old on December 20. On that date, nearly three decades ago, British engineer and scientist Tim Berners-Lee launched the world's first website, running on a NeXT computer…


From ACM Opinion

Oculus Chief Scientist Speaks About Virtual Reality in the Lab and on Your Face

Oculus Chief Scientist Speaks About Virtual Reality in the Lab and on Your Face

While many of us are impatient with virtual reality—the best headsets are still too expensive, they need to be tethered to beefy computers, and there isn't all that much cool stuff to do anyway—Michael Abrash takes a long view…


From ACM Opinion

Kitchen of the Future: Smart and Fast but Not Much Fun

Kitchen of the Future: Smart and Fast but Not Much Fun

Wandering among the engineers and strategy directors and managers of something called "connected customer experience" at the Smart Kitchen Summit, one had to wonder: Do any of these people actually cook?


From ACM Opinion

Provoking Iran Could Have Unseen Cyber Consequences

Provoking Iran Could Have Unseen Cyber Consequences

On Friday, President Trump announced that he will not certify Iran's cooperation with the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama Administration.


From ACM Opinion

Would You Buy a Self-Driving Future From These Guys?

Would You Buy a Self-Driving Future From These Guys?

When the owner of an automated Tesla was killed in a crash last year, the carmaker's founder, Elon Musk, urged journalists to peer into the future.


From ACM Opinion

The Future of Dna Sequencing

The Future of Dna Sequencing

Forty years ago, two papers1, 2 described the first tractable methods for determining the order of the chemical bases in stretches of DNA. Before these 1977 publications, molecular biologists had been able to sequence only snippets…


From ACM Opinion

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

We are surrounded by hysteria about the future of artificial intelligence and robotics—hysteria about how powerful they will become, how quickly, and what they will do to jobs.


From ACM Opinion

What Facebook Did to American Democracy

What Facebook Did to American Democracy

In the media world, as in so many other realms, there is a sharp discontinuity in the timeline: before the 2016 election, and after.


From ACM Opinion

Apple's Tim Cook on Iphones, Augmented Reality, and How He Plans to Change Your World

Apple's Tim Cook on Iphones, Augmented Reality, and How He Plans to Change Your World

Earlier this year, video emerged of a new iPhone feature, long before it was released. It showed the phone creating a magical portal in the middle of a city street. And now that's arrived.


From ACM Opinion

The Scientist Who Spots Fake Videos

The Scientist Who Spots Fake Videos

Hany Farid, a computer scientist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, specialises in detecting manipulated images and videos. Farid, who provides his services to clients as varied as universities, media organizations…


From ACM Opinion

Is Your Bank Data Yours?

Is Your Bank Data Yours?

Who owns the information in your bank account? Transactions, balance history, every other detail?

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