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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.

November 2013


From ACM Opinion

Can You Hack It?

Can You Hack It?

Wherever you're sitting right now, take a moment to note the connected devices around you.


From ACM Opinion

Answers to All the Tech Questions Your Family Will Ask You This Holiday

Answers to All the Tech Questions Your Family Will Ask You This Holiday

Maybe it's your mom and/or dad. Maybe it's a sibling or a grandparent. Or maybe it's just that one friend who still uses a Motorola Razr from the early 2000s.


From ACM Opinion

My Quantum Algorithm Won't Break the Internet… Yet

My Quantum Algorithm Won't Break the Internet… Yet

Internet security relies on the fact that our computers can't break its cryptosystems. But the quantum algorithm you devised has the potential to do just that.


From ACM Opinion

Software Is Reorganizing the World

Software Is Reorganizing the World

For the first time in memory, adults in the United States under age forty are now expected to be poorer than their parents.


From ACM Opinion

Charlie Rose Talks to Nathan Myhrvold

Charlie Rose Talks to Nathan Myhrvold

You worked for years at Microsoft, where things now look uncertain.


From ACM Opinion

Three Questions for Computing Pioneer Carver Mead

Three Questions for Computing Pioneer Carver Mead

Computer scientist Carver Mead gave Moore's Law its name in around 1970 and played a crucial role in making sure it's held true in the decades since.


From ACM TechNews

SC13 Talk Pushes HPC in New Educational Directions

SC13 Talk Pushes HPC in New Educational Directions

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign National Center for Supercomputing Application director Thom Dunning discusses the potential for using computational simulation to transform scientific and engineering education.


From ACM Opinion

Wikimedia Foundation Sends Cease and Desist Letter to WikiPR

Wikimedia Foundation Sends Cease and Desist Letter to WikiPR

On October 21, the Wikimedia Foundation issued a statement from Sue Gardner, our executive director, condemning the black hat practice of paid advocacy editing and sockpuppeting on Wikipedia.


From ACM Opinion

Why Companies Desperately Need to Make Wearables Cool

Why Companies Desperately Need to Make Wearables Cool

Both consumer electronics and apparel are notoriously difficult businesses competing in mature industries. Wearable technology—everything from activity trackers like Fitbits and Misfits to watches like the Pebble to jewelry…


From ACM Opinion

A Neuroscientist's Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious

A Neuroscientist's Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious

It's a question that’s perplexed philosophers for centuries and scientists for decades: Where does consciousness come from?


From ACM Opinion

Why Google's Fair Use Victory In Google Books Suit Is A Big Deal—And Why It Isn't

Why Google's Fair Use Victory In Google Books Suit Is A Big Deal—And Why It Isn't

Federal judge Denny Chin rejected a copyright challenge Google’s practices of scanning books into digital format and presenting snippets of those scans in search results because the practices qualify as fair use.


From ACM Opinion

Will IBM's Watson Usher in a New Era of Cognitive Computing?

Will IBM's Watson Usher in a New Era of Cognitive Computing?

Computers as we know them have are close to reaching an inflection point—the next generation is in sight but not quite within our grasp.


From ACM Opinion

Blinded by the Light

Blinded by the Light

The probe sails through space, traveling the distance of the LA-to-Chicago red-eye in a minute.


From ACM Opinion

Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet. Here's How They Did It

Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet. Here's How They Did It

The internet backbone—the infrastructure of networks upon which internet traffic travels—went from being a passive infrastructure for communication to an active weapon for attacks.


From ACM Opinion

DRM in Cars Will Drive Consumers Crazy

DRM in Cars Will Drive Consumers Crazy

Forget extra cupholders or power windows: the new Renault Zoe comes with a "feature" that absolutely nobody wants.


From ACM News

The Daunting Challenge of Secure Email

The Daunting Challenge of Secure Email

When users of Lavabit, an encrypted e-mail service, logged on to the site this past August, they found a bewildering letter on the site's main page.


From ACM Opinion

The Head of Google X Thinks We're All Too Risk-Averse

The Head of Google X Thinks We're All Too Risk-Averse

Google X is responsible for some of Google's most literally fantastic projects: Google Glass, self-driving cars, gigantic inflatable balloons that beam Internet down to the disconnected.


From ACM Opinion

A Stronger 'Online Eraser' Law Would Be a Mistake

A Stronger 'Online Eraser' Law Would Be a Mistake

Excited teenagers—in other words normal teenagers—have never been famous for consistently wise decisions, nor should they be.


From ACM Opinion

Mayor Ed Lee: 'Tech Workers Are Not Robots'

Mayor Ed Lee: 'Tech Workers Are Not Robots'

Q: There's a concern that, because of all the in-house perks, tech companies don't help local economies that much.

A: I feel the opposite. We have done two studies, and both verify every tech job that is created in San Francisco…


From ACM Opinion

Should Tech Designers Go With Their Guts—Or the Data?

Should Tech Designers Go With Their Guts—Or the Data?

For many tech companies, design is no longer subjective.


From ACM Opinion

Nest's Tony Fadell on Smart Objects, and the Singularity of Innovation

Nest's Tony Fadell on Smart Objects, and the Singularity of Innovation

Tony Fadell is the founder and chief executive of Nest, a company that is trying to bring a high-end technology experience to some of the most prosaic areas of the home.


From ACM Opinion

The False Promise of Classroom Technology

The False Promise of Classroom Technology

The cover story of Life magazine on Oct. 16 was "U.S. Schools: They Face a Crisis."


From ACM Opinion

What's the NSA Going to Do With Your Data?

What's the NSA Going to Do With Your Data?

We are all Angela Merkel.


From ACM Opinion

No, Bitcoin Isn't Broken

No, Bitcoin Isn't Broken

"Bitcoin Is Broken," proclaimed Ittay Eyal and Emin Gun Sirer, two Cornell computer scientists.


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin Is Broken

Bitcoin Is Broken

And not just superficially so, but fundamentally, at the core protocol level.


From ACM Opinion

Markus 'Notch' Persson: The Mind Behind Minecraft

Markus 'Notch' Persson: The Mind Behind Minecraft

Markus Persson, known also by the online handle "Notch," is an indie game success story like no other.


From ACM Opinion

Is Google Autocomplete Evil?

Is Google Autocomplete Evil?

"Women shouldn't have rights." "Women shouldn't vote." "Women shouldn't work."


From ACM Opinion

Report on Government Information Requests

Report on Government Information Requests

We believe that our customers have a right to understand how their personal information is handled, and we consider it our responsibility to provide them with the best privacy protections available.


From ACM Opinion

Here's What the Morris Worm Prosecutor Thinks About Aaron Swartz

Here's What the Morris Worm Prosecutor Thinks About Aaron Swartz

It was 25 years ago Tuesday that The New York Times first named 23-year-old Cornell graduate student Robert Morris as the culprit behind what became known as the Morris Worm, the Internet's first major malware outbreak.


From ACM Opinion

Tim Berners-Lee: Encryption Cracking by Spy Agencies 'Appalling and Foolish'

Tim Berners-Lee: Encryption Cracking by Spy Agencies 'Appalling and Foolish'

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the World Wide Web, has called for a "full and frank public debate" over Internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, warning…

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