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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 2018


From ACM Opinion

Nailing Down the Nature of 'Oumuamua; It's Probably a Comet, but . . .

Nailing Down the Nature of 'Oumuamua; It's Probably a Comet, but . . .

Shortly before Halloween, the chairman of Harvard's astronomy department openly declared that an interstellar object hurtling through our Solar System might just be part of an extraterrestrial craft. And then . . .  crickets.


From ACM Opinion

Mars Beckons

Mars Beckons

The science and technology behind NASA's latest space explorer to land on Mars are so awe-inducing that it's hardly surprising when scientists commenting on the triumph drop their usual jargon to speak like excited schoolchildren…


From ACM Opinion

CRISPR Inventor Feng Zhang Calls for Moratorium on Gene-Edited Babies

CRISPR Inventor Feng Zhang Calls for Moratorium on Gene-Edited Babies

Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of the gene-editing technique CRISPR, has called for a global moratorium on using the technology to create gene-edited babies.


From ACM Opinion

Try Landing InSight on Mars (Without Exploding)

Try Landing InSight on Mars (Without Exploding)

NASA just parked its InSight lander on Mars. Yes, Mars. This is a pretty big deal since quite a few Mars missions didn't make it.


From ACM Opinion

Inspired by Sci-Fi, an Airplane with No Moving Parts and a Blue Ionic Glow

 Inspired by Sci-Fi, an Airplane with No Moving Parts and a Blue Ionic Glow

Since their invention more than 100 years ago, airplanes have been moved through the air by the spinning surfaces of propellers or turbines.


From ACM Opinion

The New Radicalization of the Internet

The New Radicalization of the Internet

Social media has played a key role in the recent rise of violent right-wing extremism in the United States, including three recent incidents—one in which a man was accused of sending mail bombs to critics of the president, another…


From ACM Opinion

Alphabet Chairman Struggles With Google CEO's China Strategy

Alphabet Chairman Struggles With Google CEO's China Strategy

Alphabet Inc. Chairman John Hennessy is unsure about a banner strategy of the company's most-important executive.


From ACM News

The Snowden Legacy: What's Changed, Really?

The Snowden Legacy: What's Changed, Really?

Digital privacy has come a long way since June 2013. In the five years since documents provided by Edward Snowden became the basis for a series of revelations that tore away a veil of secrecy around broad surveillance programs…


From ACM Opinion

How Will We Outsmart A.I. Liars?

How Will We Outsmart A.I. Liars?

During the summer before the 2016 presidential election, John Seymour and Philip Tully, two researchers with ZeroFOX, a security company in Baltimore, unveiled a new kind of Twitter bot.


From ACM Opinion

One of the Fathers of AI Is Worried About Its Future

One of the Fathers of AI Is Worried About Its Future

Yoshua Bengio is a grand master of modern artificial intelligence.


From ACM Opinion

You Know What? Go Ahead and Use the Hotel Wi-Fi

You Know What? Go Ahead and Use the Hotel Wi-Fi

As you travel this holiday season, bouncing from airport to airplane to hotel, you'll likely find yourself facing a familiar quandary: Do I really trust this random public Wi-Fi network?


From ACM Opinion

Video Doesn't Capture Truth

Video Doesn't Capture Truth

The White House has revoked the press pass of Jim Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, after a testy exchange between the reporter and President Trump at a news conference on Wednesday.


From ACM Opinion

The Case Against Quantum Computing

The Case Against Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is all the rage. It seems like hardly a day goes by without some news outlet describing the extraordinary things this technology promises.


From ACM Opinion

Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation

Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation

In my book Data and Goliath, I write about the value of privacy. I talk about how it is essential for political liberty and justice, and for commercial fairness and equality.


From ACM Opinion

Sci-Fi Movies Are the Secret Weapon that Could Help Silicon Valley Grow Up

Sci-Fi Movies Are the Secret Weapon that Could Help Silicon Valley Grow Up

If there's one line that stands the test of time in Steven Spielbergs 1993 classic "Jurassic Park," it's probably Jeff Goldblum's exclamation, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop…


From ACM Opinion

Your Smartphone Photos Are Totally Fake, and You Love It

Your Smartphone Photos Are Totally Fake, and You Love It

The little camera on this phone has a superpower: It can see things our eyes cannot.


From ACM Opinion

Fake News: Can Teenagers Spot It?

Fake News: Can Teenagers Spot It?

If we are to make it less of a threat to democracy, that effort is going to need to start in schools.


From ACM Opinion

At China’s Internet Conference, a Darker Side of Tech Emerges

At China’s Internet Conference, a Darker Side of Tech Emerges

Every year at the World Internet Conference, held since 2014 in the photogenic canal town of Wuzhen near Shanghai, companies and government officials have convened to send a message: China is a high-tech force to be reckoned …


From ACM Opinion

AI Is Not 'Magic Dust' for Your Company, Says Google’s Cloud AI Boss

AI Is Not 'Magic Dust' for Your Company, Says Google’s Cloud AI Boss

Andrew Moore is the new head of Google's Cloud AI business, a unit that is striving to make machine-learning tools and techniques more accessible and useful for ordinary businesses.


From ACM Opinion

How to Hack an Election (Without Touching the Machines)

How to Hack an Election (Without Touching the Machines)

On Monday morning, just 24 hours before polls opened in the US midterm elections, President Trump sounded an alarm with a Tweet: "Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take…


From ACM Opinion

The Internet Is Splitting in Two Amid U.S. Dispute With China

The Internet Is Splitting in Two Amid U.S. Dispute With China

Western bigwigs were a no-show at China's biggest web conference. But in their absence, the local overseers of the nation's technology industry were only too happy to plug their unique vision for the global internet.


From ACM Opinion

The House Science Committee May Soon Become... Pro-Science

The House Science Committee May Soon Become... Pro-Science

For the past eight years, climate science has been under a sort of spell in the House of Representatives.


From ACM Opinion

Science Candidates Prevail in US Midterm Elections

Science Candidates Prevail in US Midterm Elections

Results from the United States' midterm elections are still pouring in, but a handful of candidates with backgrounds in science or technology have already nabbed seats in the US House of Representatives.


From ACM Opinion

What the Midterm Election Results Mean for Big Tech

What the Midterm Election Results Mean for Big Tech

It may not have been the tsunami some expected, but the Democrat's long-promised blue wave was enough to carry the party to a majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The Senate, meanwhile, remained firmly in Republican…


From ACM Opinion

Colonizing Mars Means Contaminating Mars, and Never Knowing for Sure If It Had Its Own Native Life

Colonizing Mars Means Contaminating Mars, and Never Knowing for Sure If It Had Its Own Native Life

The closest place in the universe where extraterrestrial life might exist is Mars, and human beings are poised to attempt to colonize this planetary neighbor within the next decade.


From ACM Opinion

Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning

Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning

You've probably heard that we're in the midst of an A.I. revolution.


From ACM Opinion

Humans Are Getting More Botlike on Twitter

Humans Are Getting More Botlike on Twitter

We know for sure that Cesar Sayoc, who allegedly targeted high-profile Democrats with mail bombs in late October, isn't a Russian bot.


From ACM Opinion

Even a Few Bots Can Shift Public Opinion in Big Ways

Even a Few Bots Can Shift Public Opinion in Big Ways

Nearly two-thirds of the social media bots with political activity on Twitter before the 2016 U.S. presidential election supported Donald Trump.


From ACM Opinion

What the Boston School Bus Schedule Can Teach Us About AI

What the Boston School Bus Schedule Can Teach Us About AI

When the Boston public school system announced new start times last December, some parents found the schedules unacceptable and pushed back.


From ACM Opinion

The Real Houseguest of the Ecuadorian Embassy

The Real Houseguest of the Ecuadorian Embassy

If Julian Assange of WikiLeaks denies the Ecuadorian government's stinging charge that he's a disgusting houseguest, he'd do well not to deny that charge "categorically."

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Blog at CACM
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Science fiction like Frankenstein nudges readers to confer humanity but nudges them away from moral fortitude.

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A mathematical excursion will improve your requirements.

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