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

December 2014


From ACM News

2014 in Computing: Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence

2014 in Computing: Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence

The holy grail of artificial intelligence—creating software that comes close to mimicking human intelligence—remains far off. But 2014 saw major strides in machine learning software that can gain abilities from experience.


From ACM News

This Year's 8 Smartest UI Design Ideas

This Year's 8 Smartest UI Design Ideas

When your family gathered for the holidays this year, did you take note of the technology everyone was using?


From ACM Opinion

A Q&A With the Hackers Who Say They Helped Break Into Sony's Network

A Q&A With the Hackers Who Say They Helped Break Into Sony's Network

Lizard Squad. That's the hacker group whose name is suddenly on everyone's lips after it took credit for ruining Christmas for PlayStation and Xbox gamers everywhere.


From ACM Opinion

Do Aliens Know It's Christmas?

Do Aliens Know It's Christmas?

A star appeared in the East.


From ACM Opinion

Are These the Five Craziest Space Missions?

Are These the Five Craziest Space Missions?

The landing of the Philae Lander—on a comet travelling at 135,000km/h (84,000mph)—has been hailed as the start of a new chapter in space exploration.


From ACM Opinion

The Best Science Visualizations of the Year

The Best Science Visualizations of the Year

Here at Wired Science, we're big fans of science graphics. And not just the fancy, big-budget ones, but charts and figures and visualizations: the folk art of scientific imagery.


From ACM Opinion

North Korea and Cyberterrorists Won Big in Sony Hack, Researcher Says

North Korea and Cyberterrorists Won Big in Sony Hack, Researcher Says

It looks like the great cyber-war with North Korea has begun, at least by proxy.


From ACM Opinion

Fear Artificial Stupidity, Not Artificial Intelligence

Fear Artificial Stupidity, Not Artificial Intelligence

It is not often that you are obliged to proclaim a much-loved genius wrong, but in his alarming prediction on artificial intelligence and the future of humankind, I believe Stephen Hawking has erred. To be precise, and in keeping…


From ACM Opinion

Comet Breakthrough of the Year + People's choice

Comet Breakthrough of the Year + People's choice

This year's breakthrough captured the public's imagination with a series of hard-won pictures, beamed to Earth from a place beyond Mars.


From ACM Opinion

Sony Made It Easy, but Any of Us Could Get Hacked

Sony Made It Easy, but Any of Us Could Get Hacked

Earlier this month, a mysterious group that calls itself Guardians of Peace hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer systems and began revealing many of the Hollywood studio’s best-kept secrets, from details about unreleased…


From ACM Opinion

The Lesson of the Sony Hack: We Should All Jump to the 'Erasable Internet'

The Lesson of the Sony Hack: We Should All Jump to the 'Erasable Internet'

This month's news provides yet another occasion for a friendly public-service reminder to anyone who uses a digital device to say anything to anyone, ever.


From ACM Opinion

The Sony Hackers Are Terrorists

The Sony Hackers Are Terrorists

The Sony Pictures hack is important, and the Sony Pictures hack is terrifying.


From ACM Opinion

How to Conquer the Galaxy on a Computer

How to Conquer the Galaxy on a Computer

Space is big. Really big. And not just in terms of the mind-boggingly vast distances between the stars and planets out there in the Universe at large.


From ACM Opinion

From PC to Navy, Ars Pits Casual Flight Sim Skills Against a Real Cockpit Trainer

From PC to Navy, Ars Pits Casual Flight Sim Skills Against a Real Cockpit Trainer

A little over a year ago, I was lucky enough to take a short ride in a Folland Gnat trainer—a nimble little two-seat jet maintained by Rick Sharpe of Houston's Vietnam War Flight Museum.


From ACM Opinion

William Gibson Sees the Future

William Gibson Sees the Future

"The thing to keep in mind," William Gibson tells me when we meet in the quiet lounge of a Victorian-style hotel in Chicago, "is that I’m not actually predicting the future. I'm generating scenarios."


From ACM Opinion

The Future of U.S. Innovation Might Rest on This Obscure Patent Lawsuit

The Future of U.S. Innovation Might Rest on This Obscure Patent Lawsuit

Patent trolls: They're a huge suck on the economy, eating up untold millions in legal fees and deliberately suing innocent companies just because they're flush with cash.


From ACM Opinion

Dumbing It Down in the Cockpit

Dumbing It Down in the Cockpit

Long gone are the leather jackets, goggles, and silk scarves flung over the shoulders of aviators who wrestled with flight controls, furiously scanned instruments, and navigated using paper charts.


From ACM Opinion

Forget Turing—I Want to Test Computer Creativity

Forget Turing—I Want to Test Computer Creativity

What are the elements of the Turing test?


From ACM Opinion

What Are MOOCs Good For?

What Are MOOCs Good For?

A few years ago, the most enthusiastic advocates of MOOCs believed that these "massive open online courses" stood poised to overturn the century-old model of higher education.


From ACM Opinion

Artificial Intelligence Isn't a Threat—Yet

Artificial Intelligence Isn't a Threat—Yet

Does artificial intelligence threaten our species, as the cosmologist Stephen Hawking recently suggested?


From ACM Opinion

Boston Researcher Cynthia Breazeal Is Ready to Bring Robots Into the Home. Are You?

Boston Researcher Cynthia Breazeal Is Ready to Bring Robots Into the Home. Are You?

The MIT Media Lab's Personal Robots Group flanks the soaring atrium on the fourth floor of the Wiesner Building, a wall of metal panels along the southern edge of Cambridge, Mass.


From ACM Opinion

We Might Be Able to 3-D-Print an Artificial Mind One Day

We Might Be Able to 3-D-Print an Artificial Mind One Day

I'm an artificial-intelligence skeptic.


From ACM Opinion

Why We Need a Federal Agency on Robotics

Why We Need a Federal Agency on Robotics

The robots are no longer coming; they are here. And the law's response has been lacking. What is the best approach for integrating this transformative technology? We need a federal agency to help figure it out.


From ACM Opinion

Father of Web Tells Russia's Putin: Internet Is Not a 'CIA Project'

Father of Web Tells Russia's Putin: Internet Is Not a 'CIA Project'

The inventor of the World Wide Web said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was incorrect when he alleged the Internet was a project created by U.S. spies in the Central Intelligence Agency.


From ACM Opinion

Get Your Head Around the 13 Boldest Ideas in Science

Get Your Head Around the 13 Boldest Ideas in Science

Science is full of mind-blowing and counterintuitive concepts.


From ACM Opinion

It's Time to Intelligently Discuss Artificial Intelligence

It's Time to Intelligently Discuss Artificial Intelligence

Tesla CEO Elon Musk worries it is "potentially more dangerous than nukes."


From ACM Opinion

Tech's Lost Chapter: An Oral History of Boston's Rise and Fall

Tech's Lost Chapter: An Oral History of Boston's Rise and Fall

In the popular telling, the dawn of personal computing begins in the summer of 1976, when Steve Wozniak showed off the Apple I at a meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley.


From ACM Opinion

Ransomware Is the Future of Consumer Cybercrime

Ransomware Is the Future of Consumer Cybercrime

It's 2020, bitter cold outside, you’re running late for work, and the Linux box that controls your car isn't going to start unless you wire $20 worth of Bitcoin to an increasingly business-like criminal enterprise operating out…


From ACM Opinion

Looking to Mars to Help Understand Changing Climates

Looking to Mars to Help Understand Changing Climates

Where now it stands the Plain of Gold did once my river flow.


From ACM Opinion

Baer's Odyssey: Meet the Serial Inventor Who Built the World's First Game Console

Baer's Odyssey: Meet the Serial Inventor Who Built the World's First Game Console

Even if you're a devoted fan of video games, there's a decent chance you're not familiar with the name Ralph H. Baer.

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