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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.

December 2017


From ACM Opinion

10 Ways Tech Will Shape Your Life in 2018, For Better and Worse

10 Ways Tech Will Shape Your Life in 2018, For Better and Worse

Is the outlook for technology in 2018 exciting—or slightly terrifying? Flip a coin. You'd be right either way.


From ACM Opinion

3 Brain Technologies to Watch in 2018

3 Brain Technologies to Watch in 2018

Technologies to detect brain activity—fine, we'll come right out and call it mind reading—as well as to change it are moving along so quickly that "a bit of a gold rush is happening, both on the academic side and the corporate…


From ACM Opinion

License Expired: The Ars Technica 2018 Deathwatch

License Expired: The Ars Technica 2018 Deathwatch

Wow, that 2017, though. Quite a year. Let's grab a Juicero and take a moment to reflect on the utter dumpster fires that we've witnessed over the past 12 months.


From ACM Opinion

New York City's Bold, Flawed Attempt to Make Algorithms Accountable

New York City's Bold, Flawed Attempt to Make Algorithms Accountable

The end of a politician's time in office often inspires a turn toward the existential, but few causes are as quixotic as the one chosen by James Vacca, who this month hits his three-term limit as a New York City Council member…


From ACM Opinion

How Nasa's Search For Et Relies on Advanced AI

How Nasa's Search For Et Relies on Advanced AI

The biggest knock against sending robots to explore the solar system for signs of life has always been their inability to make intuitive, even creative decisions as effectively as humans can.


From ACM Opinion

Driverless Cars Could Make Transportation Free For Everyone, With a Catch

Driverless Cars Could Make Transportation Free For Everyone, With a Catch

As self-driving cars inch closer to everyday reality, journalists, futurists, economists, and ethicists have weighed in with numerous predictions about autonomous vehicles' future impact.


From ACM Opinion

Science Fiction When the Future Is Now

Science Fiction When the Future Is Now

AlphaGo, fake news, cyberwar: 2017 has felt science-fictional in the here and now. Space settlement and sea-steading seem just around the bend; so, at times, do nuclear war and pandemic.


From ACM Opinion

The Year the Home Button Died

The Year the Home Button Died

The most convincing lie Steve Jobs ever told was "you already know how to use it."


From ACM Opinion

We Ignore Iran at Our Peril

We Ignore Iran at Our Peril

When it comes to cyberweapons, America is an elephant and Iran is a flea. Still, a flea can be a persistent nuisance, especially for the unprotected.


From ACM Opinion

Don't Get Your Kid an Internet-Connected Toy

Don't Get Your Kid an Internet-Connected Toy

For last-minute shoppers, tech toys hold a special appeal.


From ACM Opinion

Satya Nadella on Ai, Sexual Harassment, and Microsoft's Soul

Satya Nadella on Ai, Sexual Harassment, and Microsoft's Soul

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is putting his own stamp on the tech giant once led by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.


From ACM Opinion

Augmented Reality's Real Power Will Come From Substance, Not Flash

Augmented Reality's Real Power Will Come From Substance, Not Flash

Last week the pilot light for my water heater went out. I tried to relight it by following the instructions pasted on the side of the heater, but they were as inscrutable as hieroglyphs.


From ACM Opinion

The Bitcoin Boom: In Code We Trust

The Bitcoin Boom: In Code We Trust

You don't need brilliant financial analysis skills to notice that Bitcoin is in a bubble.


From ACM Opinion

Goodbye Internet: How Regional Divides Upended the World Wide Web

Goodbye Internet: How Regional Divides Upended the World Wide Web

So, there you have it: 2017 was the year that finally broke the internet.


From ACM Opinion

Five Priorities For Weather and Climate Research

Five Priorities For Weather and Climate Research

Meteorology is entering a new era. Demand is growing worldwide for forecasts of storms, floods and droughts.


From ACM Opinion

Artificial Intelligence Is Killing the Uncanny Valley and Our Grasp on Reality

Artificial Intelligence Is Killing the Uncanny Valley and Our Grasp on Reality

There's a revolution afoot, and you will know it by the stripes.


From ACM Opinion

How AI Changes The Stakes For Pharma

How AI Changes The Stakes For Pharma

Can drug developers leverage AI to reverse the decline in R&D productivity that has persisted in the face of other IT technologies?


From ACM Opinion

Beyond Bitcoin: How Technology Could Help Fix Our Broken Financial System

Beyond Bitcoin: How Technology Could Help Fix Our Broken Financial System

On a spring day more than 5,000 years ago in the Mesopotamian city of Ur, a foreign merchant sold his wares in exchange for a large bundle of silver.


From ACM Opinion

As AI and Robots Rise Up, Do Humans Need an Upgrade Too? 

As AI and Robots Rise Up, Do Humans Need an Upgrade Too? 

There is a chip implanted in my hand. I'm serious.


From ACM Opinion

The Tax Overhaul Could Cripple the U.s. as a Leader in Science

The Tax Overhaul Could Cripple the U.s. as a Leader in Science

The graduate education system in the United States is rightly considered the best in the world. But Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed a bill that would undermine America's great universities and the nation's…


From ACM Opinion

Why These Friendly Robots Can't Be Good Friends to Our Kids

Why These Friendly Robots Can't Be Good Friends to Our Kids

Jibo the robot swivels around when it hears its name and tilts its touchscreen face upward, expectantly.


From ACM Opinion

A Unified Theory of Meme Death

A Unified Theory of Meme Death

Memes aren't built to last. This is an accepted fact of online life.


From ACM Opinion

Quantum Computing Is the Next Big Security Risk

Quantum Computing Is the Next Big Security Risk

The 20th century gave birth to the Nuclear Age as the power of the atom was harnessed and unleashed.


From ACM Opinion

The Fake News Culprit No One Wants to Identify: You

The Fake News Culprit No One Wants to Identify: You

Data & Society founder and Microsoft researcher danah boyd discusses the shifting public discourse around online disinformation campaigns, and what role the tech industry should play in rebuilding American society.


From ACM Opinion

Bitcoin Mining Guzzles Energy and Its Carbon Footprint Just Keeps Growing

Bitcoin Mining Guzzles Energy and Its Carbon Footprint Just Keeps Growing

A somewhat neglected issue in discussions of bitcoin is the tremendous increase in power consumption used by miners. The rising power required to mine bitcoin conflicts with other attempts to reduce the carbon footprint of industry…


From ACM Opinion

What I Learned from the People Who Built the Atom Bomb

What I Learned from the People Who Built the Atom Bomb

When I began my career in elementary particle physics, the great figures who taught and inspired me had been part of the Manhattan Project generation that developed the atomic bomb.


From ACM Opinion

How Hardy Is Webb? A Q&a About the Toughness of Nasa's Webb Telescope

How Hardy Is Webb? A Q&a About the Toughness of Nasa's Webb Telescope

Just how resilient does a space telescope have to be to survive both Earth's environment and the frigid, airless environment of space?


From ACM Opinion

Could Intelligent Machines of the Future Own the Rights to Their Own creations?

Could Intelligent Machines of the Future Own the Rights to Their Own creations?

Intellectual property may be the legal term for creations, including literary or artistic, but there is something inherently human about it as well. 


From ACM Opinion

The Mission to Learn Everything We Always Wanted to Know About the Universe 

The Mission to Learn Everything We Always Wanted to Know About the Universe 

The Cosmic Microwave Background was created as the first atoms formed hundreds of thousands of years after the Big Bang, and it retains information about the formation of the Universe.


From ACM Opinion

The F.c.c. Wants to Let Telecoms Cash In on the Internet

The F.c.c. Wants to Let Telecoms Cash In on the Internet

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to let Comcast, Verizon and other broadband companies turn the internet into a latter-day version of cable TV, in which they decide what customers can watch and how …

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