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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.

February 2011


From ACM News

How We Know

How We Know

James Gleick's first chapter has the title "Drums That Talk." It explains the concept of information by looking at a simple example.


From ACM Opinion

Have You Driven a Smartphone Lately?

I’m barreling along a rural Michigan highway at 75 miles per hour in a gray Ford Taurus X when I glance down to check a number on a screen.


From ACM Opinion

Gaming Social Networks for Influence and Propaganda

For a while now I have argued that the contemporary operating environment has two dimensions: "the first is the actual tactical field of battle in which bullets fly, bombs explode and blood is shed; the second is the virtual…


From ACM Opinion

Tech Revolutionaries

Tech Revolutionaries

The Arab Revolt shows that Google's and Twitter's corporate values are better than Facebook's.


From ACM Opinion

How the Internet Gets Inside Us

How the Internet Gets Inside Us

When the first Harry Potter book appeared, in 1997, it was just a year before the universal search engine Google was launched. And so Hermione Granger, that charming grind, still goes to the Hogwarts library and spends hours…


From ACM Opinion

Cubelets: Modular, Affordable Robotics for Kids and Students

Cubelets: Modular, Affordable Robotics for Kids and Students

Robotics can be a tricky subject to teach children, and it's hard to know where to start. Cubelets is a system of modular cubes that each have one use, interaction, or behavior, and by linking them together you can create…


From ACM Opinion

My Puny Human Brain

My Puny Human Brain

Jeopardy! genius Ken Jennings on what it's like to play against a supercomputer.


From ACM News

An HTML for Numbers

An HTML for Numbers

The Age of Data is just around the corner, right where it has been for years. As someone who spends a lot his time creating visualizations, I've been hoping for this day to come for a very long time.


From ACM Opinion

Gadget Politics: Why Tech Fans Share the Love and Hate

Gadget Politics: Why Tech Fans Share the Love and Hate

I’ve been a consumer technology critic for over 10 years. During that time, hate mail has been part of my job every day.


From ACM Opinion

A Worthwhile Contest for Artificial Intelligence

A Worthwhile Contest for Artificial Intelligence

If IBM's Watson machine defeats people on TV's Jeopardy this week, does that mean that computers are smarter than humans? Maybe not. But the performance could tell us something far more interesting.


From ACM Opinion

Vint Cerf Re-Thinks the Internet in Stanford Talk

Vint Cerf Re-Thinks the Internet in Stanford Talk

To most, a wine cellar is just a cool place to keep some vintage vino. For Vint Cerf, the revered former Stanford engineering professor and graduate of the university, it is a portal into the future.


From ACM News

Thought Police? DARPA wants to Know How Stories Influence Human Mind, Actions

Since it sounds like a not-so-basic- science fiction script, you won't be surprised that the scientific masterminds at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are behind it. DARPA in a nutshell wants to know about how…


From ACM Opinion

NASA's Kepler Astronomer Geoff Marcy Discusses Latest Exoplanet Discoveries

NASA's Kepler Astronomer Geoff Marcy Discusses Latest Exoplanet Discoveries

Does life exist anywhere in the universe except on Earth?


From ACM News

Bipartisan Alliance Beats Back PATRIOT Act Sneak Attack in House Vote

Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives, an unlikely alliance of House Democrats and Republicans stood up for civil liberties and successfully beat back a fast-track attempt to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act without…


From ACM Opinion

Forgive Me, Father, for I Have Linked

Our Father, who art in pixels, linked be Thy name, Thy Web site come, Thy Net be done, on Explorer as it is on Firefox.


From ACM News

Mind vs. Machine

Mind vs. Machine

In the race to build computers that can think like humans, the proving ground is the Turing Test—an annual battle between the world’s most advanced artificial-intelligence programs and ordinary people.


From ACM Opinion

World Web War I: Why Egypt's Digital Uprising is Different

We've seen cyberwar declared before, but the one playing out in Egypt is my own candidate for World Web War I.


From ACM Opinion

Susan Wojcicki: The Most Important Googler You've Never Heard Of

Susan Wojcicki: The Most Important Googler You've Never Heard Of

Yes, Google started in Susan Wojcicki's rented garage. But in her mind, that might be the single least important fact about her long and deep relationship with the Internet giant.


From ACM Opinion

Keep Assange Free, Keep Internet Free

Keep Assange Free, Keep Internet Free

It is time for the United States to drop the case against WikiLeaks. Pressing forward with efforts to prosecute an Internet publisher at home while standing up for an open Internet in Egypt and the world at large is an increasingly…


From ACM Opinion

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

In the category "What Do You Know?," for $1 million: This four-year-old upstart the size of a small R.V. has digested 200 million pages of data about everything in existence and it means to give a couple of the world’s quickest…


From ACM Opinion

Space Stasis

What the strange persistence of rockets can teach us about innovation.


From ACM Opinion

Bing Is Copying Your Clicks, Not Google's Results

Google's results can be accessed because Bing is snooping on IE users.


From ACM TechNews

How Watson Works: A Conversation With Eric Brown, IBM Research Manager

How Watson Works: A Conversation With Eric Brown, IBM Research Manager

IBM's deep Question Answering system, codenamed Watson, will compete against humans in Jeopardy! tournaments in February. IBM's Eric Brown says that Jeopardy! is a benchmark for driving and measuring the progress of the DeepQA…


From ACM News

Was Egypt Oversold as Top Offshoring Spot?

Before Egypt turned off the Internet, the country had received increasingly high marks from leading analysis firms as a promising offshore outsourcing destination, despite the nation's political risk.


From ACM Opinion

Beware the Cyber War Boomerang?

Stuxnet, most sophisticated cyber weapon ever developed, could turn on vulnerable U.S. infrastructure.


From Communications of the ACM

Household Demand for Broadband Internet Service

Household Demand for Broadband Internet Service

How much are consumers willing to pay for broadband service? Our research estimates consumer willingness-to-pay (WTP) for broadband service and shows a high valuation for…


From Communications of the ACM

The Need for a New Graduation Rite of Passage

The Need for a New Graduation Rite of Passage

A new organization is being proposed that is solely intended to promote and recognize the ethical and moral behavior in graduates of computing-related degree programs as they transition to careers of service to society.


From Communications of the ACM

The Growing Harm of Not Teaching Malware

The Growing Harm of Not Teaching Malware

Revisiting the need to educate professionals to defend against malware in its various guises.


From Communications of the ACM

From Science to Engineering

From Science to Engineering

A series of recent reports claim the U.S. education system is in a very severe crisis; others suggest the crisis is "overblown." An explanation that…


From Communications of the ACM

Against Cyberterrorism

Against Cyberterrorism

Cyberterrorism is a concept that appears recurrently in contemporary media. This coverage is particularly interesting if one believes, as I do, that…

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