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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 2016


From ACM Opinion

This One Thing Could Hurt Apple's Case in Washington

This One Thing Could Hurt Apple's Case in Washington

Apple's fight with the FBI is widening beyond the courts.


From ACM Opinion

Forcing Apple to Hack That iPhone Sets a Dangerous Precedent

Forcing Apple to Hack That iPhone Sets a Dangerous Precedent

Are Apple and other tech companies somehow against America's national security if they create uncrackable encryption software that government investigators or even the company's own engineers can't break into?


From ACM Opinion

This is Why People Fear the 'Internet of Things'

This is Why People Fear the 'Internet of Things'

Imagine buying an internet-enabled surveillance camera, network attached storage device, or home automation gizmo, only to find that it secretly and constantly phones home to a vast peer-to-peer (P2P) network run by the Chinese…


From ACM Opinion

How Tim Cook Aims to Profit from Protecting Privacy

How Tim Cook Aims to Profit from Protecting Privacy

Would you stop buying Apple's products if it decided to help the FBI open a terrorist's iPhone?


From ACM Opinion

If Apple Aids Terrorists and the FBI Is Big Brother… Whom Do We Root For?

If Apple Aids Terrorists and the FBI Is Big Brother… Whom Do We Root For?

There's been a lot of bluster about the ongoing encryption saga between the FBI and Apple.


From ACM Opinion

Snowden Lawyer: Bill of Rights Was Meant to Make Government's Job 'More Difficult'

Snowden Lawyer: Bill of Rights Was Meant to Make Government's Job 'More Difficult'

Ben Wizner, a top attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, is probably best known for being one of the lawyers representing Ed Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.


From ACM Opinion

How Apple's Stand Against the FBI Could Backfire

How Apple's Stand Against the FBI Could Backfire

The skirmish between Apple and the FBI is quickly escalating to a battle royal, a fight to the finish over lofty principles and national values, involving not just this company and this bureau but all of Silicon Valley and the…


From ACM Opinion

How to Build an Unbeatable Poker-Playing Robot

How to Build an Unbeatable Poker-Playing Robot

Each summer, the computer-science researchers behind the world's best poker-playing robots bring their creations together for a tournament.


From ACM Opinion

We Could Not Look the Survivors in the Eye if We Did Not Follow This Lead

We Could Not Look the Survivors in the Eye if We Did Not Follow This Lead

The San Bernardino litigation isn't about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message.


From ACM Opinion

Telegraph to the iPhone: A Short History of Corporate Defiance

Telegraph to the iPhone: A Short History of Corporate Defiance

The high-stakes stalemate between Apple and the Justice Department isn’t the first time that Washington and Silicon Valley have come to a showdown over security and privacy.


From ACM Opinion

To Keep America Safe, Embrace Drone Warfare

To Keep America Safe, Embrace Drone Warfare

"Are you sure they're there?" the decision maker asks. "They" are Qaeda operatives who have been planning attacks against the United States.


From ACM Opinion

The Plan to Connect Everyone in the World by 2020 is Already Off the Rails

The Plan to Connect Everyone in the World by 2020 is Already Off the Rails

Without cheaper devices and more affordable broadband plans, universal Internet access won't be possible until 2042, according to a new report.


From ACM News

Apple's FBI Battle Is Complicated. Here's What's Really Going On

Apple's FBI Battle Is Complicated. Here's What's Really Going On

The news this week that a magistrate ordered Apple to help the FBI hack an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooter suspects has polarized the nation—and also generated some misinformation.


From ACM Opinion

Let's Include All of Computer Science in 'Computer Science For All'

Let's Include All of Computer Science in 'Computer Science For All'

The Computer Science for All initiative will put the spotlight on a certain type of computing professional: the software developer. But there are even more computing jobs available outside of coding.


From ACM Opinion

NSA Chief: 'Paris Would Not Have Happened' Without Encrypted Apps

NSA Chief: 'Paris Would Not Have Happened' Without Encrypted Apps

National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers warns that encryption is making it "much more difficult" for the agency to intercept the communications of terrorist groups like the Islamic State, citing November's Paris…


From ACM Opinion

The President's NSA Advisory Board Finally Gets a Tech Expert

The President's NSA Advisory Board Finally Gets a Tech Expert

It's taken more than a decade, but a critical oversight board tasked with advising the president on the privacy and civil liberties implications of the NSA's surveillance programs is finally getting a technology adviser who understands…


From ACM Opinion

The Apple Fight Isn't About Encryption

The Apple Fight Isn't About Encryption

The most striking aspect of Apple's message to customers on Tuesday wasn't the rejection of U.S. authorities' demand that the company help them break the encryption of an iPhone owned by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was involved in…


From ACM Opinion

EFF to Support Apple in Encryption Battle

EFF to Support Apple in Encryption Battle

We learned on Tuesday evening that a U.S. federal magistrate judge ordered Apple to backdoor an iPhone that was used by one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shootings in December.


From ACM Opinion

Is D-Wave's Quantum Processor Really 10⁸ Times Faster Than a Normal Computer?

Is D-Wave's Quantum Processor Really 10⁸ Times Faster Than a Normal Computer?

We have been following D-Wave's claims about its quantum hardware at Ars for a number of years. Over that time, my impression has oscillated between skepticism, strong skepticism, and mild enthusiasm.


From ACM Opinion

Why Robots and Smart Thermostats Keep America's Spy Chief Up at Night

Why Robots and Smart Thermostats Keep America's Spy Chief Up at Night

Some people are already used to having their personal information exposed in massive data breaches.


From ACM Opinion

Moore's Law Really Is Dead This Time

Moore's Law Really Is Dead This Time

Moore's law has died at the age of 51 after an extended illness.


From ACM Opinion

How the Microscope Redefined the Fact

How the Microscope Redefined the Fact

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the inverse is also true: A word is worth a thousand pictures.


From ACM Opinion

Y'all Have a Texas Accent? Siri (and the World) Might Be Slowly Killing It

Y'all Have a Texas Accent? Siri (and the World) Might Be Slowly Killing It

It was a simple enough question, at least in this part of the world.


From ACM Opinion

Obama's Cybersecurity Plan is Meant to Secure His Legacy

Obama's Cybersecurity Plan is Meant to Secure His Legacy

The end of White House terms are often about trying to shape historic legacies, and President Obama is out to build his in the new area of cybersecurity.


From ACM Opinion

Congress Starts to Get Serious About Online Privacy

Congress Starts to Get Serious About Online Privacy

Congress could soon vote on a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to get a search warrant from a judge to obtain emails, photographs and other documents Americans have stored online.


From ACM Opinion

Your Next New Best Friend Might Be a Robot

Your Next New Best Friend Might Be a Robot

One night in late July 2014, a journalist from the Chinese newspaper Southern Weeklyinterviewed a 17-year-old Chinese girl named Xiaoice (pronounced Shao-ice).


From ACM Opinion

Searching for the Algorithms Underlying Life

Searching for the Algorithms Underlying Life

To the computer scientist Leslie Valiant, "machine learning" is redundant.


From ACM Opinion

It's Been 20 Years Since This Man Declared Cyberspace Independence

It's Been 20 Years Since This Man Declared Cyberspace Independence

When digital dystopians and critics of Internet libertarians need a rhetorical dart board, they often pull out a document written by John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, a former cattle…


From ACM Opinion

From Exile to Eminence: How the Alien Hunters Conquered Astronomy

From Exile to Eminence: How the Alien Hunters Conquered Astronomy

When Jill Tarter first began to look for aliens, she drew looks askance from her friends and colleagues.


From ACM Opinion

To Keep AI Safe—Use AI

To Keep AI Safe—Use AI

Software is already pervasive in our society, but artificial intelligence software raises unique concerns even among the technological elite.

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