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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 2019


From ACM Opinion

Don't Be Fooled by Fake Images and Videos Online

Don't Be Fooled by Fake Images and Videos Online

One month before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, an "Access Hollywood" recording of Donald Trump was released in which he was heard lewdly talking about women. The then-candidate and his campaign apologized and dismissed…


From ACM Opinion

AI's Big Challenge

AI's Big Challenge

The recently signed executive order establishing the American AI Initiative correctly identifies artificial intelligence as central to American competitiveness and national defense.


From ACM Opinion

Why Scientists Sometimes Make Extraordinary Claims

Why Scientists Sometimes Make Extraordinary Claims

The interstellar object known as 'Oumuamua plunged into our solar system in 2017, leaving a trail of mystery in its wake.


From ACM Opinion

Don't Fight the Robots. Tax Them.

Don't Fight the Robots. Tax Them.

When Bill Gates floated the idea of imposing a tax on robots a couple of years ago, Lawrence Summers, a former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, called the Microsoft co-founder "profoundly misguided."


From ACM Opinion

Will AI Achieve Consciousness? Wrong Question

Will AI Achieve Consciousness? Wrong Question

When Norbert Wiener, the father ofcybernetics, wrote his book The Human Use of Human Beings in 1950, vacuum tubes were still the primary electronic building blocks, and there were only a few actual computers in operation.


From ACM Opinion

China Will Likely Corner the 5G Market, and the ­S Has No Plan

China Will Likely Corner the 5G Market, and the ­S Has No Plan

You may have heard that China has cornered much of the world's supply of strategic metals and minerals crucial for new technology, including lithium, rare earths, copper, and manganese used in everything from smartphones to electric…


From ACM Opinion

An Intrepid Explorer of Mars Falls Silent

An Intrepid Explorer of Mars Falls Silent

Opportunity, formally known as Mars Exploration Rover B but as Oppy to its many friends and admirers, was pronounced dead on Wednesday after a final round of beamed commands, and a farewell broadcast of Billie Holiday's rendition…


From ACM Opinion

Be Kind to Extraterrestrials

Be Kind to Extraterrestrials

In his celebrated book On Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau wrote: "We need the tonic of wildness.... At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable…


From ACM Opinion

Electronic Contracts and the Illusion of Consent

Electronic Contracts and the Illusion of Consent

Q: What do you do when you see a little button on a webpage or app screen that says I agree?


From ACM Opinion

The ­S Cannot Crush ­s, Says Huawei Founder

The ­S Cannot Crush ­s, Says Huawei Founder

The founder of Huawei has said there is "no way the US can crush" the company, in an exclusive interview with the BBC.


From ACM Opinion

The Two Codes Your Kids Need to Know

The Two Codes Your Kids Need to Know

A few years ago, the leaders of the College Board, the folks who administer the SAT college entrance exam, asked themselves a radical question: Of all the skills and knowledge that we test young people for that we know are correlated…


From ACM Opinion

What Trump's Executive Order on AI Is Missing

What Trump's Executive Order on AI Is Missing

President Trump signed an executive order on February 11 meant to shore up our competitive position in the international race for AI supremacy, but it is short on concrete steps.


From ACM Opinion

This Is Why AI Has Yet to Reshape Most Businesses

This Is Why AI Has Yet to Reshape Most Businesses

The art of making perfumes and colognes hasn't changed much since the 1880s, when synthetic ingredients began to be used.


From ACM Opinion

Trump's Plan to Keep America First in AI

Trump's Plan to Keep America First in AI

The US leads the world in artificial intelligence technology. Decades of federal research funding, industrial and academic research, and streams of foreign talent have put America at the forefront of the current AI boom.


From ACM Opinion

The New Censors Won't Delete Your Words; They'll Drown Them Out

The New Censors Won't Delete Your Words; They'll Drown Them Out

Winston Smith works at the Ministry of Truth. Each day, the hero of George Orwell's "1984" "corrects" old newspapers to make sure that the information is in still accord with the current Party line.


From ACM Opinion

Can Subscriptions Save All Media Companies, or Just the New York Times?

Can Subscriptions Save All Media Companies, or Just the New York Times?

It's hard not to feel some whiplash when reading news about the media business these days.


From ACM Opinion

There's No Good Reason to Trust Blockchain Technology

There's No Good Reason to Trust Blockchain Technology

In his 2008 white paper that first proposed bitcoin, the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto concluded with: "We have proposed a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust." He was referring to blockchain, the system …


From ACM Opinion

How Silicon Valley Puts the 'Con' in Consent

How Silicon Valley Puts the 'Con' in Consent

The average person would have to spend 76 working days reading all of the digital privacy policies they agree to in the span of a year. Reading Amazon's terms and conditions alone out loud takes approximately nine hours.


From ACM Opinion

Google Assistant Is Getting Sci-Fi Ambitious

Google Assistant Is Getting Sci-Fi Ambitious

From 550 feet in the air, Google's Scott Huffman peers down at the Las Vegas skyline. It's a sunny afternoon in early January and, at the moment, Google owns this town.


From ACM Opinion

Trump Pledges Investment, But Is Silent on Key Tech Issues

Trump Pledges Investment, But Is Silent on Key Tech Issues

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Trump promised legislation to invest in "the cutting edge industries of the future." But the speech was characteristically backward-looking.


From ACM Opinion

People Don't Trust Blockchain Systems. Is Regulation a Way to Help?

People Don't Trust Blockchain Systems. Is Regulation a Way to Help?

Blockchain technology isn't as widely used as it could be, largely because blockchain users don't trust each other, as research shows.


From ACM Opinion

How to Land a Journal Cover

How to Land a Journal Cover

Researchers: Felice Frankel will make photographers of you all. Photography—both macro- and microscopic—is an essential tool in science, because pictures are both intuitive and emotionally resonant.


From Communications of the ACM

2018: A Big Year for Privacy

2018: A Big Year for Privacy

Retracing the pivotal privacy and security-related events and ensuing issues from the past year.


From Communications of the ACM

How Computer Science at CMU­ Is Attracting and Retaining Women

How Computer Science at CMU­ Is Attracting and Retaining Women

Carnegie Mellon University's successful efforts enrolling, sustaining, and graduating women in computer science challenge the belief in a gender divide in CS education.


From Communications of the ACM

Writing a Test Plan

Writing a Test Plan

Establish your hypotheses, methodologies, and expected results.


From Communications of the ACM

Do We Really Need Computational Thinking?

Do We Really Need Computational Thinking?

Considering the expression "computational thinking" as an entry point to understand why the fundamental contribution of computing to science is the shift from solving problems to having problems solved.


From Communications of the ACM

Tony's Law

Tony's Law

Seeking to promote regulations for reliable software for the long-term prosperity of the software industry.

Blog at CACM
The Autocracy of Autonomous Systems
The Autocracy of Autonomous Systems
08.19.2019

We, as developers of such systems, need to take some conscious decisions to make sure we do not usher in …

We Should Stop Saying 'Language Independent.' We Don't Know How To Do That
We Should Stop Saying 'Language Independent.' We Don't Know How To Do That
08.13.2019

We know how to make multi-lingual pseudocode-based assessments, not language-independent assessments.

Who Manufactured the Mysterious Chinese Android?
Who Manufactured the Mysterious Chinese Android?
08.01.2019

In the 18th century, there were several famous makers of automatons in Europe; who created the Chinese musical clock automaton …

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16 Million Americans Will Vote on Hackable Paperless Machines
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