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

March 2015


From ACM Opinion

Germanwings Flight 9525, Technology, and the Question of Trust

Germanwings Flight 9525, Technology, and the Question of Trust

Shortly before the dreadful crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, I happened to be reading part of "The Second Machine Age," a book by two academics at M.I.T., Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, about the coming automation of many…


From ACM Opinion

First White House Data Chief Discusses His Top Priorities

First White House Data Chief Discusses His Top Priorities

Data science is not entirely new to Washington, D.C.—nor is DJ Patil, who was recently named as the U.S.'s first chief data scientist.


From ACM Opinion

David and Goliath: What Do We Do About Surveillance?

David and Goliath: What Do We Do About Surveillance?

"Dear subscriber, you have been registered as a participant in a mass disturbance."


From ACM Opinion

Learning to See Data

Learning to See Data

For the past year or so genetic scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have been collaborating with a specialist from another universe: Daniel Kohn, a Brooklyn-based painter and conceptual artist.


From ACM Opinion

How Facebook's Chief Geek Will Meld Reality with the Oculus

How Facebook's Chief Geek Will Meld Reality with the Oculus

Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer turned 40 last month. He (just barely) blew out a row of 40 candles during a mini-celebration at company headquarters, and Mark Zuckerberg posted a video to, yes, Facebook.


From ACM Opinion

How Technology Is Making Us Tip More Than Ever

How Technology Is Making Us Tip More Than Ever

By now, you've probably experienced it: After grabbing a cup of espressobuying some ice cream or taking a cab, you swipe your credit card and prepare to sign—but you're thrown a curve ball.


From ACM Opinion

Apple's Tim Cook Leads Different

Apple's Tim Cook Leads Different

Tim Cook assumed he was ready for the harsh glare that shines on Apple's CEO.


From ACM Opinion

NSA Doesn't Need to Spy on Your Calls to Learn Your Secrets

NSA Doesn't Need to Spy on Your Calls to Learn Your Secrets

Governments and corporations gather, store, and analyze the tremendous amount of data we chuff out as we move through our digitized lives.


From ACM Opinion

Why the Tsarnaev Juror Questionnaire Screened for Computer Scientists

Why the Tsarnaev Juror Questionnaire Screened for Computer Scientists

As we approach the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, many of us here in Massachusetts and beyond are riveted by the ongoing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.


From ACM Opinion

What If Web Search Results Were Based on Accuracy?

What If Web Search Results Were Based on Accuracy?

Imagine, for a moment, that every Web search gave only accurate, verified information.


From ACM Opinion

Best Medical Science Images of 2015

Best Medical Science Images of 2015

The Wellcome Trust has announced the 20 winners of its 2015 Image Awards for medical science images. Here are our favourites.


From ACM Opinion

Mathematicians of the Future?

Mathematicians of the Future?

Herbert Simon, the Nobel-prize winning economist, was a techno-enthusiast. In 1956 he predicted that, "within 10 years, computers would beat the world chess champion, compose 'aesthetically satisfying' original music, and prove…


From ACM Opinion

The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was

The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was

On October 16, 2011, the early evening weather on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California, was almost unspeakably gorgeous—mild as a warm bath, a cloudless sky above, a full moon beaming benevolently on the 300…


From ACM Opinion

The Math of March Madness

The Math of March Madness

The N.C.A.A. men's basketball tournament started Thursday, but for most Americans the real action began days before, as they pored over brackets, competing to make the most accurate predictions—for money, or just office glory…


From ACM Opinion

Reality Check: Comparing HoloLens and Magic Leap

Reality Check: Comparing HoloLens and Magic Leap

I've seen two competing visions for a future in which virtual objects are merged seamlessly with the real world.


From ACM Opinion

Why Some of Google's Coolest Projects Flop Badly

Why Some of Google's Coolest Projects Flop Badly

In public, companies try to trot out any hint of a success story—real or imagined. At SXSW this week, Google took a different tack: It talked all about its failures.


From ACM Opinion

DJ Patil Talks Nerdy to Us

DJ Patil Talks Nerdy to Us

DJ Patil was recently named the White House's deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist, making him the first-ever national data scientist. DJ even coined the term "data scientist" back in 2008.


From ACM Opinion

Edward Snowden Issues 'Call to Arms' for Tech Companies in Secret SXSW Meeting

Edward Snowden Issues 'Call to Arms' for Tech Companies in Secret SXSW Meeting

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a highlight of last year's SXSW, where he gave one of his first public speeches. This year, Snowden was back at SXSW—but only a few people even knew it was happening.


From ACM Opinion

Virtual Zombie Apocalypse Can Prepare Us for Disaster

Virtual Zombie Apocalypse Can Prepare Us for Disaster

Why use online games to study our responses to catastrophic events?


From ACM Opinion

Love in the Time of Bots

Love in the Time of Bots

Convincing people to have a romantic relationship with a computer might be easier than it sounds.


From ACM Opinion

How ISIS Succeeds on Social Media Where #StopKony Fails

How ISIS Succeeds on Social Media Where #StopKony Fails

Social networks offer an incredible tool for tapping into the collective unconscious, a virtual Jungian arena in which competition might be expected to amplify the critical values and anxieties of millions of people in real time…


From ACM Opinion

Don't Want NSA to Spy on Your Email? 5 Things You Can Do

Don't Want NSA to Spy on Your Email? 5 Things You Can Do

More than half of Americans are worried about the U.S. government's digital spies prying into their emails, texts, search requests and other online information, but few are trying to thwart the surveillance.


From ACM Opinion

So Sayeth Google

So Sayeth Google

Search for "vaccines." At least within our filter bubble, the top item in Google's "In the news" section earlier this week was an anti-vax column about the "feds' plan to force vaccines on adults."


From ACM Opinion

To Pi and Beyond

To Pi and Beyond

Possibly not everyone knows that March 14th is Pi Day, in honor of the symbol used to denote the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.


From ACM Opinion

Data and Goliath: Bruce Schneier on the Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

Data and Goliath: Bruce Schneier on the Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

The book chronicles how governments and corporation have built an unprecedented surveillance state.


From ACM Opinion

'Brutal Doom' Makes One of the Best Games Ever Made Even Better

'Brutal Doom' Makes One of the Best Games Ever Made Even Better

I still measure every first-person shooter that's released today against the two decades-old Doom, or, more accurately, my memory of playing it as a tween.


From ACM Opinion

Teaching Robots to Be Moral

Teaching Robots to Be Moral

"Chappie," the highest-grossing movie in America last weekend, is, to put it mildly, not a great film; the critics have given it a twenty-nine on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is nowhere near as original as "District 9," an earlier…


From ACM Opinion

Don't Edit the Human Germ Line

Don't Edit the Human Germ Line

It is thought that studies involving the use of genome-editing tools to modify the DNA of human embryos will be published shortly.


From ACM Opinion

The Disastrous Events That Would Break the Internet

The Disastrous Events That Would Break the Internet

The Internet is unbreakable. At least, we think it is.


From ACM Opinion

Finding Out What the Past Smelled Like

Finding Out What the Past Smelled Like

It was the smell that hit me first, a heady mixture of roasting meat, woodsmoke, and farmyard manure.

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