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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.

March 2016


From ACM Opinion

Use or Lose Our Navigation Skills

Use or Lose Our Navigation Skills

In 1984, I was part of a team that was developing a receiver for a satellite-navigation system. After weeks of debugging, the blur of random digits settled on a location.


From ACM Opinion

Why a Chatbot Creeped Out Microsoft's AI-Focused CEO

Why a Chatbot Creeped Out Microsoft's AI-Focused CEO

In February, Microsoft Corp. Vice President Derrick Connell visited the Bing search team in Hyderabad, India, to oversee a Monday morning hackathon.


From ACM Opinion

Should Hackers Help the F.B.I.?

Should Hackers Help the F.B.I.?

The United States Justice Department announced this week that it was able to unlock the iPhone used by the gunman in the San Bernardino shooting in December, and that it no longer neededApple's assistance.


From ACM Opinion

Linux at 25: Q&A With Linus Torvalds

Linux at 25: Q&A With Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds created the original core of the Linux operating system in 1991 as a computer science student at the University of Helsinki in Finland.


From ACM Opinion

What Would Marvin Minsky Read?

What Would Marvin Minsky Read?

Marvin Minsky was one of the founders of artificial intelligence, and with John McCarthy, he created MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Minsky, who recently passed away at the age of 88, was also a…


From ACM Opinion

Q&A: Supratik Guha

Q&A: Supratik Guha

Supratik Guha, director for Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Nanoscale Materials and its Nanoscience & Technology Division, gives his perspective on where nanoscience is headed.


From ACM Opinion

Why Technological Innovation Relies on Government Support

Why Technological Innovation Relies on Government Support

Andy Grove, the Silicon Valley pioneer who died last week at age 79, was many things: a survivor of the Nazi occupation of Hungary and refugee of Cold War Eastern Europe, a keen scientific thinker with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering…


From ACM Opinion

Andy Grove's Warning to Silicon Valley

Andy Grove's Warning to Silicon Valley

The praise this week for Andy Grove, who died on Monday at age 79, has been wrapped up in praise for Silicon Valley, where he was a towering figure in the semiconductor revolution and the longtime leader of Intel, the world's…


From ACM Opinion

Feds Set a Risky Precedent by Indicting 7 Iranian Hackers

Feds Set a Risky Precedent by Indicting 7 Iranian Hackers

This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) created a potentially dangerous precedent when it indicted seven Iranian hackers involved in attacks on the US financial sector.


From ACM Opinion

Remembering Silicon Valley's First Giant, Intel's Andrew Grove

Remembering Silicon Valley's First Giant, Intel's Andrew Grove

Silicon Valley is full of logical absolutists, people who will follow a line of argument wherever it goes, no matter what the human repercussions.


From ACM Opinion

Apple Policy on Bugs May Explain Why Hackers Would Help F.B.I.

Apple Policy on Bugs May Explain Why Hackers Would Help F.B.I.

After a third party went to the F.B.I. with claims of being able to unlock an iPhone, many in the security industry said they were not surprised that the third party did not go to Apple.


From ACM Opinion

From Reagan's Cyber Plan to Apple Vs. FBI: 'Everything Is Up For Grabs'

From Reagan's Cyber Plan to Apple Vs. FBI: 'Everything Is Up For Grabs'

The heated debate between the FBI and Apple over the encryption of the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two people who massacred 14 people in San Bernardino in December, took an unexpected turn Monday when the FBI…


From ACM Opinion

The Current State of Artificial Intelligence, According to Nvidia's CEO

The Current State of Artificial Intelligence, According to Nvidia's CEO

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang weighs in on data centers, driverless cars, and deep learning technology.


From ACM Opinion

Apple's CareKit Is the Best Argument Yet for Strong Encryption

Apple's CareKit Is the Best Argument Yet for Strong Encryption

On the eve of his company’s court date with the FBI, where it will defend its right to not weaken the security of its own devices, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at a small theater in Cupertino to introduce a few new devices…


From ACM Opinion

How Self-Driving Cars Will Threaten Privacy

How Self-Driving Cars Will Threaten Privacy

Allow me to join you, if I may, on your morning commute sometime in the indeterminate future.


From ACM Opinion

The Internet of Things Is a Surveillance Nightmare

The Internet of Things Is a Surveillance Nightmare

In 2014, security guru Bruce Schneier said, "Surveillance is the business model of the Internet.


From ACM TechNews

Solving Silicon Valley's Gender Problem

Solving Silicon Valley's Gender Problem

In an interview, former Stanford University Graduate School of Business doctoral students Julie Oberweis and Monica Leas discuss the genesis of a survey detailing Silicon Valley's inhospitable culture toward women.


From ACM Opinion

The Law Is Clear: The FBI Cannot Make Apple Rewrite its OS

The Law Is Clear: The FBI Cannot Make Apple Rewrite its OS

Every once in a while, President Obama removes his Law Professor in Chief hat and puts on his I Get Terrifying Briefings Every Day hat.


From ACM Opinion

Inside Apple CEO Tim Cook's Fight With the FBI

Inside Apple CEO Tim Cook's Fight With the FBI


From ACM Opinion

Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age?

Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age?

There are not many occasions when one can give an unqualified thumbs-up to something the government does, but this is one such occasion.


From ACM Opinion

Where Computers Defeat Humans, and Where They Can't

Where Computers Defeat Humans, and Where They Can't

ALPHAGO, the artificial intelligence system built by the Google subsidiary DeepMind, has just defeated the human champion, Lee Se-dol, four games to one in the tournament of the strategy game of Go. Why does this matter?


From ACM Opinion

Explosive Golf Video Game Has the Best Physics Simulation Ever

Explosive Golf Video Game Has the Best Physics Simulation Ever

Before teeing off, I take a few seconds to line up the shot.


From ACM Opinion

Self-Driving Cars Won't Work Until We Change Our Roads—And Attitudes

Self-Driving Cars Won't Work Until We Change Our Roads—And Attitudes

Autonomous vehicles will join human drivers on our roads sooner than most people think.


From ACM Opinion

Cyberwar, Out of the Shadows

Cyberwar, Out of the Shadows

A hacking attack on a Las Vegas hotel company. A power grid blackout in the Ukraine. A series of industrial accidents at an Iranian nuclear enrichment lab.


From ACM Opinion

After AlphaGo, What's Next for AI?

After AlphaGo, What's Next for AI?

AlphaGo's victories against legendary Go player Lee Se-dol over the last few days mark a major milestone in AI research.


From ACM Opinion

Head of British Intelligence Agency on Apple, Snowden, and Regrets

Head of British Intelligence Agency on Apple, Snowden, and Regrets

Shortly after Robert Hannigan took over the British signals-intelligence agency GCHQ in 2014, he implored technology companies to do more to facilitate investigations of criminals and terrorists.


From ACM Opinion

The Creepy, Inescapable Advertisements That Could Define Virtual Reality

The Creepy, Inescapable Advertisements That Could Define Virtual Reality

When cookie giant Oreo wanted to promote its latest flavors, its marketing heads decided to spice up its traditional TV ads with something not just new, but otherworldly: a virtual-reality-style fly-through of a whimsical, violet…


From ACM Opinion

How Apple Could Fed-Proof Its Software Update System

How Apple Could Fed-Proof Its Software Update System

Apple's refusal to comply with a judge's demand that it help the FBI unlock a terrorist's iPhone has triggered a roiling debate about how much the U.S. government can or should demand of tech companies.


From ACM Opinion

A Computer Takes On a Human Master of the Board Game Go

A Computer Takes On a Human Master of the Board Game Go

In 1997, IBM's Deep Blue computer defeated the world chess champion Garry Kasparov. It was a momentous occasion for artificial intelligence, showing how far a clever algorithm could go in a game prized for its intellectual difficulty…


From ACM Opinion

Surprising Tips from a Super-Hacker

Surprising Tips from a Super-Hacker

Virtually everyone in technology knows about Kevin Mitnick, who in the 1970s, '80s and '90s was a notorious fugitive hacker on the run from the FBI.

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