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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 2018


From ACM Opinion

The Man With the Most Valuable Work Experience in the World

The Man With the Most Valuable Work Experience in the World

Chris Urmson led Google's self-driving car team from its early days all the way until the company shed its Google skin and emerged under the Alphabet umbrella as Waymo, the obvious leader in driverless cars.


From ACM Opinion

To Protect Artificial Intelligence from Attacks, Show It Fake Data

To Protect Artificial Intelligence from Attacks, Show It Fake Data

AI systems can sometimes be tricked into seeing something that's not actually there, as when Google's software "saw" a 3-D-printed turtle as a rifle.


From ACM Opinion

The Next Cold War Is Here, and It's All About Data

The Next Cold War Is Here, and It's All About Data

The headlines about the trade wars being touched off by President Trump's new tariffs may telegraph plenty of bombast and shots fired, but the most consequential war being waged today is a quieter sort of conflict: It's the new…


From ACM Opinion

Someone Is Watching You

Someone Is Watching You

Isn't technology wonderful? At Purdue University, the same IT infrastructure that enables us to manage student assignments and grades, operate residential and dining facilities, and support a leading community of scientific researchers…


From ACM Opinion

The Blockchain Solution to Our Deepfake Problems

The Blockchain Solution to Our Deepfake Problems

Blockchain has always seemed to me like a solution looking for a problem, which isn't a criticism.


From ACM Opinion

Cambridge Analytica Controversy Must Spur Researchers to Update Data Ethics

Cambridge Analytica Controversy Must Spur Researchers to Update Data Ethics

Revelations keep emerging in the Cambridge Analytica personal-data scandal, which has captured global public attention for more than a week. But when the dust settles, researchers harvesting data online will face greater scrutiny…


From ACM Opinion

My Cow Game Extracted Your Facebook Data

My Cow Game Extracted Your Facebook Data

For a spell during 2010 and 2011, I was a virtual rancher of clickable cattle on Facebook.


From ACM Opinion

Ready Player One: We Are Surprisingly Close to Realizing Just Such a VR Dystopia

Ready Player One: We Are Surprisingly Close to Realizing Just Such a VR Dystopia

I was fortunate enough to catch a preview screening of Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ernest Cline's futuristic novel.


From ACM Opinion

To Illustrate the Dangers of Cyberwarfare, the Army Is Turning to Sci-Fi

To Illustrate the Dangers of Cyberwarfare, the Army Is Turning to Sci-Fi

At first glance, Dark Hammer looks a lot like any other science fiction comic book: On the front cover, a drone flies over a river dividing a city with damaged and burning buildings. But this short story in graphic form comes…


From ACM Opinion

This Is The A-Bomb Moment For Computer Science

This Is The A-Bomb Moment For Computer Science

Fields like machine learning, data science, and computational linguistics are facing their A-bomb moment right now. Computer scientists need to confront the weaponization of their work.


From ACM Opinion

Enough About Cryptocurrency. Let's Talk About Virtual Cats

Enough About Cryptocurrency. Let's Talk About Virtual Cats

We spend way too much time talking about digital currencies and not nearly enough time on digital cats.


From ACM Opinion

Fourier's Transformational Thinking

Fourier's Transformational Thinking

When you listen to digital music, the harmonies and chords that you hear have probably been reconstructed from a file that stored them as components of different frequencies, broken down by a process known as Fourier analysis…


From ACM Opinion

Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Legitimate Researchers Using Facebook Data Could Be Collateral Damage

Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Legitimate Researchers Using Facebook Data Could Be Collateral Damage

The scandal that has erupted around Cambridge Analytica's alleged harvesting of 50m Facebook profiles assembled from data provided by a UK-based academic and his company is a worrying development for legitimate researchers.


From ACM Opinion

The FCC Should Use Blockchain to Manage Wireless Spectrum

The FCC Should Use Blockchain to Manage Wireless Spectrum

The technology at the heart of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin—blockchain—has captured the world's attention, much as the internet, peer-to-peer file transfers, apps, and the cloud did before it. Simply put, blockchains are distributed…


From ACM Opinion

Intelligent to a Fault: When AI Screws Up, You Might Still Be to Blame

Intelligent to a Fault: When AI Screws Up, You Might Still Be to Blame

Artificial intelligence is already making significant inroads in taking over mundane, time-consuming tasks many humans would rather not do.


From ACM Opinion

Med Students Are Getting Terrible Training in Robotic Surgery

Med Students Are Getting Terrible Training in Robotic Surgery

If you think your on-the-job training was tough, imagine what life is like for newbie surgeons.


From ACM Opinion

Ancient DNA Is Rewriting Human (and Neanderthal) History

Ancient DNA Is Rewriting Human (and Neanderthal) History

Geneticist David Reich used to study the living, but now he studies the dead.


From ACM Opinion

An Ode to Insignificance: Buttons, Touchscreens, and Other Dangerous Technologies

An Ode to Insignificance: Buttons, Touchscreens, and Other Dangerous Technologies

"The future is already here—it's just not evenly distributed," is an often-quoted line from the brilliant science-fiction writer William Gibson.


From ACM Opinion

In Search of Blockchain's Killer-Apps

In Search of Blockchain's Killer-Apps

Blockchain has been in the news lately, but beyond knowing that it has something to do with payments and digital currencies, most people don't know what blockchain is or why they should care.


From ACM Opinion

Does Your Code Stand Up to Scrutiny?

Does Your Code Stand Up to Scrutiny?

Computer code written by scientists forms the basis of an increasing number of studies across many fields—and an increasing number of papers that report the results.


From ACM Opinion

Using Blockchain to Secure the 'Internet of Things'

Using Blockchain to Secure the 'Internet of Things'

The world is full of connected devices—and more are coming. In 2017, there were an estimated 8.4 billion internet-enabled thermostats, cameras, streetlights and other electronics.


From ACM Opinion

They Survived a School Shooting Only to Wage Battle in Some of the Nastiest Corners of the Internet

They Survived a School Shooting Only to Wage Battle in Some of the Nastiest Corners of the Internet

In person, Sarah Chadwick and Jaclyn Corin are fierce. And young.


From ACM Opinion

How Lies Spread Online

How Lies Spread Online

The spread of misinformation on social media is an alarming phenomenon that scientists have yet to fully understand.


From ACM Opinion

How to Make A.I. Human-Friendly

How to Make A.I. Human-Friendly

For a field that was not well known outside of academia a decade ago, artificial intelligence has grown dizzyingly fast. Tech companies from Silicon Valley to Beijing are betting everything on it, venture capitalists are pouring…


From ACM Opinion

Don't Blame China, Mr. President. Blame the Robots.

Don't Blame China, Mr. President. Blame the Robots.

Mr. President, if you're looking for someone to demonize for killing blue-collar jobs in your favorite industries, don't blame China and "bad trade deals."

Blame the robots.


From ACM Opinion

The Sublime and Scary Future of Cameras With A.I. Brains

The Sublime and Scary Future of Cameras With A.I. Brains

Something strange, scary and sublime is happening to cameras, and it's going to complicate everything you knew about pictures. Cameras are getting brains.


From ACM Opinion

Bioengineers Today Emphasize the Crucial Ingredient Dr. Frankenstein Forgot: Responsibility 

Bioengineers Today Emphasize the Crucial Ingredient Dr. Frankenstein Forgot: Responsibility 

Mary Shelley was 20 when she published "Frankenstein" in 1818. Two hundred years on, the book remains thrilling, challenging and relevant—especially for scientists like me whose research involves tinkering with the stuff of life…


From ACM Opinion

Computing With Random Pulses Promises to Simplify Circuitry and Save Power

Computing With Random Pulses Promises to Simplify Circuitry and Save Power

In electronics, the past halfcentury has been a steady march away from analog and toward digital. Telephony, music recording and playback, cameras, and radio and television broadcasting have all followed the lead of computing…


From ACM Opinion

Retweets Are Trash

Retweets Are Trash

A couple of months ago, I made a small tweak to my Twitter account that has changed my experience of the platform.


From ACM Opinion

A Framework for Building Artificial Intelligence Capabilities

A Framework for Building Artificial Intelligence Capabilities

After decades of promise and hype, artificial intelligence has finally reached a tipping point of market acceptance.

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