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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.

June 2016


From ACM Opinion

Waiting for Gödel

Waiting for Gödel

In June of 1975, the Office of the White House Press Secretary announced President Gerald R. Ford’s picks for the National Medal of Science. One went to the Austrian-born mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel.


From ACM Opinion

How the Computer Beat the Go Player

How the Computer Beat the Go Player

The victory in March of the computer program AlphaGo over one of the world's top handful of go players marks the highest accomplishment to date for the burgeoning field of machine learning and intelligence.


From ACM Opinion

How Alan Turing Found Machine Thinking in the Human Mind

How Alan Turing Found Machine Thinking in the Human Mind

In 1935, Alan Turing set out to build a reputation by outflanking the world's leading mathematician.


From ACM Opinion

How to Stop Robocalls … or at Least Fight Back

How to Stop Robocalls … or at Least Fight Back

"This is a final notice from the IRS."


From ACM Opinion

Meet the Smartest, Cutest AI-Powered Robot You've Ever Seen

Meet the Smartest, Cutest AI-Powered Robot You've Ever Seen

Boris Sofman taps his phone, and the robot on the conference room table in front of him wakes up. Not in that gadget-y way, like when a laptop screen turns on, though.


From ACM Opinion

How Risky Are the World Economic Forum's Top 10 Emerging Technologies for 2016?

How Risky Are the World Economic Forum's Top 10 Emerging Technologies for 2016?

Take an advanced technology. Add a twist of fantasy. Stir well, and watch the action unfold.


From ACM Opinion

Machines that Talk to Us May Soon Sense Our Feelings, Too

Machines that Talk to Us May Soon Sense Our Feelings, Too

After great promise in the 1960s that machines would soon think like humans, progress stalled for decades. Only in the past 10 years or so has research picked up, and now there are several popular products on the market that…


From ACM Opinion

After Orlando, the Homemade AR-15 Industry Surges

After Orlando, the Homemade AR-15 Industry Surges

In the wake of the worst mass shooting in US history, many Americans want to ban civilians from buying the AR-15, that ultra-popular, all-American killing tool.


From ACM Opinion

Self-Driving Cars Could Flip the Auto Insurance Industry on Its Head

Self-Driving Cars Could Flip the Auto Insurance Industry on Its Head

As the driverless car gets closer to reality, so too does the dilemma of how to insure the car and its owner.


From ACM Opinion

Bringing Precision to the AI Safety Discussion

Bringing Precision to the AI Safety Discussion

We believe that AI technologies are likely to be overwhelmingly useful and beneficial for humanity. But part of being a responsible steward of any new technology is thinking through potential challenges and how best to address…


From ACM Opinion

AI Doomsayer Says His Ideas Are Catching On

AI Doomsayer Says His Ideas Are Catching On

Oxford University philosophy professor Nick Bostrom says major tech companies are listening to his warnings about investing in "AI safety" research.


From ACM Opinion

Here's Your Chance to Decode President Lincoln's Secret Messages

Here's Your Chance to Decode President Lincoln's Secret Messages

On April 12, 1865—three days after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox and two days before President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated—the president sent a telegram to Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, whose Union forces were…


From ACM Opinion

The Lopsided Geography of Wikipedia

The Lopsided Geography of Wikipedia

Think about how often, in the course of a week, you visit Wikipedia.


From ACM Opinion

Basic Income: A Sellout of the American Dream

Basic Income: A Sellout of the American Dream

Matt Krisiloff is in a small, glass-walled conference room off the lobby of Y Combinator’s office in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, shouting distance from some of the country's wealthiest startups, many of which…


From ACM Opinion

Orlando Shows the Limits of Facebook's Terror Policing

Orlando Shows the Limits of Facebook's Terror Policing

Both leading up to and during his deadly assault on Orlando night club Pulse, Omar Mateen accessed his Facebook account.


From ACM Opinion

Too Cute for Their Own Good, Robots Get Self-Defense Instincts

Too Cute for Their Own Good, Robots Get Self-Defense Instincts

At a shopping mall here one recent Friday, six-year-old Ruby Dowling made friends with a friendly egg-shaped robot.


From ACM Opinion

It'll Be Very Hard for Terrorism Victim's Family to Win Lawsuit Against Twitter

It'll Be Very Hard for Terrorism Victim's Family to Win Lawsuit Against Twitter

Legal experts say that it will be an uphill battle for the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit this week against Twitter, Facebook, and Google.


From ACM Opinion

The Physicist Who Studies ISIS Communities Online

The Physicist Who Studies ISIS Communities Online

Neil Johnson, a physicist at the University of Miami in Florida, studies patterns that emerge in complex systems.


From ACM Opinion

For the Golden State Warriors, Brain-Zapping Could Provide an Edge

For the Golden State Warriors, Brain-Zapping Could Provide an Edge

Back in March, James Michael McAdoo, the power forward for the Golden State Warriors, tweeted out a photo of himself in the training room, sporting a pair of slick over-the-ear headphones.


From ACM Opinion

Losing Control: The Dangers of Killer Robots

Losing Control: The Dangers of Killer Robots

New technology could lead humans to relinquish control over decisions to use lethal force.


From ACM Opinion

What Happens If GPS Fails?

What Happens If GPS Fails?

In only took thirteen millionths of a second to cause a whole lot of problems.


From ACM Opinion

Deep Learning Isn't a Dangerous Magic Genie. It's Just Math

Deep Learning Isn't a Dangerous Magic Genie. It's Just Math

Deep learning is rapidly 'eating' artificial intelligence. But let's not mistake this ascendant form of artificial intelligence for anything more than it really is.


From ACM Opinion

Barefoot Networks' New Chips Will Transform the Tech Industry

Barefoot Networks' New Chips Will Transform the Tech Industry

Nick McKeown and his new startup, Barefoot Networks, just launched out of stealth. That's Silicon Valley-speak for trumpeting the arrival of your new startup in a press release and asking lots of reporters to repeat what it says…


From ACM Opinion

Q&A: John Chambers

Q&A: John Chambers

Cisco Systems designs, makes, and sells the routers, switches, and other networking equipment with which businesses connect their computers, manage data centers, and access the Internet.


From ACM Opinion

What Are the Odds We Are Living in a Computer Simulation?

What Are the Odds We Are Living in a Computer Simulation?

Last week, Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and other cutting-edge companies, took a surprising question at the Code Conference, a technology event in California.


From ACM Opinion

A Russian Cybersleuth Battles the 'Dark Ages' of the Internet

A Russian Cybersleuth Battles the 'Dark Ages' of the Internet

A sense of menace stirs right off the elevator on the fifth floor of Kaspersky Lab's Moscow headquarters, where a small television screen displays cyberthreats occurring in real time around the world—a blinking, spinning, color…


From ACM Opinion

Wikipedia Warns Against French Attempt to Extend EU Privacy Law Globally

Wikipedia Warns Against French Attempt to Extend EU Privacy Law Globally

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has said an attempt by France to give an online privacy ruling global force is opening up a "disastrous can of worms" and could spur global censorship.


From ACM Opinion

Will the Constitution Protect Your Next Smartphone?

Will the Constitution Protect Your Next Smartphone?

More than a decade ago, the keynote speaker at a major annual cybersecurity conference strode into the spotlight and predicted the death of the password.


From ACM Opinion

The All-American iPhone

The All-American iPhone

Donald Trump says that if he becomes president, he will "get Apple to start making their computers and their iPhones on our land, not in China." Bernie ­Sanders has also called for Apple to manufacture some devices in the U.S…


From ACM Opinion

Jobs Threatened by Machines: A Once 'Stupid' Concern Gains Respect

Jobs Threatened by Machines: A Once 'Stupid' Concern Gains Respect

They replaced horses, didn't they? That's how the late, great economist Wassily Leontief responded 35 years ago to those who argued technology would never really replace people's work.

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