The opinion archive provides access to past opinion stories from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.
While studying physics and electrical engineering as an MIT undergraduate in the late 1990s, Mehmet Fatih Yanik managed to avoid taking any biology classes until his final semester, when he was forced to sign up for a course.
From his vantage point as chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force, Mark Maybury had a bird’s-eye view of myriad advantages and challenges that modern technology presents not only to the military but also to society as a whole.
The Open Tree of Life project aims to develop an open source compendium of existing knowledge on thousands of plant and animal species.
Each morning at 7 a.m., I am awakened by the sound of a spaceship next to my bed.
Over the past six months, "fans" of this Web site and its author have shown their affection in some curious ways.
As a series of top-secret NSA documents have been leaked over the past several weeks, the issue of widespread government surveillance has been front-and-center in the public eye.
IT vendors like VMware, Red Hat and Citrix are close to realizing a decades-old vision of virtualized data centers, which could usher in an era of commoditized hardware and self-service IT.
What do we do with the knowledge that people not all that different from ourselves have behaved with astounding stupidity and cruelty, over and over again, in the recent past?
Quantum computers of the future will have the potential to give artificial intelligence a major boost, a series of studies suggests.
You shouldn't have to surrender your constitutional rights in order to safeguard your electronic privacy.
We don't have a mind reading machine.
During the sweltering heat wave earlier this month, it seemed too hot to wear much, carry much or do much of anything at all.
Intel engineer Ajay Bhatt invented the universal serial bus (USB) port about 25 years ago. He currently is analyzing PC architecture to provide portable computers with the power efficiency required to last all day.
The word mooc sounds a bit like slang from Goodfellas or the affectionate shortening of the already-affectionate name of a former outfielder for the New York Mets. In fact, a MOOC is a new kind of college-like experience that…
Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University questions the claim that competition from high-tech guest workers in the United States is keeping domestic workers' wages low and making it harder for native STEM graduates to find jobs in…
In 2006 Salman Khan logged on to YouTube and uploaded a handful of videos he had made to help his cousins with their homework. Today six million students visit the Khan Academy each mont.
Think "student engineers" and you probably have visions of high school or college students.
In the past several weeks, EFF has received many requests for advice about privacy tools that provide technological shields against mass surveillance.
There's a funny catch-22 when it comes to privacy best practices.
When my father was growing up, his father offered him 25 cents to memorize the complete list of U.S. presidents. "Number one, George Washington. Number two, John Adams …"
Ever talk to someone at a party or conference reception only to discover that the person you are talking to is constantly scanning the room, looking this way and that, perhaps finding you boring, perhaps looking for someone more…
Wikipedia is expanding its major new "open data" initiative, expanding tools that allow developers to use its content on other websites and simplifying its editing tools to appeal to more mainstream web users.
When Facebook first launched its platform strategy in 2007, it seemed as though a new world of opportunity had opened up for anyone interested in the social web—a kind of social operating system that they could build on and extend…
Microsoft stock lost about 10 percent of its value in the wake of a quarterly earnings report on Thursday that investors deemed sub-par. Yet revenue for the second quarter was up 10 percent, to $19.9 billion.
Makers of cars and mobile electronics are pushing a tempting vision of the future. It is one in which you can stay fully connected while driving.
When Barnes & Noble announced, a couple of weeks ago, that its Nook division lost almost five hundred million dollars last year and that its C.E.O. was resigning, there was one obvious conclusion: the company was doomed.
Doug Engelbart knew that his obituaries would laud him as "Inventor of the Mouse."
NASA's Space Apps Challenge recently became the world's largest open hackathon, with over 8,000 participants spanning 44 countries.
"Some of the most mature databases have been open-source-based. Also, the most mature Web servers in the market are open source software. Considering the . . . capabilities of the technology, I would take open source over any…
James Bond-like spies have been eclipsed by a new generation of operatives who don't travel the world (not physically, anyway) …
Finding errors is not the same strategy as making sure that a product works.
Early on in the study of quantum computers, computer scientists …
Getting robots to do things isn't easy: Usually, scientists have …
A storm of tiny dust particles has engulfed much of …