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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.

July 2014


From ACM Opinion

Why Many Programmers Don't Bother Joining the ACM

Why Many Programmers Don't Bother Joining the ACM

Earlier this month Vint Cerf, co-creator of the TCP/IP protocol and current Google vice president, openly asked professional programmers for feedback regarding the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a professional organization…


From ACM Opinion

Three Questions for J. Craig Venter

Three Questions for J. Craig Venter

Genome scientist and entrepreneur J. Craig Venter is best known for being the first person to sequence his own genome, back in 2001.


From ACM Opinion

The NSA's Cyber-King Goes Corporate

The NSA's Cyber-King Goes Corporate

Keith Alexander, the recently retired director of the National Security Agency, left many in Washington slack-jawed when it was reported that he might charge companies up to $1 million a month to help them protect their computer…


From ACM Opinion

The Weird Reasons Why People Make Up False Identities on the Internet

The Weird Reasons Why People Make Up False Identities on the Internet

Sockpuppetry—using false identities for deception—is centuries old, but the advent of the web has made creating sockpuppets, and falling for their tricks, easier than ever before.


From ACM Opinion

Why Is Science Fiction So Hard to Define?

Why Is Science Fiction So Hard to Define?

Time Out, the weekly listings magazine, recently ranked the 100 best sci-fi movies of all time.


From ACM Opinion

Google Bets a Billion Dollars on Twitch

Google Bets a Billion Dollars on Twitch

Video gaming differentiates itself from the older forms of escapism—literature, theatre, film, television—with interactivity.


From ACM Opinion

How to Invent a Person Online

How to Invent a Person Online

On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio.


From ACM Opinion

When Robots Come for Our Jobs, Will We Be Ready to Outsmart Them?

When Robots Come for Our Jobs, Will We Be Ready to Outsmart Them?

Non-human employees are filling positions in all sorts of workplaces, and they are proving themselves to be fast, accurate, and reliable—more so than their human counterparts.


From ACM Opinion

How the U.S. Stumbled Into the Drone Era

How the U.S. Stumbled Into the Drone Era

On Sept. 7, 2000, in the waning days of the Clinton administration, a U.S. Predator drone flew over Afghanistan for the first time.


From ACM Opinion

The Next Big Thing in Hardware: Smart Garbage

The Next Big Thing in Hardware: Smart Garbage

There's a box on a shelf in my closet stuffed with smart smoke detectors, old smartphones, chargers, battery cases, fitness trackers, a Kindle that I sat on and broke and various sensors that have long ceased to detect anything…


From ACM Opinion

How to Talk About Blowing Things Up in Cyberspace, According to the Military

How to Talk About Blowing Things Up in Cyberspace, According to the Military

Bombs are relatively simple, when you boil everything down.


From ACM Opinion

The Fasinatng … Frustrating … Fascinating History of Autocorrect

The Fasinatng … Frustrating … Fascinating History of Autocorrect

Invoke the word autocorrect and most people will think immediately of its hiccups—the sort of hysterical, impossible errors one finds collected on sites like Damn You Autocorrect.


From ACM Opinion

id Shows Off Double-Jumping, Skull-Crushing New Doom at QuakeCon

id Shows Off Double-Jumping, Skull-Crushing New Doom at QuakeCon

The bad news is that only people who were actually at Dallas' QuakeCon last night were able to see the world-premiere gameplay footage from the next Doom game, which somehow hasn't been leaked online yet.


From ACM Opinion

Bletchley Park's Rebirth and Why It Matters

Bletchley Park's Rebirth and Why It Matters

Twenty five years ago, the historic World War II codebreaking center Bletchley Park faced demolition.


From ACM Opinion

Calling All Hackers: Help Us Build an Open Wireless Router

Calling All Hackers: Help Us Build an Open Wireless Router

EFF is releasing an experimental hacker alpha release of wireless router software specifically designed to support secure, shareable Open Wireless networks.


From ACM Opinion

The Future of Robot Caregivers

The Future of Robot Caregivers

Each time I make a house call, I stay much longer than I should.


From ACM Opinion

Being a Better Online Reader

Being a Better Online Reader

Soon after Maryanne Wolf published "Proust and the Squid," a history of the science and the development of the reading brain from antiquity to the twenty-first century, she began to receive letters from readers. Hundreds of them…


From ACM Opinion

Three Questions for Robotics Inventor Cynthia Breazeal about Social Robots

Three Questions for Robotics Inventor Cynthia Breazeal about Social Robots

As an academic, Cynthia Breazeal pioneered research into social interaction between humans and robots, developing Kismet, a robot that used facial expressions in a meaningful way.


From ACM Opinion

The Moral Hazards and Legal Conundrums of Our Robot-Filled Future

The Moral Hazards and Legal Conundrums of Our Robot-Filled Future

The robots are coming, and they're getting smarter.


From ACM Opinion

Take a Virtual Voyage Into Darwin's Library

Take a Virtual Voyage Into Darwin's Library

In his celebrated journey around the world on the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836, Charles Darwin collected a plethora of information on the geology, animals, plants and people he encountered—observations that later helped him to…


From ACM Opinion

Defending the Grand Vision of the Human Brain Project

Defending the Grand Vision of the Human Brain Project

"A grass roots effort is under way to stop the project... 'Mediocre science, terrible science policy,' begins the spirited letter…"


From ACM Opinion

How to Terraform the Moon

How to Terraform the Moon

Space fans were startled—and perhaps a little skeptical—in May when the Russians announced that they intend to build a manned moon base.


From ACM Opinion

NSA Implementing Fix to Prevent Snowden-Like Security Breach

NSA Implementing Fix to Prevent Snowden-Like Security Breach

A year after Edward Snowden's digital heist, the NSA's chief technology officer says steps have been taken to stop future incidents. But he says there's no way for the NSA to be entirely secure.


From ACM Opinion

Harnessing the Speed of Light

Harnessing the Speed of Light

The fields of data communication, fabrication, and ultrasound imaging share a common challenge when it comes to improving speed and efficiency: light's diffraction limit. Nicholas Fang thinks his group at MIT might have found…


From ACM Opinion

The Trouble With Brain Science

The Trouble With Brain Science

Are we ever going to figure out how the brain works?


From ACM Opinion

How Not to Build a Brain

How Not to Build a Brain

Building a brain sounds like a worthy goal, one that makes it seem as though the future is within reach.


From ACM Opinion

Early-Universe Explorer Looks for Answers

Early-Universe Explorer Looks for Answers

On March 17, a panel of four astrophysicists held a press conference at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., to announce that they had discovered features in the cosmic microwave background (CMB)…


From ACM Opinion

The Oculus Rift Game That's So Real It Nearly Destroyed Me

The Oculus Rift Game That's So Real It Nearly Destroyed Me

I can hear the alien breathing.


From ACM Opinion

Forget Turing, the Lovelace Test Has a Better Shot at Spotting AI

Forget Turing, the Lovelace Test Has a Better Shot at Spotting AI

When a chatbot called Eugene Goostman passed Alan Turing's famous measure of machine intelligence in June by posing as a Ukrainian teenager with questionable language skills, the world went nuts for about an hour before realizing…


From ACM Opinion

The Most Annoying Problem in Computing Is Still Unsolved

The Most Annoying Problem in Computing Is Still Unsolved

When I travel these days, I tend to look like a walking Radio Shack—cords bursting out of my pockets, bag overflowing with chargers and accessories.

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