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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 2017


From ACM Opinion

Better Business Through Sci-Fi

Better Business Through Sci-Fi

About five years ago, Ari Popper enrolled in a course on science-fiction writing at the University of California, Los Angeles, hoping to distract himself from the boredom of his day job as the president of a market-research company…


From ACM Opinion

The Guardian View on the Future of Crime: It Will Be Online

The Guardian View on the Future of Crime: It Will Be Online

When software gets smarter, the first effect is to empower the already powerful.


From ACM Opinion

If You Could 'Design' Your Own Child, Would You?

If You Could 'Design' Your Own Child, Would You?

Scientists in Portland, Ore., just succeeded in creating the first genetically modified human embryo in the United States, according to Technology Review.


From ACM Opinion

Greetings, E.T. (Please Don't Murder Us.)

Greetings, E.T. (Please Don't Murder Us.)

On Nov. 16, 1974, a few hundred astronomers, government officials and other dignitaries gathered in the tropical forests of Puerto Rico's northwest interior, a four-hour drive from San Juan.


From ACM Opinion

What Happened to Trump's War on Data?

What Happened to Trump's War on Data?

On May 16, three months' worth of data vanished quietly from the website of the U.S. Census Bureau.


From ACM Opinion

Zuckerberg and Musk Are Both Wrong About AI

Zuckerberg and Musk Are Both Wrong About AI

Back in 2015, a group of business leaders and scientists published an "open letter" about how controlling artificial superintelligence might be the most urgent task of the twenty-first century.


From ACM Opinion

Metrology Is Key to Reproducing Results

Metrology Is Key to Reproducing Results

Imagine you are a policymaker who needs to know how much carbon is stored in the South American forest.


From ACM Opinion

Letting Cyberattack Victims Hack Back is a Very Unwise Idea

Letting Cyberattack Victims Hack Back is a Very Unwise Idea

As the rate of cybercrime increases, so too does the intensity of those attacks.


From ACM Opinion

DeepMind's Founder Says to Build Better Computer Brains, We Need to Look at Our Own

DeepMind's Founder Says to Build Better Computer Brains, We Need to Look at Our Own

After decades in the wilderness, AI has swaggered back onto center stage.


From ACM Opinion

Quantum Teleportation Is Even Weirder Than You Think 

Quantum Teleportation Is Even Weirder Than You Think 

A BBC headline last week, 'First object teleported to Earth's orbit', has to be one of the most fantastical you'll see this year. For once, it seems the future that science fiction promised has arrived! Or has it?


From ACM Opinion

How China Tames Dissent on the Internet

How China Tames Dissent on the Internet

Chinese government leaders, subtle masters of propaganda, seem to have discovered a Sun Tzu formula for taming dissent on the Internet: The best strategy may not be to confront critics directly, but to lull or distract them with…


From ACM Opinion

When Companies Get Hacked, Should They Be Allowed to Hack Back?

When Companies Get Hacked, Should They Be Allowed to Hack Back?

There is an old debate (at least, counting in internet years) that tends to crop up after major cybersecurity breaches such as the widespread WannaCry ransomware attack in May.


From ACM Opinion

AI Could Revolutionize War As Much As Nukes

AI Could Revolutionize War As Much As Nukes

In 1899, the world's most powerful nations signed a treaty at The Hague that banned military use of aircraft, fearing the emerging technology's destructive power.


From ACM Opinion

Is Anyone Home? A Way to Find Out If AI Has Become Self-Aware

Is Anyone Home? A Way to Find Out If AI Has Become Self-Aware

Every moment of your waking life and whenever you dream, you have the distinct inner feeling of being "you."


From ACM Opinion

Spreading Fake News Becomes Standard Practice for Governments Across the World

Spreading Fake News Becomes Standard Practice for Governments Across the World

Campaigns to manipulate public opinion through false or misleading social media postings have become standard political practice across much of the world, with information ministries, specialized military units and political …


From ACM Opinion

The Russians Will Be Back. Will We Be Ready?

The Russians Will Be Back. Will We Be Ready?

In recent days, our nation's response to the continued threat of foreign meddling in American elections has taken something of a surprising turn.


From ACM Opinion

Please Prove You're Not a Robot

Please Prove You're Not a Robot

When science fiction writers first imagined robot invasions, the idea was that bots would become smart and powerful enough to take over the world by force, whether on their own or as directed by some evildoer.


From ACM Opinion

Information Technology: A Digital Genius at Play

Information Technology: A Digital Genius at Play

The US mathematician and electrical engineer Claude Shannon, whose life spanned the tumultuous, technologically explosive twentieth century, is often called the father of information theory.


From ACM Opinion

Why Haven't Reporters Mass-Adopted Secure Tools for Communicating With Sources?

Why Haven't Reporters Mass-Adopted Secure Tools for Communicating With Sources?

In the months since Donald Trump took office, Washington has been leaking like a sieve.


From ACM Opinion

Why Robots Won't Steal All Our Jobs

Why Robots Won't Steal All Our Jobs

Don't worry. The robots won't destroy all our jobs. History suggests just the opposite—that new technologies inspire new jobs.


From ACM Opinion

Students are Better Off without a Laptop in the Classroom

Students are Better Off without a Laptop in the Classroom

As recent high school graduates prepare for their migration to college in the fall, one item is sure to top most students' shopping wish lists: a laptop computer.


From ACM Opinion

Teddy Roosevelt Wouldn't Understand the E.U.'s Antitrust Fine Against Google

Teddy Roosevelt Wouldn't Understand the E.U.'s Antitrust Fine Against Google

Back in 1980, Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago economist, starred in a public-television series called "Free to Choose," in which he presented his free-market ideas and, famously, told a young man that everything he…


From ACM Opinion

Asimov's Laws Won't Stop Robots Harming Humans So We've Developed a Better Solution

Asimov's Laws Won't Stop Robots Harming Humans So We've Developed a Better Solution

How do you stop a robot from hurting people?


From ACM Opinion

It's Time to Make Code More Tinker-Friendly

It's Time to Make Code More Tinker-Friendly

We need new tools that let everyone see, understand, and remix today's web. We need, in other words, to reboot the culture of View Source.


From ACM Opinion

Donald Trump's 'Impenetrable Cybersecurity' Is Pure Fantasy

Donald Trump's 'Impenetrable Cybersecurity' Is Pure Fantasy

Nothing connected to the internet is safe from hackers. And I mean nothing.


From ACM Opinion

Could a Robot Be President?

Could a Robot Be President?

President Donald Trump reportedly spends his nights alone in the White House, watching TV news and yelling at the screen.


From ACM Opinion

Who Do We Think We Are?

Who Do We Think We Are?

"Death, be not proud, though some have called thee; Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow; Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me."


From ACM Opinion

In Reporting on North Korea, Tech Helps Break Through Secrecy

In Reporting on North Korea, Tech Helps Break Through Secrecy

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Choe Sang-Hun, The Times's Korea correspondent who is based in Seoul, discusses the tech he's using.


From ACM Opinion

The President of Search Giant Baidu Has Global Plans

The President of Search Giant Baidu Has Global Plans

Google and Facebook are household names around the world. Baidu? Not yet. Ya-Qin Zhang, president of China's leading search business, says Chinese companies can become worldwide Internet powerhouses too.


From ACM Opinion

AI Will Make Forging Anything Entirely Too Easy

AI Will Make Forging Anything Entirely Too Easy

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," said an exasperated James Comey in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8. Comey's desire reflects a familiar one for individuals accused of lying when the stakes are…

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