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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.

August 2015


From ACM Opinion

The Government Needs to Work with Silicon Valley to Create Our Military Future

The Government Needs to Work with Silicon Valley to Create Our Military Future

In 1931, the city fathers of Sunnyvale, California, came up with a unique plan to rescue their town from the doldrums of the Great Depression.


From ACM News

Nine Real NASA Technologies in 'The Martian'

Nine Real NASA Technologies in 'The Martian'

Mars has held a central place in human imagination and culture for millennia.


From ACM Opinion

In Search of the Keys to the Virtual City

In Search of the Keys to the Virtual City

I'm not the first man to believe that he might fix London.


From ACM Opinion

Why Neuroscience Needs Hackers

Why Neuroscience Needs Hackers

There was a time when neuroscientists could only dream of having such a problem.


From ACM Careers

The Upside of a Downturn in Silicon Valley

The Upside of a Downturn in Silicon Valley

In October 2008, in the early days of the last economic collapse, Sequoia Capital invited founders of technology companies to a frank meeting outlining the new global reality.


From ACM Opinion

Who Won Science Fiction's Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters

Who Won Science Fiction's Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters

Since 1953, to be nominated for a Hugo Award, among the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing, has been a dream come true for authors who love time travel, extraterrestrials and tales of the imagined future.


From ACM Opinion

Here's Why American Students Don’t Learn Computer Science

Here's Why American Students Don’t Learn Computer Science

America's youth isn't getting a decent education when it comes to the basics of technology, and a survey conducted by Google and Gallup shows why.


From ACM Opinion

Psychiatry Is Reinventing Itself Thanks to Advances in Biology

Psychiatry Is Reinventing Itself Thanks to Advances in Biology

A revolution is under way in psychiatry. The science underpinning this discipline has in the past shifted from psychology to pharmacology, and now it is changing again.


From ACM Opinion

What Is Elegance in Science?

What Is Elegance in Science?

In 1957, a few years after Francis Crick co-discovered the DNA double helix and a few years before he co-won a Nobel Prize for doing so, he published a paper on the genetic provenance of amino acids, the organic compounds that…


From ACM Opinion

How Close Are We Really to a Robot-Run Society?

How Close Are We Really to a Robot-Run Society?

From Rosie, the Jetsons' robot maid, to Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg in The Terminator, popular culture has frequently conceived of robots as having a human-like form, complete with "eyes" and mechanical limbs. But tech reporter…


From ACM Opinion

Move Over, Siri—The Next Generation of Virtual Assistants Is Almost Here

Move Over, Siri—The Next Generation of Virtual Assistants Is Almost Here

Virtual voice-controlled assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now are magical.


From ACM Opinion

It's Operating Systems Vs. Messaging Apps In The Battle For Tech's Next Frontier

It's Operating Systems Vs. Messaging Apps In The Battle For Tech's Next Frontier

As mobile devices continue to explore and colonize the technology landscape, their conquests are leading us to a new era, beyond search and apps.


From ACM Opinion

The Amazingly Accurate Futurism of 2001: A Space Odyssey

The Amazingly Accurate Futurism of 2001: A Space Odyssey

The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey" documents in nearly scientific detail exactly that: the story of how the iconic science-fiction film came into existence, and how it predicted much of the technology we…


From ACM Opinion

The End of the Internet Dream

The End of the Internet Dream

Twenty years ago I attended my first Def Con. I believed in a free, open, reliable, interoperable Internet: a place where anyone can say anything, and anyone who wants to hear it can listen and respond. I believed in the Hacker…


From ACM Opinion

We Flew a Simulated 747 at NASA and Didn't Crash or Barf

We Flew a Simulated 747 at NASA and Didn't Crash or Barf

From a viewing spot in a high bay room at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, I peer through a glass window at a cab that simulates the cockpit of a commercial aircraft.


From ACM Opinion

Apple CarPlay Review: Siri's Finally on the Right Road

Apple CarPlay Review: Siri's Finally on the Right Road

I take back all—OK most—of the expletives I’ve ever hurled at Siri.


From ACM Opinion

Why Is Blue Light Before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?

Why Is Blue Light Before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?

In the modern age of technology it is not uncommon to come home after a long day at work or school and blow off steam by reading an e-book or watching television. Lately, however, scientists have been cautioning against using…


From ACM Opinion

Robot Weapons: What's the Harm?

Robot Weapons: What's the Harm?

Last month over a thousand scientists and tech-world luminaries, including Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Steve Wozniak, released an open letter calling for a global ban on offensive "autonomous" weapons like drones, which can…


From ACM Opinion

Humans, Not Robots, Are the Real Reason Artificial Intelligence Is Scary

Humans, Not Robots, Are the Real Reason Artificial Intelligence Is Scary

Unfortunately, much of the recent outcry against artificial-intelligence weapons has been confused, conjuring robot takeovers of mankind.


From ACM Opinion

Will Artificial Intelligence Surpass Our Own?

Will Artificial Intelligence Surpass Our Own?

Famed science-fiction writer Fredric Brown (1906–1972) delighted in creating the shortest of short stories. "Answer," published in 1954, encapsulated a prescient meditation on the future of human-machine relations within a single…


From ACM Opinion

Palmer Luckey: Making Virtual Reality a Reality

Palmer Luckey: Making Virtual Reality a Reality

"Why shouldn't people be able to teleport wherever they want?" asks Palmer Luckey, the 22-year-old founder of Oculus VR, the virtual-reality company that Facebook bought last year for more than $2 billion.


From ACM Opinion

Let's School the Presidential Hopefuls on Cybersecurity

Let's School the Presidential Hopefuls on Cybersecurity

In the build up to the 2016 U.S. election, both Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls are talking about cybersecurity—and specifically state-sponsored hacks.


From ACM News

For Virtual-Reality Movies, Old Methods Don't Fit New Medium

For Virtual-Reality Movies, Old Methods Don't Fit New Medium

I'm standing on the bow of what looks to be a sunken pirate ship.


From ACM News

The Backbone of the Internet Could Detect Earthquakes, but No One's Using It

The Backbone of the Internet Could Detect Earthquakes, but No One's Using It

December 26, 2004: It is an idyllic morning at a beachside resort in Indonesia.


From ACM Opinion

When Phone Encryption Blocks Justice

When Phone Encryption Blocks Justice

In June, a father of six was shot dead on a Monday afternoon in Evanston, Ill., a suburb 10 miles north of Chicago.


From ACM TechNews

Algorithms and Bias: Q and A With Cynthia Dwork

Algorithms and Bias: Q and A With Cynthia Dwork

In an interview, Microsoft Research scientist Cynthia Dwork describes how algorithms can learn to discriminate because they are programmed by coders who incorporate their biases.


From ACM Opinion

Why Larry Page Is Stepping Away

Why Larry Page Is Stepping Away

In the ten years that I’ve been watching him, Larry Page has always wanted to play by his own rules.


From ACM Opinion

With Google as Alphabet, a Bid to Dream Big Beyond Search

With Google as Alphabet, a Bid to Dream Big Beyond Search

Shortly after its founding, Google posted a document on its site called "Ten things we know to be true," an effort to distill its unusual corporate culture into a succinct list of prescriptions—the 10 commandments of Googliness…


From ACM Opinion

Movies That Predicted the Future—and Some That Didn't

Movies That Predicted the Future—and Some That Didn't

Making fun of how movies screw up the future is one of the main reasons why the Internet was invented.


From ACM Opinion

How Fiction Can Reveal the Horrors of Future Wars

How Fiction Can Reveal the Horrors of Future Wars

The fact that he couldn't feel the drill going into the back of his skull made the noise all the more terrifying.

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