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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 2018


From ACM Opinion

3-D Printed Gun Blueprints Are Back, and Only New Laws Can Stop Them

3-D Printed Gun Blueprints Are Back, and Only New Laws Can Stop Them

Attorneys general from 20 states celebrated on Monday when a district court judge in Seattle extended an injunction against the sharing of 3-D printed gun blueprints online.


From ACM Opinion

Math Shows How DNA Twists, Turns and Unzips

Math Shows How DNA Twists, Turns and Unzips

If you've ever seen a picture of a DNA molecule, you probably saw it in its famous B-form: two strands coiling around each other in a right-handed fashion to form a double helix. But did you know that DNA can change its shape…


From ACM News

Here's What We Know about Google's Mysterious Search Engine

Here's What We Know about Google's Mysterious Search Engine

President Trump thinks Google's search engine is "rigged." By featuring more mainstream news outlets and relatively fewer conservative sites in the results he sees, Trump tweeted Tuesday, Google is "suppressing" right-wing views…


From ACM Opinion

Detecting 'DeepFake' Videos in the Blink of an Eye

Detecting 'DeepFake' Videos in the Blink of an Eye

A new form of misinformation is poised to spread through online communities as the 2018 midterm election campaigns heat up. Called "deepfakes" after the pseudonymous online account that popularized the technique—which may have…


From ACM Opinion

The Four Ways that Ex-Internet Idealists Explain Where It All Went Wrong

The Four Ways that Ex-Internet Idealists Explain Where It All Went Wrong

A long time ago, in the bad old days of the 2000s, debates about the Internet were dominated by two great tribes: the Optimists and the Pessimists.


From ACM Opinion

Why the Future of Data Storage is (Still) Magnetic Tape

Why the Future of Data Storage is (Still) Magnetic Tape

It should come as no surprise that recent advances in big-data analytics and artificial intelligence have created strong incentives for enterprises to amass information about every measurable aspect of their businesses.


From ACM Opinion

Trump Says He Will 'Address' Google's 'Suppressing' of Conservative News

Trump Says He Will 'Address' Google's 'Suppressing' of Conservative News

On Tuesday morning, the 45th president of the United States woke up around 5:30am Eastern Time and decided to begin his Tuesday by berating the "Fake News Media," claiming that Google was somehow "rigged" so that "all stories…


From ACM Opinion

It's Not Technology That's Disrupting Our Jobs

It's Not Technology That's Disrupting Our Jobs

When we learn about the Industrial Revolution in school, we hear a lot about factories, steam engines, maybe the power loom.


From ACM Opinion

How D-Wave's Quantum Machine Could Help Exotic Physics

How D-Wave's Quantum Machine Could Help Exotic Physics

Picture a computer. Now I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you were probably thinking of your laptop, or maybe even your smartphone if you're being smart about it. There's a good chance you weren't thinking of a quantum…


From ACM Opinion

Future Elections May Be Swayed by Intelligent, Weaponized Chatbots

Future Elections May Be Swayed by Intelligent, Weaponized Chatbots

The battle against propaganda bots is an arm's race for our democracy. It's one we may be about to lose.


From ACM Opinion

Welcome to the Age of Privacy Nihilism

Welcome to the Age of Privacy Nihilism

A barista gets burned at work, buys first-aid cream at Target, and later that day sees a Facebook ad for the same product.


From ACM Opinion

I Just Hacked a State Election. I'm 17. And I'm Not Even a Very Good Hacker.

I Just Hacked a State Election. I'm 17. And I'm Not Even a Very Good Hacker.

It took me around 10 minutes to crash the upcoming midterm elections.


From ACM Opinion

What Went Wrong With IBM's Watson

What Went Wrong With IBM's Watson

What if artificial intelligence can't cure cancer after all?


From ACM Opinion

Who Needs Democracy When You Have Data?

Who Needs Democracy When You Have Data?

In 1955, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov published a short story about an experiment in "electronic democracy," in which a single citizen, selected to represent an entire population, responded to questions generated by a …


From ACM Opinion

A Bold Mission to Touch the Sun

A Bold Mission to Touch the Sun

On Sunday, August 12, NASA launched a bold mission to fly directly into the sun's atmosphere, with a spacecraft named the Parker Solar Probe, after solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker.


From ACM Opinion

Billion-Dollar Telescopes Could End Up Beyond the Reach of US Astronomers

Billion-Dollar Telescopes Could End Up Beyond the Reach of US Astronomers

Every ten years, US astronomers set research priorities for the following decade.


From ACM Opinion

The Future of Television Is … More Television

The Future of Television Is … More Television

Call it Jeffrey Katzenberg's unicorn newborn. An operating company has come into being, ex nihilo, with the blandest of names—NewTV—and a valuation north of $1 billion.


From ACM Opinion

Are Blockchains the Answer for Secure Elections? Probably Not

Are Blockchains the Answer for Secure Elections? Probably Not

With the U.S. heading into a pivotal midterm election, little progress has been made on ensuring the integrity of voting systems—a concern that retook the spotlight when the 2016 presidential election ushered Donald Trump into…


From ACM Opinion

What Are Rare Earths, Crucial Elements in Modern Technology? 4 Questions Answered

What Are Rare Earths, Crucial Elements in Modern Technology? 4 Questions Answered

Most Americans use rare earth elements every day—without knowing it, or knowing anything about what they do. That could change, as these unusual materials are becoming a focal point in the escalating trade war between the U.S…


From ACM Opinion

Honoring the '80s, Def Con's Badge Is also a Text Adventure

Honoring the '80s, Def Con's Badge Is also a Text Adventure

Nearly 30,000 people came to Las Vegas last week for the 26th edition of DEF CON, the iconic security conference. And no small amount of the mental energy of that vast crowd was spent on one particular thing: the conference badge…


From ACM Opinion

Hackers Are Out to Jeopardize Your Vote

Hackers Are Out to Jeopardize Your Vote

Russian hackers targeted US electoral systems during the 2016 presidential election.


From ACM Opinion

To Win the AI Race, We Need More Humans

To Win the AI Race, We Need More Humans

The United States is trying to develop a national strategy on artificial intelligence (AI) but is ignoring its single greatest advantage: many of the world's brightest minds would like to live and work here but can't.


From ACM Opinion

Why AI Researchers Shouldn't Turn Their Backs on the Military

Why AI Researchers Shouldn't Turn Their Backs on the Military

More than 2,400 AI researchers recently signed a pledge promising not to build so-called autonomous weapons—systems that would decide on their own whom to kill.


From ACM Opinion

We Are Merging With Robots. That's a Good Thing.

We Are Merging With Robots. That's a Good Thing.

Here are some things that are true today:


From ACM Opinion

Google Tracks You Even If Location History's Off. Here's How to Stop It

Google Tracks You Even If Location History's Off. Here's How to Stop It

If, like most people, you thought Google stopped tracking your location once you turned off Location History in your account settings, you were wrong.


From ACM Opinion

How Your Brain Tricks You Into Believing Fake News

How Your Brain Tricks You Into Believing Fake News

Sitting in front of a computer not long ago, a tenured history professor faced a challenge that billions of us do every day: deciding whether to believe something on the Internet.


From ACM Opinion

AI for Cybersecurity Is a Hot New Thing, and a Dangerous Gamble

AI for Cybersecurity Is a Hot New Thing, and a Dangerous Gamble

When I walked around the exhibition floor at this week's massive Black Hat cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas, I was struck by the number of companies boasting about how they are using machine learning and artificial intelligence…


From ACM Opinion

There Will Never Be an Age of Artificial Intimacy

There Will Never Be an Age of Artificial Intimacy

Years ago I spoke with a 16-year-old girl who was considering the idea of having a computer companion in the future, and she described the upside to me.


From ACM Opinion

Google's China Plan Isn't Just Evil, It's Bad for Business

Google's China Plan Isn't Just Evil, It's Bad for Business

Google is proposing a new Faustian bargain with the Chinese government that isn't just morally wrong; it's also terrible for business. Experience has shown that American tech companies that sell their souls for access to the …


From ACM Opinion

What America Must Do to Remain the World's High-Tech Leader

What America Must Do to Remain the World's High-Tech Leader

Artificial intelligence (AI) often is erroneously identified as an emerging technology.

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