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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.

September 2016


From ACM Opinion

An Ode to the Rosetta Spacecraft as It Flings Itself Into a Comet

An Ode to the Rosetta Spacecraft as It Flings Itself Into a Comet

Today, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft will engage its thrusters for one final maneuver: a suicidal plunge toward the comet it has been orbiting for two years and chasing for a decade.


From ACM Opinion

Why Big Pharma Wants to Collect 2 Million Genomes

Why Big Pharma Wants to Collect 2 Million Genomes

Five months after announcing its intentions to gather genome sequences from 2 million people, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has selected geneticist David Goldstein to head up the task.


From ACM Opinion

Y2K 2.0: Is the U.S. Government Set to 'Give Away the Internet' Saturday?

Y2K 2.0: Is the U.S. Government Set to 'Give Away the Internet' Saturday?

Remember the projected Y2K bug disaster? The world's computers would supposedly go haywire as the clock ticked to January 1, 2000, thus destroying the world and ensuing widespread panic.


From ACM Opinion

Why Data Is the New Coal

Why Data Is the New Coal

"Is data the new oil?" asked proponents of big data back in 2012 in Forbes magazine. By 2016, and the rise of big data's turbo-powered cousin deep learning, we had become more certain: "Data is the new oil," stated Fortune.


From ACM Opinion

Online Trackers Follow Our Digital Shadow by 'Fingerprinting' Browsers, Devices

Online Trackers Follow Our Digital Shadow by 'Fingerprinting' Browsers, Devices

As we surf from website to website, we are being tracked—that's not news. What is news, revealed in a recent paper by researchers at Princeton University, is that the tracking is no longer just about the "cookies" that record…


From ACM Opinion

What If the Aliens We Are Looking for Are AI?

What If the Aliens We Are Looking for Are AI?

For more than a century we have been broadcasting our presence to the cosmos.


From ACM Opinion

The Internet Is No Place for Public Elections

The Internet Is No Place for Public Elections

Despite what your local election officials may tell you, you can’t trust the Internet with your vote.


From ACM Opinion

Grading the Presidential Candidates on Science

Grading the Presidential Candidates on Science

Two weeks ago, Scientific American asked for your help in grading the presidential candidates on their answers to 20 questions about various aspects of scientific endeavor.


From ACM Opinion

Ted Cruz Is Wrong About How Free Speech Is Censored on the Internet

Ted Cruz Is Wrong About How Free Speech Is Censored on the Internet

Sen. Ted Cruz wants to engineer a United States takeover of a key Internet organization, ICANN, in the name of protecting freedom of expression.


From ACM Opinion

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 Review: The Finest Soccer Game Ever Made

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 Review: The Finest Soccer Game Ever Made

There are many ways to interpret the beautiful game.


From ACM Opinion

Are the Experts Worried About the Existential Risk of Artificial Intelligence?

Are the Experts Worried About the Existential Risk of Artificial Intelligence?

If you believe everything you read, you are probably quite worried about the prospect of a superintelligent, killer AI.


From ACM Opinion

For the Debaters: What Shall We Do About the Tech Careening Our Way?

For the Debaters: What Shall We Do About the Tech Careening Our Way?

Here's a question I’m hoping comes up at Monday's presidential debate: Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump, what would you do about self-driving trucks?


From ACM Opinion

An 'Interview' With Google's New Digital Assistant

An 'Interview' With Google's  New Digital Assistant

Alphabet Inc.'s Google unit introduced a new digital assistant Wednesday. Bloomberg News put the system through its paces by asking questions, some of which were suggested by AI experts including Oren Etzioni, head of the Allen…


From ACM Opinion

The Cold War Is Over. The Cyber War Has Begun.

The Cold War Is Over. The Cyber War Has Begun.

Contemplating Russian nuclear threats during the Cold War, the strategist Herman Kahn calibrated a macabre ladder of escalation, with 44 rungs ranging from "Ostensible Crisis" to "Spasm or Insensate War."


From ACM Opinion

'Just Because We Can With Data, Doesn't Mean We Should'

'Just Because We Can With Data, Doesn't Mean We Should'

Data scientists should have a strong moral compass in order to handle big data, according to DJ Patil, deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist at the White House Office of Science and Technology…


From ACM Opinion

Big Step for Quantum Teleportation Won't Bring Us Any Closer to Star Trek. Here's Why

Big Step for Quantum Teleportation Won't Bring Us Any Closer to Star Trek. Here's Why

Two teams have set new distance records for quantum teleportation: using the weirdness of quantum mechanics to instantly transfer the condition or "state" of one quantum particle to another one in a different location.


From ACM Opinion

The Leaky Myths of Snowden

The Leaky Myths of Snowden

Oliver Stone's Snowden is a bad movie, stuffed with myth, short on drama.


From ACM Opinion

Neither Hillary Clinton Nor Donald Trump Is Tech Savvy

Neither Hillary Clinton Nor Donald Trump Is Tech Savvy

Rachel Law, the 20-something co-founder of a New York startup called Kip, is sitting next to me at a café, tapping her phone screen to show how the company’s service based on artificial intelligence allows users to shop while…


From ACM Opinion

The Feds Will Soon Be Able to Legally Hack Almost Anyone

The Feds Will Soon Be Able to Legally Hack Almost Anyone

Digital devices and software programs are complicated. Behind the pointing and clicking on screen are thousands of processes and routines that make everything work.


From ACM Opinion

Why Scientists Must Share Their Research Code

Why Scientists Must Share Their Research Code

Many scientists worry over the reproducibility of wet-lab experiments, but data scientist Victoria Stodden's focus is on how to validate computational research: analyses that can involve thousands of lines of code and complex…


From ACM Opinion

How Long Until Hackers Start Faking Leaked Documents?

How Long Until Hackers Start Faking Leaked Documents?

In the past few years, the devastating effects of hackers breaking into an organization's network, stealing confidential data, and publishing everything have been made clear


From ACM Opinion

The Time I Went on Border Patrol in a Virtual Reality World

The Time I Went on Border Patrol in a Virtual Reality World

I found myself on a desolate desert road, in front of a man who was leaning against the hood of a banged-up sedan and next to a United States Border Patrol agent who was on the radio of her patrol vehicle, running the sedan's…


From ACM Opinion

Q+A With The First Female Director Of MIT's Largest Research Lab

Q+A With The First Female Director Of MIT's Largest Research Lab

Daniela Rus is the first female director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. From her post, she has witnessed and influenced a number of trends that are driving the current digital revolution.


From ACM Opinion

Microsoft's Top Lawyer Becomes a Civil Rights Crusader

Microsoft's Top Lawyer Becomes a Civil Rights Crusader

When Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to help the FBI get into a mass murderer's iPhone last winter, he was hailed for his boldness in fighting the government on a matter of principle.


From ACM Opinion

The Worlds of H. G. Wells

The Worlds of H. G. Wells

Herbert George Wells (1866–1946) occupies a singular place in science and culture.


From ACM Opinion

How Scientifically Plausible Is 'Star Trek'?

How Scientifically Plausible Is 'Star Trek'?

"Star Trek" turns 50 on Sept. 8, and instead of buying it a fancy sports car, our mission is to boldly go down the "Star Trek" rabbit hole, or rather, wormhole, and nerd out about the show to mark this milestone.


From ACM Opinion

The Do-Not-Call List Has a Gaping Hole

The Do-Not-Call List Has a Gaping Hole

Sure, legitimate telemarketers will refrain from calling you if you've put your phone number on it. But criminal telephone spammers will call you anyway because it's become so easy for them to evade U.S. law enforcement.


From ACM Opinion

Paperless Voting Could Fuel 'Rigged' Election Claims

Paperless Voting Could Fuel 'Rigged' Election Claims

Voters in four competitive states will cast ballots in November on electronic machines that leave no paper trail—a lapse that threatens to sow distrust about a presidential election in which supporters of both Donald Trump and…


From ACM Opinion

The Next President Will Decide the Fate of Killer Robots, and the Future of War

The Next President Will Decide the Fate of Killer Robots, and the Future of War

The next president will have a range of issues on their plate, from how to deal with growing tensions with China and Russia, to an ongoing war against ISIS.


From ACM Opinion

Before Apple And Facebook, There Was Something More Revolutionary

Before Apple And Facebook, There Was Something More Revolutionary

It's easy to think that the modern era in communication began in the 1990s with the birth of the Internet.

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