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Communications of the ACM

Inside risks

The Big Picture

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The Big Picture, illustration, viewing machine

Credit: Drew Graham

Previous Communications inside risks columns have discussed specific types of risks (to safety, security, reliability, and so on), and specific application areas (for example, critical national infrastructures, election systems, autonomous systems, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybercurrencies and blockchains—all of which are riddled with security problems). We have also considered risks of deleterious misuses of social media, malware, malicious drones, risks to privacy, fake news, and the meaning of "truth." All of these and many more issues must be considered proactively as part of the development and operation of systems with requirements for trustworthiness.

We consider here certain overarching and underlying concepts that must be better understood and more systematically confronted, sooner rather than later. Some are more or less self-evident, some may be debatable, and others may be highly controversial.


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