Hey Google, What’s a Moonshot?: How Silicon Valley Mocks Apollo

Communications of the ACM, January 2019
By Thomas Haigh

“Letting Silicon Valley steal the term “moonshot” for projects with quite different management styles, success criteria, scales, and styles of innovation hurts our collective ability to understand just what NASA achieved 50 years ago and why nothing remotely comparable is actually under way today at Google, or anywhere else.”

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A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener uses a biometric facial recognition scanner on a traveler at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Being Recognized Everywhere

Communications of the ACM, February 2019
By Logan Kugler

“A core challenge for democratic governments will be continued adherence to the rule of law, where restrictions on individual liberty that flow from use of this technology must be justified by necessity, legitimate purpose, and use of the least restrictive means available.”

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Tony’s Law

Communications of the ACM, February 2019
By Dror G. Feitelson

“Someone did not tighten the lid, and the ants got into the honey again. This can be prevented by placing the honey jar in a saucer of water, but it is a nuisance, occupies more counter space, and one must remember to replenish the water. So we try at least to remember to tighten the lid.

In the context of security, the software industry does not always tighten the lid. In some cases it fails to put the lid on at all, leaving the honey exposed and inviting.”

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The Real Super Tour, Photo: Kennan Harvey

The Real Super Tour

“A hard climbing philosopher, Josh is also a believer. “There’s nothing more pure and simple,” he states, “than launching into a big climb in the middle of winter. No other people, no mechanical sounds, no artificial colors; just rock and snow and breathing and the immensity of the mountains. A horizontal length of testy and mercurial ridgeline to be navigated before we can have some hot food and some rest. Doesn’t get much better than that.” It occurred to us that when you don’t have any protection, both ends of the rope are sharp, both partners are equal.”

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I AM Dangerous (Danger, dangerous, stupid: Not all the same)

I AM Dangerous (Danger, dangerous, stupid: Not all the same)

Molly Absolon, writing for the Mountainside column of the Jackson Hole News & Guide, writes about being dangerous. She writes of her reaction to an essay that Drew Hardesty wrote titled “I AM Dangerous.” Drew Hardesty is a forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center in the winter and a Grand Teton National Park climbing ranger in the summer. Drew had recently sent her an essay he’d written about danger. “The essay went on to explore the notion of danger, and, in the end, Drew embraced the idea that we are dangerous if we spend our lives in the mountains engaging in potentially risky behavior.”

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A view of the F.B.I. National Crime Information Center in Washington in 1967. In the 1960s, lawmakers began to question the government’s gathering of Americans’ data. Photo: Bettmann, via Getty Images

The End of Privacy Began in the 1960s

The New York Times, Dec. 5, 2018
Opinion by Margaret O’Mara

“In the fall of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson’s administration announced a plan to consolidate hundreds of federal databases into one centralized National Data Bank. It was meant as an efficiency move to make the Great Society even greater.”

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Magazine Cover: What Is Code?

What Is Code?

“Software has been around since the 1940s. Which means that people have been faking their way through meetings about software, and the code that builds it, for generations. Now that software lives in our pockets, runs our cars and homes, and dominates our waking lives, ignorance is no longer acceptable. The world belongs to people who code. Those who don’t understand will be left behind.”

“This issue comprises a single story devoted to ­demystifying code and the culture of the people who make it. There’s some technical language along with a few pretty basic mathematical concepts. There are also lots of solid jokes and lasting insights. It may take a few hours to read, but that’s a small price to pay for adding decades to your career.”

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What Children Want to Know About Computers

Communications of the ACM, October 19, 2018
By Judy Robertson

“There’s a mismatch between what we teach children about computing at school and what they want to know. More than a decade ago computer science educators coined the phrase computational thinking to refer to the unique cleverness of the way computer scientists approach problem solving. “Our thinking is based on abstraction, decomposition, generalization, and pattern matching”, we said, “and everyone will find it useful to think like this in their everyday lives. So please stop asking us to fix your printer.”

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