Why I Still Love Tech

Wired, May 14, 2019
By Paul Ford

“I was exceptionally lucky to be born into this moment. I got to see what happened, to live as a child of acceleration. The mysteries of software caught my eye when I was a boy, and I still see it with the same wonder, even though I’m now an adult. Proudshamed, yes, but I still love it, the mess of it, the code and toolkits, down to the pixels and the processors, and up to the buses and bridges. I love the whole made world. But I can’t deny that the miracle is over, and that there is an unbelievable amount of work left for us to do.”

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Corp to Cloud: Google's Virtual Desktops

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Matt Fata, Philippe-Joseph Arida, Patrick Hahn, Betsy Beyer

“Until recently, our virtual desktops were hosted on commercially available hardware on Google's corporate network using a homegrown open source virtual cluster-management system called Ganeti. Today, this substantial and Google-critical workload runs on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This article discusses the reasons for the move to GCP, and how the migration was accomplished.”

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Will Supercomputers Be Super-Data and Super-AI Machines?

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Yutong Lu, Depei Qian, Haohuan Fu, Wenguang Chen

“High-performance computing (HPC) plays an important role in promoting scientific discovery, addressing grand-challenge problems, and promoting social and economic development. Over the past several decades, China has put significant effort into improving its own HPC through a series of key projects under its national research and development program. Development of supercomputing systems has advanced parallel applications in various fields in China, along with related software and hardware technology, and helped advance China's technological innovation and social development.

To meet the requirements of multidisciplinary and multidomain applications, new challenges in architecture, system software, and application technologies must be addressed to help develop next-generation exascale supercomputing systems.”

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China's Computing Ambitions

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Elliott Zaagman

“China plans to become the world's high-tech leader, and quickly. In 2015, the Chinese government's State Council approved "Made in China 2025," an initiative designed to position China as a world leader in fields such as robotics, aviation, advanced information technology, and new-energy vehicles in less than a decade. In support of this governmental initiative, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released a three-year action plan to drive growth in areas including smart drones, facial recognition, AI-supported medical diagnosis, speech recognition, and language translation. If successful, the initiative would grow China's AI industry to a size of $150 billion by 2020, approximately 100 times its size in 2016. As China pushes AI forward, here are a few names, trends, and technologies to watch.”

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Weighing the Impact of GDPR

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Samuel Greengard

“When the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018, it represented the most sweeping effort yet to oversee the way businesses collect and manage consumer data. The law, established to create consistent data standards and protect EU citizens from potential privacy abuses, sent ripples—if not tidal waves—across the world.”

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Potential 'Dark Sides' of Leisure Technology Use in Youth

Communications of the ACM, March 2019
By Ofir Turel

“Computing technology has produced many societal benefits. Nevertheless, it often serves as a double-edged sword and promotes negative consequences, such as distraction, addiction, time waste, and reduced well-being… For many years we have emphasized the positive aspects of computing technologies because we believed in their contribution to humanity. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of evidence in support of a technology duality view. That is to say, we have started realizing and quantifying the notion that many of the technologies we develop can also be harmful, especially when used excessively.”

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Internet Society

“The Internet Society supports and promotes the development of the Internet as a global technical infrastructure, a resource to enrich people’s lives, and a force for good in society.

Our work aligns with our goals for the Internet to be open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy. We seek collaboration with all who share these goals.”

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The WIRED Guide to 5G

Wired.com, December 13, 2018
By Klint Finley

“The future depends on connectivity. From artificial intelligence and self-driving cars to telemedicine and mixed reality to as yet undreamt technologies, all the things we hope will make our lives easier, safer, and healthier will require high-speed, always-on internet connections.

To keep up with the explosion of new connected gadgets and vehicles, not to mention the deluge of streaming video, the mobile industry is working on something called 5G—so named because it's the fifth generation of wireless networking technology.”

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28c3: The coming war on general computation

28th Chaos Communication Congress: Behind Enemy Lines, December, 2011
By Cory Doctorow

“The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race. The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world.”

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Using Any Surface to Realize a New Paradigm for Wireless Communications

Communications of the ACM, November 2018, Vol. 61 No. 11, Pages 30-33
By C. Liaskos, A. Tsioliaridou, et al.

“This Viewpoint introduces an approach that could tame and control these [multipath and other undesirable] effects, producing a wireless environment with software-defined electromagnetic behavior. We introduce the novel idea of HyperSurfaces, which are software-controlled metamaterials embedded in any surface in the environment.”

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Intelligent Systems for Geosciences: An Essential Research Agenda

Communications of the ACM, January 2019
By Yolanda Gil, Suzanne A. Pierce, et al.

“Many aspects of geosciences pose novel problems for intelligent systems research... A recently launched Research Coordination Network on Intelligent Systems for Geosciences followed a workshop at the National Science Foundation on this topic. This expanding network builds on the momentum of the NSF EarthCube initiative for geosciences, and is driven by practical problems in Earth, ocean, atmospheric, polar, and geospace sciences. Based on discussions and activities within this network, this article presents a research agenda for intelligent systems inspired by geosciences challenges.”

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Speech Emotion Recognition: Two Decades in a Nutshell, Benchmarks, and Ongoing Trends

Communications of the ACM, May 2018
By Björn W. Schuller

"Communication with computing machinery has become increasingly 'chatty' these days: Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and many more dialogue systems have hit the consumer market on a broader basis than ever, but do any of them truly notice our emotions and react to them like a human conversational partner would? In fact, the discipline of automatically recognizing human emotion and affective states from speech, usually referred to as Speech Emotion Recognition or SER for short, has by now surpassed the "age of majority," celebrating the 22nd anniversary after the seminal work of Daellert et al. in 1996—arguably the first research paper on the topic. However, the idea has existed even longer, as the first patent dates back to the late 1970s."

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Shouldn’t We All Have Seamless Micropayments By Now?

Wired.com, January 21, 2019
By Zeynep Tufekci

“Here’s one you probably haven’t seen—and its absence from your life speaks to why the promise of the early web seems increasingly out of reach: “402 Payment Required.”

That’s right: The web’s founders fully expected some form of digital payment to be integral to its functioning, just as integral as links, web pages, and passwords. After all, without a way to quickly and smoothly exchange money, how would a new economy be able to flourish online? Of course there ought to be a way to integrate digital cash into browsing and other activities. Of course.”

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Bias on the Web

Communications of the ACM, June 2018
By Ricardo Baeza-Yates

“Bias on the Web reflects both societal and internal biases within ourselves, emerging in subtler ways. This article aims to increase awareness of the potential effects imposed on us all through bias present in Web use and content. We must thus consider and account for it in the design of Web systems that truly address people's needs.”

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Getting Hooked on Tech

Communications of the ACM, June 2018, Vol. 61 No. 6, Pages 18-19
By Logan Kugler

“Facebook and Google lead the way in this arena. Facebook allows users to customize their personal profile to their liking and indicate their interests by engaging with content. Every reaction a user has to a post teaches Facebook's algorithms his/her preferences; these algorithms then serve more content that even better matches the user's preferences.

The result? The user visits and revisits the site, staying for longer, making them a richer target for advertising."

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Amazon Alexa and the Search for the One Perfect Answer

Wired.com, February 18, 2019
By James Vlahos

“Reaching position zero requires a wholly different strategy than conventional SEO. The importance of putting just the right keywords on a web page, for instance, is declining. Instead, SEO gurus try to think of the natural-language phrases that users might say—like “What are the top-rated hybrid cars?”—and incorporate them, along with concise answers, on sites. The hope is to produce the perfect bit of content that the AI will extract and read aloud.”

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