Policy Highlights from Communications of the ACM – March 2010 (Vol. 53, No. 3)

Below is a list of items with policy relevance from the March issue of Communications of the ACM. As always, much of the material in CACM is premium content, and free content one month may slip behind a pay wall the next. You need to be a member of ACM or a subscriber to CACM to access premium content online.

News
Tracking Garbage by Samuel Greengard (alternate link)
Article discusses the use of small chips to track garbage and garbage cans in an effort to better managed the removal chain.

Viewpoints: Legally Speaking
Only Technological Processes Are Patentable by Pamela Samuelson
Samuelson reviews the Supreme Court arguments in the Bilski case, and how they make it less likely that the Court’s ruling (still forthcoming) will address issues of concern to software patents.

Viewpoints: Computing Ethics
The Ethics Beat by Rachelle Hollander
Hollander’s first column surveys ethical challenges facing engineers through her recent work at the National Academy of Engineering (where she directs the Center for Engineering, Ethics and Society).
Continue reading “Policy Highlights from Communications of the ACM – March 2010 (Vol. 53, No. 3)”

Computing and the Common Core

K-12 computer science education might get a boost from a recently released document called the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). This initiative is historic for the United States. For the first time forty-eight governors have come together to propose a common set of English arts and mathematics standards — which are key drivers of the curriculum students are exposed to — for their states. Until the common core standards initiative, state standards were generally disconnected from each other.

The exciting news is that computer science is listed as a potential fourth course in their model pathway, which is described below. Or, put another way, the Common Core State Standards Initiative is proposing that computer science be part of the students’ core curriculum. States are not bound by these standards or this model, and this doesn’t mean that once the draft is made final computer science will count as a mathematics credit in high schools across the nation. But political momentum for the initiative is building and being a part of it gives computer science a much needed boost.

To better understand how computer science fits into the Common Core State Standards Initiative we need to dive deeper into policy landscape and context.
Continue reading “Computing and the Common Core”

USACM and CRA Express Concerns Over Cybersecurity Legislation

Lost within all the health care legislation coverage was the release of a new draft of S.773, the Cybersecurity Act of 2010. The new draft was released a week before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold a markup of this legislation. The bill had made some waves last summer when originally introduced, in part because of concerns it would give the President broad authority over the Internet. Subsequent drafts addressed those concerns. The bill covers several cybersecurity topics, including the Federal Scholarship for Service Program, adjustments to federal research and development in cybersecurity; it also proposes several new coordinating mechanisms intended to improve sharing of information to support better cybersecurity practices.
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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 22

March 23

Hearing:

The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on teh National Institute of Standards and Technology and its work in the area of technical standards.
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

March 24

Markup:

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will mark up pending legislation. Scheduled for the markup is S.773, a cybersecurity bill.
10 a.m., 253 Russell Building
Continue reading “Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 22”

National Research Council Announces Prizes in Cyberdeterence Research

The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council (NRC) has announced prizes for research in cyberdeterrence. The CSTB announced prizes for papers submitted that address at least one of the Questions of Interest described in their call for papers.

The deadline for papers is July 9. However, the CSTB committee running this project encourages interested parties to submit abstracts (less than 500 words) of their paper(s) by April 1. The committee will select abstracts from those submitted and invite the authors to submit a first draft paper by May 21. After reviewing those papers, the committee may invite some of those authors to a June workshop to discuss the work.

You do not need to submit an abstract or first draft paper to be eligible for the $1000 prize. Papers must conform to the word and style guidelines described in the call for papers. The prize is contingent on the paper passing through the NRC review process, and winning papers will be published by the NRC in late 2010.

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 15

March 16

Hearing:

The Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on broadening participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education.
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

Markup:

The House Homeland Security Committee will markup legislation on the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security.
2 p.m., 311 Cannon Building

March 18

The Data Protection and Integrity Advisory Committee of the Department of Homeland Security will meet.
8:30 a.m., 111 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington

Charles Thacker Recognized With 2009 ACM A.M. Turing Award

In recognition of his work in developing the modern personal computer, Charles P. Thacker was awarded the 2009 ACM A.M. Turing Award. The Award, which comes with a $250,000 prize, is supported in part by Intel and Google, and is considered the top prize in computing. It is named for the British mathematician Alan Turing, who was instrumental in the early development of modern computing.

Dr. Thacker designed the Alto, a personal computer that incorporated many features we take for granted today, including a preliminary graphical user interface/display and What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors. He worked on the Alto while at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, California. The Alto also served as the prototype of networked personal computers. Dr. Thakcer also worked on the Ethernet local area network, and multiprocessor workstations.

Congratulations to Dr. Thacker on his accomplishments, and on receiving the 2009 Turing Award. You can learn more about Dr. Thacker and the Turing Award online, including the ACM press release.

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 8

March 10

Hearing:

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. cyberspace policy and foreign policy (rescheduled from February 10).
10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn Building

The House Science and Technology Committee will hear from the National Science Foundation about the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request.
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on American innovation and competitiveness.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of March 1

March 2

Hearing:
The Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on global internet freedom
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building

March 3

Hearing:
The Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will discuss authorization legislation for the Science and Technology Directorate.
2 p.m., 311 Cannon Building