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Communications of the ACM


The Name Game

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There was a recent discussion in Communications'  Letters to the Editor regarding a name change for ACM. Editor-in-Chief Andrew A. Chien even encouraged sending him ideas or suggestions for new ways to rethink the letters A-C-M. I, too, thought of an interesting name change for ACM, but after careful consideration, I realized I adore the current name for its longstanding value and history.

Concerning previous suggestions made by others (see Communications June 2020 p. 6, and September 2020 p. 9), we must be careful that our association is not dedicated only to its registered members. That is, it is dedicated for advancing computing machinery, as science and profession, and not just for members contributing to its mission or benefitting from it. For instance, articles are published in Communications or other ACM periodicals by authors who are not ACM members. Also, people (like my lovely wife, for instance) may read ACM proceedings or attend ACM conferences with attendees who are not members of the association.

I liked Andrew Chien's comment concerning name change and the idea of recursion. For that reason, I suggest the following list of potential substitutions for Association for Computing Machinery:

  • Association of Computing Minds
  • Association for Computing Minds
  • Association for Computing Minds and Machinery
  • Association of Computing Minds for Computing Machines
  • Association of Computing Minds for All Computing Machines

My personal favorite is Association for Computing Minds because it encapsulates many meanings and its hold on ACM's mission is twofold: it works toward the advancement of computing in terms of machinery, and it works toward the advancement of computing for scientists and professionals (as per ACM's motto, "Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession"). Besides, it reminds us of Turing's paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," thus it implicitly offers tribute to him and explicitly to the evolution of computers while highlighting the mind and intelligence (natural and artificial).

What is interesting is 'Computing Minds' can refer to both a human and a computing machine. On one side, it gives legacy to the evolution of computers from their early invention as pure mechanical programmable calculators, as well as today's intelligent decision makers and knowledge discoverers. On the other side, it inspires programmers, software engineers, database designers, and computer scientists by calling them 'computing minds' as they create computing solutions by transforming thoughts into computing codes. In this way, we elevate 'machinery' to 'mind,' and at the same time we considered every person interested in this stuff as a computing mind, too.

Moreover, 'Association for Computing Minds' is new, novel, and unusual!

Still, as I said at the outset, I still adore 'Association for Computing Machinery' for its originality, value, and history.

What do you think?

Mario Antoine Aoun is an ACM Professional member who has been a Reviewer for ACM Computing Reviews since 2006. He has 25 years of computer programming experience and holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Informatics from the Université du Québec à Montréal. His main research interest is memory modelling based on chaos theory and spiking neurons.


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