Welcome to the June 28, 2017 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Protesters standing in front of a fire Detecting Riots With Twitter
Cardiff University News
June 26, 2017


Researchers at Cardiff University in the U.K. recently conducted a study showing that social media can be a valuable source of information for police when managing major disruptive events. For example, an analysis of 1.6 billion tweets relating to the London riots in 2011 showed computer systems could automatically scan through Twitter and detect serious incidents, such as shops being broken into and cars being set on fire, before they are reported to the police. In addition, the system could glean information about where the riots were rumored to take place and where groups of people were gathering. The researchers used a series of machine-learning algorithms to analyze each of the tweets from the dataset, accounting for features such as the time they were posted, the location at which they were posted, and the content of the tweet itself.

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Most People Expect Humans Will Grow to Trust, Even Love, AI
ZDNet
Stephanie Condon
June 27, 2017


Most people expect artificial intelligence (AI) eventually will earn the trust and even affection of humans to the point that it will be relied on for users' well-being, according to an ARM-commissioned global survey. More than 70 percent of respondents with a basic understanding of AI think humans ultimately will trust AI devices enough that they could fill in as elderly caretakers, while more than 60 percent believe humans will love AI as they would a pet by 2050. More natural human-AI interactions also are expected, with a majority of global consumers citing the importance of AI having natural-language communication abilities. More than half of respondents reported interest in using AI as personal companions or assistants, while regional attitudes to AI tend to vary, with significantly more Asian than European respondents optimistic about the technology's societal impact. However, 30 percent of respondents cited a reduction in human employment opportunities as a possible negative consequence.

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3D printed egg Ahead of the Curve
IST Austria
June 27, 2017


Researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria (IST Austria) have developed CurveUps, a new technology that makes it possible to create self-actuating, smooth, and free-form objects using three-dimensional (3D) printers. The researchers note the project involved developing a new material design and a new method of self-transformation. In addition, the team developed the computational tools to take a user-provided (3D) model and automatically create a two-dimensional (2D) flattened template that can transform into the original 3D version. The researchers say CurveUps are comprised of tiny tiles sandwiched between pre-stretched latex layers. During the transformation process, the tension in the latex pulls the tiles together, joining them into a continuous shell. "Our research is a step toward the development of new fabrication technologies: there have been many advances in flat fabrication, for instance in electronics, that have previously been limited to 2D shapes," notes IST Austria's Ruslan Guseinov. "With CurveUps, we...produce 3D objects empowered with these same technologies."

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How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms
The New York Times
Natasha Singer; Doris Burke
June 27, 2017


Silicon Valley has been advancing an agenda to bring more programming instruction into U.S. schools, in part through the efforts of the Code.org nonprofit. Code.org's mission is to make computer science (CS) an essential course in all U.S. public schools, with co-founder Hadi Partovi noting CS is crucial both to students as a skill to learn, and to U.S. tech companies as a tool to stay competitive. Code.org in a few years has become a template for Silicon Valley education reform, characterized by social-media savvy. Partovi says Code.org currently is a major supplier of free online coding lessons and more comprehensive CS curricula, while also hosting training workshops for about 57,000 teachers. By leveraging a network of tech industry elites, Partovi built Code.org into an entity that has persuaded states to revise their education policies and laws and has raised significant funds for CS educational inclusion.

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Open source coding on green background 10 Most Important Open Source Networking Projects
Network World
Brandon Butler
June 27, 2017


Networking vendors use open source projects as platforms for enterprise projects, and in other cases they are the underlying technology for some of the world's largest networks. Critical open source networking projects include the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center initiative, whose goal is creating a software-defined operating platform for central offices using commodity servers, white-box switches, and open source software. The Fast Data-input/output project combines open source libraries to expedite data efficiency in networking, and Europe's Mano project offers management and orchestration of software-defined networks and network function virtualization. The Linux Foundation's OpenDaylight project is a series of software packages for creating software controllers for users' virtual networks. Stanford University's OpenFlow is the first standard communications protocol in the SDN market, while the Open Networking Operating System is an open source carrier-grade SDN operating system, and the Open Networking Automation Platform supplies service providers with an open source automation and orchestration platform.

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eye over city How Artificial Intelligence Will Invoke New Hack Attacks
SD Times
Christina Cardoza
June 26, 2017


The continuing advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology will inevitably lead to hackers using AI to invoke more innovative attacks, according to experts such as Carnegie Mellon University professor Jason Hong. "In the coming year, we expect to see malware designed with adaptive, success-based learning to improve the success and efficacy of attacks," predicts Fortinet's Derek Manky. "This new generation of malware will be situation-aware, meaning that it will understand the environment it is in and make calculated decisions about what to do next." Manky expects this malware will use AI-precursor code, supplanting "if not this, then that" code logic with more sophisticated decision-making logic. Hong envisions progress toward adversarial machine learning, in which hackers attempt to reverse-engineer how software techniques operate. He also notes few AIs currently are fully automated because the side effects remain unknown. Manky predicts AI will continuously adapt to the expanding attack surface, and stresses the need for human/AI decision-making.

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A statue of Themis holding the scales of justice Big Data, Data Science, and Civil Rights
CCC Blog
Helen Wright
June 27, 2017


A white paper from the Computing Community Consortium details the necessary agenda for addressing big data and data science's role in shaping civil rights issues. The elements the agenda should cover include ascertaining whether models learned from data reflect objectionable bias, such as the observation the choice of the data used to construct the models is a key source of potential bias. The agenda also calls for supporting the emerging field of fairness-aware machine learning, and investigating sources of unfairness, discrimination, and bias, as well as other prejudices that are outside of the algorithm's purview. A strong comprehension of the ethical use of data-driven systems requires significant concentration on the possible risks to civil rights that may stem from the formulation of the problem. Another important consideration is cultivating cross-disciplinary scholars, which suggests that valuable milestones will likely be achieved by researchers who combine knowledge in both civil rights and data science.

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CMU to Harness Power of Collaboration to Advance Artificial Intelligence
TribLIVE.com
Aaron Aupperlee
June 27, 2017


Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has announced a project to coordinate faculty, students, and staff working on artificial intelligence (AI) in various disciplines to establish one of the largest and most experienced collaborative research groups in the world. CMU Language Technologies Institute director Jaime Carbonell says the idea behind the initiative is to tap these resources' collective knowledge and expertise to push AI forward and raise CMU's profile and funding. "CMU researchers have always excelled at collaboration across disciplines, but CMU AI will require all of us to work together in unprecedented ways," says Andrew Moore, dean of CMU's School of Computer Science. Moore notes CMU AI will chiefly concentrate on training a new generation of AI scientists, with a particular focus on improving life by using such technology. The initiative's other primary concentration will be on creating new AI capabilities by combining machine learning, machine translation, robotics, and human-computer interaction.

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Quadrocopter drone with wheels Drones That Drive
MIT News
Rachel Gordon
June 26, 2017


Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are developing robots that can maneuver around on land and fly through the air. The researchers have demonstrated a system of eight quadcopter drones that can fly and drive through a city-like setting with parking spots, no-fly zones, and landing pads. The researchers developed various "path-planning" algorithms aimed at ensuring that drones do not collide. They equipped the drones with two small motors with wheels, and used simulations to determine the robots could fly for 90 meters or drive for 252 meters before losing battery power. The researchers also tested the system using everyday materials such as pieces of fabric for roads and cardboard boxes for buildings. "As we begin to develop planning and control algorithms for flying cars, we are encouraged by the possibility of creating robots with these capabilities at small scale," says CSAIL director Daniela Rus.

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Cornell to Team With IBM to Protect Global Milk Supply
Cornell Chronicle
Joe Schwartz
June 23, 2017


Researchers at Cornell University and IBM have launched a joint project in which they will use genetic sequencing and big data analysis to help keep the global milk supply safe. The partnership aims to minimize the chance that hazardous food will reach consumers, prevent food fraud, and reduce spoilage. The researchers will collect genetic data from the microbiome of raw milk samples in a "real world" scenario, which will be used to form a raw-milk baseline and expand IBM's Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain bioinformatic analytical tools. They also will sequence and analyze the genetic code of food microbiomes in order to create tools that detect anomalies in raw milk that represent food safety hazards and possible fraud. In addition, the researchers will conduct several studies comparing the baseline data of raw milk with known anomalies to create models that can be used for additional studies.

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Even Weak Hackers Can Pull Off a Password Reset MitM Attack via Account Registration
CSO Online
June 25, 2017


Researchers at the College of Management Academic Studies in Israel detail how even a weak hacker could commandeer accounts by exploiting flaws in password reset procedures. A password reset man-in-the-middle (PRMitM) attack only requires the hacker to set up a website in which users must register in order to access whatever content is baiting them. The hacker visits the specified email provider or site and initiates the "forgot my password" process. Should a CAPTHCA challenge come up, the hacker forwards it to the victim and forwards the answer back to the site where the hacker is trying to breach an account. The hacker repeats this process for the remaining security questions. PRMitM can beat two-factor authentication, because if the victim's account requires such authentication via a mobile device, the hacker site will ask for the target's phone number during registration, and then claim to have sent a code the target must enter.

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New Design Improves Performance of Flexible Wearable Electronics
NCSU News
Mick Kulikowski
June 22, 2017


Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have designed a flexible thermoelectric energy harvester they say could rival existing wearable electronic devices using body heat as the only source of energy. "We wanted to design a flexible thermoelectric harvester that does not compromise on the material quality of rigid devices yet provides similar or better efficiency," says NCSU professor Mehmet Ozturk. The researchers sought to utilize the best thermoelectric materials used in rigid devices in a flexible package, which would make it unnecessary for manufacturers to develop new materials when creating flexible devices. The team used a liquid metal of gallium and indium to connect the thermoelectric "legs." "The electric resistance of these connections is very low, which is critical since the generated power is inversely proportional to the resistance: low resistance means more power," Ozturk says. He also notes liquid metal is self-healing, so should a connection break, the liquid metal will repair the link.

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Free Stanford Tool Enhances Collaborative Learning in Classes Focused on Reading, Writing
Stanford News
Alex Shashkevich
June 22, 2017


Lacuna, a free online annotation platform developed at Stanford University, helps students and researchers with reading, writing, and cultivating the sharing of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences. Lacuna lets students and professors discuss and annotate texts, images, and other media online simultaneously while also structuring and analyzing the annotations. Conceived in 2012 by Stanford's Brian Johnsrud and realized in 2013 at Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, Lacuna is designed to expand discussions between students and faculty beyond the allotted class time by enabling participants to engage on texts and visual materials online. "This way you can begin your class by jumping into the discussions that began through the online interaction before the class," Johnsrud says. "This also allows a little change of the power dynamic in the classroom. Instead of the teacher setting the agenda, it allows instructors to step back and let students highlight parts of the text they want to discuss and explore."

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