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Welcome to the July 19, 2024 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for computer professionals three times a week.

Blue screens at checkouts in Sydney, Australia An update by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike led to a major IT outage on Friday, impacting businesses around the world. CrowdStrike said it is in the process of rolling back the update that caused the issue and that a fix for the defect had been deployed. Said CEO George Kurtz, "CrowdStrike is actively working with customers impacted by a defect found in a single content update for Windows hosts. Mac and Linux hosts are not impacted.” Airlines, banks, and telecom firms were among the companies impacted.
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CNBC; Katrina Bishop; Arjun Kharpal (July 19, 2024)
ACM's U.S. Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) has released a statement supporting mandatory comprehensive digital accessibility regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The U.S. Department of Justice recently updated ADA to ensure services, programs, and activities provided by state and local governments online and through mobile apps are accessible to people with disabilities. “In our code of ethics and professional conduct, ACM recognizes the responsibility of computing professionals to contribute to a fair and equitable society and avoid causing harm,” said USTPC’s Sarah Horton.
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ACM Media Center (July 18, 2024)

A greenhouse at Bayer’s lab where plant samples are observed Big agriculture companies like Bayer and Syngenta are using AI to accelerate the process of developing new herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. Syngenta estimated AI could drop the average time from discovery to commercialization from 15 years to 10 years. Bayer's CropKey AI system, for instance, can analyze data more quickly than humans to identify chemical molecules that target a weed's protein structure.
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The Wall Street Journal; Patrick Thomas (July 17, 2024)
The EU General Court ruled TikTok parent ByteDance cannot avoid obligations under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The court rejected ByteDance’s legal challenge against being classified as an online “gatekeeper” that must comply with extra obligations under the DMA, which seeks to make online competition fairer by giving consumers more choice. TikTok had argued it wasn’t a gatekeeper but was playing the role of a new competitor in social media taking on entrenched players like Meta; the court disagreed.
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Associated Press (July 17, 2024)
The latest phone-cracking technology was used to quickly access the phone of the man suspected of shooting former U.S. President Donald Trump during a campaign event. The phone was a relatively new model, which can be harder for law enforcement to access than old phones because of newer software. Insiders said the FBI was able to crack the suspect's phone within 45 minutes.
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Washington Post; Devlin Barrett; Emily Davies (July 16, 2024)

Grace Hopper in her office A recording of a 1982 lecture by U.S. Navy Admiral Grace Hopper, who helped develop the programming languages FLOW-MATIC and COBOL, resides in the archives of the National Security Agency (NSA). Michael Ravnitzky filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the tapes on October 12, 2021. Nearly three years later, the NSA said there were “no responsive documents," claiming "they are on a format that NSA no longer has the ability to view or digitize." The tapes were recorded on an AMPEX 1-inch Video Tape Recorder.
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Gizmodo; Matthew Gault (July 16, 2024)

Oxford Ionics says its chip is the first of its kind that could be mass-produced A quantum computer chip developed by Oxford Ionics researchers can control trapped ions, allowing complex calculations to be completed quickly. The researchers said the chip is suitable for mass production and could pave the way for development of the first useful quantum computer within three years. Said Michael Cuthbert of the U.K.'s National Quantum Computing Centre, "The new results mark a pivotal step forwards in ion trap quantum computing and validates the scalability of the technology."
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BBC; Ethan Gudge (July 16, 2024)

An image from the experiment of the speech neuroprosthesis Researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center demonstrated the ability of a patient with epilepsy who had depth electrodes implanted in his brain to communicate solely using the power of thought. The implants transmitted electrical signals from the patient's brain to a computer trained using deep learning and machine learning, and spoke the transmitted syllables aloud.
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Medical Xpress (July 16, 2024)

A refined image of the initial video footage from the field test involving 100 drones A self-organizing drone model developed by researchers at Hungary's Eötvös Loránd University helps prevent traffic conflicts among autonomous drones. The model combines a real-time route planner with nature-inspired flocking models, in which drones move in synchronization like a flock of birds. The model was successful in simulations of high-speed random traffic with as many as 5,000 drones at different speeds and with priorities.
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Interesting Engineering; Sujita Sinha (July 16, 2024)

‘Digital Twins’ Give Olympic Swimmers a Boost U.S. swimmers participating in the upcoming Summer Olympics trained with the help of digital twins developed by researchers at Emory University and the University of Virginia. The swimmers were equipped with sensors to record their bodies’ acceleration, orientation, and force. The data was used to create digital twins of the athletes, capturing their movements down to the millisecond. The system is being used to make recommendations for improving techniques and to offer suggestions for race strategies.
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Scientific American; Katherine Douglass; Augustus Lamb; Jerry Lu (July 8, 2024); et al.
Despite research identifying the motivations behind misinformation, how it spreads, and who typically is targeted, researchers still do not know the most effective way to stop it. Massachusetts Institute of Technology's David Rand said combatting misinformation is much more complicated than simply removing false content. Many researchers believe multiple tactics implemented in tandem could provide a defense, and some hope AI could serve as an Internet "hall monitor" that is faster and more cost-effective than human content moderators.
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The New York Times; Tiffany Hsu; Stuart A. Thompson (July 15, 2024)
Democratizing Cryptography: The Work of Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman
 
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