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Welcome to the May 26, 2023, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

Please Note: In observance of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, TechNews will not be published on Monday, May 29. Publication will resume Wednesday, May 31.

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Brain and spine implants allow Gert-Jan Oskam, who was paralyzed from the hips down, to regain some control of his legs. With Electronics in His Brain, Spine, Paralyzed Man Takes a Stride
The Washington Post
Daniel Gilbert
May 24, 2023

An international team of scientists and neurosurgeons implanted electronics into the brain and spinal cord of a paralyzed man that enable him to walk, and to climb stairs. Explained Grégoire Courtine at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, "We have created a wireless interface between the brain and the spinal cord using brain-computer interface technology that transforms thought into action." The system incorporates a device implanted in the skull above the brain's surface, which decodes patterns involved in walking and sends a signal to a second device implanted along the spinal cord. Electrodes activate the spinal cord sequentially to trigger leg muscles for walking.

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Equipment from COBOD International used to 3D-print a primary school in Lviv, Ukraine. Europe's First 3D-Printed School Takes Shape in Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty (Czech Republic)
May 25, 2023

Humanitarian group Team4UA organized the building of Europe's first three-dimensionally (3D)-printed primary school in the western Ukraine city Lviv, using technology from Danish 3D-printing construction company COBOD International. The school will combine 3D-printed spaces and manually built sections. Project organizers said one goal is to import several 3D printers and to incorporate the rubble of destroyed buildings into the concrete mix for the school. They hope the school becomes a template for building similar facilities across Ukraine as part of the massive reconstruction effort. The 3D-printed section of the school is scheduled to be completed by early June.

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A network node made with two single matter systems enable entanglement creation with a photon at the standard frequency of the telecommunications network and entanglement swapping operations. A Boost for the Quantum Internet
Universitat Innsbruck (Austria)
May 23, 2023

Researchers at Austria's University of Innsbruck transmitted quantum information with a quantum repeater node operating at telecommunication networks' standard frequency. The repeater node features two calcium ions contained in an ion trap within an optical resonator, and single-photon conversion to the standard telecom wavelength. The researchers were able to transmit quantum information over a 50-kilometer (31-mile)-long optical fiber, with the quantum repeater positioned halfway between the transmission and reception points. The researchers said they already have calculated the design upgrades that will be required to transfer data across distances of 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles).

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AI Identifies Similar Materials in Images
MIT News
Adam Zewe
May 23, 2023

A machine learning artificial intelligence (AI) model developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Adobe Research can identify all the pixels in images that represent given materials. The model assesses them to ascertain material similarities between pixels selected by the user and all other image regions. The researchers used only synthetic data to train the model, which was built atop a pretrained computer vision model that had seen millions of actual images. The model converts generic, pretrained visual features into material-specific features in a way that accommodates object shapes or variable illumination, then calculates a material similarity score for each pixel in the image. The model's predictions of similar material-containing regions matched ground truth with about 92% accuracy.

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America's Semiconductor Boom Faces Challenge: Not Enough Workers
The New York Times
Madeleine Ngo
May 22, 2023

Semiconductor manufacturers, on the verge of a chipmaking explosion, are facing a shortage of workers to staff manufacturing facilities being constructed across the U.S. The 2022 Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors Act allocated $39 billion to fund new and expanded semiconductor facilities. The Semiconductor Industry Association said more than 50 new plants have been announced since the legislation's introduction, yet hiring workers is complicated by low industry awareness and too few students entering relevant disciplines. Professional services network Deloitte estimated the U.S. semiconductor sector could have open positions for up to 90,000 workers over the next few years, with officials saying skilled employees are in short supply while big technology companies are competing for engineers.

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Dinesh Bharadia (left) and Rohith Reddy Vennam of the University of California, San Diego, hold a prototype mmSpoof device. 'Attacker' Device to Improve Autonomous Car Safety
UC San Diego Today
Xochitl Rojas-Rocha
May 23, 2023

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Northeastern University have created an "attacker" algorithm for use in helping to enhance the safety of autonomous vehicles. The mmSpoof algorithm mimics spoofing attacks by devices that target millimeter-wave radars used by vehicles to enable self-driving or assisted-driving features. The method weaponizes the target vehicle's radar by altering the received signal's parameters at "lightspeed" before reflecting it back. This allows attackers to conceal the sabotage and to thwart the vehicle's ability to screen out malicious behavior, in real time. UCSD's Rohith Reddy Vennam suggested researchers can block this exploit by using high-resolution radar that captures multiple reflections from vehicles to identify the actual reflection.

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Satellites in orbit around the Earth. Alternative Could Stay on Target if GPS Fails
IEEE Spectrum
Michelle Hampson
May 22, 2023

In a search for an alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS), Ohio State University researchers were able to calculate their ground location within meters using low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. They developed the STAN (simultaneous tracking and navigation) algorithm, which can detect an LEO satellite, decipher its beacon, track its signal, and estimate the satellite's position. They also developed a vehicle-mounted receiver able to work with virtually any satellite constellation. In a test drive, the GPS-inertial navigation system was 500 meters off in predicting the researchers' true location, while the STAN system was only 4.4 meters off. Said the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Zak Kassas, "We are able to use the satellites' signals to locate ourselves with impressive accuracy."

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A rube-shaped robot viewed underwater. Underwater Robot Deployed to Aid Endangered Right Whales Off Georgia Coast
90.1 FM WABE
Mary Landers
May 23, 2023

Researchers at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the University of South Carolina deployed an underwater robot to listen for endangered North Atlantic right whales swimming near the Georgia port of Savannah. The torpedo-shaped glider, named Argus, allows the researchers to listen to the recordings in near-real time. The goal is to eventually issue real-time alerts to shippers and recreational boaters about the presence of these whales, which typically hug the shoreline and are vulnerable to injury or death from ship strikes during their annual migration. Whale calls flagged by a machine learning algorithm were then verified by the University of South Carolina team. Skidaway's Catherine Edwards, who operated the glider, said eight detections of right whales were verified during the Jan. 30 to Feb. 13 deployment.

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Close-up of a mouth with a person’s tongue sticking partially out. Patterns of Brain Activity Accurately Predict Tongue Shape While Feeding
University of Chicago
Matt Wood
May 24, 2023

University of Chicago researchers found that three-dimensional (3D) x-ray videography and machine learning can predict the shape of the tongue when non-human primates are feeding. The researchers attached seven markers to the tongues of two Rhesus macaque monkeys and used 3D imaging to record and process data as they chewed. Neural activity was recorded by microelectrode arrays implanted in the monkeys' motor cortices and analyzed by deep neural networks. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s J.D. Laurence-Chasen said, "We knew from some earlier research that basic movements of the tongue involved the cortex, but we were surprised by the extent and resolution of information about the tongue shape that we could extract so readily."

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A coin emblazoned with the Ethereum logo. Ethereum Closes Security Hole with Energy-Saving Update
New Scientist
Matthew Sparkes
May 23, 2023

An update rolled out by the Ethereum cryptocurrency reduced the energy needed to produce it by 99.99% by transitioning from "proof of work" to "proof of stake," and also fixed a security flaw in the Go Ethereum software used to run Ethereum nodes.. Massimiliano Taverna at ETH Zurich in Switzerland explained that combining the attacks would have reduced the required computing resources to launch the attacks to only 5 graphics processing units. Ethereum Classic developers patched the vulnerability after being notified by the researchers, but the researchers said the EthereumPOW cryptocurrency has not been updated.

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Research scientist Denise Catacutan looks up at a vial filled with a newly discovered antibiotic. Superbug-Killing Antibiotic Discovered Using AI
BBC News
James Gallagher
May 25, 2023

Scientists in Canada and the U.S. used artificial intelligence (AI) to discover a new antibiotic that can exterminate a fatal superbug by having it narrow down thousands of candidates to a handful for laboratory testing. The researchers tested thousands of drugs on the highly antibiotic-resistant species Acinetobacter baumannii, then fed the resulting information to the AI so it could ascertain the chemical features of compounds that were most effective in attacking the bacterium. The AI analyzed 6,680 drugs with unknown efficacies and produced a shortlist of candidates in just 90 minutes, according to results. The researchers found nine of 240 lab-tested antibiotic candidates were potential antibiotics, with the compound abaucin demonstrating the ability to destroy the superbug in samples from patients.

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From left, Hyun Myung, I Made Aswin Nahrendra, Byeongho Yu, and Minho Oh pose with the DreamWaQer quadrupedal robot. 'DreamWaQer'—A Quadrupedal Robot That Can Walk in the Dark
KAIST (South Korea)
May 18, 2023

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology researchers have developed a four-legged robot that can navigate steps or difficult terrain in the dark or thick smoke without requiring visual or tactile sensors. The deep reinforcement learning-based robotic technology, called DreamWaQ, can be installed in any walking robots without additional tuning. DreamWaQ features a context estimation network to estimate ground and robot information and a policy network to produce the optimal control commands for each of the robot's motors. When the DreamWaQer robot encounters a step, for instance, it generates estimated terrain information immediately and sends it to each motor to allow the robot to quickly adapt.

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Chip-Based QKD Achieves Higher Transmission Speeds
May 25, 2023

Researchers at Switzerland's University of Geneva (UOG), Swiss cybersecurity company ID Quantique, Italy's CNR Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnology, and German optical products manufacturer Sicoya based a quantum key distribution (QKD) system on integrated photonics to transmit keys at higher speeds. The researchers combined a photonic integrated circuit with an external diode laser into a silicon photonics transmitter. They also fabricated a silica QKD receiver from a photonic integrated circuit and two external single-photon detectors. UOG's Rebecka Sax said, "Connecting these two components with a standard single-mode fiber enabled high-speed production of secret keys." Sax said the QKD system also yielded secret key production and quantum bit error rates similar to those generated by fiber-based components, but more practically and simply than in previous experimental frameworks.

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