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

Yoshua Bengio Time magazine has named ACM A. M. Turing Award laureate Yoshua Bengio to its list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2024. Bengio, a leading AI researcher, has been vocal about AI safety and the possibility of catastrophic outcomes related to future AI. Among other things, he has served as an adviser for the U.N. Secretary-General and the U.K. AI Safety Institute.
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Time; Geoffrey Hinton (April 17, 2024)
A water tower serving the town of Muleshoe, TX, overflowed in January after the system controlling it was hacked, releasing tens of thousands of gallons of water. The hackers, who called themselves the Cyber Army of Russia Reborn (CARR), posted a video online of the town’s water-control system and that of a nearby town being manipulated, showing how they reset the controls. CARR is believed to be a front for Russia's military spy agency.
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The Washington Post; Ellen Nakashima; Aaron Schaffer (April 17, 2024)

Siddharth Hariharoan tries to control a toy helicopter with his mind First-of-its-kind legislation signed by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on April 17 broadens the Colorado Privacy Act's definition of "sensitive data" to include biological and "neural data" generated by the brain, spinal cord, and network of nerves throughout the body. The bill targets consumer neurotechnologies, as federal health law safeguards patient data collected by medical devices in clinical settings. The legislation follows an analysis of 30 consumer neurotechnology companies by the Neurorights Foundation, which found just one had meaningful restrictions on individuals’ neural data.
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The New York Times; Jonathan Moens (April 18, 2024)

Microsoft says GitHub Copilot has attracted 1.3 million customers The AI Copilot coding assistant developed by Microsoft's GitHub is behind a growing percentage of new software programs, as the incorporation of the latest version of OpenAI's GPT-4 technology has expanded its capabilities. Microsoft said 1.3 million customers, including 50,000 businesses, are using Copilot. Software engineers typically use Copilot to handle tedious and repetitive tasks, such as debugging software, but some are using it to develop code for critical systems.
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Bloomberg; Jackie Davalos; Dina Bass (April 17, 2024)

Reef authority staff work alongside the pilot to navigate the drone An aerial drone deployed off the coast of Queensland state, Australia, aims to identify illegal fishers on the Great Barrier Reef. The drone’s camera is equipped with daylight infrared and ultra-zoom lenses and can detect movement from high altitudes using optical, heat, radar, and other sensors. It can travel at up to 120 kph (about 75 mph) and operate for up to 18 hours on a single battery charge.
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ABC (Australia); Janet Shorthouse (April 15, 2024)

The new Atlas Boston Dynamics has retired its' Atlas HD robot. The 11-year-old hydraulic humanoid robot was able to run, somersault, and perform backflips. Its replacement will be a fully electric model that the firm said will be "stronger, with a broader range of motion."
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BBC; Imran Rahman-Jones; Tom Singleton (April 17, 2024)

Cities Use AI to Help Ambulances and Firetrucks Arrive Faster Cities across the U.S. are testing AI tools in an effort to improve emergency response times and cut costs. Technology from the C2Smarter academic consortium is used with street sensor data in Manhattan to determine the best route for firetrucks to get to a fire. Lyt offers a system that connects sensors attached to city vehicles with software that controls traffic signals.
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Bloomberg; Matthew Boyle (April 16, 2024)

Crucial connection for ‘quantum internet’ made for the first time A system developed by researchers at the U.K.'s Imperial College London and University of Southampton, and Germany's universities of Stuttgart and Wurzburg, uses optical fibers to transmit quantum data. The system interfaces a quantum memory device with a device that creates quantum data. Both use the same wavelength, with a quantum dot used to produce non-entangled photons for transmission to the quantum memory system for storage within a cloud of rubidium atoms. The memory can be turned off and on by a laser, which either stores or releases the photons on demand.
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Imperial College London (U.K.); Hayley Dunning (April 17, 2024)

Paris 2024 officials said that they are preparing for attacks Cybersecurity experts with the organizing committee of the Summer Olympic Games in Paris are preparing for cyberattacks. There were 450 million attempted "security events" at the Tokyo Summer Games in 2021, a number expected to surge by eight to 12 times for the Paris Summer Games. The Paris organizers joined with the International Olympic Committee and official technology partner Atos to conduct "war games," offering "bug bounties" to ethical hackers who identify vulnerabilities in the Games' systems.
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The New York Times; Tariq Panja (April 17, 2024)

An Amazon Web Services data cente With datacenters using electricity at a rate that officials say is unsustainable for the power grid, there are plans to run new transmission lines to Northern Virginia from coal-powered electricity plants in West Virginia. There are nearly 300 datacenters now in Virginia, processing nearly 70% of global digital traffic. The aging coal-fired power plants had been scheduled to go offline, and keeping them operational has raised concerns about meeting clean energy goals.
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The Washington Post; Antonio Olivo (April 17, 2024)

Long-lived and Efficient Optomechanical Memory for Light Researchers at the University of Copenhagen's Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark have developed a small drum that can maintain the coherence of quantum memory. The drum, a small membrane comprised of a glass-like material with a pattern of holes along its edges, vibrates when hit with the light of a laser. These vibrations could contain quantum data emitted as light signals, which could be received and retransmitted by the drum without losing its quantum state.
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Tom's Hardware; Christopher Harper (April 16, 2024)

Field testing the ReachBot A spiderlike robot developed by Stanford University researchers could one day be used to explore caves on Mars. ReachBot has eight limbs (booms) attached to a central body, each with a three-fingered gripper on the end that use "microspines" to grasp rough rock and maintain uniform tension across each boom for stability. The robot uses cameras and sensors to choose where to place the booms, detaching and relocating one at a time.
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Scientific American; Lauren Leffer (April 17, 2024)

A cable ship repairing a transpacific cable in 1972 Of the 77 cable ships worldwide, just 22 are devoted to repairing the submarine cables that carry 99% of the world's data. There are about 200 cable breaks per year, for which these ships are on standby, waiting to be deployed for repair jobs. The long-term survival of the industry is a concern due to its aging ships and workforce. Ship operators also must contend with geopolitical tensions.
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The Verge; Josh Dzieza (April 16, 2024)
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