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Welcome to the February 26, 2024 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for computer professionals three times a week.
A team of researchers from China’s University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a technology that allows about 5.8 billion indexed Web pages to be stored in a device the size of a desktop computer. The researchers created 3D architecture to store data across hundreds of layers in a disk, resulting in optical data storage capacity reaching the petabit level.
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South China Morning Post; Holly Chik (February 22, 2024)

Kaden can do basic tasks with two hands now with the bionic arm Open Bionics in Bristol, U.K., recently outfitted two children with bionic arms featuring Spiderman covers. One of them, nine-year-old Kaden Taylor from North Somerset, who was born without a left hand, never wanted a prosthetic until seeing the superhero design. Within an hour of receiving the sensor-equipped prosthetic arm, Kaden could eat lunch, open a bag, and pick up fruit with both hands.
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Bristol Post (U.K.); Mike Taylor (February 22, 2024)
Using a remote-controlled underwater robot, an international team of scientists discovered over 100 previously unknown species in unexplored sea mountains off the coast of Chile. The SuBastian robot, capable of descending to depths of up to 4,500 meters, was used to collect data from 10 sea mountains. The data will be used to support the designation of an international high-seas marine protected area.
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NBC Right Now (February 22, 2024)
University of California, Riverside researchers developed a framework to increase computer processing speed while decreasing energy consumption. The new framework, called simultaneous and heterogeneous multithreading (SHMT), is a type of parallel processing in which the computational function of multiple components is broken up and shared. SHMT's runtime system separates virtual operations into one or more high-level operations (HLOPs) to take advantage of multiple hardware resources simultaneously, allocating HLOPs to the target hardware's task queues and adjusting task assignments as necessary. In tests, SHMT was found to be 1.95 times faster and use 51% less energy than the baseline method.
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New Atlas; Paul McClure (February 22, 2024)

Cranes made by China-based ZPMC contain sensors The U.S. has proposed spending more than $20 billion to bolster domestic port security, including increasing domestic manufacturing of cargo cranes with advanced software to ease reliance on those built by China. While comparably inexpensive, cranes manufactured by China’s ZPMC contain sophisticated sensors that can register and track the origin and destination of containers, leading to concerns they could be used to track military and other shipments. They account for nearly 80% of ship-to-shore cranes in use at U.S. ports.
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The Wall Street Journal; Dustin Volz; Gordon Lubold; Doug Cameron (February 21, 2024)

Multi-colored 3D printed chameleon A method of 3D-printing multiple colors using a single ink has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. The technique, inspired by the way chameleons change color, involves the use of "bottlebrush block copolymers" that allow the shape and structure of the compound to be changed using UV radiation. Said Beckman's Ying Diao, "By designing new chemistries and printing processes, we can modulate structural color on the fly to produce color gradients not possible before."
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Forbes; Eva Amsen (February 20, 2024)
An upgrade to Apple's iMessage texting platform is intended to protect against potential decryption by quantum computers in the future. Apple said the new PQ3 cryptographic protocol, which it rebuilt from the ground up, "will fully replace the existing protocol within all supported conversations this year." Michael Biercuk, founder and CEO of Australian quantum tech company Q-CTRL, said the fact that Apple was publicly hardening its defenses was a "vote of confidence" in the idea that advanced computers pose a threat to existing protections.
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Reuters; Christopher Bing; Raphael Satter (February 21, 2024)
Job listings website Indeed's list of the 10 highest-paid technology skills in January puts Generative AI at the top, with an average salary of $174,727. Following Generative AI on the top 10 were SoC, deep learning, Torch, PyTorch, computer vision, SystemVerilog, Mesos, Rust, and Elixir. Indeed said the top positions where these skills are sought include data scientists, machine learning engineers, software engineers, and research scientists.
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Fast Company; Emily Price (February 21, 2024)

Coast Guard launches boat alert system A pilot program rolled out by the U.S. Coast Guard aims to prevent collisions between ships and marine mammals in Washington State's Salish Sea and reduce noise from vessels, which disrupts orcas hunting for food. The U.S. Coast Guard's "cetacean desk" will integrate whale sightings by mariners and civilians via whale-watching apps and data from underwater listening devices and send alerts via mobile app to commercial vessels and regional ferries to slow down and/or adjust their paths.
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Associated Press; Manuel Valdes (February 21, 2024)

World's longest-distance drone delivery Norwegian startup Aviant has commenced the world's longest-range drone delivery service in the suburbs of ski resort town Lillehammer, where locals and tourists can order around 1.5 kg of goods through its Kyte app for delivery in 24 minutes on average. The drones deliver within a radius of 17 km (nearly 11 miles); they can operate in winds up to 12 meters per second (more than 26 mph) and at temperatures under -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).
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EuroNews; Pascale Davies (February 20, 2024)

Smart glove teaches new physical skills A smart glove developed by computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology helps users learn new skills by offering tactile feedback. To facilitate learning through touch, the researchers embedded tactile sensors and haptic actuators into textiles. The smart glove can be customized to a person's hand specifications and provides personalized feedback with only minimal user data.
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Interesting Engineering; Can Emir (February 21, 2024)

The Levatas robot dog Robotics researchers are using large language models (LLMs) to skirt preprogramming limits. Computer scientists at the University of Southern California developed ProgPrompt, which involves giving an LLM prompts in the Python programming language that include a sample question and solution to help restrict its answers to the range of tasks the robot can perform. Google researchers have developed a strategy that involves giving a list of behaviors that can be performed by the robot to the PaLM LLM, which responds to human requests to the robot in conversational language with a behavior from the list.
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Scientific American; David Berreby (February 21, 2024)
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