ACM TechNews

Welcome to the July 22, 2024 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for computer professionals three times a week.

Hong Kong airport did see some of its services affected by the outage China managed to escape much of the damage caused by the faulty CrowdStrike software update Friday for the simple reason that the computer security provider is hardly used in the country. Additionally, China is not as reliant on Microsoft as the rest of the world; domestic companies are that nation’s dominant cloud providers.
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BBC News; Nick Marsh (July 20, 2024)
Spanish police rely on an algorithm to combat gender violence that uses the answers to questions such as was a weapon used, were there economic problems, or has the aggressor shown controlling behaviors to assess risks. About 8% of women who have used the VioGén algorithm since 2007 and were found to be at negligible risk, as well as another 14% found to be at low risk, have reported being harmed again.
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The New York Times; Adam Satariano; Roser Toll Pifarré (July 18, 2024)

Job postings for software developers on Indeed Despite the strong overall labor market, the number of high-paying white-collar jobs in the technology sector has declined. In particular, demand for software developers has fallen since 2022. However, software developer is No. 2 on the U.S. Department of Labor's list of occupations with the greatest projected job growth in the coming decade.
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Axios; Emily Peck (July 18, 2024)

Tiny drones have can only carry very small computer processors An ant-inspired system developed by researchers at the Netherlands' Delft University of Technology enabled a 56-gram drone to travel an obstacle course autonomously with only 0.65 kilobytes of memory. The Delft researchers placed reference snapshots throughout a 100-meter obstacle course, spaced as far apart as possible to minimize the number of images that needed to be stored for a drone to navigate it successfully. An inexpensive microcontroller was used to handle visual computing.
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Popular Science; Mack DeGeurin (July 17, 2024)

Evaluating core samples and entering the results into a database KoBold Metals announced on July 18 that its AI technology had identified a copper lode a mile underground in Zambia, which is said to be the largest copper discovery in more than a decade. KoBold estimated the mine, when fully operational, would generate no less than 300,000 tons of copper annually over a period of decades. The findings are significant, given the vast amounts of copper needed by AI datacenters.
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The New York Times; Max Bearak (July 18, 2024)

a large, unexpected rogue wave struck the Viking Polaris, breaking windows University of Maryland researchers developed a computer system to predict rogue waves that can damage vessels and critical infrastructure at sea. The system was trained on billions of sea-surface elevation measurements from 172 buoys off the U.S. and Pacific Island coasts. University of Maryland's Thomas Breunung said the buoys provided a combined 880 years of data on ocean waves. The system can predict abnormally large waves five minutes beforehand with 73% accuracy.
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NPR; Nell Greenfieldboyce (July 18, 2024)

VERO Italian Institute of Technology researchers built a robot that can vacuum up cigarette butts discarded on the beach. VERO (Vacuum-cleaner Equipped RObot) is a Unitree AlienGo quadrupedal robot equipped with a commercial vacuum, with hoses on each leg and custom 3D-printed nozzles near the feet for suction. VERO can operate autonomously after given a designated area to clean, plotting its exploration path, detecting cigarette butts using onboard cameras and a neural network, and calculating a safe and stable pose to avoid falling over when vacuuming them up.
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IEEE Spectrum; Evan Ackerman (July 18, 2024)
Harvard Law School researchers found only 55% of addresses covered by the U.S. Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Connect America Fund (CAF) to ensure broadband access in underserved areas actually are served by subsidized Internet service providers. Of those addresses, just 33% receive service that meets the FCC's program rules.
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Harvard Law Review; Haarika Manda; Varshika Srinivasavaradhan; Laasya Koduru (July 16, 2024); et al.

SpreadsheetLLM Microsoft researchers developed SpreadsheetLLM to encode spreadsheet contents into a format accessible to large language models (LLMs). The experimental model uses an encoding mechanism to compress spreadsheet data 96% while preserving the data structure and relationships, enabling LLMs to handle large datasets while minimizing token usage. Said Constellation Research Inc. analyst Holger Mueller, “If Microsoft can nail this properly, it will not only secure the future of Excel, but change the future of work as we know it.”
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Silicon Angle; Mike Wheatley (July 15, 2024)

Baidu's driverless robotaxi service Apollo Go In the Central China city of Wuhan, a fleet of 500 robotaxis belonging to Apollo Go, a unit of Chinese tech giant Baidu, serves an area that covers about half of the city's population. Base fares start as low as 4 yuan (55 cents), compared with 18 yuan ($2.48) for a taxi driven by a human. The adoption of the driverless taxis has negatively impacted China’s gig economy workforce. Backlash against the service, particularly against Apollo Go’s pricing tactics, became the second highest trending topic on Chinese microblogging site Weibo last week.
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CNN; Kathleen Magramo; Hassan Tayir; Joyce Jiang (July 22, 2024)

Ukrainian startups are working to build AI-enabled drones Ukrainian startups are working to build AI-enabled drones that can be deployed on the front lines of its war with Russia. The work is focused on developing visual systems to pinpoint targets and fly drones into them, terrain mapping capabilities, and programs allowing drones to operate in interconnected networks. Some startups are lowering manufacturing costs by running AI programs on Raspberry Pi.
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Reuters; Max Hunder (July 18, 2024)
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