Welcome to the April 30, 2018 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

ACM TechNews mobile apps are available for Android phones and tablets (click here) and for iPhones (click here) and iPads (click here).

To view "Headlines At A Glance," hit the link labeled "Click here to view this online" found at the top of the page in the html version. The online version now has a button at the top labeled "Show Headlines."

bio monitoring, illustration Stretchable Smart Sensor a Promising Alternative to Painful Blood Tests
April 26, 2018

Researchers working on the European Union-funded Collaborative Network for Training in Electronic Skin Technology (CONTEST) project have developed a flexible, wireless sensor worn on the skin that monitors the pH of the wearer's sweat in real time. The wearable pH sensor can stretch and flex to fit the contours of users' bodies, making it more comfortable than conventional non-invasive wearable systems. The sensor is a 1-sq.-cm. stretchable, wireless system equipped with a pH sensing electrode made from a graphite-polyurethane composite. The sensor, using a pair of serpentine-shaped interconnecting pieces, can stretch up to 53 percent in length and still perform well. Tests have also shown the new device can withstand being stretched 30 percent up to 500 times. The sensor also is fast, providing sweat pH levels within eight seconds.

Full Article
Scientists Teach Neural Network to Identify a Writer's Gender
National Research Nuclear University
April 27, 2018

A team of researchers from Russia's National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, the Russian National Research Center Kurchatov Institute and the Voronezh State University in central Russia have developed a learning algorithm that allows a neural network to identify the gender of a writer of a block of text with up to 80 percent accuracy. The researchers trained and tested the algorithm on texts originally published on dating websites; the neural network was able to identify the writer's gender 10 out of 10 times, despite the fact that authors were allowed to sign their texts with a name typical of the opposite gender. The researchers also compared the accuracy of gender identification by text based on machine learning algorithms, as well as with a deep learning neural network. "Using these advanced neural network models, we have achieved great results in identifying the gender of the writer based on text, under conditions in which the author is not attempting to hide his/her gender,” says MEPhI professor Alexander Sboyev. "Our next step is to teach the neural network to identify the gender of a writer who is deliberately trying to hide it."

Full Article
European Commission Unveils €1.5 Billion AI Funding
Cliff Saran
April 26, 2018

The European Commission (EC) has announced it will be investing an extra €1.5 billion in artificial intelligence (AI) for the period 2018-20 under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The funding initiative aims to spur an additional €2.5 billion from existing public-private partnerships. The funding will support the development of AI in key sectors and strengthen AI research centers across Europe. As part of the effort, the EC also urged member states to modernize their education and training systems and support labor market transitions. To ensure an adequate supply of AI-capable workers, the EC said it would support business-education partnerships and establish dedicated training programs. The EC says it will release ethical guidelines on AI development by the end of the year. EC vice president Andrus Ansip said, "We need to invest at least €20 billion by the end of 2020. The European Commission is playing its part: today, we are giving a boost to researchers so they can develop the next generation of AI technologies and applications, and to companies, so they can embrace and incorporate them.”

Full Article
Disguising Access Patterns to Protect Sensitive Data in the Cloud
Iowa State University News Service
April 25, 2018

Iowa State University researchers say they have proposed one of the most efficient algorithms for protecting data access patterns in cloud storage. Iowa State computer science professor Wensheng Zhang says the way cloud users access data may make it vulnerable to attack. Although reports of access pattern-based attacks to cloud storage are rare, Zhang says it is only a matter of time before they become more frequent. Patterns are created, for example, when a team analyzing a specific subset of data regularly accesses the information, which could allow a malicious actor observing the pattern to make assumptions about the data. To disguise access patterns, the team created an algorithm incorporating a mix of fake and real access requests. The researchers also are exploring the idea of splitting large datasets across multiple providers, so access patterns are not fully revealed.

Full Article

3D printing on skin Researchers 3D-Print Electronics, Cells Directly on Skin
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
April 25, 2018

University of Minnesota researchers have printed electronics on a real hand for the first time, using a customized, low-cost three-dimensional (3D) printer. Soldiers could use the technology to print temporary sensors on their bodies to detect chemical or biological agents, or to print solar cells to charge electronics. The team also successfully printed biological cells on a mouse's skin wound, in a technique that could lead to new medical treatments for wound healing and direct printing of grafts for skin disorders. The printer uses computer vision to adjust to small body movements in real time during printing, with temporary markers placed on the skin. The technology uses a specialized ink made of silver flakes that can cure and conduct at room temperature. The device is not permanent; it can be peeled off with tweezers or washed off with water.

Full Article

Artistic impression of the squeezed light Scientists Used Graphene to Squeeze Light Into Space Smaller Than Its Wavelength
David Nield
April 24, 2018

Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Spain have used graphene to confine light into a space the size of a single atom, a breakthrough that could lead to computer chips and laser sensors that are far smaller than any conventional device. This discovery "will open a completely new set of applications, such as optical communications and sensing at a scale below one nanometer," says ICFO researcher Frank Koppens. The researchers used stacks of two-dimensional (2D) heterostructures to build a nano-optical device, adding a graphene monolayer to act as a semi-metal, due to its ability to guide light in the form of plasmons. The team stacked a hexagonal boron nitride monolayer on top of the graphene to act as an insulator, followed by an array of metallic rods. When infrared light was sent through the new device, plasmons collected between the metal and the graphene. The researchers continued to shrink this space until it was just one atom thick, and found the plasmons were still vibrating and could still move about freely.

Full Article

An illustration of a bento box Bento Browser Makes It Easier To Search On Mobile Devices
Carnegie Mellon University
Byron Spice
April 25, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed a new web browser that brings order to complex searches in a way not possible with conventional tabbed browsing. The Bento browser stores each search session as a project workspace that monitors the most interest or relevant parts of visited web pages, allowing users to move from site to site without having to keep every tab open for fear of losing information. With the Bento browser, these projects are stored for later use, can be handed off to others, or can be moved to different devices, according to CMU professor Aniket Kittur. In user studies that compared Bento with the Safari browser, users said Bento kept their search better organized. The researchers presented a report on the new mobile browser at CHI 2018, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, last week in Montreal, Canada.

Full Article

A person holding a cellphone User Control, Transparency Key to Trusting Personalized Mobile Apps
Penn State News
Matt Swayne
April 24, 2018

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) studying personalized mobile apps found that users' trust and engagement could hinge on perceptions of how the app uses their data and whether it seeks user input before delivering personalized services. However, users' reactions could also depend on how familiar he or she is with the technology, according to the study. The researchers found the perceived usability of a prototype app was diminished when it made recommendations without first asking for users' preferences. In addition, they found that higher perceived transparency is associated with better product involvement and user engagement. "People who were more familiar with using technology — power users — could tell the difference between overt and covert personalization," said Penn State professor S. Shyam Sundar.

Full Article
AI to Find Optimal Electric Car Recharge Point Locations
April 24, 2018

A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool developed at the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain makes it possible to determine the best locations for electric car charge stations. The Movindeci tool allows users to analyze the general state of transport and mobility in a city in order to make strategic decisions about those areas. The researchers already have applied the tool to the city of Valencia, Spain, and they are currently working on another version for Lima, Peru. The tool's AI algorithm automatically evaluates the possible locations for recharging stations and determines which are the best based on factors that can be specified by the user, such as the population density of the area, urban mobility, and an estimate of the amount of time vehicles spend in any given place.

Full Article

Two computers and monitors facing each other Machine Speak: Left to Their Own Devices, Computers Can Figure it Out
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
April 23, 2018

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are using new machine learning techniques to teach electronic devices to share data and communicate with other machines without human assistance. Training and intelligence could allow devices to seek available media, such as acoustics, optics, or radio frequencies, and determine how to transmit messages on their own. Devices could learn to share data of any kind over nearly any physical medium, the researchers say. The resulting machine speech is unrecognizable to humans, but the team says allowing computers to talk to each other is what will give them the intelligence to optimize their ability to maintain contact. The researchers demonstrated machine speech by linking two laptops to separate speakers and microphones, and programming them with sounds known as phonemes in place of the digital bits of computing. The team input five numbers on the transmitting computer, and the two machines adjusted their speech until the receiving computer produced the numbers correctly.

Full Article

An illustration of a baseball player pitching and catching Yale Plays Quantum Catch in New Research
Jim Shelton
April 23, 2018

Yale University researchers report they have "pitched" a quantum bit (qubit) from one physical point in a microwave cavity to a separate point in a different cavity, in an effort to advance quantum information science. The work, the first of two Yale "pitch-and-catch" experiments, represents the first time an end-to-end quantum transmission has been done on demand. Quantum computers need more processing power than classical computers because they run more complex algorithms, which require qubits to be interfaced with each other. This is why the team is testing a "pitch and catch" approach, with a quantum network that connects many qubits together in independent modules. Previous work by the researchers enabled them to pitch a qubit while preserving its information, but now they can also catch the information.

Full Article
Cybersecurity Teams that Don't Interact Much Perform Best
U.S. Army Research Laboratory
April 23, 2018

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and the National Cyberwatch Center studying how collegiate cyberdefense teams work together to mount and conduct an effective cyberdefense during the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition found that the best, high-performing cybersecurity teams have relatively few interactions with their team members and captain. The researchers used a sensing and recording device that collected data on face-to-face interactions between team members via infrared sensors, among other factors. The researchers also developed a questionnaire to measure each team’s leadership style, task duration, team meetings, communication, and collaboration, based on the opinions of observers assigned to each team. "These results are important because current training programs commonly emphasize cybersecurity knowledge and do not provide training on effective team management," says ARL researcher Norbou E. Buchler.

Full Article
May 2018 Issue of Communications of the ACM
ACM Insurance

Association for Computing Machinery

2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701
New York, NY 10121-0701

ACM Media Sales

If you are interested in advertising in ACM TechNews or other ACM publications, please contact ACM Media Sales or (212) 626-0686, or visit ACM Media for more information.

To submit feedback about ACM TechNews, contact: [email protected]