Welcome to the September 5, 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."

Cable being plugged into a router Russian and American Scientists Collaborate to Create Faster Internet
Interesting Engineering
Shelby Rogers
September 2, 2018

Researchers at Samara Oblast University in Russia and the University of Missouri have created an algorithm that uses a unique routing method to process big data at 50 percent faster speeds. This would grant scientists rapid access to large, powerful data processing centers around the world without requiring supercomputers. The Neighborhoods Method algorithm gives computers that require faster speeds to solve "high-precision calculations" the additional Internet support to find solutions. The algorithm has four requirements to operate at its peak performance: there must be a particular bandwidth of the signal, speed of data transmission in Kbps, cloud storage, and the price of the cloud service. Samara Oblast's Andrey Sukhov says researchers "need to exchange both textual information and high-resolution streaming video online. The technology that we offer will help them with this."

Full Article
Silicon Valley Takes a (Careful) Step Toward Autonomous Flying
The New York Times
Cade Metz
August 28, 2018

Several Silicon Valley startups are developing technology that can be applied to small helicopters and other passenger aircraft to allow for autonomous flight. The technology, which includes hardware and software, is based on many of the same technologies that power driverless cars, such as 360-degree cameras and radar sensors built into the nose of the aircraft. In some ways, autonomous aircraft are easier to build than driverless cars because the aircraft operate in wide-open spaces, as opposed to narrow roads that are full of obstacles. SkyRyse is building a helicopter equipped with a radar system and other sensors that provide a detailed view of the surroundings even in adverse weather. These sensors capture enormous amounts of data describing what the helicopter encounters from takeoff to landing, and how the pilot responds. SkyRyse researchers are using this data to recreate flight conditions in a virtual reality environment, and developing systems that can navigate those simulations.

Full Article
First In-Home Test of Brain-Computer Communication by ALS Patients Offers Promise Amidst Challenges
National Institutes of Health
Thomas Johnson
August 29, 2018

Researchers at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering have demonstrated the reliability of an in-home brain-computer interface (BCI) that gives patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis a means to communicate by thought. The BCI detects the electroencephalogram signal produced when a desired letter flashes and translates that to selection of the letter, enabling users to type messages on a screen. The participants who mastered BCI use were monitored for up to 18 months, using the system an average of two days a week for about 90 minutes a day; users averaged three selections a minute. The researchers say, "Patient and caregiver ratings indicated that BCI benefit exceeded burden." The team also says, "BCIs that support communication are at present most suitable for people who are severely disabled but are otherwise in stable health."

Full Article

Black male college student sitting in computer lab Florida Professor Leads Effort to Aid Black Comp-Sci Ph.D. Students
Diverse Education
LaMont Jones
August 30, 2018

The University of Florida's Juan E. Gilbert is the principal investigator for a U.S. National Science Foundation-funded program that aims to help schools recruit and retain African-American doctoral students in computer science via the auspices of the Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computer Science (iAAMCS). The iAAMCS has crafted guidelines to address strategic recruitment, establish communities, nurture a research culture, deliver holistic advisement, provide funding, and promote professional development. The guidelines will be circulated among approximately 200 universities with Ph.D. programs in computer sciences and computer-related organizations and professional societies, in conjunction with the Computing Research Association. Gilbert, who has mentored 15 African-American doctoral computer science students to degree attainment, says, "If you want to be effective in recruitment, retention, and matriculation of those students, you have got to provide mentoring."

Full Article
Open Data Grows Up
Government Computer News
Stephanie Kanowitz
August 28, 2018

Pittsburgh's Open Data program is preparing to launch Data Rivers, an upgraded data delivery system that speeds data integration and cleanup and improves troubleshooting of the city's data pipelines. When the system rolls out in a few weeks, Data Rivers will initially offer 311 data, connecting to the application programming interface the 311 center uses to manage its call intake. Data Rivers will read the raw data and clean it, standardizing data and address formats, for example. Finally, the records will be stripped of personal identifying information to create "safe data" that can be published. In addition, Data Rivers standardizes city data, streamlining and speeding the processes for city analysts. Pittsburgh digital services manager Nick Hall, who has overseen the yearlong project, says, "As we're able to publish data more effectively, these tools become not only something that can serve the public but can serve users internally."

Full Article
ORNL Researchers Enable Real-Time Forensic Analysis With New Cybersecurity Tool
ORNL News Desk
Scott Jones
August 28, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers have created a security analysis tool that works with standard software to spot irregularities in computer networks. ORNL's Jared Smith notes the Akatosh system "provides deeper context to existing [information technology] infrastructure designed to solve security problems. It gives you a historical look of what's changing on a computer over time." In conjunction with intrusion detection systems (IDSs), Akatosh periodically captures snapshots of host systems on the network during daily operations to set up a baseline, and then captures another snapshot every time an IDS alert is triggered. The system compares these snapshots to detect changes that happened in the run-up to and during a cyber event. Akatosh summarizes relevant changes and reports them to the network administrator to determine whether they signal a genuine threat. This automated process reduces the time and expense of rooting out and neutralizing the cause of a security incident.

Full Article
Mobile Robots Cooperate to 3D Print Large Structures
IEEE Spectrum
Evan Ackerman
August 28, 2018

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have for the first time used two mobile robots operating concurrently to three-dimensionally-print a single piece of concrete structure. This system can be used to build structures that are relatively arbitrary in size without having to change the system significantly, since the robots themselves can define their own build volume by moving around. Although the robots are restricted in how high they can reach because of their mobile bases, they still have more flexibility than other systems in terms of length and width. The multiple-robot system will improve overall printing speed, and can create stronger, more complex structures. In terms of potential applications, the researchers say a fleet of mobile robots could enable construction "in hard-to-reach, remote areas, such as underground caves, the Moon, or Mars, to which it is inconvenient or even impossible to bring other kinds of [machines] required for existing cementitious material printing methods."

Full Article
Model Can More Naturally Detect Depression in Conversations
MIT News
Rob Matheson
August 29, 2018

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science have devised a neural-network model that can analyze raw text and audio data from clinical interviews to detect speech patterns signaling depression. The team says this method could be used to develop diagnostic assistants for clinicians that can identify signs of depression in natural conversation. The new technique spots depression-indicative patterns and maps them to new individuals, with no additional data. CSAIL's Tuka Alhanai explains the process is context-free, "because you're not putting any constraints into the types of questions you're looking for and the type of responses to those questions." Through a sequence modeling technique, the researchers inputted sequences of text and audio data from questions and answers, from both depressed and non-depressed people, one by one. As the sequences accrued, the model extracted speech patterns that emerged for depressed and non-depressed individuals.

Full Article
Novel Architecture Boosts Energy and Spectrum Efficiency for Internet of Things Wireless Communication
August 29, 2018

A European Union-funded project has developed a novel architecture combining energy and spectrum efficiency for Internet of Things (IoT) wireless communication. The project's Loic Lietar says HEASIT "dealt with the development and commercialization of GreenOFDM, a disruptive innovation that will bring high data rates at a high-energy efficiency to wireless low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) for the IoT." The circuit uses a breakthrough algorithm yielding a processor with energy efficiency that is 20 times faster than any other available product. HEASIT's architecture is based on open source projects integrating an emulation of GreenOFDM with an open source protocol stack long-range wide-area network to enable point-to-point radio communications. Lietar says, "The HEASIT innovation dramatically reduces the cost of deploying and operating rich sensors in the field. Consequently, this enables a much larger number of those sensors and ultimately significantly enriches the spectrum of IoT use cases."

Full Article
New Sensor Could Help Doctors Monitor Patient Progress From a Distance
Waterloo News
August 28, 2018

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have built a self-powered sensor that remotely monitors patients' recovery from surgery. The tubular device can be fitted to braces following joint surgery to wirelessly transmit information to computers, smartphones, or smart watches to track range of motion and other vital signs. Waterloo's Hassan Askari explains that data "would be continuously collected, so it would be as though the physician or physiotherapist was always there, always observing the patient." The prototype melds electromagnetism and triboelectricity, in which different materials are combined to generate current. When the sensor is bent or twisted, it produces sufficient electricity for sensing and powering electronic circuits for processing and wireless signal transmission. Askari says, "It is its own power source." The sensor also could find use in the tires of autonomous vehicles to detect and respond to slippery roads.

Full Article

Seismograph reading during an earthquake Google and Harvard Made AI to Predict Earthquake Aftershocks
Dave Gershgorn
August 30, 2018

Google and Harvard University researchers have trained a neural network on a database of more than 131,000 earthquakes and the sites of their aftershocks to accurately predict the locations of future aftershocks. The network is the same type of artificial intelligence responsible for powering Facebook photo tagging and Alexa's voice transcription. The researchers say the algorithm's accuracy stems from two complex metrics that were previously thought not to correlate with aftershocks, maximum shear stress change, and the von-Mises yield criterion. These metrics are typically applied in the fields of bendable materials such as copper or aluminum.

Full Article

Tablet with patient’s vital signs and medical history on screen How Unsecured, Obsolete Medical Record Systems and Medical Devices Put Patient Lives at Risk
Jacobs School of Engineering (UCSD)
August 28, 2018

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and University of California, Davis (UC Davis) researchers have found an easy method of modifying medical test results remotely by attacking the link between hospital laboratory devices and medical record systems. They say the exploit taps vulnerabilities in the obsolete Health Level Seven (HL7) standards used to transfer patient data within hospital networks. The problem is compounded by the HL7 standards' deployment on outdated medical equipment by untrained personnel, which puts massive volumes of unencrypted patient data in circulation. The UCSD-UC Davis team developed an automated man-in-the-middle attack called Pestilence, in which a computer inserts itself between the lab machine and the medical records system. Pestilence can be used to doctor and manipulate lab test results, potentially endangering patients by tricking clinicians into administering incorrect treatments. The team recommends hospitals implement a multi-pronged cybersecurity strategy to counter such attack scenarios.

Full Article

Person typing on laptop computer Subtle Patterns in Your Typing Could Reveal Early Signs of Parkinson's
New Scientist
Chris Baraniuk
August 29, 2018

Researchers at Charles Sturt University in Australia have demonstrated that it is possible to identify early signs of Parkinson's disease by analyzing how someone types on a keyboard. The researchers tested the approach by asking hundreds of volunteers to install a program that monitored their typing over nine months. They then pared the sample down to 76 individuals who were of the appropriate age, not taking medication, and who had mild disease severity. The researchers found the system was able to correctly identify patients who had mild Parkinson's disease tremor with 78% accuracy. They say a fully developed Parkinson's identification system would enable doctors to prescribe treatments that can inhibit the progression of the disease.

Full Article
ACM Inroads Co-Editor-in-Chief
ACM Special Interest Groups

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]