Welcome to the September 7, 2018 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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A network overview of the modular quantum architecture demonstrated in the new study. Yale Researchers 'Teleport' a Quantum Gate
Jim Shelton
September 5, 2018

Yale University researchers say they have successfully "teleported" a quantum gate between two quantum bits (qubits) on demand, using a theoretical protocol developed in the 1990s. Quantum gates are essential for quantum computing, which depends on networks of separate quantum systems. Yale's Robert Schoelkopf and Kevin Chou are exploring a modular quantum architecture, which makes execution of operations between modules challenging. Said Chou, "Our work is the first time that this protocol has been demonstrated where the classical communication occurs in real time, allowing us to implement a 'deterministic' operation that performs the desired operation every time." Schoelkopf said the experiment demonstrated for the first time a two-qubit operation between logical qubits, calling it "a milestone toward quantum information processing using error-correctable qubits."

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Smart tv on wooden console table Getting Your TV to Understand You Better
University of Waterloo News
September 5, 2018

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada, the University of Maryland, and the Comcast Applied AI Research Laboratory have developed a method to improve the voice query understanding capabilities of home entertainment platforms. The method relies on artificial intelligence (AI) technology to achieve the most natural speech-based interaction with TVs to date. The researchers utilized a technique known as hierarchical recurrent neural networks to better model context and improve the system's accuracy. In January, the researchers' neural network model was deployed in production to answer queries from live users, and they found that it handles the majority of highly complicated queries appropriately, greatly enhancing user experience. Waterloo's Jimmy Lin said, "What's special about this approach is that we take advantage of context—such as previously watched shows and favorite channels—to personalize results, thereby increasing accuracy."

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New Institute to Address Massive Data Demands From Upgraded Large Hadron Collider
National Science Foundation
Joshua Chamot
September 4, 2018

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently launched the Institute for Research and Innovation in Software for High-Energy Physics (IRIS-HEP), a $25-million effort to address the massive amount of data that will be generated by the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC). When the HL-LHC reaches full capability in 2026, it is expected to produce more than 1 billion particle collisions every second, marking a 10-fold increase that will require a similar 10-fold increase in data processing and storage, including tools to collect, analyze, and record the most relevant events. Uniting multidisciplinary teams of researchers and educators from 17 universities, IRIS-HEP will receive $5 million a year for five years from the NSF with a focus on producing innovative software and training the next generation of users.

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World First for Decision-Making AI
Auckland University of Technology News
September 3, 2018

Researchers at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model that, for the first time, can predict a person's choices before they have made them. Modeled on how the human brain learns and deciphers patterns, the NeuCube machine learning system uses spiking neural networks to identify brain preferences to marketing stimuli before conscious perception. The researchers had 20 participants watch a video of different beverage logos, recording their brain data via electroencephalogram and linking it to the NeuCube algorithm, which learned and classified patterns from participants' brains in response to each logo. NeuCube successfully predicted subjects' beverage choice 0.2 seconds before they consciously perceived the beverage, and made a clear distinction between logos familiar and unfamiliar to participants. Potential applications for the technology could include neuromarketing, cognitive studies, and crime solving, for example by identifying an offender in a police lineup if a victim has repressed the traumatic experience.

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Person holding the MagicScroll tablet developed by researchers from Queen's University's Human Media Lab in Canada This Rollable Tablet Was Inspired by Ancient Scrolls
Angela Moscaritolo
August 31, 2018

Researchers in the Human Media Lab of Queen's University in Canada have developed a prototype rollable touch-screen tablet with a 7.5-inch 2K flexible display wrapped around a three-dimensionally-printed cylinder. Rotary wheels on either end of the MagicScroll cylinder allow a user to scroll through information on the screen. In addition, the researchers say the display can be unrolled to function similarly to a traditional tablet. The new device is much easier to hold with one hand than other devices, and it fits into a pocket when rolled up. Queen's University's Roel Vertegaal said, "Unfolding the scroll is a tangible experience that gives a full screen view of the selected item." He adds that the project is "allowing us to further examine notions that 'screens don't have to be flat' and 'anything can become a screen’."

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Networked UAV Defense Swarms to Defend Against Malicious Drones
Tech Xplore
Ingrid Fadelli
August 31, 2018

University of Luxembourg researchers have developed a defense system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) composed of a swarm of the devices that can self-assemble into a defensive configuration when it spots an intruder, pursuing it as a network. Luxembourg's Matthias Brust explained, "Our research focuses on the question of how a drone defense system can act quickly and autonomously against rough or malicious drones entering the flight zone, and take appropriate countermeasures." The system uses a modular, local algorithm that operates on each UAV so it makes the correct decision autonomously based on the state of its neighboring drones. Said Brust, "After initial deployment and detection of an intruder, the defense drones form a self-organized network and intercept the intruder by isolating it through a local encapsulation algorithm from its environment to escort it out of the flight zone." An auto-balanced clustering process guarantees the swarm will configure itself into an effective formation to intercept and capture rogue drones.

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MIT Researchers Develop Tool to Simplify Product Design
Phillip Keane
September 4, 2018

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a visualization tool for computer-aided design (CAD) that facilitates interactive, real-time exploration of design options that are best suited for sometimes competing performance goals. The InstantCAD tool combines multi-objective optimization methods with a CAD solution. MIT's Adriana Schulz says, "We're directly editing the performance space and providing real-time feedback on the designs that give you the best performance. A product may have 100 design parameters...but we really only care about how it behaves in the physical world." InstantCAD enables engineers to identify and convert the entire "Pareto front"—a set of designs optimized for all given performance objectives—into an interactive map. Clicking on the map displays optimized designs and variations in the immediate locale of that section of the front.

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Could Python Replace Java as the Most Popular Programming Language?
Nick Heath
September 4, 2018

The September Tiobe Index ranks Python as the third most-popular programming language after Java and C, marking the first time Python has ever cracked the top three positions in this index. Tiobe says Python "is already the first choice at universities (for all kinds of subjects for which programming is demanded) and is now also conquering the industrial world. Python's selling points are easy to learn, easy to install, and easy to deploy." Python's rise has taken approximately 20 years since its first Tiobe listing in the 1990s. Python excels at big data analytics, while its repertoire ranges from Web and desktop applications to orchestrating system operation. Python code is relatively easy to read and comprehend, supports multiple programming paradigms, and has a broad spectrum of software libraries that can be inserted into code and scaled to large apps.

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View of ocean from a sailboat Robot Boat Finishes Atlantic Crossing
Associated Press
Kelvin Chan
September 4, 2018

A Norwegian-made robot sailboat has completed the first unmanned journey across the North Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to the Irish coast, as part of the Microtransat Challenge transatlantic race for autonomous boats. This milestone is part of an overarching initiative to develop autonomous marine vessels that could be in operation by 2020. Offshore Sensing's Sailbuoy drone took two and a half months to make the trip. The vessel features solar panels to power the onboard technology and a trapezoidal sail to propel it. Sailbuoys can be equipped with sensors to measure waves, ocean salinity, and oxygen levels. They also can support echo sounders to seek fish eggs and larvae, or transmitters to communicate with undersea equipment.

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Singapore Broadens Access to AI Skills
Aaron Tan
August 30, 2018

Singapore has extended its AI for Everyone program, a national artificial intelligence (AI) initiative, to more of the country's population, including school students and working adults, as part of an effort to broaden access to AI skills. Program participants are expected to become more aware of AI and how the technology can be used in their daily lives via free, three-hour workshops, which aim to counter the thinking that AI will displace jobs. Participants will be given access to Kelaberetiv, AI Singapore's online collaboration platform, to connect to the wider AI community, and will be allowed to take part in discussions that could lead to research, business, and employment opportunities.

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Satellite photo of Hurricane Better Hurricane Management
Government Computer News
Sara Friedman
August 31, 2018

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Lincoln Laboratory are working with approximately 1,000 emergency managers to test a web-based version of the HURREVAC decision-support platform, called HV-X, to resolve any issues before it becomes the Federal Emergency Management Agency's standard hurricane evacuation planning system in 2019. The HV-X system is designed to help emergency managers who do not have skills as meteorologists. The web-based platform offers capabilities not seen in previous versions, such as embedded training, storm simulation features, transportation analysis, and ways to measure capabilities in road networks and critical infrastructure. MIT's Robert Hallowell says, "We want to be able to give emergency managers the ability to take some of these text-based products and different weather information and be able to visualize the information to reduce the uncertainty in their decision making."

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Meet Martti, the Finnish Robocar That Uses 5G
IEEE Spectrum
Dexter Johnson
August 30, 2018

Researchers at VTT Technical Research Center in Finland and Nokia are testing the capabilities of 5G network technologies to transmit information to and from vehicles while they are on the road, using a robotic car. The researchers are exploring the types of road safety services that 5G can make possible for autonomous driving. They say the new services will rely on sensors and Internet of Things devices to collect data from a robotic car's LiDAR, radar, and video systems, as well as from roadside infrastructure such as weather stations, traffic cameras, and traffic signals. These devices will communicate over 5G networks to cloud-based services, which will process the information and alert other vehicles in the area if necessary. Said VTT’s Tiia Ojanperä, “It is not a big secret that real-time and reliable data is the oil which enables machine learning algorithms to make cars and transport systems ever more intelligent. Connectivity is the key enabling technology for pushing forward the transport automation mega-trend.”

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