GW Online Master's in Systems Engineering

Welcome to the August 7, 2019 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."

The current version of Sussex’s acoustic projector World's First Sound Projector Targets Willing Individuals
The Engineer (UK)
August 5, 2019

Gianluca Memoli and colleagues at Sussex University in the U.K. demonstrated a sound projector they devised at the ACM SIGGRAPH conference. The projector uses face-tracking software to direct an acoustic telescope that focuses sound on moving targets. The system is affixed to a low-cost camera that can track an individual, and is capable of transmitting a 6cm sphere of sound in front of its target, which then can move along with the target. Said Memoli, "We believe this technology can be harnessed for plenty of positive applications, including personalized alarm messages in a crowd, immersive experiences without headphones, the audio equivalent of special effects."

Full Article
'Qutrit' Experiments Are a First in Quantum Teleportation
Scientific American
Daniel Garisto
August 6, 2019

Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China and the Austrian Academy of Sciences say they have teleported a tripartite unit of quantum information known as a qutrit, which embodies the superposition of the quantum states of 0, 1, and 2. Two separate teams generated qutrits using the triple-branching path of a photon, manifested in optical systems of lasers, beam splitters, and barium borate crystals. The teams then verified the qutrits' entanglement, or Bell state, in order to prove their high-fidelity conveyance of data. One team claimed their Bell state measurement, across 10 states, fulfilled the parameters of a successful proof of concept; the other team disputes this, arguing its experiment was more successful. Said William Wootters of Williams College, “Each of these [experiments] is an important advance in the technology of teleportation."

Full Article
Advanced Malware, Possibly Nation-Sponsored, Targets U.S. Utilities
Ars Technica
Dan Goodin
August 2, 2019

Security firm Proofpoint reported the discovery of a piece of advanced espionage malware—possibly developed by a nation-backed organization—targeting three U.S. utility companies in July. The three unnamed targets received emails purporting to come from the non-profit National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), which develops, administers, and scores examinations used in granting licenses for U.S. engineers. The fraudulent emails said the recipients failed to achieve a passing score on a recent exam; an attachment to the email was embedded with malicious macros that attempted to install a package of full-featured malware, called LookBack. Proofpoint’s Sherrod DeGrippo said her company was able to block all phishing attempts used against the three utility companies.

Full Article

Picture of a volcano Computer Model May Help to More Accurately Predict Volcano Eruptions
BBC Science Focus
Jason Goodyer
August 4, 2019

Scientists at the GFZ German Research Center in Potsdam, Germany, have developed a computer model which they say boosts the accuracy of volcanic eruption prediction. The model was based on the latest physical understanding of the behavior of magma, its probable path of least resistance, and statistical data compiled from earlier eruptions. The model's application to historical data on a caldera in Italy allowed the researchers to correctly predict the site of historical vents that were not used to refine the model. GFZ's Eleonora Rivalta said, "If our method works well on other volcanoes too, it may help planning land usage in volcanic areas and forecasting the location of future eruptions with a higher certainty than previously possible."

Full Article

A man with a robot tail 'Robot Tail' Could Help Reduce Risk of Falling for Elderly
The Telegraph (U.K.)
James Cook
August 5, 2019

Researchers at Keio University in Japan have developed a prototype robot tail to enhance human balance and help make seniors less susceptible to falls. The modular Arque prototype is modeled after a seahorse tail, and employs artificial vertebrae and pneumatic muscles driven by pressurized air to move. The tail's creators said its design "is fluid and customizable in length." The researchers also utilize a wearable body tracker to calculate a person's center of gravity, so the tail can swing as a counterbalance. In addition to serving as a mobility aide, the researchers also foresee recreational uses for the tail, like using it in virtual reality games to make them more immersive.

Full Article
How Jaywalking Could Jam Up the Era of Self-Driving Cars
The New York Times
Eric A. Taub
August 2, 2019

Jaywalking could neutralize self-driving automobiles' purported benefit of reducing traffic congestion, and researchers are considering potential solutions. Experts predict Level 4 autonomous vehicles will come to market in about five years, and accommodating the technology will require new rules for cities and citizens. Said Gregory Winfree of the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute, "The question is how we operate collaboratively when we have a mix of self-driving and manually driven vehicles." The Society of Automotive Engineers hopes to have a list of autonomous-vehicle standards ready in a few months, to include testing protocols for drivers, emergency-stop button placement standards, and pedestrian warnings about oncoming autonomous vehicles.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Better Apps Might Improve Health, USask Study Finds
University of Saskatchewan
Federica Giannelli
August 2, 2019

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) in Canada have found that if health apps include avatars that can be adapted to the user's preferences, people are more likely to engage with the app in the long term. The researchers found that study participants who had customized avatars were more engaged with the tasks they were assigned to do online as part of the experiment. The researchers also found that participants with customized avatars were more likely to return to using the app in subsequent studies. Said USask’s Max Birk, “It’s not about whether your app is good or bad, it’s about including an aspect in the design that makes people enjoy the experience more, so that they are drawn to use it again.”

Full Article

Nigerian girls on laptops Nigerian School Girls Learn Technology During Summer Break
VOA News
Timothy Obiezu
August 6, 2019

Nigerian technologist Chinenye Udeh has launched a program that aims to boost gender parity in the technology industry in her home country, where women make up less than 20% of the technology sector. The Smart Girls Tech Camp program hosts girls between the ages of five and 17, helping them to learn skills such as coding, animation, and robotics. The program targets 1,000 students every year, and prepares them for a future in the technology industry. Said instructor Onyedinma Onyekachi, “There was a notion that girls don't like tech, but we discovered that girls actually are enthusiastic about tech, it's just the approach, just the way technology is being introduced to them.”

Full Article
Speculative 'Supergravity' Theory Wins $3M Prize
Zeeya Merali
August 6, 2019

Three scientists will receive a $3-million Special Breakthrough Prize in fundamental physics for their speculative theory on supergravity. In 1976, Sergio Ferrara of Switzerland's CERN particle-physics laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Daniel Freedman, and Stony Brook University's Peter van Nieuwenhuizen presented the theory, which combined particle physics with general relativity to experimentally observe gravity. Successful computer calculations convinced the team supergravity existed, and these results formed a key underpinning of string theory. David Tong, a string theorist at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., said of the effort, “Here, the team was applying particle-physics techniques to gravity and then testing them computationally, when nobody was using computers to do this sort of thing."

Full Article
Machine Vision Can Spot Unknown Links Between Classic Artworks
Technology Review
July 31, 2019

Researchers at the Czech Technical University in the Czech Republic have developed a machine vision system that can analyze the poses of human subjects in fine art paintings throughout history, then identify other paintings that contain people in similar poses. The method has revealed previously unknown links between art and artists, adding a powerful new tool that art historians can use to understand their field. The system is based on the vast databases that include digitized collections from many of the world's top museums and galleries. Said the researchers, "We experimentally show that explicit human pose matching is superior to standard content-based image retrieval methods on a manually annotated art composition transfer dataset."

Full Article
British Army Fights Fake News with Propagandists, Hackers
The Guardian
Dan Sabbagh
July 31, 2019

The British Army will consolidate its computer hackers and propaganda specialists into a single division, to better combat disinformation and fake news from foreign nation states. Lieutenant General Ivan Jones said the restructured Sixth Division reflects the changing nature of warfare, and the blurring of "the boundaries between conventional and unconventional warfare." The division’s staffing of 14,500 will include ground troops who will be available for special forces-type operations. One of the division’s initial activities will be to work on disinformation campaigns from foreign sources. Generals hope it will be possible to enhance the Sixth Division by retraining soldiers to become hackers or information experts.

Full Article
Harvard Data Science Review
2019 Stanford University Frontier of AI-Assisted Care Scientific Symposium

Association for Computing Machinery

1601 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10019-7434

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]