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Welcome to the August 12, 2019 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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A visa card on top of a keyboard Visa to Test Advanced AI to Prevent Fraud
The Wall Street Journal
Sara Castellanos
August 7, 2019

Visa is launching a platform to help its engineers quickly test artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms designed to detect and prevent credit card fraud. The platform is an example of the broader financial services industry trend toward using AI to detect patterns in transactions that could be a sign of criminal behavior. The new platform, which is cloud-based, will test algorithms that use deep learning to sift through data to find anomalies in an effort to prevent fraudulent transactions that involve billions of dollars every year. Platform users will be able to access a secure dataset made up of Visa's real-time card transactions in a way that allows them to test algorithms on a subset of the data before deploying it widely.

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Iphone XR Colors Apple Offers Record 'Bounty' to Researchers Who Find iPhone Security Flaws
Joseph Menn
August 8, 2019

Apple is offering up to $1 million to researchers who find security bugs in iPhones. The company previously offered bug bounties only to invited researchers who attempted to exploit its phones and cloud backups. The process is now open to all researchers vying for the latest bounty, and participants also can target Mac software. The prize is only applicable to remote access to the iPhone kernel, without any action from the device's user. Apple also hopes to make vulnerability research easier, by offering an altered iPhone with certain safeguards disabled.

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The nonprofit Girls Who Code is working with Sen. Jacky Rosen 'Typically, If You Think of a Coder, It's a White Male'
Nicole Gaudiano
August 8, 2019

The nonprofit Girls Who Code (GWC) organization is collaborating with U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) on legislation requiring federally funded schools to tell the Department of Education how many students participate in computer science (CS) courses, as well as their gender, ethnicity, English-learner status, and grade levels. The overarching goal is to help close the gender gap in CS, by gauging federal programs' effectiveness in boosting diversity in education. Anna Hughes with GWC partner the BSA Foundation said, "Typically, if you think of a coder, it's a white male. We're trying to make the tech community look like America." GWC also recommends increasing girls' exposure to female role models and other underrepresented minorities in technology, underwriting gender inclusion training for educators, and extending CS courses to all middle schools, so girls can access the program at younger ages.

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Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge
Oliver Peckham
August 7, 2019

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed the Fusion Recurrent Neural Network (FRNN), an artificial intelligence (AI) disruption prediction tool that learns from thousands of simulations in an attempt to determine which factors signal imminent disruptions in fusion reactions. The team started using a cluster of supercomputers at Princeton University called Tiger, and then moved on to the Titan supercomputer system, on which it ran FRNN on 6,000 Nvidia Tesla K20X GPUs. Now the team is running FRNN on the AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure, an AI-dedicated supercomputer in Japan, with the goal of preventing fusion disruption. Said PPPL researcher Bill Tang, "With powerful predictive capabilities, we can move from disruption prediction to control, which is the holy grail in fusion."

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NHS to Set Up National AI Lab
BBC News
James Gallagher
August 8, 2019

The U.K. National Health Services (NHS) is launching a national artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory to enhance the care of patients and facilitate research. In addition, the British government will spend £250 million on boosting the role of AI within the health industry. AI has the power to improve care, save lives, and ensure doctors have more time to spend with their patients. For example, clinical trials have shown that AI is as good as leading doctors at identifying lung cancer, skin cancer, and more than 50 eye conditions from scans.

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Data Tool Helps Decipher Mouse's Calls
University of Edinburgh
August 6, 2019

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K., Australia's University of Melbourne, and Italy's Istituto Superiore di Sanita have developed a computerized interpreter to translate ultrasonic calls from laboratory rodents, which could potentially aid research into new treatments for human diseases. Specialists earlier categorized mouse communications into nine call types, via the manual decryption of spectrograms. The latest milestone is an automated tool that accurately derives properties of the ultrasonic vocalizations, to identify the specific sound types. The researchers said this breakthrough used machine learning techniques to improve the speed, reliability, and objectivity of analysis. The team expects to standardize interpretations of mouse communication, so scientists can directly compare their results between labs, types of mice, and over time.

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Annie Slattery Dubliner Wins Australia's Top Award for Women in Tech Start-Ups
Silicon Republic
Kelly Earley
August 7, 2019

Annie Slattery, an Irish entrepreneur originally from Dublin, has received the top award in Australia for women in tech start-ups. Slattery was presented with the award at Hopper Down Under, an event that is part of the Grace Hopper Celebration, one of the world's largest gatherings of women in computing and technology. Slattery received the award for her start-up ConX, which connects contractors in the construction industry online, with the goal of changing how construction contractors can find and win jobs. The award was part of a pitch competition that included more than 100 women pitching ideas for a share in more than $100,000 in business support services. The final event was hosted by Austrade, the Australian Government's lead agency for international trade promotion and investment attraction. Said Austrade CEO Stephanie Fahey, "Elevating women entrepreneurs and innovators is critical to Australia's ability to compete in international markets, creating new opportunities for industries and supporting high standards of living."

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Gloves fabricated by a system for automating knitted garments Computer-Aided Knitting
MIT News
Rachel Gordon
August 6, 2019

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new system and design tool for automating knitting garments. One system, called InverseKnit, translates photos of knitted patterns into instructions that are then used with machines to make clothing. InverseKnit includes a deep neural network trained on a dataset of knitting instructions, and the matching images of those patterns. During testing, the team found that InverseKnit produced accurate instructions 94% of the time. Separately, CSAIL researchers created CADKnit, a computer-aided design tool for customizing knitted items. This tool allows non-experts to use templates for adjusting patterns and shapes. Said CSAIL researcher Alexandre Kaspar, "We want to let casual users get access to machines without needed programming expertise, so they can reap the benefits of customization by making use of machine learning for design and manufacturing."

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Most People Would Rather Lose Their Job to a Robot Than Another Human
New Scientist
Chelsea Whyte
August 5, 2019

Most people would prefer to lose their job to a robot, but would rather see another human take the place of a co-worker, according to a poll conducted by researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany. The researchers polled 300 people to judge whether they would prefer an existing member of the staff to be replaced by a robot or a human; 62% said they preferred to have a human take over, but when they were asked to imaging losing their own job, only 37% preferred being replaced by a human rather than a robot. Then, the researchers asked 251 people to indicate the intensity of their negative emotions such as sadness, anger, or frustration when considering new employees being replaced by humans or robots. The respondents said they had stronger negative emotions related to replacing other people's jobs with robots compared to losing their own job to automation.

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FDA Seeks Virtual Heart to Test Medical Devices
Brandi Vincent
August 5, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with French software company Dassault Systemes to develop a virtual model of the human heart for evaluating new medical devices and treatments. The project brief said, "The FDA intends to develop a generic medical device that will be virtually implanted in the whole human heart computational model." Researchers will design, build, and physically and virtually test this device on virtual populations and devise new techniques for integrating digital evidence from simulations with physical evidence from actual patients. The FDA's ultimate goal is to apply digital evidence and computer models to accelerate regulatory evaluation and approval, ahead of the market rollout of new medical solutions.

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Facial Recognition Coming to a Supermarket Near You
The Guardian
Tom Chivers
August 4, 2019

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence and facial recognition technologies, combined with the dramatic fall in cost, means that these system are now viable for supermarkets and other shops to use as a way to prevent theft. For example, a Budgens grocery store in Buckinghamshire, England is already using the technology and found that the number of items being stolen per week has fallen. While there are some privacy and political issues that will need to be resolved, if enough retailers start using the facial recognition technology before the government can act, the democratic discussion may well be short-circuited. Says Budgens manager Paul Wilks, "If someone triggers the alert, they're approached by a member of management, and asked to leave, and most of the time they duly do."

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A woman on the phone Apple, Eli Lilly, Evidation Present First Results From Digital Alzheimer's Study
Fierce Biotech
Conor Hale
August 8, 2019

A 12-week study by drugmaker Eli Lilly, Apple, and Evidation Health found consumer devices and mobile apps could potentially help identify people with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia, associated with Alzheimer's disease. The researchers employed iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Beddit sleep monitors to measure digital biomarkers as symptoms of cognitive and behavioral difficulty. Evidation constructed a study platform to consent, cull, and analyze at least 16 terabytes of data collected from 113 participants. Passive sensor data, questionnaires about mood and energy, and quantification from activities like motor skill tests, was combined to assess subjects' cognition; once validated, the biomarkers could be used to track the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms, and test treatment effectiveness. Evidation's Christine Lemke said, "With further study, we may be able to screen people at high risk or detect dementia and Alzheimer's earlier with the devices we use in our everyday lives."

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