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Welcome to the August 14, 2019 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Associate Professor Sonia Chernova holding the robot that’s trained to create tools by combining objects Robot First to 'MacGyver' Simple Tools by Assessing Objects' Form, Function
Georgia Tech College of Computing
August 7, 2019

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology's Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning (RAIL) laboratory have created a technique for teaching intelligent agents to assemble rudimentary tools out of unrelated, optional components. The concept is called “MacGyvering,” based off the name of a 1980s television series in which the title character is known for his problem-solving ability using different available resources. With the RAIL technique, a robot first examines each part's shape, and how one might be affixed to another. Via machine learning, the robot is able to match form with function, from various examples of everyday objects, as well as fit objects together, from examples of materials that could be perforated or grasped. The RAIL researchers were successfully able to train a robot to produce hammers, spatulas, scoops, squeegees, and screwdrivers.

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GDPR Privacy Law Exploited to Reveal Personal Data
BBC News
Leo Kelion
August 8, 2019

A researcher at the University of Oxford in the U.K. detailed a hack of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to expose personal data. Oxford's James Pavur contacted various U.K.- and U.S.-based companies, to assess their management of "right of access" requests, which he made in another person's name. GDPR shortened the time organizations had to respond to data requests, required them to supply additional data, and upped the potential penalty for violators. Pavur said 60 distinct personal details of the other person—his fiancee—were altogether revealed by the targeted organizations, including purchase history, partial credit card numbers, and findings of a criminal activity check. Pavur cited mid-sized businesses which may be aware of GDPR, but lacked specialized request-handling processes as especially susceptible to the exploit.

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A Daikin Industries Ltd employee works the production line of outdoor air conditioning units As Japan Frets About Dearth of AI Talent, Daikin Develops Own Program
Tetsushi Kajimoto
August 4, 2019

With Japan's government concerned about the country's lack of artificial intelligence (AI) specialists, air-conditioner manufacturer Daikin Industries is taking the initiative. The company has established an internal AI training program, for existing employees and new graduates. Said Daikin's Yuji Yoneda, "We have a sense of crisis as we don't have experts well-versed in information technology when AI and data analysis are in great demand." Daikin envisions AI as a business imperative, with plans to offer subscription services with AI-driven air conditioners, to make factories and households more efficient, via autonomous temperature and air-quality adjustment. New Daikin employees undergo a two-year AI training program, with the first group of 100 graduates hired last year taking classes taught by an Osaka University professor, before being assigned to various departments for on-the-job training.

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New Solution to Elderly Falls: Drones, Smartphones, and Sensors
University of South Australia
Candy Gibson
August 13, 2019

Researchers at the University of South Australia and Middle Technical University in Iraq have developed a system to remotely monitor elderly people, detecting abnormalities in their heart rate and temperature, and provide urgent first aid via drone if a fall occurs. The researchers developed a wearable device that can monitor vital signs using a wireless sensor attached to the upper arm and send a message to an emergency call center if physiological abnormalities or a fall are detected. In addition, the team designed an advanced smartphone-based program that uses an intelligent autopilot, containing a destination waypoint for planning the path of a drone. Said University of Southern Australia’s Javaan Chahl, "The system not only correctly measures heart rate and falls with 99% accuracy, but also identifies the elderly person's location and delivers first aid much faster."

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A mockup of Cray's El-Capitan, the NNSA's first exascale supercomputer Cray to Build El Capitan Supercomputer for Nuclear Security Apps
Rae Hodge
August 13, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration have contracted computer developer Cray to build the world's first exascale supercomputer, El Capitan, to help manage the U.S. nuclear stockpile. DoE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) said El Capitan will have a peak performance exceeding 1.5 exaflops, and will be employed for national nuclear security apps, running more than 50 times faster than LLNL's Sequoia system. DoE's Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty said, "El Capitan will allow us to be more responsive, innovative and forward-thinking when it comes to maintaining a nuclear deterrent that is second to none in a rapidly evolving threat environment." The system's computational muscle will be committed to the Stockpile Stewardship Program, and concentrate on dangers to national security, nonproliferation, and nuclear counterterrorism.

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A sample of a leaf next to a smartphone A New Way to Fight Crop Diseases, With a Smartphone
The New York Times
Knvul Sheikh
July 30, 2019

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed technology that uses the science of subtle plant odors to identify sick plants early. The technology involves using a simple test strip that plugs into a reader on a smartphone. Plants emit signaling chemicals from their leaves, similar to the pheromones released by humans. Farmers can use the system to sample a plant's emission profile and determine whether or not a sample of the crop is infected. The test strip is specially treated with organic dyes and nanoparticle sensors that change the color of the strip to indicate the presence or absence of a certain pathogen. During testing, the researchers found that the technology could accurately detect changes in 10 different plant odor molecules just two days after plants were inoculated with the pathogen that causes late blight.

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Israel to Set Up Computational Biology Lab
August 5, 2019

The Israel Innovation Authority (IAA) announced that the country will establish a computational biology laboratory at a cost of 32 million new shekels (US$9.18 million). The lab will concentrate on bioinformatics, or the data contained in biological sequences like DNA and proteins, and on the use of mathematical models to understand biological-system behavior. Israeli or foreign corporations will set up and run the facility for five years, with initiatives funded for the deployment of technological infrastructure and operations, as well as for the demonstrated feasibility of projects that the lab will undertake. Another lab, operating in parallel with the computational biology component, will research and develop biotechnological solutions with special equipment. IAA said Israel has a disproportionate population of computational biology scientists with formidable academic and research knowledge, which has yet to be translated into an industrial institution.

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Google Maps for Tissues
Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine
August 5, 2019

Researchers at the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Germany have developed software to help make sense of vast datasets generated by modern light microscopy of biological tissues. MDC's Stephan Preibisch and colleagues created BigStitcher software, which can reconstruct and scale the data obtained by light-sheet microscopy, without need for a supercomputer. Preibisch said, "One can not only get an overview of the big picture, but can also zoom in to specifically examine individual structures at the desired resolution." BigStitcher also can automatically evaluate data quality, and allows users to spin and turn a captured image in any direction. Preibisch added that the freely-available software can run on any standard computer, which "allows the data to be easily shared across research teams."

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Image of a hospital bed A Model Hospital Where the Devices Get Hacked—on Purpose
Lily Hay Newman
August 6, 2019

The DefCon hacking conference BioHacking Village hosted the Medical Device Village, which included a mock hospital as well as a formal "capture the flag" hacking competition. To fully grapple with the scale of the medical device security challenge, the Medical Device Village was an immersive hospital setting complete with rooms and a full slate of medical devices. The environment, and the larger BioHacking Village, also featured art pieces created by artists who live with or have experiences with medical devices and other biohacking. Independent security researcher Adrian Sanabria, one of the Medical Device Village organizers, hopes the effort can build a general interest in the hacking community and help researchers understand the resources that are available for disclosure.

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Sydney's $600M Smart Motorway Project to Be Put to the Test
iTnews Australia
Matt Johnston
August 7, 2019

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) government will soon initiate trials for the A$600-million (US$404-million) M4 Smart Motorway project. NSW's Roads and Maritime department has for several months been installing 41 gantries along the motorway to keep drivers updated on traffic conditions and alerts, using data from traffic sensors deployed every 500 meters, and at exit ramps. The gantries are equipped with lane use management signs, which display variable speed limits, lane closures, and merge instructions, as well as estimated travel times and cause for delays. Ramp meters will be installed at certain entry ramps, to control the flow of on-ramp traffic, during times of heavy congestion. Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said, "When the project is complete, these systems will talk to each other and automatically adjust to incidents and congestion without a manual operator intervening."

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Two Fraudsters, One Passport—Computers More Accurate than Humans at Detecting Fraudulent Identity Photos
University of Lincoln
Sophie Belcher
August 1, 2019

Researchers at the University of Lincoln in the U.K. found that computers are more accurate than humans at detecting photos that have undergone face morphing, a kind of digital manipulation in which the images of two people are merged together to sufficiently resemble both people. This fraudulent image can then be submitted as part of the application for a genuine passport or driver's license, potentially allowing both people to use the same genuine identification document. The researchers fed face-morphed photographs into a simple computer algorithm trained to differentiate between morphs and normal photos, and found that the algorithm was able to correctly identify 68% of the morphed images; human participants correctly identified face morphed photos about 50% of the time. Said University of Lincoln researcher Robin Kramer, "Our research ... suggests that the use of computer algorithms may be a better method for minimizing how often these kinds of morphing attacks slip through the net."

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AI Lie Detector Developed for Airport Security
Financial Times
Camilla Hodgson
August 1, 2019

The Discern Science International startup is commercializing an artificial intelligence system designed as a lie detector, to hopefully be deployed at airports. Discern's Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-time (Avatar) algorithm asks travelers questions via an onscreen interface, and films their responses to screen for "deception signals" in their facial expressions, tone of voice, or verbal answers. Avatar then categorizes respondents' level of truthfulness into one of three colors, with those labeled green allowed through, while others would be questioned by security guards. Discern's David Mackstaller said Avatar's effectiveness resides in its ability to gauge a diverse range of both conscious and unconscious behavioral signals. Mackstaller added that the system has a detection accuracy of 80% to 85%, which "far exceeds the average accuracy by humans of 54%."

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A woman looking at the iPad with a baby on the screen Waiting-Room Anxiety Eased With Apps That Give Updates
The Wall Street Journal
Julie Jargon
August 6, 2019

Startups and large healthcare organizations are developing tools designed to give parents frequent updates on what is happening to their children during surgeries or hospital stays. For example, EASE Applications has developed a program—called Electronic Access to Surgical Events (EASE)—that buzzes every 30 minutes to remind nurses to send a text, video, or photo update to waiting relatives. Nurses found that when they provided families with more frequent updates using the EASE platform, the percentage of families that rated their experience during surgery as "very good" rose to 97%, up from 80% before EASE implementation. The app contains pre-set phrases and messages in nine languages, allowing nurses to communicate with families who do not speak English.

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ACM Transactions on Internet of Things (TIOT)
2019 Stanford University Frontier of AI-Assisted Care Scientific Symposium

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