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Welcome to the August 30, 2019 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

Please note: In observance of the U.S. Labor Day holiday, TechNews will not be published on Monday, Sept. 2. Publication will resume Wednesday, Sept. 4.

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A graphical speedometer shown heading to 5G Waterloo Researchers Develop 200X Faster, Low-Cost Network for 5G Connectivity
International Business Times
Soorya Kiran
August 29, 2019

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have developed a more affordable and efficient technique to enable 5G wireless connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The mmX millimeter wave network delivers multi-gigahertz of unlicensed bandwidth, 200-fold more bandwidth than that allocated to current Wi-Fi and cellular networks. MmX supports a significantly higher bitrate than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Said Waterloo's Ali Abedi. "Any sensor you have in your home, which traditionally used Wi-Fi and lower frequency, can now communicate using high-speed millimeter wave networks. Autonomous cars are also going to use a huge number of sensors in them which will be connected through wire; now you can make all of them wireless and more reliable."

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Research Alliance Cements Split on AI Ethics
Inside Higher Ed
David Matthews
August 23, 2019

Germany, France, and Japan have partnered to underwrite research into human-centered artificial intelligence (AI), designed to respect privacy and transparency. The three countries issued a joint call for proposals, supported by an initial 7.4-million-euro ($8.2-million) in funding. The German Research Foundation's Susanne Sangenstedt said the partnering nations have common beliefs and standards for ethical AI development, with the call for research proposals seeking projects on AI democratization, data integrity for fairness, AI ethics to avoid gender/age discrimination, and technologies like machine learning, computer vision, and data mining. Holger Hoos at Leiden University in the Netherlands said China has put AI development under the control of the government-state, while the U.S. has permitted the private sector to oversee development. In contrast, Europe's approach has been to try to strike a balance among "government, industry, and individual."

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Developer Jobs: From SQL to Java, These are the Skills Companies are Looking for Now
Steve Ranger
August 27, 2019

More than 140,000 advertisements for IT jobs were listed in the U.K. in the second quarter of this year, amounting to about 9% of all jobs advertised, according to trade association CompTIA. Ads aimed at finding programmers and software developers were the largest single category of those IT job ads, accounting for more than 50,000 ads. CompTIA said the most sought-after skills in those ads included software development principles; SQL; technical support; JavaScript and JQuery; Web development; Microsoft Dev Tools; operating systems; system design and implementation; project management, and Java. The organization said the number of IT jobs posted in the U.K. in the second quarter had declined 13% from the first quarter of this year, and was lower than seen in the second quarter of last year.

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An illustrative motherboard. DHS Launches Smart City Sensor Pilot in St. Louis
Brandi Vincent
August 28, 2019

The U.S Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate is launching a pilot program in St. Louis, MO, that will study the integration of smart city technologies. Agency officials will work with the city and the Open Geospatial Consortium, a self-described “international voluntary consensus standards organization,” to help develop and assess the state of Smart Cities standards as they arise in the public safety arena. The results of the project also will serve as the basis for developing an open architecture for interoperable Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. Said program manager Norman Speicher, “There’s tremendous pressure on cities, right now. Many municipalities, I do hear that they are being pressured and that there’s this expectation that they know what ‘smart cities’ means—and it really means many things to many people.”

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Tech Tool Aims to Stop 'Bottlenecks' in Reaching U.K. Homeless
Sonia Elks
August 28, 2019

The Homeless Link charity in the U.K. hopes to use a new algorithm to extend its aid to the homeless. The organization’s StreetLink app allows members of the public to flag the locations of “rough sleepers” (the homeless), and to request help for them from relevant local authorities or outreach organizations. The algorithm, developed by a team of students and technology workers, is designed to identify the most useful alerts in order to boost the number of homeless people offered assistance. Matt Harrison of the Streetlink organization, which works to connect the homeless with local services that can help them, said, "If we can prioritize our scarce resources on the alerts which are mostly likely to result in a homeless person being found and helped, then we should do that."

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A custom-built two-photon microscopy system. Computational Approach Speeds Advanced Microscopy Imaging
Optical Society of America
August 27, 2019

Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) combined multifocus compressive imaging with faster compressive scanning to accelerate the imaging speed of two-photon microscopy without sacrificing resolution. CUHK's Chenyang Wen said, "This ... will be useful for visualizing a neural network, or monitoring activity from hundreds of neurons simultaneously." The researchers said the technique is faster because it requires fewer exposures; it performs both sampling and image compression at once, followed by the implementation of an algorithm that fills in any missing information The methodology enables high-quality image production with imaging speeds up to five times faster from any field of view.

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An illustration of a student and a mirrored virtual student. Facial Recognition: School ID Checks Lead to GDPR Fine
BBC News
August 27, 2019

The Swedish Data Protection Authority (DPA) fined the municipality of Skelleftea 200,000 Swedish Krona ($20,700) for using facial recognition to track students, in violation of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Anderstorp High School used the technology to track 22 high school students for three weeks, to detect when each individual entered a classroom. GDPR restricts the use of facial imaging and the collection of other biometric data. The DPA said while the school obtained parents' permission to track the students, that was not legally sufficient to allow the school to capture personal data, as attendance could have been checked without video surveillance. The DPA said Skelleftea's local authority had illegally processed sensitive biometric data and failed to complete a sufficient impact assessment.

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A photo of The University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey telescope. Algorithms Aid Search for Source of Spacetime Rumbles
IEEE Spectrum
Mark Anderson
August 28, 2019

Researchers working on the SAGUARO (Searches After Gravitational-waves Using ARizona Observatories) project are using machine learning algorithms to help identify gravitational wavefronts that come from the collision of two neutron stars. The algorithms automatically consider each potential candidate source for more trivial explanations, such as a known variable star or an over-saturated image that caused noisy pixel data. This process allows the team to pare the list of possible gravitational wave sources to several dozen objects, a manageable number for follow-up by astronomers. The researchers' main goal is to improve the machine learning algorithms as much as possible in order to help them locate and identify a kilonova, a recently discovered astronomical event.

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An example of a 3D plane-based map using a 3D LiDAR and an inertial sensor. Giving Smart Vehicles Their Sense of Direction
University of Delaware
Julie Stewart
August 27, 2019

The University of Delaware's Guoquan Huang has developed algorithms to advance simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) as a technique for giving autonomous vehicles a sense of direction. Huang employs visual-inertial navigation systems, integrating cameras and inertial sensors to measure orientation and acceleration. The researcher then calculates motion and localization from the data collected by these components. Huang and colleagues have more accurately combined inertial measurements than previously possible via discrete-integration calculus, and open-sourced it on GitHub. The team also reconfigured SLAM as a formula for computing small increments of movement by sensor-equipped robots.

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Self-Folding 'Rollbot' Paves the Way for Fully Untethered Soft Robots
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Leah Burrows
August 21, 2019

Researchers at Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the California Institute of Technology have developed soft robotic systems inspired by origami that can move and change shape in response to external stimuli. The researchers used liquid crystal elastomers that change shape when exposed to heat, and utilized three-dimensional (3D) printing to create two types of soft hinges that fold at different temperatures. The team used its designs to build several soft robotic devices. Said Harvard’s Jennifer A. Lewis, “The ability to integrate active materials within 3D-printed objects enables the design and fabrication of entirely new classes of soft robotic matter.”

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AI Analysis Gives Guidance to Crisis Counselors
Cornell Chronicle (NY)
Louis DiPietro
August 21, 2019

A study by Cornell University researchers and the Crisis Text Line crisis-counselor platform described how volunteer crisis counselors' use of language evolves. The team used state-of-the-art natural language processing to learn that the language employed by counselors systematically changes, based on their training and empathy for callers in distress, giving rise to unique voices for calming those distressed individuals. The researchers analyzed more than 1 million anonymized texts from about 3,500 counselors on the Crisis Text Line. Crisis Text Line's Robert Filbin said the study' insights will help the platform train and guide crisis counselors. Cornell's Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil said, "This is an example of how natural language processing techniques can assist the development of skills in conversation-heavy professions."

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Microsoft 2020 Imagine Cup
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