MS in Data Science
Welcome to the January 10, 2020 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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voters at BMD voting machines Voting Machines Touted as Secure Option Are Actually Vulnerable to Hacking, Study Finds
The Washington Post
Joseph Marks
January 8, 2020

Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) found that ballot-marking devices (BMDs), devices that will be used as the default voting machines for at least 18% of U.S. districts in November’s presidential election, lack sufficient safeguards from hacking. BMDs let voters cast their votes using a computer touchscreen and produce paper records of those votes. In the study of 241 people who voted on BMDs in a simulated election and had at least one of their votes changed by the system on the printed-out ballot, researchers found just 40% of people reviewed their ballot and only 7% informed a poll worker something was wrong. The researchers concluded that if hackers changed 1% to 2% of votes in a close election, they would not be discovered. Said UM’s Alex Halderman, "There is a strong security reason to prefer hand-marked paper ballots."

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house on hillside with wildfire smoke in background Research Will Help Land Managers Take Risk-Analysis Approach to New Wildfire Reality
Oregon State University News
Steve Lundeberg
January 8, 2020

Oregon State University (OSU) researchers have developed risk-based analytics tools to help land managers plan for the modern reality of large wildfires. The researchers used machine learning algorithms and risk-analysis science to analyze factors involved in handling fires, which include land management objectives, firefighting decisions, fire mitigation opportunities, and the needs of communities, the environment, and the fire management system. With the resulting information, the researchers created complementary tools for quantitative wildfire risk evaluation, mapping of suppression difficulty, and atlases of sites where fires might be controlled, respectively. Said OSU's Chris Dunn, “It’s time we step up to the plate with risk-analysis analytics and computing power to complement the experiential knowledge of our fire management service. As partners, scientists, managers and communities, we can work together to determine how to best interact with fires now and into the future.”

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Kaiser Permanente Bets on Smartwatches to Lower Costs
The Wall Street Journal
Agam Shah
January 9, 2020

Hospital management and health insurance company Kaiser Permanente is expanding a rehabilitation program in which patients recovering from a cardiac event wear smartwatches to confirm their adherence to prescribed exercise and medication regimens. More than 87% of approximately 2,300 patients enrolled in the eight-week program completed the course, versus less than 50% on average for the company's in-clinic rehab programs. The Samsung smartwatches remind patients to exercise or take prescribed medication, and a mobile app accessible through the device allows patients to report the type and duration of exercise and any symptoms they suffered. The company hopes the program will help it cut costs in areas like readmissions.

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troll’s hands on keyboard AI for #MeToo: Training Algorithms to Spot Online Trolls
Caltech News
Robert Perkins
January 8, 2020

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Stanford University researchers have demonstrated that machine learning algorithms can track evolving online social media conversations, which could eventually yield an automated method to detect trolling. The technique is designed to overcome the ineffectiveness of current methods, which are either fully automated and non-interpretable, or reliant on a static series of keywords that can rapidly become obsolete. The researchers employed a Global Vectors for Word Representation model, in which the distance between two words quantifies their linguistic or semantic resemblance, while also measuring relationships between keywords to determine context. Said Caltech's Anima Anandkumar, "Hopefully, the tools we're developing now will help fight all kinds of harassment in the future."

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Walmart Unveils Robot-Run Warehouse to Whisk Food to Your Car
Matthew Boyle
January 8, 2020

Walmart has automated a warehouse in New Hampshire to accelerate pickups for its online grocery ordering service. The warehouse is equipped with robotic carts that retrieve items from shelves and deliver them to workers at a picking station, who pack the orders and deliver them to customers' cars in the parking lot. The automated warehouse features 30 robots that retrieve items 10 times faster than human shoppers. Said Walmart’s Brian Roth, “This is going to be a transformative impact to Walmart's supply chain. Alphabot is streamlining the order process, allowing associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency."

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Israeli Cyber Experts Reveal Serious Security Flaws in TikTok
The Jerusalem Post
Eytan Halon
January 8, 2020

According to researchers at Tel Aviv, Israel-headquartered Check Point Software Technologies, multiple vulnerabilities in the Chinese-developed app TikTok could allow hackers to manipulate user accounts and extract information like dates of birth and private email addresses. The flaws also could enable attackers to send spoofed SMS messages to users containing malicious links that, when clicked, would give the attacker control of the user's TikTok account and the ability to manipulate their content. The researchers also found that the viral video-sharing app's marketing website, TikTok Ads, is vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks, in which malicious scripts are inserted into trusted websites, allowing for the retrieval of personal information from user accounts. Said Oded Vanunu of Check Point, "Data breaches are becoming an epidemic, and our latest research shows that the most popular apps are still at risk."

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Carmakers Move From Cars to Building Cities at CES
Financial Times
Patrick McGee; Song Jung-a; Peter Campbell
January 7, 2020

Automakers announced future technologies at CES 2020, with Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda stating his company would construct a 175-acre hydrogen-powered smart city near Japan’s Mount Fuji as a “living laboratory” to see how up to 2,000 residents will live with next-generation technology. Toyoda said the project aims to keep Toyota abreast of society-transforming megatrends like urbanization, 5G wireless connectivity, and the role of artificial intelligence in evolving consumer devices. Meanwhile, Hyundai announced a partnership with ride-hailing company Uber under which it will build electrically-powered driverless air taxis. The companies said test flights are planned for this year, and commercial operations to begin within three years. The goal is to help Hyundai compete with rivals in emerging technologies.

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Like stars in a color-enhanced snapshot of the night sky, these yellow-green dots represent sites on a silicon carbide wafe Building a Quantum Computer From Off-the-Shelf Parts
IEEE Spectrum
Mark Anderson
January 7, 2020

University of Chicago (UChicago) researchers have developed a method for fabricating quantum bits in silicon carbide wafers. The researchers bombarded such a wafer with an electron beam, which induced a defect that behaves like a single electron spin, which can be manipulated electrically, magnetically, or optically. The spin retains quantum data for up to a millisecond, and can be tuned and addressed with electrical gates and lasers; the stable electron pocket the induced defect generates remains coherent up to and well above room temperature. UChicago's David Awschalom said, "If you can control quantum states and their magnetic properties with electric fields, there's an advantage. Because there's a pathway to scale them using today's electronics technology."

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A young girl working on a robotic model car. Trump Signs Law to Boost Girls' Access to STEM Education
Brandi Vincent
January 6, 2020

Late last month, U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Building Blocks of STEM Act to boost young girls' access to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who introduced the bill, said she sponsored the legislation "to help break down the gender barriers that [she] faced as a woman in STEM, for current and future generations." The new law seeks to improve and broaden existing U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM education projects in U.S. schools, through new research and grants to increase girls' participation in computer science. The law also instructs NSF to concentrate more on pre-Kindergarten and early elementary-grade students when addressing challenges throughout the STEM environment.

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A human face covered in ice and snow Climate Signals Detected in Global Weather
ETH Zurich
Peter Ruegg
January 2, 2020

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich applied statistical learning methods to integrate simulations with climate models and data from measuring stations, detecting climate signals in global weather. The researchers found the long-term warming trend or climate signal could be detected in daily weather observations, if they could account for global spatial patterns. ETH Zurich's Reto Knutti said global-level weather data could be employed to further measure the shifting likelihood of extreme weather events based on model calculations. Said Knutti, "This gives rise to new opportunities for the communication of regional weather events against the backdrop of global warming."

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Viewing a screen showing laser imaging of brain tumors. AI Comes to the Operating Room
The New York Times
Denise Grady
January 6, 2020

Surgeons are utilizing artificial intelligence and new imaging methods to diagnose brain tumors faster than pathologists, and with similar accuracy. Traditionally, sample tissue from the brain is sent to a lab for analysis through a microscope, which can take about 30 minutes. The new technique takes less than three minutes, using lasers to create images of the sample tissue after it has been removed from the brain and a computer to read the images in the operating room. The researchers used images of tissue samples taken from 415 brain surgery patients to train an artificial intelligence system to identify the 10 most common types of brain tumor. Overall, the system misdiagnosed 14 cases that doctors got right, while doctors missed 17 cases that the computer got right. Neurosurgeon Daniel A. Orringer at NYU Langone Health said the study shows "the combination of an algorithm plus human intuition improves our ability to predict diagnosis."

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A smart wearable real-time diagnosis sensor applying complex nature-mimicking structure. Bandage-Like Sensor to Detect Human Body Conditions in Real Time
Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology
January 7, 2020

Researchers at South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) and Sungkyunkwan University have developed a "patch-based health diagnosis sensor system" that adheres to skin like a bandage. The sensor gleans health data in real time by tracking biosignals and certain movements. The researchers created a stable architecture allowing the sensors to function without suffering damage from intensive movement, and enhanced their vertical elasticity via a zigzag paper craft framework. The devices are made from a waterproof material to avoid problems in the collection of accurate data, and can be linked to smartphones via Bluetooth to store the information on a cloud server. DGIST's Hyuk-Jun Kwon said, "The sensor is very useful because as long as it is attached to skin like a band-aid, it can collect various biodata information."

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