Online Masters in Information Technology
Welcome to the November 1, 2021 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."
Big Data Can Render Some as 'Low-Resolution Citizens'
Cornell Chronicle
Tom Fleischman
October 28, 2021

Cornell University's Steven Jackson and Ranjit Singh analyzed India's Aadhaar biometrics-based individual identification system as it impacted the country's approximately 1.4 billion people. With over 1.25 billion residents registered, Aadhaar is designed to provide standardized legal identity to all citizens, including those who previously lacked identity documents. The researchers found that people whose fingerprints on file were not distinct, or low-resolution, had problems getting registered. Singh said, "That, to a certain extent, allowed Steve and me to actually talk about how people need to be in 'high resolution' to become a part of the system." Singh added, “It’s not just about social hierarchies, it’s about hierarchy as it manifests through data.”

Full Article

A development flight test for the W88 Alt 370 missile. Sensors Add to Accuracy, Power of U.S. Nuclear Weapons but May Create Security Perils
The Washington Post
R. Jeffrey Smith
October 29, 2021

Sensors created by Sandia National Laboratories for U.S. ballistic missiles could augment detonation timing and accuracy, enhancing nuclear warheads’ ability to strike enemy missiles, hardened command posts, and other military targets. Sandia's Paul J. Hommert said the sensors are better at computing the best moment for blast ignition than those on existing U.S. weapons. The warhead’s fuze, sensors, and computers are embedded within a compact capsule, which Hommert said would be installed on three new types of warheads atop land- and sea-based missiles, and partly on warheads to be carried by planes deployed in Europe. The U.S. Air Force plans to install the technology in land-based missiles slated for deployment by the end of the decade; after that, it will be deployed on more than 1,300 warheads in the U.S. arsenal.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Innovative Chip Paves Road to Supercomputer of the Future
October 31, 2021

Quantum physicists at Denmark's University of Copenhagen (UCPH) said they have developed a new processor that overcomes a key hurdle for building future supercomputers. The achievement facilitates simultaneous control of many quantum bits (qubits) using spin qubits, which "consist of electron spins trapped in semiconducting nanostructures called quantum dots, such that individual spin states can be controlled and entangled with each other," said UCPH's Federico Fedele. The team manufactured and operated four qubits in a 2×2 array on a single processor, and UCPH's Anasua Chatterjee touted the chip's ability to concurrently operate and measure all qubits, a critical step for performing quantum calculations. Said UCPH's Ferdinand Kuemmeth, "To get more powerful quantum processors, we have to not only increase the number of qubits, but also the number of simultaneous operations, which is exactly what we did."

Full Article

Staff and collaborative robots (cobots) work together in a GXO Logistics warehouse. Saks E-Commerce Business Pairs Robots with Workers
The Wall Street Journal
Angus Loten
October 26, 2021

Department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is now shipping online orders from a Middletown, PA, warehouse operated by GXO Logistics that uses autonomous robots to help workers locate items. GXO's Sandeep Sakharkar said, "Advances in robotics, coupled with fast-evolving AI [artificial intelligence] and machine learning capabilities, have created exciting possibilities in automated warehouse design." The collaborative robots feature computer screens that display images of items for warehouse workers to collect, and use software trained on Saks' product catalog to cross-reference incoming orders with a map of item locations, directing workers to items. Sakharkar said the system can double the speed of fulfillment compared to manual processes alone, which is critical for e-retailers like Saks in anticipation of the peak holiday shopping season.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Coding Bug Helped Researchers Build Secret BlackMatter Ransomware Decryption Tool
Tech Crunch
Carly Page
October 25, 2021

Researchers at the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft helped recover encrypted files of victims of the BlackMatter ransomware operation. The researchers determined that a vulnerability in BlackMatter's encryption process allowed encrypted files to be recovered without victims paying the ransom. They did not announce the vulnerability when it was discovered earlier this year for fear the BlackMatter group would issue a fix. Emsisoft's Fabian Wosar said, "Since then, we have been busy helping BlackMatter victims recover their data. With the help of law enforcement agencies, CERTs [computer emergency readiness teams], and private sector partners in multiple countries, we were able to reach numerous victims, helping them avoid tens of millions of dollars in demands."

Full Article
Computer-Aided Data Tool Could Improve Treatment for Many Diseases
News-Medical Life Sciences
Emily Henderson
October 26, 2021

Scientists at the U.K.'s Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and Queen Mary University in London have developed a computer-aided data tool that could improve disease treatment by mapping novel binding sites for potential allosteric drugs in G protein-coupled receptors. The computational work was conducted on the Northern Ireland High-Performance Computing Center's Kelvin-2 supercomputer. QUB's Irina Tikhonova said, "Our pipeline can identify allosteric sites in a short time, which makes it suitable for industry settings. As such, our pipeline is a feasible solution to initiate structure-based search of allosteric drugs for any membrane-bound drug targets that have an impact on cancer, inflammation, and [central nervous system] diseases."

Full Article
Data-Driven Animations of Marine Mammals Combine Biology, Art, Computation
UC Santa Cruz Newscenter
Tim Stephens
October 27, 2021

University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) researchers have created tools and procedures for generating realistic, data-driven animations of marine mammals. UCSC's Jessica Kendall-Bar said, "By animating a three-dimensional model with data, we can simultaneously display several different data streams. This makes it easier and faster to recognize important patterns in the data." Kendall-Bar has developed animations to help scientists explore various behaviors in humpback whales, elephant seals, and narwhals. UCSC's Roxanne Beltran said, "[Kendall-Bar's] artistic skills helped us see our dataset from an entirely new perspective. In the era of big data, we need more crossover between art and science. The art can inform the science, and the science can inform the art."

Full Article

Hongyang Wang with prototype no1s1 in the Student Project House on the ETH Zurich campus. Small House Raises Big Questions
ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
Leo Hermann
October 27, 2021

The prototype "no1s1" meditation cabin built by Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH Zurich) researchers based on Swiss think tank Dezentrum's designs upends economic and social conventions. The solar-powered hut in the university’s Student Project House operates autonomously, may be accessed via a quick response code, and is owned by no one. The test version of the pod is free to use, but it was designed so users will be able to rent it using Ethereum cryptocurrency held in an account controlled by the building itself. ETH Zurich’s Hongyang Wang stressed that the technology is not yet ready to be used. Adds ETH Zurich’s Daniel Hall, “The project throws up more questions than it answers–and that was the point.”

Full Article
Computational Discovery of Complex Alloys Could Speed the Way to Green Aviation
Ames Laboratory
October 26, 2021

Multi-institutional scientists led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have developed a process for tuning the strength and ductility of high-entropy alloys (HEAs), which may lead to more efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft. The researchers used quantum mechanical modeling to discover and forecast the atomic structure of a particularly promising HEA system, and how transformations and defects could support a stronger, more ductile material. The researchers confirmed these forecasts experimentally, analyzing single-crystal samples with electron microscopy. Ames' Duane Johnson said, "Using this predictive method, we've been able to speed up our alloy development timeline by more than 50%, and demonstrate 10-20% higher operational temperatures."

Full Article
'PodoSighter' Uses AI to Identify Kidney Disease Indicator
University at Buffalo News Center
Ellen Goldbaum
October 28, 2021

The cloud-based PodoSighter tool developed by University at Buffalo (UB) researchers is engineered to identify early indicators of kidney disease by detecting and quantifying podocytes, a specialized type of cell in the kidney that is damaged during early stage kidney disease. UB's Darshana Govind explained, "The tissue is prepared in the clinic and the AI [artificial intelligence]-based method detects it for you. You click a button and the podocytes are identified." UB's Pinaki Sarder said the PodoSighter also estimates podocyte number and density in each capillary bundle, or glomerulus, containing the cells. Sarder added that increasing glomerulus size and declining podocyte count signal the progression of kidney disease.

Full Article

A 1-inch square of glass can store 6 gigabytes of data. '5D' Storage Could Hold 10,000 Times More Data Than Blu-ray Disc
New Scientist
Chris Stokel-Walker
October 28, 2021

Scientists at the U.K.'s University of Southampton have invented a "five-dimensional" (5D) optical data storage method capable of storing 500 terabytes on an optical disc, 10,000 times more data than Blu-ray discs. A laser fires 1-femtosecond pulses to etch minute perforations in glass, with 5D derived from the use of two optical dimensions based on light polarization and intensity, plus three spatial dimensions to record data. The researchers wrote 6 gigabytes of data onto a 1-inch square of glass, and could read it back with 96.3% to 99.5% accuracy; Southampton's Yuhao Lei said an error-correction algorithm could up the rate to 100%. Southampton's Peter Kazansky said, "This data storage is very durable and can withstand high temperatures, which means it can live almost forever."

Full Article

Increased cognitive demands in the workplace can offset the mechanical advantages of wearing a low-back exoskeleton. Increased Cognitive Demands Offset Low-Back Exoskeleton Advantages, Research Finds
Texas A&M Today
Alleynah Veatch Cofas
October 26, 2021

Cognitive strain on employees can cancel out the benefits of low-back exoskeletons, concluded researchers at Texas A&M and Ohio State universities. Men and women with no history of lower-back injuries were recruited to perform extensive lifting, with and without low-back exoskeletons. The researchers measured spinal load using electromyographic-assisted biomechanical modeling, and monitored functional brain activation via functional near-infrared spectroscopy. Neuroergonomic assessment showed using exoskeletons tapped additional brain regions usually involved with regulating alertness and vigilance, while the reduction of spine shear loads was insignificant. Moreover, when solving a math problem to accompany lifts to simulate external cognitive demands on workers, subjects lost the exoskeleton's biomechanical benefits.

Full Article
University of Cincinatti Open Positions
ACM Career and Job Center

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]