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Welcome to the April 20, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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In June 2020, a pilot flying an F-22 in Alaska reportedly became disoriented, and the aircraft likely would have crashed if not for the intervention of an onboard software system. How Software Saved a Stealth Fighter Jet—and Its Pilot—from Crashing in Alaska
Popular Science
Rob Verger
April 18, 2022

The U.S. Air Force Safety Center confirmed that the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS), developed by Lockheed Martin, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, saved the life of an F-22 pilot flying in Alaska in June 2020. The pilot was operating the jet in Instrument Meteorological Conditions and experienced spatial disorientation. When the F-22 was at an altitude of 13,520 feet above sea level and traveling about 600 mph with its nose pointed downwards, the onboard Auto GCAS software initiated an automatic fly-up, steering the plane out of its rapid descent. The system finished the recovery process when the aircraft was about 2,600 feet above ground.

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A Ukrainian serviceman takes a photo of a dead Russian soldier after Ukrainian forces overran a Russian position outside Kyiv on March 31. Ukraine Is Scanning Faces of Dead Russians, Then Contacting the Mothers
The Washington Post
Drew Harwell
April 15, 2022

Ukraine officials have performed over 8,600 facial recognition searches on Russian soldiers that have been captured or killed since the invasion began. The scans, which utilize Clearview AI software, have been used to identify 582 deceased soldiers and inform their families of their passing. While Ukrainian officials view the practice as a way to increase Russian dissent and help facilitate the end of the war, military and technology analysts are concerned it could generate backlash as "classic psychological warfare." Clearview's mobile app is being used to scan faces on the battlefield, returning links to the dead soldiers' accounts on Instagram and the Russian social network VKontakte. It also is being used to confirm identities at military checkpoints, and to determine whether someone is a Russian infiltrator or saboteur.

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Can AI All but End Car Crashes? The Potential Is There
The New York Times
Tanya Mohn
April 19, 2022

Although artificial intelligence (AI) already has been deployed to improve road safety through smartphone apps that monitor safe driving and connected vehicles that communicate with each other and road infrastructure, proponents of the technology believe it also can be used to predict and help to prevent dangerous driving behaviors. Australia's Acusensus, for instance, has rolled out systems that use AI algorithms to assess driver distraction, occupant restraint, and vehicle speed using cameras installed on overpasses and other infrastructure. The company’s Heads-Up Real Time product, which has been proposed for use in the U.S., would deliver data and images in real time to law enforcement. Acusensus technology also can be used to pinpoint "hot spots" where enforcement or infrastructure should be improved. On the other hand, the technology also raises concerns about privacy issues.

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NATO Cyber Game Tests Defenses Amid War in Ukraine
The Wall Street Journal
Catherine Stupp
April 18, 2022

The annual cyber wargames hosted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence began Tuesday in Tallinn, Estonia. As part of the Locked Shields competition, test teams will undertake timed, fictional cyberattack exercises. The competition comes even as the cyberdefense units of the participating countries have been preparing for potential cyberattacks since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, and follows an April 8 attack on Finland's government websites amid discussions about the nation joining NATO. The 2022 exercise will concentrate on the interdependencies between national IT systems. ETH Zurich's Stefan Soesanto said the exercise establishes a baseline for participants to measure their cyberdefense skills against each other and helps experts forge relationships with their peers in allied countries.

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'Tamper-Evident Container' Will Snitch if Anyone Tries to Meddle with What's Inside
Popular Mechanics
Manasee Wagh
April 11, 2022

A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) three-dimensionally (3D)-printed a prototype Tamper-Evident Container (TEC) designed to record attempts to break into it. "The idea here was to build a protective sensing network all the way around the container," said LANL's John Bernardin. A fiber-optic cable network fills the TEC's outermost wall, while a pulsing light source monitors for tampering via a photodetector. When something cuts the sensor network and breaks the flow of light, a microcontroller starts recording the interruption and alerts authorized recipients of possible tampering. LANL's Alexandria Marchi said 3D-printing the TEC allows customization for whatever article is to be protected, and also creates individualized sensor patterns.

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Risks of Counterfeit Medications Are Rising: Technology Could Spot Fakes with Smartphone App
April 13, 2022

Researchers have developed a method for identifying counterfeit pharmaceuticals using edible tags that can be read by a smartphone app to verify the source and quality of the medication. The researchers genetically modified silkworms to produce edible silk proteins with an attached cyan, green, or red fluorescent protein. Tags containing these fluorescent silk proteins, which are safely broken down by gastrointestinal enzymes, can be applied to pills or added to liquid medicine. An accompanying smartphone app scans for the fluorescent pattern, and if it is found, uses a deep learning algorithm to decode the digitized key and takes users to a webpage featuring information about the medication's source and authenticity.

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MIT engineers developed a telerobotic system to help surgeons remotely treat patients experiencing stroke or aneurysm. Joystick-Operated Robot Could Help Surgeons Treat Stroke Remotely
MIT News
Jennifer Chu
April 13, 2022

A telerobotic system developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Massachusetts General Hospital, and Philips Research North America allows surgeons to operate remotely, using a joystick and live imaging to control a robotic arm at another location. The system could save the lives of patients suffering a stroke or aneurysm by enabling remote endovascular intervention during the critical window of time immediately after the condition's onset. During a test using a life-sized model, neurosurgeons were able to control the robot's arm remotely to guide a magnetic wire through arteries and vessels after only an hour of training. Explained MIT's Yoonho Kim, "The primary purpose of the magnetic guidewire is to get to the target location quickly and safely, so that standard devices like microcatheters can be used to deliver therapeutics. Our system is like a pathfinder."

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A Smart Home System That Respects Privacy
IEEE Spectrum
Michelle Hampson
April 14, 2022

The Chameleon smart-home system can predict human activity with up to 99% accuracy after just one week of training. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Andres Rico and colleagues built Chameleon around carbon dioxide and passive infrared sensors, in conjunction with supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms. It combines general knowledge of environmental assessment with the ability to differentiate the unique factors of new settings, which Rico said can reduce the time and costs for calibration and maintenance. Rico said the system's ability to accurately classify activities within entirely different rooms "is very valuable for scaling these devices to more buildings and use cases."

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The single case study involved a 36-year-old German man who had lost the ability to voluntarily control his eye movements. BCI Lets 'Locked-in' Man Communicate with His Son
Ars Technica
Jennifer Ouellette
April 15, 2022

A brain-computer interface (BCI) that uses auditory feedback enabled a German man with locked-in syndrome to compose simple messages to communicate with others, asking his son for a beer and asking caretakers to play music for him. Researchers at Germany's University of Tübingen and nonprofit ALS Voice implanted the wired BCI into the man’s brain, inserting two microelectrode arrays in his left motor cortex to detect neural signals, which could be transmitted to a computer, where NeuroKey software decodes and plays back the data as auditory feedback tones. The patient was able to modulate the sound tone and his neural firing rate to match the frequency of the feedback, which enabled him to select letters and spell words.

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A 3D-printed techno-tortoise sitting on the desert floor. Scientists Use 3D-Printed Shells to Ward Off Ravens, Save Desert Tortoises
Victorville Daily Press (CA)
Martin Estacio
April 16, 2022

Researchers at Joshua Tree, CA-based Hardshell Labs, in collaboration with software company Autodesk, have developed a Techno-tortoise that eventually could help curtail a decline in the desert tortoise population. The Techno-tortoise shell is produced using a three-dimensional (3D) printer; looking much like a baby desert tortoise, it features sensors to detect a raven attack and can emit a blast of bird repellent when threatened. Five such shells were tested in the field last year, and were found to successfully frighten off ravens. The researchers hope the shells can facilitate a reduction in raven predation on tortoises, with the birds learning from the decoys and teaching their young to avoid tortoises.

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Power Use Reveals Harmful Chips Hidden on Circuit Boards
New Scientist
Matthew Sparkes
April 18, 2022

A circuit board's power consumption can reveal malicious tampering designed to facilitate Trojan attacks to steal sensitive data or crash a device when triggered. Huifeng Zhu and colleagues at Washington University created the PDNPulse test to analyze a printed circuit board's power consumption in order to identify tampering by comparing it to a device known to be secure. PDNPulse looks for small variations in such a so-called "fingerprint" of power consumption, based on measurement at several points. Using the test, the researchers were able to detect Trojan modifications on various circuit boards with perfect accuracy. While no firm evidence has been found to prove a circuit board-based Trojan attack has actually happened, Theodore Markettos at the U.K.'s University of Cambridge said he believes in the concept's feasibility.

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Artificial intelligence automatically estimates a location’s seismic wave amplification factors based upon observed microtremor data. Neural Network Model Helps Predict Site-Specific Impacts of Earthquakes
Hiroshima University (Japan)
April 15, 2022

A neural network model developed by researchers at Japan's Hiroshima University can calculate how soil layers can amplify the seismic waves of large earthquakes. The researchers analyzed microtremor data from 105 sites in the Chugoku district from 2012 to 2020 using a generalized spectral inversion method. Data from each site was split into a training set to educate the neural network, a validation set applied to iterative model optimization, and a test set to assess the model's performance. The model performed well on the test dataset, although, said Hiroshima's Hiroyuki Miura, ”the number of training samples analyzed in this study sites is still limited.” Miura said more training samples needed to be considered “before assuming that the neural network model applies nationwide or globally.”

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