Master's Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Welcome to the May 11, 2022, 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."
Chemical Computer Can Be Programmed to Solve Hard Problems
New Scientist
Karmela Padavic-Callaghan
May 9, 2022

Researchers at the U.K.'s University of Glasgow have programmed a chemical computer to solve specific problems, following earlier research on encoding data into the system. The computer consists of a plastic grid of interconnected chambers filled with a liquid acid-salt solution, which triggers a chemical reaction when mechanically agitated. The researchers adjust the speed of each stirrer to control the reaction rate in each cell, to program a specific problem. The cells alternately flash red or blue lights during the reaction, with each flash equivalent to the 1s and 0s used in electronic computers; a video camera records the reds and blues, and uses that data to adjust the stirrers. The researchers have used the system to solve simple problems, including the traveling salesperson problem.

Full Article
Interactivity Improves Transparency, Deepening Trust of AI Symptom Checkers
Penn State News
Matt Swayne
May 3, 2022

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) researchers found patients may trust artificial intelligence (AI)-powered symptom-checking chatbots more as they further engage with them. Subjects were more likely to find an online conversational symptom checker that responded to questions about anxiety to be more transparent and more trustworthy than a chatbot that displayed a static webpage with explanations, or no explanations. Penn State's Yuan Sun said conversational chatbot users also felt they understood more about anxiety, and exhibited more objective knowledge, than those who used the static chatbot. "What we are trying to communicate are the parts [of the AI decision-making process] that people do understand, to make the process seem less complex and more trustworthy," she explained.

Full Article

Christos Michas takes a real-time side-view image of the miniPUMP in the lab. Scientists Build Ventricle-on-a-Chip to Study Heart Disease
IEEE Spectrum
Payal Dhar
May 9, 2022

A multi-institutional team of researchers built the miniaturized Precision-enabled Unidirectional Microfluidic Pump (miniPUMP), a mini-replica of a human ventricle combining stem-cell technologies and nanoengineering on a chip. The device, which mimics the ventricle, the lower heart chamber, consists of a three-dimensionally (3D)-printed hollow cylindrical scaffold supporting a framework of cardiac tissue derived from human stem cells. Boston University's Christos Michas said nanofabrication allowed the researchers "to replicate different aspects of the heart—specifically, the chamber, which contracts and then springs back, and also the valves that regulate the flow of the blood." The device is compatible with other organ-on-a-chip technologies under development.

Full Article
Self-Driving Microscopes Discover Shortcuts to New Materials
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
May 9, 2022

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are training microscopes to find new materials faster using an intuitive algorithm. The lab workflow incorporates human-based physical reasoning within machine learning techniques, using images obtained from less than 1% of the sample; the algorithm chooses points of interest based on what it learns within the experiment, and on knowledge gained externally. ORNL's Maxim Ziatdinov said, "The workflow was applied to material systems familiar to the research community and made a fundamental finding, something not previously known, very quickly—in this case, within a few hours."

Full Article

Clockwork's fingernail-painting robot takes pictures of each fingernail then pipes polish onto the nail, leaving no brush lines. What It's Like to Have a Robot Paint Your Nails for $10
CNN Business
Rachel Metz
May 5, 2022

Retail giant Target has deployed fingernail-painting robots manufactured by the Clockwork company at three stores in California and Minnesota, as part of a test to see how shoppers respond to it. Customers slide a hand into the machine, where two cameras shoot about 100 pictures of each nail. Clockwork's Renuka Apte said those images are combined into a three-dimensional point cloud showing the shape of the nail, which the system uses to find the nail's edge. Algorithms then determine the appropriate movement and speed of the pipette to apply polish to the nail. Kelsie Marian at market research firm Gartner said long-term experiments by retailers have made consumers more comfortable with robots' presence in stores.

Full Article
Unpacking Black-Box Models
MIT News
Adam Zewe
May 5, 2022

A mathematical framework developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Microsoft Research aims to quantify and evaluate the understandability of a machine learning model's explanations for its predictions. The framework, called ExSum (explanation summary), can evaluate a rule on an entire dataset. ExSum enables the user to see if a rule holds up based on three metrics: coverage, or how broadly applicable the rule is across the entire dataset; validity, or the percentage of individual examples that agree with the rule; and sharpness, or how precise the rule is. Said MIT's Yilun Zhou, "Before this work, if you have a correct local explanation, you are done. You have achieved the holy grail of explaining your model. We are proposing this additional dimension of making sure these explanations are understandable."

Full Article

A digital forensics expert prepares to extract data from a mobile phone. NIST Publishes Review of Digital Forensic Methods
May 10, 2022

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a review of digital investigation techniques used to analyze evidence from computers and other electronic devices. The researchers probed peer-reviewed literature, documentation from software developers, test results on forensic tools, and standards and best-practice documents. "Digital evidence examination rests on a firm foundation based in computer science," they determined, adding that "the application of these computer science techniques to digital investigations is sound." The researchers recommend better information-sharing methods among experts, a more structured approach to forensic tool testing, and greater sharing of high-quality forensic reference data that can be used for education, training, and the development and evaluation of new tools.

Full Article
Neon Ice Shows Promise as Qubit Platform
The Source (Washington University in St. Louis)
Talia Ogliore
May 4, 2022

Researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory created a new quantum bit (qubit) platform using frozen neon gas. The platform sprays electrons from a light bulb's filament onto the solidified neon, which traps a single electron. The apparatus incorporates a chip-scale microwave resonator fashioned from a superconductor, which "crucially provides a way to read out the state of the qubit," according to Washington University in St. Louis' Kater Murch. "It concentrates the interaction between the qubit and microwave signal. This allows us to make measurements telling how well the qubit works."

Full Article

The smartphone app pairs an algorithm with a drone and satellite images to identify locations of previously unknown mosquito breeding habitats, and treat them the same day. Tech Helps Combat Tropical Diseases
University of South Florida Newsroom
May 9, 2022

Insect control agencies in Africa and Tampa Bay, FL, are deploying technology created by the University of South Florida's Benjamin Jacob to fight tropical diseases. Jacob developed a smartphone application that couples an algorithm he devised with aerial drones and satellite images to identify sites of previously unknown mosquito breeding habitats, and to treat them on the same day to reduce the likelihood of a disease outbreak. Jacob trained drones to sense and capture image datasets through his algorithms, which enable the system to understand features like mud or vegetation; each image is processed and gridded with identified sources of water, then categorized for the presence of mosquito larvae.

Full Article

Residents at Maplewood Senior Living used virtual reality headsets to experience things together and build community. VR 'Reminiscence Therapy' Lets Seniors Relive the Past
The New York Times
Matt Fuchs
May 6, 2022

Some half-dozen companies currently provide virtual reality (VR) reminiscence therapy to residents at senior care communities, part of a growing trend of using the technology in healthcare. Providers include MyndVR, which offers virtual trips as well as diverse nightclub experiences, complete with musicians and actors in period dress. Caregivers and researchers said benefits start materializing after multiple sessions over one to two months; Stephen Eatman at senior community operator Sunshine Retirement Living said the company uses up to 70% fewer antipsychotic medications for seniors in VR therapy. Researchers at Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory are conducting a 12-state clinical trial to acquire more data on VR reminiscence therapy's benefits at scale.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Researchers Highlight More Equitable Way to Analyze DNA Data from Understudied Groups
News from Brown
May 4, 2022

Brown University scientists led a multi-institutional team in employing new DNA analysis methods to better understand genetic conditions' impact across different populations. The researchers applied enrichment analysis to resolve underlying bias and underrepresentation in the genome-wide association (GWA) framework. "We show that data viewed only through a very specific GWA lens may look disparate and irreconcilable," said Brown's Sohini Ramachandran. "Yet, viewed in a more equitable way, with a more expansive methodology, it becomes biologically unified, interpretable, and, importantly, actionable." The researchers highlighted strong associations of trait determinants while reviewing 25 traits in 600,000-plus individuals from seven human ancestries. Brown's Lorin Crawford said this method can help to provide more targeted therapies to underrepresented ancestry groups.

Full Article
Crypto's Audacious Algorithmic Stablecoin Experiment Crumbles
Stacy-Marie Ishmael
May 10, 2022

The algorithmic stablecoin cryptocurrency does not provide greater stability than other cryptocurrencies. Conventional stablecoin issuers say their tokens are underpinned by "real" assets like cash or highly rated bonds, and can theoretically maintain stability because they can be readily swapped for cash or highly liquid cash equivalents. Algorithmic stablecoins try holding their value through a mix of instructions encoded in algorithms and active treasury management. The failure of such cryptoassets' price stability mechanisms could carry systemic ramifications for other coins and protocols, as CoinMarketCap counts roughly 18.5 billion TerraUSD stablecoins in circulation. Said Kyle Samani at the Multicoin Capital investment firm, "The biggest losers from all of this will be retail [investors] that didn't understand the risks they were taking."

Full Article

Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That demonstrates the company's facial recognition software using a photo of himself. Face-Scanner Clearview Agrees to Limits in Court Settlement
Associated Press
Kathleen Foody; Matt O'Brien
May 9, 2022

Facial recognition company Clearview AI has agreed to limit the use of its facial image database to settle an American Civil Liberties Union-led lawsuit claiming it collected people's photos without their permission. The company said it will no longer sell access to the database to U.S.-based private businesses or individuals, which the plaintiffs alleged was in violation of Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act. One plaintiff, Chicago-based Mujeres Latinas en Acción, cited concerns that stalkers and other bad actors could use photos posted on social media—and converted into a "faceprint" by Clearview—to track people's locations and social activities. Clearview also will bar Illinois state government and local police departments from its database for five years, but will continue to offer its services to federal and to other law enforcement agencies, and government contractors outside of Illinois.

Full Article
2022 SIGGRAPH Conference
AI-Curated Custom Feeds by Subject

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]