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Welcome to the September 19, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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JavaScript No Longer Developers' Favorite Programming Language
Craig Hale
September 16, 2022

CircleCI's 2022 State of Software Delivery report found TypeScript has dethroned JavaScript as developers' most favored programming language. The company attributed the shift to TypeScript's developer-friendly features, such as allowing developers to detect smaller errors locally, and to commit working code more often than JavaScript. CircleCI also found Python's popularity held steady in fourth place, while HTML, Java, and PHP also made the top 10. "Elite software delivery teams are adopting developer-friendly tools and practices that allow them to automate, scale, and successfully embrace change when necessary," said CircleCI's Michael Stahnke.

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The FAST system measures tumor size regression. Engineers Develop Wearable to Monitor Tumor Size
Stanford News
Andrew Myers
September 16, 2022

Stanford University engineers have designed a wearable device that can measure the size of tumors. The researchers say the battery-powered Flexible Autonomous Sensor measuring Tumors (FAST) device can monitor cancer drug effectiveness with great accuracy. FAST uses a stretchable and flexible sensor embedded with gold circuitry and linked to a small electronic backpack to measure strain on the polymer membrane. The device can wirelessly transmit this data to a smartphone application in real time, and the backpack allows potential therapies connected to tumor size regression to be quickly ruled out or accelerated for further investigation.

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Clearview AI Now in Public Defenders' Hands
The New York Times
Kashmir Hill
September 18, 2022

Software company Clearview AI has started providing its facial recognition tool to public defenders after it cleared a man in Florida of vehicular homicide. The man's attorney used the tool to mine a database of 20 billion faces, and tracked down an individual who was able to corroborate his client's innocence. Clearview now offers free 30-day trials of its software to public defenders and government-contracted lawyers representing indigent clients. Yet critics are doubtful because the technology, mainly used by law enforcement agencies for criminal investigations, is mired in ethical and legal issues. Civil liberties advocates believe Clearview's database of photos collected without consent breaches privacy, an issue compounded by skepticism about automated facial recognition's accuracy and little transparency about its use by law enforcement.

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TUM scientist Leah Strand checks the technology that will complement vehicle perspective based on onboard sensor input, with a bird's-eye view of traffic conditions. Bird's-Eye View Improves Safety of Autonomous Driving
Technical University of Munich (Germany)
September 13, 2022

Researchers at Germany's Technical University of Munich (TUM) and industry partners claim to have enhanced the safety of autonomous driving with an overhead perspective of traffic as part of the Providentia++ project. Said TUM's Alois Knoll, "Using sensors on overhead sign bridges and masts, we have created a reliable real-time digital twin of the traffic situation on our test route that functions around the clock. With this system, we can now complement the vehicle's view with an external perspective—a bird's-eye view—and incorporate the behavior of other road users into decisions." Knoll said the concept “is working reliably in 24/7 operations and is suitable not only for highways, but also for secondary roads and around intersections.”

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The Canadian Space Agency Mars Exploration Science Rover in the field. Mars Rover, Drone Prototypes Brave Iceland Winds
Elizabeth Howell
September 12, 2022

This summer, prototype rovers and drones designed to operate on Mars were tested in high winds and other harsh environmental conditions in Iceland. Researchers from Canada's Western University used the vehicles to explore a lava flow. Western's Catherine Neish said sites like Iceland feature a variety of habitats that resemble extraterrestrial locales, including lava flows, glaciers, and mountains. Humans and robots surveyed the lava flow with a drone constructed by Honeybee Robotics and outfitted with a sample acquisition device, while drones from the University of Arizona and the Canadian Space Agency's Mars Exploration Science Rover also were present. The team piloted the robots and drones with online support from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

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Breakthrough Reported in ML-Enhanced Quantum Chemistry
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science
September 12, 2022

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory proposed a machine learning (ML) model that can accurately predict a broad range of molecular properties by incorporating additional mathematics of quantum mechanics. The model forecasts an effective Hamiltonian matrix using the positions of atoms within a molecule, defining possible electronic states and their associated energies. The ML-based scheme generates predictions at a lesser computational cost than traditional quantum chemistry simulations, and facilitates quantitatively precise predictions of material properties. The model also is more accurate than traditional ML models, and can make predictions that extend beyond its underlying training data.

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The Magneto-Optic Modulator
The Current (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Harrison Tasoff
September 16, 2022

An international team of scientists led by the University of California, Santa Barbara's Paolo Pintus has developed a device to help cryogenic computers communicate with room-temperature systems. The magneto-optic modulator converts data from electrical current into light pulses via a magnetic field, minimizing heat emissions as light travels through fiber-optic cables instead of electrical cables. The electric current generates a magnetic field that transforms the optical properties of a synthetic garnet, changing its refractive index so researchers can produce bright and dark pulses that carry data along the fiber-optic cable. "A device like this could enable seamless integration with cutting-edge technologies based on superconductors, for example," Pintus explained.

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BILL (Bot Initiated Longevity Lab), Nike's new robot-powered system for cleaning and repairing sneakers. Nike Sneaker-Cleaning Robot Looks Like Car Wash for Shoes
Leslie Katz
September 14, 2022

Footwear manufacturing company Nike says its Bot Initiated Longevity Lab (BILL) deep cleans and repairs sneakers. After loading a shoe, the system produces a three-dimensional digital model that ascertains which parts most need cleaning with brushes, while shoppers can choose patches of recyclable polyester to fix tears. BILL is undergoing a trial run at Nike Town London in the U.K., where customers can use it at no charge. Nike NXT's Noah Murphy-Reinhertz said, "People will go to great lengths to care for their favorite shoes. Repairing a product is a way to extend our memory with a product. We see BILL as a tool for being able to do that."

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Researchers used a standard 3D printer to produce an intricate map of Australia made of solid polymer electrolyte which was then tested as an energy storage device. 3D Printing Process Offers Novel Energy Storage Design Options
UNSW Sydney Newsroom (Australia)
Neil Martin
September 19, 2022

Researchers at Australia's University of New South Wales, Sydney (UNSW Sydney) have developed a three-dimensional (3D) printing process for shaping solid-state polymer electrolytes (SPEs) for energy storage. The SPEs consist of nano-scale ion-conducting channels embedded in a crosslinked polymer matrix, generated through polymerization-induced microphase separation. UNSW Sydney's Kenny Lee said the SPE has the potential to be a load-bearing energy storage material. "Because of its strength, it could be used as the actual structure of small electronics, or in aerospace applications, or in small personal medical devices, given our 3D printing process can be very intricate and precise," he added.

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'Dark Patterns' Fool People into Signing Up for Unwanted Services
Kyle Barr
September 15, 2022

A new report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosed that companies increasingly are using deceptive strategies to get users to relinquish their information, purchase unwanted products, or sign up for services they might not otherwise. Regulators said Websites are camouflaging ads and promotional messaging to entice users into buying services, while technology companies and online retailers trick users into enrolling in subscription services while hiding costs or charges, then make cancellation difficult. Such dark patterns include confusing users with complicated terms of service to conceal product limitations or junk fees attached to use.

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Contrast imaging data and machine learning approaches can now model the three-dimensional architecture of jaw musculature. From Analog to Digital
Show Me Mizzou
September 16, 2022

Casey Holliday and colleagues at the University of Missouri (MU) are using artificial intelligence (AI) to perform anatomical studies virtually, rather than through actual dissection. Holliday said AI can train computer programs to identify muscle fiber in images so researchers can build three-dimensional models to better understand how muscles collectively function in motor control. Holliday also said many current and former pupils are learning anatomy by using "cutting edge" imaging and modeling techniques designed by him and his colleagues. MU alumna Emily Lessner said digitization "makes our work shareable with other researchers to help hasten scientific advancement, and we can also share them with the public as educational and conservation tools."

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Walmart Rolls Out AR to Try on Clothing Virtually
Fast Company
Steven Melendez
September 15, 2022

Walmart has launched a new augmented reality feature that allows shoppers to virtually try on clothes. The Be Your Own Model tool uses machine learning technology originally developed for topographic mapping so customers can view how apparel will fit on their bodies, along with shadows, colors, and simulated fabric draping. Be Your Own Model runs on Walmart's iOS application, with shoppers able to upload photos to model the apparel on images of their bodies. Walmart's Cheryl Ainoa said the process is energy efficient so customers will not run down their phones' batteries.

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