Welcome to the August 29, 2018 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."
NSF Proposes $25 Million in Grants to Set Up Quantum Foundries
Carten Cordell
August 27, 2018

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has set up new grants to support the development of quantum technology, pledging $25 million in funding to foundries that will produce components essential to advancing its applications. The Convergent Accelerated Discovery Foundries for Quantum Materials Science, Engineering, and Information (Q-AMASE-i) program will allocate the funding as part of a cooperative agreement to establish research facilities where industry can partner with universities to accelerate development of novel quantum devices using materials science and rapid prototyping. The NSF says, "Of particular interest are new materials and device structures for transport of charge and spin, including valleytronics, spintronics, and low-power electronics." The agency also says grant recipients will work to advance a range of quantum-related topics, including "transformative breakthrough fundamental research; novel materials, tools, devices, algorithms, and simulations integrated with industrial technologies; quantum systems research; new application domains; and the next generation of a highly-trained workforce."

Full Article

Minority woman seated on stairs holding laptop Female, Minority Students Took AP Computer Science in Record Numbers
USA Today
Ryan Suppe
August 27, 2018

Participation by female, African-American, and Latino students and students in rural areas in Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses boomed this year as the College Board drew more students to an introductory course designed to expand access to highly prized technology skills. Code.org estimates that African-American students taking AP computer science courses climbed 44% to 7,301, Hispanic and Latino participation increased 41% to 20,954, and female enrollment rose 39% to 38,195. The College Board says 135,992 students took AP computer science exams this year, marking a 31% gain from last year. Meanwhile, the rural student population taking AP computer science exams surged 42% to 14,184. Said Code.org founder and CEO Hadi Partovi, “Our society is rewriting every industry using computer science, and we shouldn’t limit participation in that only to a lucky few."

Full Article

Robotic dog with red ball Robotic Guide Dog Leads Arizona State University Team to 1st Prize at Intel Cup
Erik Wirtanen
August 21, 2018

Arizona State University students' robotic guide dog received first prize at the 2018 Intel Cup Undergraduate Electronic Design Contest in Shanghai, China. The team also designed the prototype for a motorized wheelchair that visually impaired individuals can use with the guide dog. The robot uses communication protocols such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as a specialized behavioral algorithm and Amazon's Alexa technology to understand verbal commands. A camera on the robot's head captures the surrounding environment, with images fed to the wheelchair's computer and processed through visual recognition and object-filtering systems. As that data is transmitted to the computer, a user can speak a command to Alexa, which is received by a laptop and placed within a visual Internet of Things/robotics programming language environment. Based on that information and the command given, instructions are sent back to the wheelchair and to the guide dog to decide the appropriate movement.

Full Article

Facial transformations. Lip-Syncing Thanks to Artificial Intelligence
Max Planck Institute for Informatics (Germany)
August 27, 2018

An international team led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany has developed a system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to edit the facial expressions of actors in a film to accurately match dubbed voices. Max Planck's Hyeongwoo Kim says the Deep Video Portraits system uses model-based three-dimensional face performance capture to record the detailed movements and head position of the dubbing actor, then transposes these movements onto the "target" actor to accurately synchronize the lips and facial movements. Max Planck's Christian Theobalt says the technology "enables us to modify the appearance of a target actor by transferring head pose, facial expressions, and eye motion with a high level of realism." The technique could significantly reduce the time and expense of dubbing films, and to correct the gaze and head pose of videoconference participants to simulate a natural conversation setting.

Full Article
Researchers Propose New Method for Secure, Speech-Based Two-Factor Authentication
UAB News
Tiffany Westry Womack
August 23, 2018

Two-factor authentication is possible with wearable devices using a method developed by University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers Nitesh Saxena and Prakash Shrestha. They say the Listening-Watch system offers a more secure, minimal interaction process using a device such as a smartwatch or activity tracker, and browser-generated random speech sounds. Saxena says Listening-Watch "uses random code encoded into speech to withstand remote attackers." The deployment involves an application installed on the wearable, with push messages that trigger recording and decoding speech sounds played by the browser. When a user tries logging in, the browser of the primary device plays back a short random code encoded into human speech, and the login is successful if the watch's audio recording contains the same code and is similar enough to the browser's audio recording; speech is decoded via voice recognition.

Full Article
STEM Worker Shortage at a Crisis, Survey Shows
U.S. News & World Report
Sintia Radu
August 23, 2018

Forty percent of Americans say the U.S. science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) worker shortage is at a crisis level, according to the fourth annual STEM survey conducted by Missouri-based technology and engineering firm Emerson, which polled 2,000 people. The survey found today’s students are twice as likely to study in STEM fields as their parents were, and 52% of parents think there will be an increasing number of STEM jobs in the U.S. over the next decade. Emerson's Kathy Button Bell says, "The jobs in STEM will pay better and we need to be encouraging people right now, especially at college and high school age, to get those skills because we need positions filled." Respondents also doubted there are enough opportunities for U.S. students to gain STEM skills, with only 30% saying teachers have the resources necessary to provide STEM education to students.

Full Article
These Friendly Helpful Robots Will Likely Be Your Future Rehabilitation Partners
Interesting Engineering
Mario L. Major
August 20, 2018

A study by researchers at Freiburg University in Germany found that socially assistive robots (SARs) will be used increasingly in the future. In response, the researchers outlined principles of effective SAR design to improve the technology's effectiveness. SARs today typically are used to assist people with cognitive disabilities, people who require rehabilitation, and aging or elderly patients. In a previous study, the researchers defined the most important components for effective SAR design as the robot's physical embodiment; personality; empathy; relative engagement with patients; adaptation (learning from an environment and quickly implementing those lessons), and transfer of long-term behavioral changes. The researchers say those involved in SAR design must continue to discuss ways to improve the patient experience.

Full Article

Young boy seated on couch with video game controller Mind-Reading Video Game Helps Children With ADHD Concentrate Better
New Scientist
Alice Klein
August 24, 2018

Researchers at the Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School have created a video game in which players control a screen avatar via a headband fitted with electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors that monitor electrical brain activity. The researchers aim to use the CogoLand game system to improve focus in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A machine learning algorithm interprets EEG signals received by the headband and uses those signals to allow players to mentally guide the avatar around the screen. The game rewards concentration by making the avatar run faster and collect more tokens when the headband detects the player is focusing harder. The researchers tested the game on 18 children with ADHD, and found at the end of the study the participants showed greater improvements in an attention test than another cohort of children with ADHD who did not play the game.

Full Article

A Russian Bot Bots, Russian Trolls Influenced Vaccine Discussion on Twitter
George Washington University
August 23, 2018

Social media bots and Russian trolls spread discord and misinformation about vaccines on Twitter, according to a study led by George Washington University (GWU) researchers. The researchers analyzed thousands of Tweets sent between July 2014 and September 2017 and uncovered accounts, and marketing and malware bots, that skewed online health communications. Those Twitter accounts are now known to be controlled by the same Russian trolls who meddled in the 2016 U.S. election. GWU's David Broniatowski says, "Many anti-vaccine Tweets come from accounts whose provenance is unclear. These might be bots, human users, or 'cyborgs'—hacked accounts that are sometimes taken over by bots." The researchers cite one category of bot accounts—"content polluters" that distribute malware, unsolicited commercial content, and disruptive materials—that shared anti-vaccination messages 75% more frequently than average Twitter users.

Full Article
Emirati Researcher Develops Groundbreaking Algorithm to Share Data Without Breaching Privacy
The National (United Arab Emirates)
Anam Rizvi
August 23, 2018

Abdelrahman AlMahmoud at Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates has developed an algorithm that enables vast amounts of data to be analyzed without breaching security via a process called privacy preserving analysis. By examining specific sections of encrypted data, the process allows users to share data with one another without risking theft or decryption. AlMahmoud says participants agree on their data analysis goals, and the data is prepared to preserve necessary properties while remaining encrypted. AlMahmoud and his colleagues have tested the application in several practical scenarios, proving its effectiveness in each situation. Says Khalifa University’s Ernesto Damiani, “We hope our invention will provide a simple, standard way to encode data so it can be shared for performing computations that will benefit the entire community, without compromising the data owner's confidentiality.”

Full Article
ACM Digital Library

Association for Computing Machinery

2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701
New York, NY 10121-0701

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]