Welcome to the October 26, 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."
Self-Driving Car Dilemmas Reveal That Moral Choices Are Not Universal
Amy Maxmen
October 24, 2018

The largest-ever multinational survey on machine ethics found many moral precepts that guide a driver's decisions are not universal, creating a dilemma in developing rules for autonomous vehicles. The Moral Machine poll outlined 13 scenarios in which a death was unavoidable, with respondents asked to choose whose life to save under variable circumstances. Regardless of respondents' age, gender, or home country, most spared humans over pets, and groups over individuals. However, broken down by prevailing religious trends, nations where Christianity is more prominent tended to favor sacrificing older lives to save younger ones, versus countries with strong Confucian or Islamic traditions. Income and social inequality also impacted drivers' decisions throughout the survey pool. The survey's authors say these findings define cultural subtleties that governments and self-driving car manufacturers must account for if autonomous vehicles are to gain public acceptance.

Full Article
County Election Websites Can Be Easily Spoofed to Spread Misinformation
Dark Reading
Jai Vijayan
October 25, 2018

A study of county election websites in 20 states by McAfee showed that many lack even basic cybersecurity measures and could leave voters vulnerable to misinformation. Threat researchers at McAfee found that many county sites used .com domains, though .gov domains are required to be thoroughly vetted as being official sites. The states with the highest percentage of non-.gov domains for county election sites were Minnesota (95.4%), Texas (95%), and Michigan (91.2%). Meanwhile, the states with the highest percentage of sites that did not enforce the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates were West Virginia, Texas, and Montana. McAfee chief technology officer Steve Grobman said in a blog, "SSL is one of the most basic forms of cyber hygiene, and something we expect all sites requiring confidentiality or data integrity to have at a minimum. The fact that these websites are lacking in the absolute basics of cyber hygiene is troubling."

Full Article
Ford CTO Tests Quantum Computing's Potential Power
The Wall Street Journal
Sara Castellanos
October 22, 2018

Ford Motor Co. has been collaborating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Silicon Valley since July and recently hired a quantum physicist, joining other automotive companies in exploring the potential applications of quantum computing in the auto industry. As part of the partnership, Ford and NASA researchers are using a quantum computer from D-Wave Systems Inc. for experiments like determining how quantum computing could optimize delivery routes to better manage fuel consumption, or helping to discover new materials that could improve the structure of batteries for electric vehicles. Ford chief technology officer Ken Washington said, "We need to get smart about quantum computing, figure out who we need to partner with, and understand what problems it might apply to. All of these are open questions for us."

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration

tiny drones opening a door Tiny Drones Team Up to Open Doors
IEEE Spectrum
Jeremy Hsu
October 24, 2018

Researchers at Stanford University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, have developed palm-sized drones that can forcefully tug objects 40 times their own mass by anchoring themselves to the ground or to walls. The researchers based the drones on predatory wasps, which drag large prey back to their nests. Each FlyCroTug drone has a specialized attachment at the end of a long cable that can be extended and then pulled back in through a winch. The drones can use this feature to attach one end of the cable to an object, fly away, land somewhere else, and anchor themselves before hauling the heavy object toward them. Stanford’s Matt Estrada said the technology “could certainly be combined with some low-level autonomy for maneuvers such as holding a position or grappling a handle.”

Full Article

exascale computer, illustration 3 Chinese Teams Join Race to Build the World's Fastest Supercomputer
Dennis Normile
October 24, 2018

Three teams in China are vying to build a supercomputer with a desired speed of 1 exaflop. Prototypes at the National Supercomputer Center of Tianjin, the National Supercomputing Center in Jinan, and Dawning Information Industry Co. all run in the range of 3 petaflops; China's Ministry of Science and Technology will likely choose two prototypes for exascale expansion by year's end. The National Supercomputer Center of Tianjin's Meng Xiangfei says the competition ensures broad technological innovation in computer chips, operating software, networking, and data storage. Scaling up the prototypes entails interconnecting sufficient central processing units and accelerators to reach an exaflop, as well as upgrading liquid cooling systems and perfecting the operating software needed for the massively parallel arrangement of processors to work together. Chinese groups have won the ACM Gordon Bell Prize for the last two years for high-performance computing advancements in science, engineering, and large-scale data analytics.

Full Article

Bible Bible Helps AI Gain in Translation
Leslie D'Monte
October 24, 2018

Dartmouth College researchers say the Bible can be used to improve computer-based text translation. The team used the Bible's approximately 31,000 verses to produce 1.5 million unique pairings of source and target verses for machine learning training sets. They developed an algorithm and trained it on different versions of the Bible, resulting in a system that converts written works into different styles for different audiences. The team used 34 stylistically distinct versions varying in linguistic complexity, with texts fed into a statistical machine translation algorithm called "Moses," and a commonly used neural network framework called "Seq2Seq." Said Dartmouth's Keith Carlson, "The English-language Bible comes in many different written styles, making it the perfect source text to work with for style translation."

Full Article

A Stanford computer scientist walking with a robot called JackRabbot at the university. What Comes After the Roomba?
The New York Times
John Markoff
October 21, 2018

In the 16 years since iRobot introduced the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, there have been numerous failed attempts to create more sophisticated home robotic products, with roboticists and artificial intelligence researchers coming to the conclusion that the things humans do without thinking are the most difficult for machines to accomplish. Despite recent breakthroughs in machine learning, many researchers believe it will take several more technological developments before robots can become adept at moving and performing tasks in a home. Stanford roboticists are developing a next-generation robot with the potential to work in the home, but computer scientist Silvio Savarese said it is still difficult for robots to get around a house, even without stairs. However, University of California at Berkeley roboticist Ken Goldberg said, "Picking things off the floor is within reach if we can get the price of the arm down."

Full Article
*May Require Free Registration
Bot Disguised as a Human Software Developer Fixes Bugs
Technology Review
October 23, 2018

Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden have developed a software bot that can find bugs in code and write patches with effectiveness comparable to that of human developers. The Repairnator bot aims to automatically generate patches that repair build failures, show those patches to developers, and convince them to accept the patches as valid contributions to the code base. The KTH researchers disguised the bot as a human developer and allowed it to compete with humans to develop patches on GitHub. One test ran from February to December 2017, with Repairnator working on 14,188 projects, performing approximately 30 repair attempts daily; the bot analyzed more than 11,500 builds with failures, and was able to reproduce the failure in more than 3,000 cases, and to develop a patch in 15 cases. A second experiment yielded five patches that human moderators accepted into builds.

Full Article
Charlotte, Austin Outrank San Francisco in Study of Best Places to Work in Tech
The Washington Post
Hamza Shaban
October 23, 2018

Charlotte, NC, is the best U.S. city for technology professionals to live and work, according to a recent Computing Technology Industry Association study that ranked locations based on job openings, projected growth, and cost of living. Following Charlotte in the tech labor market study were Raleigh, NC; Austin, TX; San Jose, CA, and San Francisco. Charlotte ranked highest on the list because it has a median tech industry salary of $87,755, but a cost of living that is 1.3% lower than the national average. In comparison, the median information technology salary in San Jose is $122,242, and $110,448 in San Francisco, but these cities have a cost of living that is 44% and 64% higher than the national average, respectively. The study was based on tech industry job listings posted over the past year in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration

MIT’s cryptographic system. Cryptographic Protocol Enables Greater Collaboration in Drug Discovery
MIT News
Rob Matheson
October 18, 2018

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a cryptographic system that can help neural networks identify promising drug candidates' pharmacological datasets, while keeping data private. A team of researchers in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) securely trained and tested a neural network on a dataset of more than 1 million drug-target interactions (DTIs). The network leveraged state-of-the-art cryptographic tools and optimization techniques to keep the input data private, while operating at scale. The researchers demonstrated that the network can process massive datasets in days, while other cryptographic frameworks would take months. The network also identified new DTIs that could have clinical significance. Said CSAIL principal investigator Bonnie Berger, “With this work, we provide a way for these entities to efficiently pool and analyze their data at a very large scale.”

Full Article

A vehicle maneuvered into a parking space by a tiny neural network. Parking a Car With Only 12 Neurons
Technische Universitat Wien
Florian Aigner
October 22, 2018

Researchers at TU Wein in Vienna, Austria collaborated with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the development of a new approach for programming neural networks, which models the time evolution of nerve signals in a completely different way. The approach, inspired by the roundworm C. elegans, simulated neural circuits from the worm's nervous system, then adapted the model with machine learning algorithms, enabling it to solve challenging tasks with a small number of simulated nerve cells. Said TU Wein’s Ramin Hasani, “This is an architecture that can capture sequences, because it makes neurons remember what happened previously.”

Full Article

Staff work wearing the automaker’s Hyundai Chairless Exoskeleton assistive robot Hyundai Brings Wearable Robotics to Factories
Korea JoongAng Daily
Kim Jee-Hee
October 23, 2018

The Hyundai Motor Group plans to expand the use of wearable robots at its manufacturing facilities, even as it aims to grow robotics as a source of revenue. The company has been using its North American factory as a testbed for its Hyundai Chairless Exoskeleton (H-CEX), an assistive robot for employees who must remain in a seated position through the day. The H-CEX reduces the use of waist and lower-body muscles by 80%, lowering the fatigue resulting from being in a seated position for a long period of time. Other automakers also plan to implement exoskeletons into their assembly lines; Ford has tested an upper-body assisting wearable, and BMW and Audi are developing wearable aids for factory workers. BIS Research predicts the worldwide wearable robot market will grow from $96 million in 2016 to $4.65 billion in 2026.

Full Article

A child wearing goggles to perform Virtual Eye Rotation Vision Exercises (VERVE) that employs VR games to correct an eye motor disorder. NJIT Vision Therapy Team Wins 'Most Innovative' in Worldwide VR Competition
New Jersey Institute of Technology
October 21, 2018

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) researchers won two awards for their vision therapy platform at the 2018 Augmented World Expo Europe in Munich, Germany, including "most innovative breakthrough." NJIT’s VERGE (Virtual Eye Rotation Vision Exercises) project employs virtual reality (VR) games to correct an eye motor disorder called convergence insufficiency, in which the muscles that control eye movements do not coordinate to focus on nearby objects. The system integrates two devices—a functional near-infrared spectroscopy imaging machine and a video-based eye-tracking system—that together detect how changes in brain activity following an injury correspond to changes in eye movements. Said NJIT's Judith Sheft, "The...Awards are a validation of the tremendous progress the team has made in melding skills from multiple disciplines—engineering, information technology, digital design—to address critical vision disorders using [augmented reality]/VR technology."

Full Article

A woman working at a computer. 'Geek Girl' Gamers More Likely to Study Science, Technology
University of Surrey
October 18, 2018

Researchers at Surrey University in the U.K. found that all of the girls in a study who were already pursuing physical science, technology, engineering, or math (PSTEM) degrees were gamers, and that 13- to 14-year-old girls who played video games more than nine hours a week were three times more likely to pursue PSTEM degrees compared to their non-gaming peers. The researchers determined this trend does not extend to boys in the same age range, since a similar number of gamers exist in that cohort regardless of degree type. The researchers believe identifying and targeting certain female groups early could encourage more to study PSTEM in higher education settings and beyond. Surrey's Anesa Hosein said it makes sense, "in the short-term, that educators seeking to encourage more take-up of PSTEM subjects should target girl gamers, as they already may have a natural interest in these subjects."

Full Article
The Sparse Fourier Transform
ACM Conferences

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]