Welcome to the March 11, 2019 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."

A patient getting eye scanned India Fights Diabetic Blindness With Help From AI
The New York Times
Cade Metz
March 10, 2019

The Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, is working with Google artificial intelligence (AI) scientists to automate the identification of diabetic retinopathy. The hospital is using the new AI system to screen patients, with plans to deploy the technology in surrounding villages where eye doctors are scarce. The system is based on a neural network analyzing millions of retinal scans indicating diabetic blindness so it can learn to identify the disease on its own. The Aravind installation employs wall-mounted computer screens in waiting rooms to translate information into the various languages spoken by patients; the system's performance reportedly equals that of trained ophthalmologists. However, Luke Oakden-Rayner, director of medical imaging research at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, warned, “On paper, the Google system performs very well, but when you roll it out to a huge population, there can be problems that do not show up for years.”

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
When Passion for Videogames Helps Land That Job
The Wall Street Journal
Sarah E. Needleman
March 6, 2019

Employers across a spectrum of industries are welcoming applicants with experience in making or playing videogames, believing such backgrounds can help workers with online collaboration, problem-solving, and other key workplace skills. For example, General Electric (GE) is hiring people with game development expertise to train robots to inspect hazardous areas via virtual reality technology, a role that GE's Ratnadeep Paul said "came out of the gaming industry." Although some people still regard gamers as socially maladroit, in recent years that assumption has been dispelled, partly due to increasingly popular online multiplayer games that encourage players to form teams and strategize via online text or voice communication. Said the Rochester Institute of Technology's Andrew Phelps, "What we used to stereotypically think of as a weird thing some folks did in their basement is now part of everyday life. Gaming has become a common touch point for people."

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration

NYPD analyst sitting speaking to the camera NYPD Says Its New Software Is Helping Analysts Track Crime Patterns More Quickly
The Los Angeles Times
Michael R. Sisak
March 10, 2019

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is using pattern-recognition software so analysts can compare robberies, larcenies, and thefts to hundreds of thousands of crimes logged in the department's database, finding matches faster than they would manually. The Patternizr algorithm was launched in December 2016, and NYPD assistant commissioner of data analytics Evan Levine said, "The more easily that we can identify patterns in...crimes, the more quickly we can identify and apprehend perpetrators." Levine and co-developer Alex Chohlas-Wood trained Patternizr on 10 years of patterns that the department had manually identified. Patternizr accurately reproduced old crime patterns a third of the time, and matched parts of patterns 80% of the time. The software compares factors like method of entry, type of goods stolen, and distance between crimes, and reduces possible racial bias by not counting the race of suspects when looking for patterns.

Full Article
Self-Driving Cars Risk 'Future Errors' Due to Difficulty Detecting Darker Skin Tones
Washington Times
Andrew Blake
March 7, 2019

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have found that state-of-the-art object-detection systems, such as the sensors and cameras used in self-driving cars, are better at detecting people with lighter skin tones, meaning they are less likely to identify black people and to stop before crashing into them. The researchers examined eight image recognition systems and found the bias in each one, with accuracy 5% lower on average for people with darker skin. The team proved the hypothesis by dividing a large pool of pedestrian images into groups of lighter and darker skin using the Fitzpatrick scale—a scientific way of classifying skin color. “This behavior suggests that future errors made by autonomous vehicles may not be evenly distributed across different demographic groups,” the researchers wrote.

Full Article
NSA Makes Ghidra, a Powerful Cybersecurity Tool, Open Source
Lily Hay Newman
March 5, 2019

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has chosen to open source the cybersecurity tool Ghidra, a reverse-engineering platform that takes "compiled," deployed software and "decompiles" it. Reverse engineering allows malware analysts and threat intelligence researchers to work backward from software discovered in the wild to understand how it works, what its capabilities are, and who wrote it. Said NSA cybersecurity advisor Rob Joyce, Ghidra was "built for our internal use at NSA" and "helped us address some things in our work flow." Joyce noted that the NSA views the release of Ghidra as a recruiting strategy, allowing new hires to enter the agency at a higher level or contractors to provide expertise without having to first come up to speed on the tool. Added Dave Aitel, a former NSA researcher who is now chief security technology officer at Cyxtera, "Malware authors already know how to make it annoying to reverse their code. There's really no downside [to releasing Ghidra]."

Full Article

Women holding up handmade signs Technology Brings Rugged Iditarod Race to Global Audience
Associated Press
Rachel D'Oro; Mark Thiessen
March 8, 2019

Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race uses technology so organizers and fans worldwide can monitor the sport in real time. This year's race has 51 contenders traveling between remote village checkpoints across the 1,000-mile (1,600-km) route, tracked electronically by operators in Anchorage hotels. Volunteers and race contractors monitor the dog teams via sleds outfitted with global-positioning system (GPS) trackers, which let fans follow them online while organizers ensure no one is missing. Some operators function as aircraft dispatchers for pilots who ferry supplies, as well as competitors and dogs that drop out; others process live video streamed from checkpoints, using satellite dishes. Still others oversee race-standing updates broadcast through equipment first tested last year, making it possible to activate a super-size hot spot in the most remote locations with satellite links.

Full Article

Vaccine researchers in a lab Computer-Designed Vaccine Elicits Potent Antibodies to RSV
UW Medicine
Leila Gray
March 7, 2019

International researchers have computer-designed a nanoparticle vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an infection caught by nearly all children under three, which is the leading cause of pneumonia in babies under a year old in the U.S. Computationally-designed protein nanoparticles enable significantly greater control over key vaccine properties, including overall size, stability, and the number of antigens presented to the immune system. University of Washington (UW) researchers said the vaccine based on the DS-Cav1 protein yielded 10 times more potency than DS-Cav1 alone. UW's Neil King said, "We believe that computationally-designed nanoparticle vaccines will ultimately be simpler to manufacture and more effective than traditional vaccines. We will continue to develop this technology so that we and others can make new vaccines better, cheaper, and faster."

Full Article
EPFL Researchers Simulate the Process of Adhesive Wear
EPFL (Switzerland)
March 8, 2019

Researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne's (EPFL) Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory (LSMS) in Switzerland used high-performance computer simulations to observe how surface roughness changes when two materials rub together. The findings, which provide insight into friction and wear mechanisms, have implications for areas ranging from engineering to the study of tectonic faults. The researchers were able to numerically simulate how surface roughness changes over time. Said Enrico Milanese, a Ph.D. student in the LSMS: “We used high-performance computer simulations to track the change in surface morphology in 2D (two-dimensional) materials." The simulations showed that contact between two surfaces always generates a wear debris particle, which is then forced to roll between the two surfaces, wearing them down.”

Full Article

A man with a bag standing in front of a screen showing himself These Cameras Can Spot Shoplifters Even Before They Steal
Lisa Du; Ayaka Maki
March 4, 2019

Japanese startup Vaak has developed artificial intelligence (AI) software that looks for potential shoplifters on video surveillance footage. The software searches for indicators such as fidgeting, restlessness, and other potentially suspicious body language. Last year, Vaak helped catch a shoplifter at a convenience store in Yokohama, Japan. The startup had set up its software in the shop as a test case, and was able to identify previously undetected shoplifting activity. The ability to detect and analyze unusual human behavior also has other applications. Vaak is developing a video-based self-checkout system, and wants to use the video to collect information on how consumers interact with items in the store to help shops display products more effectively. The software could also be used in public spaces to detect other kinds of suspicious behavior.

Full Article
New Intel CPU Vulnerability Bodes Well For AMD
Ken Kam
March 5, 2019

Researchers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Lubeck in Germany have discovered that Intel processors are vulnerable to a cyberattack, nicknamed Spoiler, to which AMD processors are immune. Spoiler can victimize users through a JavaScript on a malicious website, which then enables access to the user's passwords, encryption keys, and other data stored in memory. In January 2018, when the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities were revealed, Intel said it was an industry-wide problem, implying that Intel processors were equally susceptible as AMD’s. However, in the case of Spoiler, the researchers tested AMD processors and found them to be immune, giving AMD an advantage over Intel. While Intel is likely to try to develop a software patch for Spoiler, the researchers say that is cannot be patched easily with microcode without a loss in performance, so changes to Intel's chip architecture also will be required.

Full Article
Researchers Develop 'Smart House' to Study Mouse Behavior
James Ives
March 8, 2019

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in the U.K. have developed a "smart house" to study the behavior of mice with minimal disturbance for up to 18 months. The "Autonomouse" system improves animal welfare, while concurrently augmenting the efficiency and reliability of research findings. Groups of mice co-habit an enriched environment with running wheels, ladders, and unlimited access to food and water. Each mouse is outfitted with a microchip to monitor its activity levels, weight, and water consumption; the chip also serves as an identity pass to access training, and records data from learning tasks. Explained the Institute’s Andreas Schaefer, "We want to understand how the brain works, and for that we need to measure behavior. In mice, this is normally done in a very manual and laborious way, which limits the amount of questions we can ask, so we thought of a more efficient way of doing this by getting animals to train themselves."

Full Article
Asian Deans' Forum 2019
Author's Rights

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]