Welcome to the April 8, 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."

An image of a man with Amazon Alexa Amazon Alexa Launches First HIPAA-Compliant Medical Skills
Sarah Perez
April 4, 2019

Amazon has announced a program under which it is inviting select voice-app developers to create and launch healthcare skills for its Alexa virtual assistant that are compliant with the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Only select covered entities and business associates subject to HIPAA will be invited to the program, with Amazon itself providing the HIPAA-eligible environment for skill building. Accepted applicants will be allowed to use the Alexa Skills Kit, which currently supports skills that are able to transmit and receive protected health data. With the added skills, Alexa would be able to assist consumers in tasks like booking doctor appointments, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, and checking on the status of prescription deliveries.

Full Article
Australian Regulators Cautiously Embrace AI to Boost Compliance
Financial Times
Jamie Smyth
April 8, 2019

Australian regulators are cautiously using artificial intelligence (AI) to address criticism about a lack of compliance across that nation’s financial sector. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is funding studies to explore how natural language processing technology could spot misconduct and improve regulation of the sector. One pilot program entails the deployment of software to examine financial planning documentation, online promotions, and ads to guarantee they do not include problematic advice or violate rules. Separately, AI will be used to track and screen conversations between insurance agents and consumers to detect potential "hard sell" tactics or non-compliance with disclosure regulations.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration

The Hyundai logo Hyundai Motor, Tencent Tie Up to Develop Self-Driving Car Software
Hyonhee Shin; Hyunjoo Jin; Norihiko Shirouzu
April 6, 2019

South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor has signed a preliminary agreement with Chinese technology company Tencent Holdings to develop software for driverless vehicles. The partners will conduct joint research and development on safety and security systems for self-driving cars, which Hyundai hopes to launch commercially by 2030. The companies also are investigating ways to use Tencent's WeChat messaging app in developing China-targeted car models. Hyundai has been forging partnerships with self-driving technology and social media businesses, as part of its plan to roll out highly automated vehicles by 2020 and fully autonomous vehicles by 2030. Meanwhile, affiliate Hyundai Mobis in March signed an agreement with Russia's premier search engine, Yandex, to together develop control systems for autonomous vehicles.

Full Article
Microsoft: Our Bug Bounty Payouts Hit $2 Million in 2018, and We're Offering More in 2019
Liam Tung
April 4, 2019

Microsoft is revamping its Microsoft Bounty Program after awarding external security researchers more than $2 million in 2018. The company is delegating the payment-processing aspect of its bug bounty to HackerOne, promising that the new partnership will result in faster bounty payments and more payment options, including PayPal, cryptocurrency, and direct bank transfers in over 30 currencies. However, Microsoft is retaining control over all other aspects of the program, such as receiving reports, assessing the severity of bugs, and determining the value of a payout. HackerOne will not receive any details about bugs from Microsoft beyond the award amount, case number, and case severity. Microsoft also will speed up payments for bugs found in its Cloud, Windows, and Azure DevOps programs by paying researchers after it has reproduced and assessed a submission, rather than waiting until a fix has been determined.

Full Article
Goldman Sachs Wants to Pay Students $100,000 to Tackle Wall Street's Technology Challenges
Hugh Son
April 3, 2019

Goldman Sachs has started accepting applications for a new one-year program that will pay student computer engineers $100,000 to tackle "commercially oriented" research challenges ranging from machine learning to data visualization to trading strategies. Accepted applicants will be able to access the investment bank's application programming interfaces (APIs). Goldman also is releasing some of its code to the GitHub software development platform. The bank hopes program participants will engineer tools to browse financial products, or a recommendation engine for institutional research. The initiative aligns with Goldman's ultimate goal of having its systems underpin more of the world's financial software, as bank executive Adam Korn explains: "We'd rather be the railroad than to try and own every single train that goes on the rails."

Full Article
Hackers Beat University Cyber-Defenses in Two Hours
BBC News
Sean Coughlan
April 3, 2019

Ethical hackers conducted simulated cyberattacks on U.K. university defenses, and were able to successfully access "high-value" information within two hours. The hackers working for Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee), the Internet service provider for U.K. universities and research institutions, had a 100% success rate in penetrating cyber-defenses. One of the most effective strategies was spear-phishing, in which hackers hid malware and other attack tools in emails that appeared to be from trusted senders. Jisc's John Chapman said based on the hackers' test results, "We are not confident that all U.K. universities are equipped with adequate cybersecurity knowledge, skills, and investment." The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center warned of foreign governments interested in targeting universities to steal intellectual property, as well as "great technological advantage."

Full Article
How to Efficiently Dismantle Networks
ETH Zurich
Florian Meyer
April 4, 2019

Researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have examined how network dismantling could help contain the global spread of viruses through air transport more cost-effectively. One protective measure that is often discussed would be to close the biggest airport hubs and put them under quarantine. However, the researchers showed that there is a less radical and more effective way to achieve the same level of protection, while affecting far fewer passengers. The researchers found that it would cost four times less to close down a few medium-sized airports first instead of the largest hubs. This method would be equally as effective in containing the spread of a virus. The researchers studied this scenario for Europe, North America, and Asia as parts of the worldwide air traffic network, and showed that the closure of medium-sized airports would affect only 6% of global air passengers, while closing the largest hubs would affect 25%. The researchers determined which airports to close using the "dismantling problem," which determines the nodes that need to be deactivated or removed from a network in order to disrupt the malfunctioning of a system.

Full Article

A portrait of Vitaly Kamluk, a cybersecurity and malware expert There Are Probably Cameras on Your Flight, but Relax, They're Not On (Yet)
The New York Times
Christine Negroni
April 2, 2019

U.S.-based airlines have been asked to respond to reports of cameras installed in airplane seat backs, including whether airlines have used them to monitor passengers and whether passengers have been informed of this practice. The airlines say the cameras are not currently operational, but are part of a new generation of systems offered by Panasonic and Thales, two of the biggest airline entertainment system manufacturers. Panasonic Chief Technology Officer David Bartlett says the devices allow passengers to have the same kind of interactive technology on board the plane that they do on the ground. The Airline Passenger Experience Association, a non-profit whose membership includes airlines, industry suppliers, media groups, and “related aviation industry leaders,” said its members were committed to obtaining “advance explicit customer permission” before using the cameras.

Full Article
Advance Boosts Efficiency of Flash Storage in Datacenters
MIT News
Rob Matheson
April 2, 2019

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed LightStore, a flash-storage system that could reduce by 50% the energy and physical space required for data storage. LightStore modifies sold-state drives (SSDs) to connect directly to a datacenter's network and to support computationally simpler and more efficient data storage operations. Additional software and hardware innovations seamlessly integrate the system into existing datacenter infrastructure. The researchers found a cluster of four storage nodes ran twice as efficiently as traditional storage servers, as measured by the power needed to field data requests. The cluster also required less than half the physical space occupied by existing servers. MIT’s Arvind described the system as “a simpler, cheaper storage solution … that’s going to take half as much space and half the power, yet provide the same throughput capacity performance. That will help you in operational expenditure, as it consumes less power, and capital expenditure, because energy savings in datacenters translate directly to money savings.”

Full Article
Toyota Robot Can't Slam Dunk, but Shoots a Mean 3-Pointer
The Washington Post
Yuri Kageyama
April 1, 2019

Researchers at Toyota Motor have developed a six-foot, 10-inch-tall robot that can make free throws and three-point shots on a basketball court. The Cue 3 robot computes the basket’s location as a three-dimensional image using sensors on its torso, and adjusts motors inside its arm and knees to give the shot the correct angle and propulsion to go through the hoop. Robots that can mimic human movements, even doing them better in some cases, could prove useful in various ways, including picking crops, making deliveries, and working in factories or warehouses. Said Stanford University’s Oussama Khatib, "What Toyota is doing here is really bringing the top capabilities in perception with the top capabilities in control to have robots perform something that is really challenging."

Full Article
How Gaming Technology May Help Taxi Drivers in Japan
The Wall Street Journal
Takashi Mochizuki
April 1, 2019

Tokyo, Japan-based DeNA has developed a program to direct cruising taxi drivers to streets where they are most likely to find customers. The platform is different from other technologies that aim to connect drivers and customers because it provides personalized verbal guidance, as if a long-time cab driver was giving advice on where fares are likely to be standing and what rival drivers may be doing to get there first. DeNA developed the app from its experience running multiplayer online video games, in which each player responds to the actions of others who are constantly moving. In addition, the DeNA program draws on data from partner companies about nearby taxis to make rapid judgments tailored to a specific driver that can be updated quickly. Said DeNA engineer Kazutaka Era, "Making sure it's reliable and timely even when the number of vehicles wanting to receive the data increases a lot—that is what game companies do when running online games."

Full Article

A Mars incubator design NASA Announces Three Finalists in Its Martian Habitat Design Competition
The Daily Mail
James Pero
April 1, 2019

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced three finalists in a competition in which participants must imagine sustainable dwellings that can be three-dimensionally (3D) printed on Mars. The finalists, chosen out of a pool of 11 candidates, were scored on "architectural layout, programming, efficient use of interior space, and the 3D-printing scalability and constructability of the habitat." The teams, which split a $100,000 prize pool for being named finalists, will now compete in a final showdown with a prize pool of $800,000; the final competition phase is scheduled to take place next month. The topic of exploring Mars has gained traction, attracting not only NASA but the likes of private aerospace companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Full Article

An algorithm that rates the quality of embryo AI Could Scan IVF Embryos to Help Make Babies More Quickly
Megan Molteni
April 4, 2019

Cornell University researchers have trained a commercially available Google deep learning algorithm to grade in-vitro fertilization embryos, based on the likelihood that each would successfully implant. The scientists compiled videos of fully anonymized embryos captured by a time-lapse imaging system that could each be freeze-framed and fed into the STORK neural network. To compare STORK's performance to that of humans, the researchers had five embryologists grade 394 embryos as good, fair, or poor, based on images from different laboratories. The researchers applied a majority voting procedure, in which three out of five embryologists needed to agree to classify an embryo's grade. STORK's image analysis predicted the embryologist majority voting decision with 95.7% accuracy.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Asian Deans' Forum 2019
ACM Distinguished Speakers Program

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]