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Welcome to the October 9, 2020 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

Please note: In observance of the U.S. Columbus Day holiday, TechNews will not be published on Monday, October 12. Publication will resume on Wednesday, October 14.

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Kazem Cheshmi, Madhurima Vardhan, and Keren Zhou ACM Names Recipients of 2020 ACM-IEEE CS George Michael Memorial HPC Fellowships
October 8, 2020

ACM has named Kazem Cheshmi of Canada's University of Toronto, Duke University's Madhurima Vardhan, and Rice University's Keren Zhou to receive the 2020 ACM-IEEE CS George Michael Memorial HPC (High-Performance Computing) Fellowships. Cheshmi was selected for his work in developing Sympiler, a domain-specific compiler that generates high-performance codes for sparse numerical methods, and processes complex matrix computations derived from vast datasets. Vardhan was recognized for her development of a memory-light massively parallel computational fluid dynamic algorithm using routine clinical datasets to enable high-fidelity simulations at ultrahigh resolutions. Zhou was named to receive the award for his design of performance tools for GPU (graphics-processing unit)-accelerated applications.

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UNSW Scientists Create Quietest Semiconductor Quantum Bits on Record
University of New South Wales Sydney Newsroom
October 9, 2020

Researchers at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney have achieved the lowest recorded charge noise level for a semiconducting quantum bit (qubit) in a silicon chip. UNSW Sydney's Ludwik Kranz said, "By optimizing the fabrication process of the silicon chip, we achieved a noise level 10 times lower than previously recorded." The researchers reduced impurities in the silicon chip and positioned the atoms away from the surface and interfaces, the source of most noise. UNSW Sydney's Michelle Simmons said, "Our results continue to show that silicon is a terrific material to host qubits. With our ability to engineer every aspect of the qubit environment, we are systematically proving that atom qubits in silicon are reproducible, fast and stable.”

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example of 3D-printed objects encoded with magnetic fields Here Comes the Internet of Plastic Things, No Batteries or Electronics Required
IEEE Spectrum
Dexter Johnson
October 8, 2020

Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed a technique for three-dimensionally (3D) printing plastic objects that communicate with Wi-Fi devices without batteries or electronics. The method applies Wi-Fi backscatter technology to 3D geometry to create easy-to-print wireless devices using commodity 3D printers. The researchers built non-electronic analogues for each electronic component using plastic filaments, then integrated them into a single computational design. Explained UW’s Shyam Gollakota, “We are using mechanism actuation to transmit information wirelessly from these plastic objects.” The team has released its computer-aided design (CAD) models to 3D-printing hobbyists so that they can create their own Internet of Things objects.

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mentor Evelyn Nomayo Memory Haven app team members Rachael Akano, Margarent Akano, and Joy Njekwe Nigerian Irish Teen Girls Win Prize for Dementia App
Nada Whitehead
October 8, 2020

Three Nigerian-Irish teenage girls were awarded the top prize of the Technovation nonprofit's annual Technovation Girls international competition, for an application designed to help dementia patients. Patients and caregivers can use the Memory Haven app, whose features target issues suffered by those with dementia: memory loss and difficulty with recognition and speech. The app offers features targeting those issues, including photo albums, music, outreach, face and voice recognition, memory games, and reminders. Users can self-rate their cognitive ability and enhance memory retention with the memory games feature, while the face and voice recognition component supports identification of friends and family.

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Some Employees More Likely to Adhere to Information Security Policies Than Others
Binghamton University
Allen Wengert
October 6, 2020

Multi-institutional research led by the State University of New York's Binghamton University found that employees are less likely to comply with information security policies that are not based on the realities of their work responsibilities. The researchers studied compliance to such policies within three subcultures in a hospital setting: physicians, nurses, and support staff. Physicians were more likely to leave workstations unlocked because patient care was given higher priority than preventing data breaches; support staff were more diligent in locking workstations out of concern of punishment or firing if a breach occurred. The researchers recommend information security professionals consult with each subculture while developing policies, in order to integrate compliance within each subculture's job tasks. Binghamton's Sumantra Sarkar urges touchless proximity-based authentication systems for hospitals to lock/unlock workstations when an employee approaches or leaves.

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Israeli Researchers Find Breach Allowing Hackers to Spy Through Remotes
The Jerusalem Post
Tzvi Joffre
October 7, 2020

Researchers from the Israeli Guardicore firm discovered a security breach that would let hackers eavesdrop on users through remote controls from the Comcast cable TV service that accept voice commands and support long-distance radio-frequency communication. The exploit would enable hackers to activate the remotes from a distance and record whatever is occurring within meters of the device. The remote automatically checks for updates every 24 hours, and it is during this checking process that the breach transpires. The Guardicore researchers alerted Comcast and worked with the company to patch the exploit, which involved updating all affected remotes; they advise all providers of voice-controlled remotes to test them carefully to prevent similar breaches.

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red DeliRo delivery robot on Japan sidewalk Japan Post Delivery Robot Debuts in Tokyo
The Japan Times
October 7, 2020

Japan Post Co., a Japanese post, logistics, and courier services provider, is testing a self-driving mail delivery robot that can maneuver around obstacles and cross intersections with traffic lights in Tokyo. Developed by Tokyo-based robotics firm ZMP Inc., the DeliRo is the size of a wheelchair, features built-in cameras and sensors, and can carry packages weighing up to 30 kilograms (about 13 lbs.) while traveling six kilometers per hour (about 19 mph). Based on the results of test runs through this month, the Japanese government will consider lifting restrictions on autonomous delivery robots, which currently cannot operate on sidewalks or public roads without human monitoring.

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passenger entering Waymo self-driving vehicle Waymo Begins Fully Driverless Rides for All Arizona Customers
Ira Boudway
October 8, 2020

Self-driving car company Waymo announced on Thursday that it has opened its fully driverless ride-hailing service in suburban Phoenix, AZ, to the public. Existing Waymo One customers will be able to hail a driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivan from a fleet of over 300 such vehicles; service will be limited to an approximately 50-square-mile area. Waymo intends to extend the service to new customers in a few weeks, and CEO John Krafcik said by then, "we'll have general access to anyone who chooses to download the [Waymo One] app." The company also plans to reinstate safety drivers for some trips, but will not allow passengers in vehicles with safety drivers until it has installed barriers between the front and back seats.

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arXiv Now Allows Researchers to Submit Code with Their Manuscripts
Khari Johnson
October 8, 2020

Machine learning resource Papers with Code said the preprint paper archive arXiv is now permitting researchers to submit code with their papers. A recent artificial intelligence (AI) industry report by London-based venture capital firm Air Street Capital found only 15% of submitted research manuscripts currently include code. Preprint repositories offer AI scientists the means to share their work immediately, before an often-protracted peer review process. Code shared on arXiv will be entered via Papers with Code, and the code submitted for each paper will appear on a new Code tab. Papers with Code co-creator Robert Stojnic said, "Having code on arXiv makes it much easier for researchers and practitioners to build on the latest machine learning research. We also hope this change has ripple effects on broader computational science beyond machine learning."

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cryo-electron microscopy image Algorithm Sharpens Focus of Most Powerful Microscopes
Berkeley Lab News Center
Aliyah Kovner
October 8, 2020

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Los Alamos National Laboratory, Baylor College of Medicine, and Cambridge University have developed an algorithm to enhance the resolution and accuracy of the world's most powerful microscopes. The algorithm augments three-dimensional molecular structure maps from cryo-electron microscopy by filtering data based on existing knowledge of how molecules appear, and how best to estimate and remove noise. Berkeley Lab's Paul Adams said, "The improvements ... [are] particularly consequential for modeling very important biological molecules ... which are often only seen in lower-resolution maps due to their large and complex multi-unit structures."

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EU's Top Court Limits Government Spying on Citizens' Mobile, Internet Data
Sam Shead
October 6, 2020

The European Court of Justice ruled this week that European Union member states cannot collect mass mobile and Internet data on citizens. According to the ruling, requiring Internet and phone operators to undertake "general and indiscriminate transmission or retention of traffic data and location data" violates EU law. The court acknowledged there could be emergency scenarios involving national security threats in which a member state "may derogate from the obligation to ensure the confidentiality of data relating to electronic communications. Such an interference with fundamental rights must be accompanied by effective safeguards and be reviewed by a court or by an independent administrative authority." The ruling was issued in response to cases brought by Privacy International and French advocacy group La Quadrature du Net arguing that surveillance practices in the U.K., France, and Belgium violate fundamental human rights.

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fish farm in Norway AI Could Help Find Cheaper, Smarter Ways to Raise Fish
The Wall Street Journal
Catherine Stupp
September 30, 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) researchers at Norwegian telecommunications carrier Telenor's Norwegian Open AI Lab are testing AI models to reduce costs and increase efficiency in salmon breeding. The models are engineered to optimize feeding, maintain the fish's health, and help companies improve farm operation decisions. The Lab bases its projects on neural networks, with one application designed to help farm workers interpret salmon feeding patterns; the technology analyzes camera images to determine when behavior changes, and tests showed the method identified behavior with 80% accuracy. Another application employs image recognition to recognize individual salmon and ensure they are not mistaken for each other, as a more-affordable alternative to tags or tattoos.

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