Welcome to the November 13, 2020 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."

SKA radio telescope array 4 Teams Using ORNL's Summit Supercomputer Named Finalists for 2020 Gordon Bell Prize
November 11, 2020

Four projects named by ACM as finalists for the 2020 Gordon Bell Prize for outstanding high-performance computing achievement used the IBM AC922 Summit supercomputer at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). One multi-university team used Summit to test its deep potential molecular dynamics software package, while another used the supercomputer to process vast datasets produced from the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope. The third project employed Summit to run the Distributed Accelerated Semiring All-Pairs Shortest Path algorithm, and the fourth team executed the largest-ever study on excited-state electrons on Summit. The 2020 Gordon Bell Prize will be awarded next week at SC20, the International Conference for High-Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis.

Full Article
CS Education Still Not in Majority of U.S. Schools
eSchool News
Laura Ascione
November 13, 2020

Research by Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance indicates that fewer than half of U.S. schools are teaching computer science (CS). The study “2020 State of Computer Science Education: Illuminating Disparities” found that 47% of U.S. high schools teach at least one CS course, with access to such a course unequal for students across all demographics. Significantly, Native American or Alaskan students, African American students, and Hispanic, Latino, or Latina students are least likely to attend schools that teach CS. The study recommends states, policymakers, and instructional leaders take remedial steps that include bringing CS into new schools, reaching out to underrepresented groups, and developing more robust data systems to evaluate progress.

Full Article

man at laptop computer, binary code background Covid-19 'War Games' Program Could Help Save Your Job
Sinead Cruise
November 11, 2020

Unilever-owned uFlexReward has developed the Covid-19 War Game, which allows U.K. executives to consider the impact of job cuts on future earnings prospects. Players formulate a strategy to reduce people costs by 20% at a fictional company, allowing them to weigh mass layoffs versus alternatives, and their long-term impact on the company and the broader economy. The game integrates staff salaries, pensions, bonuses, and share awards into one real-time cost base so players have a better view of different ways to trim costs, from making many smaller cuts to eliminating entire business units or the bonus pool. Strategies arising out of a head-to-head version of the game featuring teams of Unilever and Endava executives will be judged on Dec. 3.

Full Article

futuristic interior, Honda vehicle Honda Legend Will Drive Itself on Busy Roads
Michelle Toh; Yoko Wakasuki
November 11, 2020

Honda is launching a new model of its Legend sedan that will take over for drivers on busy Japanese roads, following government approval for its level 3 self-driving system in Japan. Honda said its Traffic Jam Pilot system would only take over in situations "such as when the vehicle is in congested traffic on [expressways]." There are currently no mass-produced cars available at level 3, which require driver attention in specific circumstances, although some manufacturers have tested vehicles with level 4 technology, which can operate in a self-driving mode. Level 5 automation, which requires no attention from a human driver, is considered the ultimate goal for driverless vehicles. Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism said self-driving vehicles "are expected to play a big role in solving various social challenges that Japan faces, such as reducing traffic accidents, securing the elderly people's transportation, and improvement of the productivity in transportation sector."

Full Article
Tool Detects Unsafe Security Practices in Android Apps
Columbia Engineering
November 9, 2020

The CRYLOGGER tool developed by Columbia Engineering computer scientists can analyze how thousands of Android applications use cryptography without requiring access to their underlying code. The open source tool can determine when an app uses cryptography incorrectly by running the app, rather than analyzing its code. CRYLOGGER's analysis of 1,780 Android apps found nearly all had code or used libraries that did not strictly comply with security standards. Columbia Engineering's Luca Carloni said, "We believe that CRYLOGGER's technique of analyzing thousands of Android applications by running them and collecting information that can be later analyzed offline could also be used in other security domains."

Full Article

Japanese ‘monster wolf’ robot Robot ‘Monster Wolf’ Deployed in Japanese Town to Scare Away Wild Bears
Daily Mail (U.K.)
Ryan Morrison
November 11, 2020

Officials in the town of Takikawa on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido are using robots to scare away wild bears. Developed by Ohta Seiko in conjunction with Hokkaido University and the Tokyo University of Agriculture, the so-called "Monster Wolf" robots look like wolves with glowing red eyes. They feature motion detectors that, when activated, move the robots' head, flash lights, and emit 60 different sounds, including wolfish howling and machinery noises. City officials said no bear encounters have been reported since the robots were deployed, and they will remain in place until bear hibernation season begins in late November. Ohta Seiko head Yuji Ota said, “We want to let the bears know, 'human settlements aren't where you live,' and help with the coexistence of bears and people.”

Full Article
Combining Electronic, Photonic Chips Enables Record in Super-Fast Quantum Light Detection
University of Bristol News (U.K.)
November 9, 2020

Researchers at the U.K.'s University of Bristol and France's Université Côte d‘Azur have developed a miniaturized light detector from silicon microelectronics and a silicon photonics chip, in order to measure quantum optical properties in unprecedented detail. The device can gauge the characteristics of "squeezed" quantum light at record high speeds, and has been timed at an order of magnitude faster than the previous state of the art. Bristol's Jonathan Frazer said, “This has a direct impact on the processing speed of emerging information technologies such as optical computers and communications with very low levels of light. The higher the bandwidth of your detector, the faster you can perform calculations and transmit information.”

Full Article

drone carrying a payload Drone Startups Aim to Carve Out Role in Delivery of Potential Covid-19 Vaccine
The Wall Street Journal
Marc Vartabedian
November 1, 2020

Drone-delivery startups are vying to be part of the effort to transport Covid-19 vaccines from distribution facilities to health centers. Drones mainly would be used to deliver vaccines to hard-to-access regions and move doses in bulk along fixed routes. Some drone startups already have forged medical delivery partnerships with drug companies and retailers, with Volansi, for instance, partnering with Merck since 2018 to deliver medicines and vaccines during crises using unmanned autonomous drones; since October, the company has been delivering medicines and vaccines that way from a Merck facility in North Carolina to a nearby clinic. Drone companies also are talking with government officials around the world as they prepare for vaccine distribution.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Using ML to Track the Pandemic's Impact on Mental Health
MIT News
Anne Trafton
November 5, 2020

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University have demonstrated that machine learning can be used to measure the pandemic's impact on mental health by analyzing the words people use to express their anxiety online. Natural language processing algorithms were used to analyze the text of more than 800,000 Reddit posts, measuring the frequency of words associated with anxiety, death, isolation, and substance abuse. The researchers identified changes in the tone and content of language used from January to April 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic. Said Harvard and MIT's Daniel Low, "We found that there were these natural clusters that emerged related to suicidality and loneliness, and the amount of posts in these clusters more than doubled during the pandemic as compared to the same months of the preceding year."

Full Article

IoT concept, illustration IoT Security Is a Mess. These Guidelines Could Help Fix That
Danny Palmer
November 10, 2020

New guidelines from the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) specify recommendations for strengthening Internet of Things (IoT) security throughout product development. The Guidelines for Securing the IoT-Secure Supply Chain for IoT urge further integration of cybersecurity expertise within all organizational layers so supply-chain participants can identify potential risks before they become serious. ENISA also recommends adopting "Security by Design" across the IoT development cycle, with emphasis on careful planning and risk management. Moreover, the guidelines advise organizations to nurture better relationships throughout product development and deployment, in order to close security loopholes that may emerge when communication between participants is lacking. ENISA’s Juhan Lepassaar said, "Securing the supply chain of ICT products and services should be a prerequisite for their further adoption, particularly for critical infrastructure and services. Only then can we reap the benefits associated with their widespread deployment, as it happens with IoT.”

Full Article
Sensor for Smart Textiles Survives Washing Machine, Cars, Hammers
Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Leah Burrows
November 11, 2020

Researchers from the Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a strain sensor for use in smart textiles and soft robotic systems that is extremely resilient. SEAS' Oluwaseun Araromi said the sensor was inspired by the Slinky toy, and uses conductive carbon fibers patterned in a serpentine meander for stretchability. The sensor has survived being stabbed with a scalpel, hit with a hammer, run over by a car, and multiple washing machine cycles, and emerged unscathed. SEAS' Conor Walsh said the integration of the device within apparel "will enable exciting new applications by being able to make biomechanical and physiological measurements throughout a person's day, not possible with current approaches."

Full Article

seagulls in flight AI-Enabled Critter Camera Only Records Targeted Behaviors
New Atlas
Ben Coxworth
November 4, 2020

To address the power challenges associated with bio-logging devices, researchers at Japan's Osaka University have created an artificial intelligence-based bio-logger that can determine when an animal is engaging in specific behaviors and activate a camera. Bio-logging devices typically lack the battery capacity to record continuously and so often are set to record during scheduled periods each day, which means behaviors that occur outside of those recording sessions are missed. The new bio-logger features an accelerometer and a GPS unit to monitor an animal's activity; when the camera is triggered, it records only for as long as the targeted behavior lasts. The researchers tested the bio-loggers on seagulls off the coast of Japan. Said Osaka's Joseph Korpela, "The new method improved the detection of foraging behaviors in the black-tailed gulls 15-fold compared with the random sampling method."

Full Article
3D-Printed Weather Stations Could Enable More Science for Less Money
Argonne National Laboratory
Christina Nunez
November 10, 2020

Researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory tested an inexpensive three-dimensionally (3D)-printed weather station, comparing its accuracy to a commercial-grade counterpart over eight months. University of Oklahoma scientists printed more than 100 station components from durable plastic, using guidance and open source plans from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research's 3D-Printed Automatic Weather Station Initiative. These parts were combined with low-cost sensors. Despite signs of equipment degradation and failure about five months into the experiment, the 3D-printed station's temperature, pressure, rain, ultraviolet, and relative humidity measurements were comparable with those from a commercial station in the Oklahoma Mesonet network. Said Argonne’s Adam Theisen, “I didn’t expect that this station would perform nearly as well as it did. Even though components started to degrade, the results show that these kinds of weather stations could be viable for shorter campaigns.”

Full Article
SIGGRAPH Asia 2020 Conference
ACM Learning Center

Association for Computing Machinery

1601 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10019-7434

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]