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Welcome to the January 19, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry building in Kyiv, Ukraine. Microsoft Discloses Malware Attack on Ukraine Government Networks
Associated Press
Frank Bajak
January 16, 2022

Microsoft reports malware disguised as ransomware has been found on dozens of computer systems at an unspecified number of Ukrainian government, nonprofit, and information technology organizations even as the threat looms of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. In a technical post, Microsoft said the malware "executes when an associated device is powered down." Oleh Derevianko of cybersecurity firm ISSP said hackers entered the government networks through a shared software supplier. Meanwhile, Serhiy Demedyuk of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council said a defacement attack that took about 70 government Websites temporarily offline could be attributed to "hacker groups linked to Russia's intelligence services."

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The Moon's south pole has regions in constant shadow. Moon's Hidden Depths Uncovered with Algorithm
Scientific American
Connie Chang
February 1, 2022

An international team of scientists developed a deep learning algorithm to more deeply explore permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) of the Moon, and to image extremely small geologic features. The researchers trained the algorithm on over 70,000 images of PSRs, coupled with data about the camera's temperature and orbital position, in order to identify and screen out camera noise. They then fed the algorithm millions of sunlit lunar photos paired with simulated versions in shadow, to address residual noise. The researchers used the algorithm to analyze the size and distribution of craters and boulders in several PSRs that might be explored by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Artemis lunar program.

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The restored version of Rembrandt's AI Turned a Rembrandt Masterpiece into 5.6 Terabytes of Data
Popular Science
Purbita Saha
January 11, 2022

The Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands has posted an ultra-high-resolution image of Rembrandt's "The Night Watch," constructed from 8,439 photos taken with a 100-megapixel HD camera that were digitized, color-corrected, and stitched together by algorithms. The Rijksmuseum said it is the largest digital image of an art piece ever created, at 717 billion pixels and 5.6 terabytes of data. Visitors to the museum's Website can zoom into every 0.0005-millimeter square at fine resolution. The digital version of "The Night Watch" was created following a two-year restoration process in which artificial intelligence was used to restore missing elements from the original painting.

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Researchers Develop CAPTCHA Solver to Aid Dark Web Research
Bill Toulas
January 14, 2022

Researchers at the Universities of Arizona, Georgia, and South Florida have devised a machine learning-based CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) solver to plumb the dark web. The system interprets rasterized images, which differs from other analyses that also utilized generative adversarial networks. The solver differentiates letters and numbers by studying them individually, denoising each character image, identifying borders between letters, and partitioning content into individual characters; it thwarts countermeasures by using samples extracted across multiple local regions to spot refined features like lines and edges. The authors have published the solver's final version on GitHub, without releasing its training dataset.

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Job Postings with Terms Like 'Bitcoin,' 'Cryptocurrency' Grew Almost 400% on LinkedIn Last Year
Sarah Hansen
January 14, 2022

An analysis by online job-listing site LinkedIn found U.S. job postings with the terms "bitcoin," "ethereum," "blockchain," or "cryptocurrency" grew 395% from 2020 and 2021, signaling increasing demand for cryptocurrency skills. Postings in the wider technology sector rose 98% in comparison; among the most frequent job titles in those LinkedIn listings were blockchain developers and engineers. Most crypto-related postings were in the software and finance industries, but the professional services, staffing, and computer hardware industries also saw more hiring for such positions. Crypto and blockchain software development jobs are more likely to be remote, versus non-crypto software development postings.

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Screening Tool Identifies Older-Appearing Brains Typical of Dementia
King's College London (U.K.)
January 14, 2022

A machine learning tool developed by researchers at the U.K.'s King's College London can predict the age of a human brain compared to the rest of the population by analyzing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. The tool can predict a patient's correct age, so long as their brain's volume loss over time is consistent with the patient's age. If the tool shows a mismatch between the patient's real and predicted ages, it can help clinicians diagnose conditions that can cause the disparity. Said King's College's Dr. Tom Booth, " Automatically detecting volume loss in real time helps screen for the common problem of neurodegeneration during scans obtained for all reasons."

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Models Assess Bridge Support Repairs After Earthquakes
Rice University News
Mike Williams
January 18, 2022

Engineers at Rice and Texas A&M universities developed a computational modeling approach to planning post-earthquake repairs to bridge supports more effectively. The models simulate how columns will probably respond to future quakes in terms of base shear and lateral displacement, and with stress and strain, when employing various repair techniques. The models also can forecast the pre- and post-repair impact of slipping and buckling of reinforcement bars on columns' strength and ductility. "We show analytically that those damages can be repaired in a way that the original, or close to the original, performance can be achieved," said Rice's Reginald DesRoches.

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First Fully Programmable Quantum Computer Based on Neutral Atoms
New Scientist
Alex Wilkins
January 18, 2022

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Mark Saffman and colleagues have created the first fully programmable neutral-atom quantum computer, using six quantum bits (qubits) composed of neutrally charged cesium atoms. The atoms are corralled in a grid with lasers, with enough space between them to avoid interaction. Laser-induced atomic excitation sufficiently dislodges electrons to quantum-entangle with their neighbors. "Because it's all done with laser beams, you can actually reconfigure the positions of all your qubits," said Charles Adams of the U.K.'s Durham University. "So if you decide you want to run a different algorithm with different connectivity between the qubits, you can just reprogram where the qubits are."

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A study subject wearing the sensors. Wearable Sensors Track Hand Use in Amputees
Conn Hastings
January 13, 2022

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) have developed a system to track everyday hand use in individuals that have been fitted with a hand prosthesis or received a hand transplant. The system is comprised of movement sensors that attach to a user's hands and upper arms. Said MU's Scott Frey, "These sensors, which continuously record movements over multiple days while people go about their lives, have the ability to revolutionize treatments by providing real-world data that will help us develop personalized approaches to treat traumatic hand loss." In tests of experienced prosthesis users, the researchers found that during a normal day, 20% of their daily tasks involve use of the prosthetic hand and 80% involve use of the uninjured limb, compared with the 55% (dominant hand)/45% (non-dominant hand) split seen in healthy adults.

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A locker room at the Thaiwoo Ski Resort, a host of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, China. Security Flaws Seen in China's Mandatory Olympics App for Athletes
The New York Times
Paul Mozur; Cade Metz
January 18, 2022

Canada's University of Toronto-based cybersecurity watchdog Citizen Lab has detailed encryption flaws in the mandatory smartphone application China created for Winter Olympics athletes. Portions of the MY2022 app that will transmit coronavirus test results, travel information, and other personal data did not confirm the signature used in encrypted transfers, or failed to encrypt metadata. The Citizen Lab researchers suspect the flaws are unintentional, since the government will already be receiving data from the app, making in-transit data interception unnecessary. The Beijing Organizing Committee reportedly has not responded to Citizen Lab's disclosure of the flaws, and a January update has not resolved the issues.

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The smart T-shirt has thin antennas woven into the cloth, which detect deformations as the user breathes in and out. Dress Smart: This T-Shirt Senses Breathing Problems
IEEE Spectrum
Michelle Hampson
January 14, 2022

Canadian researchers have created a smart T-shirt that can monitor the wearer's breathing via a network of Bluetooth-equipped spiral antennas incorporated within its cloth. The antennas deform in response to respiration, and six wireless sensors send the deformation readings to a base station for analysis. Experiments indicated breathing patterns are distinctly different in different people; to account for this, the T-shirt was designed to "pick" which of its sensors is most accurate for monitoring the wearer's breathing. "We believe that such technology will be very useful in hospitals, to reduce opioid overdose deaths, and prevent active people from [overexertion]," said Université Laval's Amine Miled.

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Algorithm Classifies Skin Lesions
Technical University of Munich (Germany)
January 14, 2022

The FusionM4Net algorithm developed by an international team of researchers uses enhanced data fusion to classify skin lesions more accurately than earlier algorithms. FusionM4Net employs a multi-modal multi-stage data fusion process that incorporates clinical images, microscopic images of suspicious skin lesions, and patient metadata; the researchers trained the algorithm to distinguish between five categories of lesions. FusionM4Net fuses and weighs available image data and patient metadata; it achieved diagnostic accuracy of 78.5%, exceeding that of other state-of-the-art algorithms. Said Tobias Lasser at Germany's Technical University of Munich, "Future routine clinical use of algorithms with high diagnostic accuracy might help ensure that rare diseases are also detected by less experienced physicians, and it might mitigate decisions affected by stress or fatigue."

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UC Engineers Develop Navigation to Avoid Collisions
UC News
Michael Miller
January 14, 2022

A collision-avoidance system developed by the University of Cincinnati (UC)'s Daegyun Choi and Anirudh Chhabra brings engineers a step closer to designing robots to repair satellites or spacecraft in orbit. Choi said the system uses explainable artificial intelligence, which employs fuzzy logic that relies on gradations of truth rather than a binary right or wrong, and which enables engineers to understand input-output relationships through observed rules. The system prototype was tested in a two-dimensional virtual supermarket where autonomous robots had to navigate aisles to help shoppers and workers. The collision-avoidance system also may be used for drones or flying cars, as it also performs well in three-dimensional space.

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