Welcome to the June 3, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Cornell University Graduate Receives ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award
June 2, 2022

ACM has named Cornell University graduate Manish Raghavan to receive the 2021 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award for his dissertation, "The Societal Impacts of Algorithmic Decision-Making." Raghavan’s dissertation contributes to understanding of algorithmic decision-making and its societal implications. Now a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Center for Research on Computation and Society, Raghavan's chief research interests are rooted in the use of computational techniques in areas of social concern, such as algorithmic fairness and behavioral economics, with special focus on the application of algorithmic tools to the hiring pipeline.

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Doctors Transplant Ear 3D-Printed from Human Cells Doctors Transplant Ear 3D-Printed from Human Cells
The New York Times
Roni Caryn Rabin
June 2, 2022

Doctors implanted a three-dimensionally (3D) printed ear comprised of human cells into a woman born with a right ear misshapen due to the rare birth defect microtia. The printed ear, produced by 3DBio Therapeutics to match the woman's left ear, looks and feels like a natural ear as it continues to regenerate cartilage tissue. Doctors and company officials said the body likely will not reject the new ear, since it was produced using the patient's own tissue. The transplant follows reports that United Therapeutics Corp. is working on 3D-printed lungs, and that researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology have 3D-printed a network of blood vessels that could supply blood to implanted tissues.

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Advanced Quantum Computer Available to the Public
New Scientist
Alex Wilkins
June 1, 2022

The researchers behind a quantum computer that encodes data in pulses of light have connected it to the Internet and made it available for public use. The Borealis system developed by scientists at Canada's Xanadu Quantum Technologies and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology taps photons routed through fiber-optic loops to address the challenge of boson sampling. The problem involves quantifying the properties of a large group of entangled photons separated by beam splitters, which Borealis can accomplish in 36 microseconds, while the best supercomputer would take at least 9,000 years. The system directly measures the behavior of up to 216 entangled photons to compute the answer. "Borealis is the first machine capable of quantum computational advantage made publicly available to anyone with an Internet connection," said Xanadu's Jonathan Lavoie.

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Robotic Hand with Smart Skin Recoils When Jabbed Robotic Hand with Smart Skin Recoils When Jabbed
Financial Times
Clive Cookson
June 1, 2022

Engineers at the U.K.'s University of Glasgow created an electronic skin that learns from stimuli, and have incorporated it in a robotic hand that recoils from sensations perceived as painful. The e-skin's inspiration is the human peripheral nervous system, which processes sensory data locally before transmitting only critical stimuli to the brain. The researchers printed the pressure-sensitive plastic e-skin with a network of 168 synaptic transistors connected to touch receptors. Such local processing reacts to stimuli far more quickly than other types of artificial skin that must rely on a central computer for analysis. “We believe this is a real step towards creating large-scale printed e-skin that could function as a multilayer neural network capable of doing cognitive tasks,” said Glasgow's Ravinder Dahiya.

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Peekaboo! A System to Guarantee Smart Home Privacy
Carnegie Mellon University CyLab Security and Privacy Institute
Daniel Tkacik
May 31, 2022

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's CyLab Security and Privacy Institute have developed a privacy-sensitive architecture for smart home applications. Peekaboo accepts requests from developers to share certain pieces of data, and guarantees only the minimum data needed to satisfy the requests is exchanged. The architecture has developers first declare all the data they intend to gather and under what conditions, where that data is being sent, and its granularity; an in-home hub then arbitrates between all devices in the home and the outside Internet. CyLab's HaoJian Jin said, "The Peekaboo protocol will allow users to manage privacy preferences for all of their devices in a centralized manner through the hub. Imagine not just a privacy nutrition label for an individual device, but a privacy nutrition label for an entire home."

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Oregon Dropping AI Tool That Helped Decide Child Abuse Cases Oregon Dropping AI Tool That Helped Decide Child Abuse Cases
PBS NewsHour
Sally Ho; Garance Burke
June 2, 2022

Child welfare officials in Oregon said they will stop using an algorithm to help decide child abuse cases, in favor of a method that they say will support more racially fair decisions. This followed an Associated Press analysis of an algorithm used in Pennsylvania that had inspired Oregon officials to develop the Safety at Screening Tool, which cited a disproportionate number of Black children for "mandatory" neglect investigations when first implemented. Oregon's Department of Human Services told staff last month that hotline workers would cease using the algorithm at the end of June to reduce inconsistencies about which families are probed for child abuse and neglect. The state has opted to replace the algorithm with the Structured Decision Making model, which uses clearly defined and consistent decision-making criteria to screen for investigation, determine response priorities, identify immediate threatened harm, and estimate the risk of future abuse and neglect.

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Researchers in Japan Set a Record for Petabit Data Transmission per Second Researchers in Japan Set a Record for Petabit Data Transmission per Second
Interesting Engineering
Ameya Paleja
June 2, 2022

Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) set a new world record of 1.02 petabit data transmission per second over 31.68 miles (51 km). The researchers used wavelength division multiplexing to transmit data through a standard 0.125-mm diameter multi-core fiber, enabling more data to be transmitted simultaneously through the same cable. The researchers also included the C, L, and S-bands during their test transmission, and employed custom amplifiers for the bands to transmit across 801 wavelengths.

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Drones Could Scare Birds Off Agricultural Fields Drones Could Scare Birds Off Agricultural Fields
Washington State University
Scott Weybright
June 1, 2022

An autonomous system developed by Washington State University (WSU) researchers can patrol agricultural fields around the clock to drive away birds that feed on the crops. The system uses cameras to detect the presence of birds, and automatically deploys drones to scare them off. Tests showed the drones' motion and whirring noises were sufficient to get the birds to depart, but WSU's Manoj Karkee observed, "We could make drones look like predators, or have reflective propellers that are really shiny. All of these working together would likely keep birds away from those vineyards and fields."

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Seeing How Odor Is Processed in the Brain Seeing How Odor Is Processed in the Brain
University of Tokyo (Japan)
May 27, 2022

Researchers at Japan's University of Tokyo (UTokyo) created an odor delivery device, then used machine learning (ML) to analyze electroencephalograms (EEGs) to determine how the brain processes scents. Their device can dispense 10 unique odors to participants, who rate the pleasantness of each as EEG caps record their brain signals. The ML analysis ascertained when and where the range of odors was processed in the brain, with high temporal resolution. Said UTokyo's Mugihiko Kato, "We were surprised that we could detect signals from presented odors from very early EEG responses, as quickly as 100 milliseconds after odor onset, suggesting that representation of odor information in the brain occurs rapidly."

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A Cloudless Future? The Mystery at the Heart of Climate Forecasts A Cloudless Future? The Mystery at the Heart of Climate Forecasts
Texas Advanced Computing Center
Aaron Dubrow
May 31, 2022

Climate models are inconsistent in forecasting how climate change will impact clouds, given their inability to replicate the lengths and timescales in which they occur. The University of California, Irvine's Michael Pritchard says such models require a minimum resolution of 100 meters (328 feet) to reproduce the turbulent eddies forming shallow cloud systems, adding that it could take until 2060 for sufficient computing power to be available to attain that resolution. To compensate, Pritchard and his colleagues split the modeling problem into a lower-resolution 100-km (62.1-mile) planetary model, and many small patches with 100-meter (328-feet) to 200-meter (656-feet) resolution, before running it on the Texas Advanced Computing Center's Frontera supercomputer. Pritchard says the model "has thousands of little micromodels that capture things like realistic shallow cloud formation that only emerge in very high resolution."

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Hackers Steal WhatsApp Accounts Using Call Forwarding Trick Hackers Steal WhatsApp Accounts Using Call Forwarding Trick
Ionut Ilascu
May 31, 2022

Rahul Sasi at digital risk protection company CloudSEK published details of a call forwarding hack for WhatsApp accounts. Sasi said a hacker must persuade the victim to call a number that begins with a Man Machine Interface (MMI) code that facilitates call forwarding; a different MMI code can forward calls to a terminal to a different number, or when the line is busy or reception is lacking. Once the victim is fooled into forwarding calls to their number, the hacker initiates WhatsApp registration on their device, opting to receive a one-time password via voice call. They can then register the victim's WhatsApp account on their device, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to block legitimate owners from their account. Activating 2FA in WhatsApp can prevent this exploit.

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Futuristic Office Was Designed for 5,000 People—and 100 Robot Coworkers Futuristic Office Was Designed for 5,000 People—and 100 Robot Coworkers
Fast Company
Mark Wilson
May 24, 2022

South Korean online platform Naver is opening the new world headquarters of its Naver Labs research and development subsidiary in the city of Seongnam this month. The 28-story building, which the company calls "the world's first robot-friendly building," will feature 100 wheeled robots that will deliver packages and food/drink orders to 5,000 human employees in the building. The robots can use the building's 36 human elevators but also have access to the Roboport, a robot-exclusive elevator that works like an internal Ferris wheel. The robots navigate the building using a traditional video camera, the building's internal 5G network, and a "digital twin" that is cross-referenced with the camera feed to place robots within six inches of a desired location.

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 	Tim Hortons App Tracked Too Much Personal Information Without Adequate Consent Tim Hortons App Tracked Too Much Personal Information Without Adequate Consent
CBC (Canada)
Nojoud Al Mallees
June 1, 2022

An investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, working with similar agencies in British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta, found a mobile application used by fast food chain Tim Hortons unnecessarily tracked extensive amounts of personal data without adequate consent from users. The investigation determined the company collected location data for targeted advertising and product promotion, but did not use it for those purposes. The chain was using third-party service provider Radar to track this data, which had few contractual protections while being processed; Tim Hortons stopped collecting the data in August 2020. Canada’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said the extensive nature of the location tracking ecosystem “heightens the risk of mass surveillance."

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