Welcome to the October 31, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Europe Prepares to Rewrite Internet Rules
Ars Technica
Khari Johnson
October 29, 2022

This week's enactment of the European Union (EU)'s Digital Markets Act (DMA) is expected to force big technology platforms to become more transparent and interoperable next year. The DMA mandates that dominant platforms must admit smaller competitors, so it could push Meta's WhatsApp to receive messages from rival applications, or prevent big tech platforms from favoring their own apps and services. The EU must decide which companies are sufficiently large and entrenched to be considered "gatekeepers" that must comply with the strictest rules. EU official Gerard de Graaf says tougher rules for tech giants are necessary to shield people and businesses from unfair practices, as well as to provide society with the full benefits of technology.

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A Chicago police evidence technician takes a photo of a gun at a crime scene in Chicago. Gunshot Detection Technology Spurs Debate Over Policing, Surveillance
Sarah Holder; Fola Akinnibi
October 27, 2022

U.S. cities are considering the accuracy and the value of gunshot detection systems, worrying civil rights groups concerned about surveillance. Detroit's city council contracted with ShotSpotter to extend its network of artificial intelligence-powered acoustic sensors to at least 10 city areas, while Seattle and Portland, OR, will hold hearings on such technology. ShotSpotter uses software to identify loud noises detected by sensors; technicians alert police if the noise is identified as gunfire. Many debates about ShotSpotter focus on the system's accuracy and value in law enforcement, while critics say gunfire alerts can unnecessarily send officers to neighborhoods of color, spurring aggressive interactions and pretextual intervention.

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Micro 4D Printing Builds on Programmable Matter
IEEE Spectrum
Edd Gent
October 28, 2022

A new four-dimensional (4D) printing method combines three-dimensional printing and specially formulated ink with dynamic chemical bonds to produce microscale structures with programmable mechanical properties. Eva Blasco at Germany's University of Heidelberg said the technique could enable users to alter the physical characteristics of objects after they are manufactured. Blasco and colleagues used two-photon laser printing to create the microstructures via polymerization. The ink's dynamic covalent bonds can be opened and closed to tune the microstructure's mechanical properties, or to add new material. The printed objects' volume grew by as much as eight times after immersion in styrene, which also increased their hardness.

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An image of the Calakmul LIDAR survey. Calgary Archeologist Says Technology Unveiling Ancient Mayan City
CBC News (Canada)
Bill Graveland
October 29, 2022

Archeologists from Canada's University of Calgary (UCalgary) and Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia Campeche are using light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology to virtually unearth an ancient Mayan city. The light pulses and blends with other data recorded from overhead to produce exact three-dimensional information about the shape of the ground and its surface properties. "You can be trying to survey and to map sites in the rainforest, and what would take you years to accomplish, LiDAR can do in a couple of days of flying over these large areas," explained UCalgary's Kathryn Reese-Taylor. She said the scan yielded a clearer picture of the urban settlement and landscape alterations in the city of Calakmul, capital of the Kanu'l dynasty.

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Dargo Bush Nursing Centre nurse Sarah Carr (shown in photo) says the HoloLens is the future of remote medicine. HoloLens Headsets Connect Patients, Metropolitan Doctors
ABC News (Australia)
Natasha Schapova
October 29, 2022

Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality holographic headsets are connecting remote patients in Australia with metropolitan physicians. The Bairnsdale Regional Health Service tested the technology in the Victorian town of Dargo, linking patients to specialists in Melbourne via a holographic consulting room. Nurses don the headsets and are directed by doctors to examine patients, who can evaluate them with greater thoroughness than they can in standard telehealth sessions. Said Bairnsdale Regional Health Service's Robyn Hales, "If we can get patients that utilize [HoloLens] on a really regular basis, decrease people's travel, decrease ambulances needing to go out and collect patients, that provides really timely care, which is a significant cost saver."

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Improving the Design of New Protein Structures
Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine
Melissa Rohman
October 27, 2022

Northwestern Medicine researchers developed more than 10,000 new aßßa proteins and used machine learning methods to determine more than a third of them folded into stable structure. In addition, the researchers identified the biophysical properties that stabilize aßßa proteins, known for having a simple fold that looks like the letter "M." The researchers determined that forming a loop by connecting the two ends of the "M" together can make the proteins more stable. Said Northwestern's Gabriel Rocklin, "By making changes to our design protocol, we increased our design success rate from 2% to above 30%. This clarified better ways to design aßßa proteins and also helped us understand what makes them stable or unstable."

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The phone-based 3D scanner emits laser pulses in all directions. Disappearing Coastlines: Smartphone and Selfie Stick Can Let Us Know by How Much
University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
October 25, 2022

At Denmark's University of Copenhagen, researchers found that local monitoring of coastline erosion can be accomplished effectively using an iPhone equipped with a LiDAR scanner, a selfie-stick, and an app. University of Copenhagen's Gregor Luetzenburg calls it "a simple, inexpensive and far less resource-intensive way to measure coastal erosion" that ultimately "will allow more people to help with monitoring." The LiDAR scanner in newer iPhone models allows users to measure depths in a landscape by emitting laser pulses in all directions. Luetzenburg tested the LiDAR method by measuring 1,500 square meters of Rone Klint, south of Copenhagen, which has sandy soil that is vulnerable to erosion.

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Robots That Feel Cloth Layers May Help with Laundry
Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
Stacey Federoff
October 26, 2022

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Facebook's Meta AI academic research laboratory have devised technology that helps robots perceive cloth layers by touch, which could enable them to fold laundry. The touch-sensing ReSkin is a flexible polymer embedded with magnetic particles to quantify three-axis tactile signals. The researchers employed ReSkin to help the robot ‘feel’ cloth, rather than relying solely on computer vision. The researchers trained the robot to know how many cloth layers it was grasping by first calculating how many it was holding using ReSkin's sensors, then adjusting its grip to try again.

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The Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle, created by a Honda and General Motors self-driving car partnership. Self-Driving Cars Face Uncertain Path to U.S. Deployment
David Shepardson
October 28, 2022

The difficult path to deploying autonomous vehicles (AVs) was highlighted by an announcement on Oct. 26 that Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG would close their self-driving startup Argo AI, citing the fact that the technology is still a long way off. This comes as legislation to amend regulations to include self-driving cars remains stalled in Congress, and officials at the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have not revealed when they might act on petitions to grant initial approval to self-driving vehicles without human controls. Meanwhile, lawmakers and industry representatives have called on U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to develop a comprehensive federal framework for AVs to ensure the nation remains competitive, especially as China has made substantial investments in autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.

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AI, Molecule Machine Generalize Automated Chemistry
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign News Bureau
Liz Ahlberg
October 28, 2022

An international team led by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) researchers combined artificial intelligence (AI) and a molecule-generating machine to optimize conditions for automated chemistry. The integration yields real-time feedback to a machine learning system to improve chemical synthesis. The researchers doubled the average yield of heteroaryl Suzuki-Miyaura coupling reactions linking carbon atoms together in pharmaceutically critical molecules. UIUC's Martin D. Burke said generality is crucial for automation, while "the haystack of possible reaction conditions is astronomical, and the needle is hidden somewhere inside. By leveraging the power of AI and building-block chemistry to create a feedback loop, we were able to shrink the haystack. And we found the needle."

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This is what Bodyswaps' virtual reality job interviews look like. Your Next Job Interview Could Take Place in VR
BBC News
Elizabeth Hotson
October 30, 2022

Students at the U.K.'s Sandwell College conducted mock job interviews in a virtual reality (VR) system from London-based company Bodyswaps, with their avatars interacting with a talking representation of artificial intelligence (AI) software. The software provides feedback to help users refine their approach; Bodyswaps' Christophe Mallet said people can keep practicing with the simulated interviews until they feel ready for real-life sessions. Meanwhile, Swedish firm Tengai's AI technology allows real-world companies to conduct initial job interviews via an onscreen cartoon head asking interviewees questions. Tengai's Elin Öberg Martenzon said the software aims to avoid making false assumptions about candidates "by putting some sort of filter between the candidate and the recruiter."

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Project to Create Audio-Only Computer Game Honored
Lancaster University (U.K.)
October 18, 2022

The Visionary organization for local sight loss charities in the U.K. conferred optical retail chain Specsavers' Inspire Award on a team of Lancaster University researchers for creating the world's first audio-only computer game. The game navigates visually impaired players through 16 levels of a maze using abstract noise only. The game operates without any screens or voices. The Sight Advice South Lakes nonprofit organization enlisted blind and partially sighted people with computer gaming experience for the project. Their input during the prototype testing workshop will be used to refine the game for eventual release on the Steam global gaming platform.

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