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Welcome to the November 2, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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In each image of the HuTics custom data set, the users’ hands are visualized in blue and the object in green. Machine Learning, from You
University of Tokyo (Japan)
November 1, 2022

LookHere software developed by Zhongyi Zhou and Koji Yatani at Japan's University of Tokyo incorporates natural hand gestures into how an image is processed to teach computer systems intuitively. This occurs before the machine incorporates the image within the "HuTics" model. Zhou said the researchers compiled over 2,000 example videos of 170 people presenting objects to cameras into HuTics, which were annotated to differentiate objects from holders' hands. Zhou said LookHere can determine which parts of an incoming image should be used to construct its models better than other object recognition techniques. The researchers found LookHere can build models up to 14 times faster than some existing systems.

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Biotech Begins Human Trials with Drug Discovered Using AI
Financial Times
Jamie Smyth
October 31, 2022

Verge Genomics has commenced a clinical trial of a novel therapy to target neurodegenerative disease ALS that was discovered using artificial intelligence (AI). Verge's Alice Zhang said the discovery process for its ALS drug took four years, which was faster and more cost-effective than the trial-and-error approach often used in drug discovery. Verge developed a database of human tissue from the brains and spinal cords of patients with neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, and used genetic sequencing to create a "human disease map" that is used by its AI platform to identify drug targets. Said Zhang, "Using human data from day one means that we start with higher-quality targets that are more likely to succeed in clinic."

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Researchers Use Lasers to Trick Autonomous Cars
Interesting Engineering
Ameya Paleja
November 1, 2022

Researchers at the University of Florida, the University of Michigan, and Japan's University of Electro-Communications used a laser to trick autonomous vehicles' LiDAR systems to remove obstacles and pedestrians from view. The laser mimicked LiDAR reflections received by the sensor, which made it view genuine reflections from real obstacles as nonexistent. In test conditions of a laser attack using basic camera tracking software within 15 feet of the autonomous vehicle, the car failed to slow down near a pedestrian. The researchers said more advanced equipment could enable an attack to be executed from greater distances from the vehicle.

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In this image, a sound emitter is marked by a red dot. The colors show the sound volume if a listener were to stand at different locations — yellow is louder, blue is quieter. Using Sound to Model the World
MIT News
Adam Zewe
November 1, 2022

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a machine learning model that can capture how any sound will spread through a space, simulating what a listener would hear at different locations. The neural acoustic field model captures and simulates underlying three-dimensional scene acoustics from a limited number of sound recordings to accurately render the room visually. The researchers incorporated the reciprocal nature of sound and the influence of local geometric features into the model to surmount the challenge of predicting audio due to factors like obstacles and distance.

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Robots transport goods at the warehouse of a logistics industry park in Qingdao, China. Robots Help Recruit Tech-Savvy Workers
The Wall Street Journal
Liz Young
October 27, 2022

Some logistics companies see automation as helping them onboard technology-savvy employees as they work to reduce headcount, lower costs, and increase the efficiency of distribution networks. Manufacturers and retailers say their investments in robots are transforming their supply-chain workforces. For example, Mondelez International's Sandra MacQuillan said the snack-food behemoth is seeing more professionals interested in efforts to build touchless distribution centers and plants, and in online monitoring systems that make manual production adjustment unnecessary. MacQuillan expects the upgrades will eliminate certain warehouse-floor jobs, while other positions will transition from physically moving goods to technology management. Lee Beard at the Nordstrom department store chain said technology investments are an enticement for recruits, especially those who "want to work on really compelling things where they see business impact."

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Computational Method Maps Human Tissues
Weill Cornell Medicine Newsroom
October 31, 2022

Weill Cornell Medicine researchers have created a computational method for structurally mapping human tissues in great detail. The unsupervised computational approach combines single-cell gene expression profiles and cell locations to characterize structural regions within tissues. The researchers used the technique to produce detailed maps of several kinds of tissues, identifying and measuring new microanatomical patterns that underpin tissue function. They also partnered with a scientist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine to show the method could differentiate between disease states in tissues.

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Digital Artists Find Museums Calling
The New York Times
Zachary Small
November 1, 2022

Museums are welcoming digital artists working in blockchain, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence in order to raise interest and attendance, as well as to remain relevant. "Being open to new technology is part of our responsibility," said Paola Antonelli at New York City's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). "We are never jumping on new technologies, but rather realizing that we need to keep pace with the world." In addition, New York's Guggenheim Museum is hiring an assistant digital art curator with funding from electronics firm LG, which also is subsidizing a $100,000 grant to artists making "groundbreaking achievements in technology-based art."

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Same Facial Expression Can Mean Different Things to Different People
October 31, 2022

Researchers at the U.K.'s Queen Mary University of London found that the same facial expression can be interpreted differently by different viewers. The researchers applied genetic algorithms to three-dimensional avatars, and 336 study participants refined the facial expressions of these avatars to represent what they thought emotions like happiness, fear, sadness, and anger look like. The researchers observed significant variations in these expressions. Said Queen Mary University's Isabelle Mareschal, "It appears that people's individual responses to different facial expressions have more to do with their unique understanding of the facial expression, rather than how they process and respond to emotions internally."

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Using an AI to train robot dogs makes them one-tenth the usual cost. Having AIs Train Robot Dogs to Balance Makes Them Cheaper
New Scientist
Jeremy Hsu
November 1, 2022

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)'s Deepak Pathak and colleagues used an artificial intelligence (AI) to train a robot dog to perform cleaning tasks for less than a tenth of the cost of Boston Dynamics' robot canines. The researchers taught the AI to coordinate the robot's movements with an arm affixed to its back while an operator guided its activity. They applied reinforcement learning to train the AI via computer models and in a physical machine. CMU's Xuxin Cheng said the researchers trained the AI to direct the robot's legs separately from the arm, before training it on leg/arm coordination. The team also had a "teacher" AI train a "student" AI to mimic their bodily motions.

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Danish politicians Pernille Vermund and Pia Olsen Dyhr before a political debate following the election declaration in Copenhagen, Denmark. Female Politicians Disadvantaged by Online Prejudices, Stereotypes
University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
October 28, 2022

Scientists at Denmark's University of Copenhagen (KU) has found widespread online gender bias to be a disadvantage for female politicians. The researchers analyzed 10 million English-language comments on the Reddit social media website, using statistical algorithms on several categories in which gender bias can be expressed. They learned that female politicians are more likely to be referred to by their first names, and with a less professional focus, than their male peers, who are more often referred to by their surnames and described in words related to their professions. Said KU's Isabelle Augenstein, when Internet users click on such stereotypical or prejudiced content, “The stereotypical narrative is reinforced, as the algorithms read this interaction as a success to be repeated."

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QuEra Computing's 256-qubit quantum computer with Florian Huber, one of its developers. Quantum Computer QuEra Joins Amazon's Cloud for Public Access
Jane Lanhee Lee
November 2, 2022

Boston-based quantum computer startup QuEra announced the public accessibility of its 256-quantum bit (qubit) Aquila computer through cloud's Braket quantum computer service. QuEra's qubits tap neutral atoms in a vacuum chamber that are cooled and guided by lasers. QuEra's Alexander Keesling said one of the advantages of its quantum computer is that "you can program the qubit layout so you don't have to use all of them. You can build different mini clusters of different atoms to parallelize the computation even further." Braket's Richard Moulds said researchers can use the service to test different types of quantum computers easily and cost-effectively.

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Enlightened Route to Wireless Communications
KAUST Discovery
November 1, 2022

A smart glass system created by researchers at Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) could harness sunlight to enhance wireless data transmission between electronic devices. The system can modulate filtered sunlight, encoding data into the light that devices can detect and decode. KAUST's Osama Amin said the system includes "a light modulator that can be embedded in a glass surface and an in-room receiver," composed of Dual-cell Liquid Crystal Shutters. KAUST's Sahar Ammar said the system can eliminate flicker by adjusting polarization levels. She explained, "The communication system works by changing the polarization of the incoming sunlight at the modulator side. The receiver can detect this change to decode the transmitted data."

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Holographic Microscopy Provides Insights into Microplankton
University of Gothenburg (Sweden)
November 1, 2022

Researchers at Sweden's University of Gothenburg (GU) used digitally generated holograms and artificial intelligence to observe individual-level behaviors of microplankton. The researchers employed light-emitting diode (LED) illumination, which does not affect the microorqanisms, to analyze microplankton using holographic microscopes. GU's Erik Selander said the microplankton cells being studied are "only a few hundredths of a millimeter in size, but they are so numerous that they affect the entire carbon cycle of the ocean.” Single-cell microplankton, Selander said, “take up about three times as much carbon as we humans emit from fossil fuels. Now we are able to get a detailed understanding of these processes at the individual level."

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