Welcome to the November 18, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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The ACM logo with text stating ‘ACM Gordon Bell Prize’. ACM Gordon Bell Prize Awarded for Particle-In-Cell Simulations on Exascale-Class Supercomputers
November 17, 2022

A team of French, Japanese, and U.S. scientists has earned the 2022 ACM Gordon Bell Prize for producing Particle-in-Cell (PIC) simulations on exascale-class supercomputers. The researchers formulated a mesh-refined (MR) massively parallel PIC code for kinetic plasma simulations optimized on the Frontier, Fugaku, Summit, and Perlmutter systems. The PIC code's advantages over current state-of-the-art strategies include a parallelization scheme that supports performance portability and scaling on millions of cores and tens of thousands of graphics processing units; 1.5-fold to 4-fold savings in computing requirements; and an efficient load-balancing approach between multiple MR levels. The team described its approach as "a landmark steppingstone toward a new era in the modeling of laser-plasma interactions."

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UC Irvine researchers Yonatan Gizachew Achamyeleh, Mohammad Al Faruque, and Anomadarshi Barua found that negative pressure rooms can be disrupted by music played on an attacker’s smartphone. Researchers Demonstrate How to Trigger Pathogen Release with Music
UCI News
November 17, 2022

University of California, Irvine (UCI) researchers demonstrated an exploit to hack a negative pressure room and release the pathogens it contains. The researchers said the sound of a particular frequency possibly couched in a popular song can disrupt the function of airflow control mechanisms in biocontainment facilities. "Someone could play a piece of music loaded on their smartphone or get it to transmit from a television or other audio device in or near a negative pressure room," explained UCI's Mohammad Al Faruque. "If that music is embedded with a tone that matches the resonant frequency of the pressure controls of one of these spaces, it could cause a malfunction and a leak of deadly microbes.”

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Low-Cost Robot Ready for Any Obstacle
Carnegie Mellon University News
Aaron Aupperle
November 16, 2022

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of California, Berkeley, have enabled a low-cost and relatively small legged robot to adapt to obstacles. The robot uses its vision and an onboard computer to quickly adjust to new situations and master difficult terrain. The researchers trained it using 4,000 robot clones as they walked and climbed in a simulator, giving the machine six years of experience in one day. The simulator also retained motor skills acquired in training in a neural network that the team copied to the actual robot. "This system uses vision and feedback from the body directly as input to output commands to the robot's motors," explained CMU's Ananye Agarwal. "This technique allows the system to be very robust in the real world."

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Intel’s real-time deepfake video detection platform assesses changes in the color of a person’s face due to blood flow. Deepfake Detector Can Spot Real/Fake Video from Blood Flow
Jada Jones
November 17, 2022

Semiconductor giant Intel claims its FakeCatcher technology can detect whether videos are genuine or deepfakes with 96% accuracy in real time. According to the company, the technology evaluates "what makes us human—'blood flow' in the pixels of a video." Intel explained FakeCatcher can spot color changes in a person’s veins based on how blood circulates throughout the body. The technology collects signals of blood flow from the face, which algorithms measure to determine the video's authenticity.

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The island-nation of Tuvalu is threatened by rising seas. Tuvalu Turns to Metaverse as Rising Seas Threaten Existence
Lucy Craymer
November 15, 2022

The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu said it intends to replicate itself in the metaverse to preserve its history and culture amid threatened submersion by rising sea levels. Tuvalu foreign minister Simon Kofe told the COP27 climate summit, "Our land, our ocean, our culture are the most precious assets of our people and to keep them safe from harm, no matter what happens in the physical world, we will move them to the cloud." Kofe hopes the digital version of Tuvalu will allow the country to continue as a state, even if the ocean covers it completely. He said seven governments have agreed to continue recognizing Tuvalu even if it is covered in water, adding that its submersion would be challenging from the standpoint of international law.

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Solving Brain Dynamics Gives Rise to Flexible ML Models
MIT News
Rachel Gordon
November 15, 2022

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Denmark's Aalborg University, and Austria's University of Vienna simulated the interaction between neurons and synapses in the brains of small species to generate flexible machine learning models that can adapt to changing conditions. The researchers mitigated the computational bottleneck caused by increasing numbers of neurons and synapses by addressing the equation underlying synaptic neuron interaction. These closed-form continuous-time (CfC) neural networks share the flexible, causal, robust, and explainable properties of liquid neural networks, but are scalable and orders of magnitude faster. The models beat state-of-the-art counterparts on various tasks, with higher speed upgrades and performance. MIT's Daniela Rus said CfC models "open the way to trustworthy machine learning for safety-critical applications."

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An Apple MacBook. Stack of Apple Laptops Could Be Powerful Supercomputer
New Scientist
Matthew Sparkes
November 16, 2022

Collin Capano and Connor Kenyon at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth conceived of a cluster of Apple laptops that could function as a supercomputer. The laptops contain M1 processors from U.K. chip manufacturer Arm, which integrate all the elements a computer needs. Capano used the Scalable Heterogeneous Computing benchmark to compare Apple's M1 and M1 Ultra chips with cutting-edge graphics processing units (GPUs); the M1 chips outperformed three versions of the NVIDIA GPU in three key aspects. The M1 devices' use of proprietary technology requires a method of efficiently linking them together and dividing a large computational problem across the cluster. "This means having to write code specifically for these processors," said Capano.

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Two outstretched hands holding smartphones facing each other. Telehealth Sites Put Addiction Patient Data at Risk
Lindsey Ellefson
November 16, 2022

A review of a dozen major substance-use-focused mobile health websites by the Opioid Policy Institute and Legal Action Center found such sites often leave addiction patient data vulnerable. Researchers analyzed the sites at four timepoints between March 2021 to July 2022 using The Markup news nonprofit's Blacklight privacy tool. Each site featured technologies that collect, identify, and share user data with third parties, as well as ad trackers whose average number "generally" increased over the study period. All but one site used third-party session cookies to identify and track visitors across other websites, while four sites used session recording to monitor visitor behavior. Experts warn such practices could run afoul of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and 42 CFR Part 2, which assure confidentiality of treatment records, and protect patients seeking treatment for substance use disorders from having their treatment histories exploited.

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A computer screen with code. Open Source Software Has Never Been More Important
Craig Hale
November 13, 2022

GitHub’s Octoverse 2022 report on the state of open source software found that 90% of Fortune 100 companies use open source software (OSS) in some capacity. There have been 413 million OSS contributions to GitHub from the platform’s 94 million users this year alone, the company noted. The report found that commercially backed OSS projects are increasing, and that around a third of Fortune 100 companies now have an open source program office to coordinate their OSS strategies. However, as the Synopsis Open Source Security and Risk Analysis Report for 2022 found, despite a steady 3% year-on-year decrease in vulnerabilities, more than 80% of the codebases analyzed were still found with at least one vulnerability, with 88% of the codebases investigated showing no signs of update in the past two years.

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Researchers Abe Davis, right, and Ruyu Yan. App Creates Time-Lapse Videos with Smartphone
Cornell Chronicle
Patricia Waldron
November 16, 2022

Cornell University researchers have developed an augmented reality-guided iOS application for producing time-lapse videos with a smartphone or tablet. The ReCapture app features capture modes suited for landscapes, close-up scenes, and image collection for three-dimensional (3D) offline scene reconstruction. Cornell's Ruyu Yan said the most challenging aspect of the app's development was creating its interface to guide users, because "what works intuitively for me may not work intuitively for others." ReCapture's simplest capture mode applies an overlay of previous shots to help the user line up new photos. For close-up scenes, the app attempts to determine the camera's position in 3D space, using arrows to show the user how to move and tilt the phone into the right location and orientation.

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Microrobot Assembly Line
November 17, 2022

Scientists at Japan's Osaka University (OU), the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Gifu University have unveiled a technique for fabricating complex robots powered by chemical energy. The researchers three-dimensionally-printed and assembled the microrobots' mechanical structures and actuators within a microfluidic chip, enabling the devices to execute desired tasks. "Our in situ integration of actuators and mechanical structures improved the flexibility and efficiency of microrobot fabrication, which may help realize the currently difficult problem of mass production," said OU's Keisuke Morishima.

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Image concept of artificial neural networks that mimic the networks of the brain. Method Incorporates AI to Design Power Electronic Converters
Interesting Engineering
Brittney Grimes
November 9, 2022

At the U.K.'s Cardiff University and compound semiconductor applications developer CSA Catapult, researchers employed artificial intelligence (AI) to produce a design model for power electronic converters. They trained an AI-based artificial neural network on a dataset constituting more than 2,000 designs, then chose the most appropriate layout to generate targeted productivity and power intensity. The researchers built power converters from field-effect transistors, inductors, capacitors, heat sinks, and gallium nitride (GaN). Cardiff University's Wenlong Ming said, "Accurate and fast transient modeling/simulation approaches are essential to efficiently and to rapidly optimize the performance of wide bandgap power electronics systems."

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A person looks at their smart watch while sitting at a PC. Study Uncovers Threat to Security, Privacy of Bluetooth Devices
Ohio State News
Tatyana Woodall
November 17, 2022

Ohio State University's Yue Zhang and Zhiqiang Lin found a vulnerability that could allow Bluetooth-using mobile devices to be exploited to track users' locations. The exploit taps a flaw in an idle Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol, which transmits a signal advertising its MAC address to other Bluetooth devices every 20 seconds. Said Zhang, "By broadcasting a MAC address to the device's location, an attacker may not physically be able to see you, but they would know that you're in the area." The researchers used their Bluetooth Address Tracking strategy to infiltrate more than 50 Bluetooth devices, then designed the Securing Address for BLE countermeasure, which adds an unpredictable sequence number to the randomized address to prevent each MAC address from being used more than once.

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AI for Science Call For Papers
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