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Welcome to the September 20, 2023, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Parkland school shooting survivor develops Joy, an app built on AI that helps people heal Parkland School Shooting Survivor Develops AI App That Helps People Heal
Associated Press
Barbara Ortutay
September 20, 2023

A student who survived the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, worked with colleagues to develop a smartphone application to help people recover from traumatic events. The Joy app uses artificial intelligence to suggest brief mindfulness activities to users based on their feelings, like writing a letter to one’s future self or recalling moments that evoked positive emotions. The app algorithmically determines a user’s feelings from the sound of their voice. Said Kai Koerber, who lived through the shooting at the high school, "The idea was to provide a platform to people who were struggling with, let's say sadness, grief, be able to get a mindfulness practice or wellness practice on the go that meets our emotional needs on the go."

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Large data centers produce about 1% of the energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions Machine Learning Innovation Reduces Computer Power Usage
WSU Insider
Tina Hilding
September 14, 2023

A machine learning framework developed by researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and Intel can manage power usage to reduce energy consumption in multi-core computer processors. The researchers designed the algorithms to select voltage and frequency levels for different clusters of a 64-core processor. The scalable framework learned to optimize power management without reducing multi-processor performance, realizing up to 60% energy savings. WSU's Jana Doppa said this innovation is designed for future computing systems that could have as many as 1,000 core processors, although it also could be used for extremely small embedded systems.

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Amazon Adapts Cashierless Tech for Clothing Stores
Matt Day
September 19, 2023

A new version of retail giant Amazon's Just Walk Out cashierless shopping technology for clothing vendors keeps track of apparel via radio-frequency identification (RFID). The system previously used ceiling-mounted cameras and shelf sensors, and automatically charged swiped credit cards when shoppers left the store. However, the system found it difficult to distinguish between items of similar weight and appearance. The new Just Walk Out version has RFID tags from packaging materials technology provider Avery Dennison attached to individual items and monitored by in-store readers. Amazon has implemented the system at a few dozen Go convenience stores and Fresh grocery outlets, in addition to licensee-operated stores.

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Computational Model Helps with Diabetes Drug Design
MIT News
Anne Trafton
September 20, 2023

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Vanderbilt University have designed a computational model to predict the human body's response to glucose-responsive insulins (GRIs). The model includes a series of equations describing how glucose and insulin function in different areas of the body so researchers can predict how blood glucose levels will affect various organs in humans and other species when using specific GRIs. The team used the model to analyze the results of a discontinued GRI clinical trial, showing the drug's effects differed in humans and animals due to a sugar receptor's divergent behavior. The model could help researchers develop novel GRIs and better predict whether a particular diabetes drug would be effective in humans even before launching clinical trials.

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Anti-vaccine campaigns are often associated with misinformation Facebook’s Change to Control COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Failed
New Scientist
Chris Stokel-Walker
September 15, 2023

Researchers at George Washington (GWU) and Johns Hopkins universities, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found Facebook's 2020 removal of a major anti-vaccine page only exacerbated the extremity of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. The researchers surveilled engagement using more than 200,000 posts on Facebook pages and groups between Nov. 15, 2019, and Feb. 28, 2022. They analyzed the number of posts and users’ engagement with those posts before and after the anti-vaccine page's removal; while the volume of content on anti-vaccine pages fell to 32% of pre-removal volume, people avoiding bans and blocks started posting more extreme misinformation. Anti-vaccine content engagement also grew 33% more than what would have been anticipated based on pre-removal trends. GWU's David Broniatowski said Facebook's architecture and engagement facilitation mechanisms have enabled such behavior, and will continue to thwart content removal or one-time algorithmic changes until they are addressed.

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Google DeepMind AI Tool Assesses DNA Mutations for Harm Potential
The Guardian (U.K.)
Ian Sample
September 19, 2023

Google DeepMind scientists created the AlphaMissense artificial intelligence (AI) program to predict the nature of millions of DNA mutations, in order to accelerate research and diagnosis of rare diseases. The researchers adapted DeepMind's AlphaFold three-dimensional protein-structure prediction algorithm to evaluate 71 million single-letter or missense mutations that could impact human proteins. Setting AlphaMissense's precision to 90% produced a forecast score that 57% of missense mutations were probably innocuous and 32% were probably harmful, while the remaining mutations' statuses were uncertain. The researchers have released a free online prediction catalog to help geneticists and clinicians investigating mutational disease mechanisms or diagnosing patients with rare disorders.

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The flagship store was designed using parametric design and fabricated using biodegradable 3D-printed materials. Nescafé's 3D-Printed Store is a Step Towards Regenerative Architecture
New Atlas
Bridget Borgobello
September 18, 2023

Brazilian architectural firm Estudio Guto Requena built a flagship concept store for the Nescafé coffee brand in São Paulo using algorithmic three-dimensional (3D) printing. The Dolce Gusto Neo store was constructed from biodegradable materials and recycled plastic as a step toward regenerative architecture, which focuses on conservation and reduced environmental impact. The 3D printing technology enabled the architects to model the store's design after the five-petal coffee flower, while also reducing waste during construction. They built a prefabricated scaffold using glued laminated timber sourced from reforested pine trees and created the structure’s shell from minimal materials thanks to usage-optimizing computer-generated molds.

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Squishy Robot Built for Mars Is Helping First Responders in Rescue Operations
Sharmila Kuthunur
September 18, 2023

A squishy, sensor-laden robot designed to land on other worlds is assisting Earthbound first responders with rescue operations. California-based Squishy Robotics developed the lightweight spherical device with funding from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The robot can be carried by and deployed from commercially available drones; in February, a drone investigating the derailment of a propane tank-carrying train in Florida dispatched the robot, which helped first responders monitor for gas leaks, according to Squishy Robotics. When air-dropped from a plane hovering 1,000 feet overhead two years ago, the robot demonstrated its tension integrity (tensegrity), imbued by its skeletal, web-like frame, which protects its sensor payload from impact.

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Lora Ho at TSMC poses with Sebastian Gemkow, Saxony state's minister of science, and Ursula Staudinger, president of the Dresden University of Technology Taiwan's TSMC to Help Train German Students for Semiconductor Careers
Yahoo! News
September 19, 2023

The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has signed an agreement with Germany's Saxony state and the Dresden University of Technology to train German students for jobs in the semiconductor industry. This follows TSMC's announcement last month that it would build a new $3.8-billion chip factory in Dresden, with chip production slated to begin by the end of 2027. Under the agreement, up to 100 high-achieving students from Saxony will participate in a 6-month exchange program in Taiwan and "collaborate with Taiwan's top universities" beginning in February 2024. Said TSMC's Lora Ho, "We are preparing in advance for the shortage of talent that may come shortly, and strengthening semiconductor education is the most critical way to resolve the global shortage of technical talent." TSMC's Dresden facility, when up and running, is expected to generate about 2,000 direct high-tech jobs.

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Smart Utility Meter Security Takes a Quantum Leap
IEEE Spectrum
Tammy Xu
September 14, 2023

The Quantinuum quantum computing venture formed by quantum technology developers Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum is constructing cryptographic keys to protect Honeywell's smart utility meters. The company's Quantum Origin service utilizes quantum computers to produce large random numbers for safeguarding private data or grid infrastructure. Quantinuum's Tony Uttley said on a randomness scale of zero to 1, Quantinuum generates random numbers at 1 plus or minus 2-128. Quantinuum's quantum computer outputs a random sequence of ones and zeros as a "seed," which is combined with classically generated random numbers from Honeywell. The resulting cryptographic key can help secure communication between utility firms and smart utility meters.

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Eclipse enterprise Java gathers steam, MicroProfile slips Eclipse Enterprise Java Gathers Steam, MicroProfile Slips
Paul Krill
September 19, 2023

The Eclipse Foundation's 2023 Jakarta EE Developer Survey Report found that more enterprise Java developers are using Jakarta EE, the foundation's enterprise Java. Of the 2,203 developers surveyed, 17% use Jakarta EE 10, which was released in September 2022. The survey also showed an increase in the share of developers running Jakarta EE 9 in production from 14% last year to 17%, while those running Jakarta EE 8 in production rose from 24% to 28%. Additionally, the share of developers that have migrated to Jakarta EE or plan to do so within 6 to 24 months surged to more than 60%. Among those building cloud native applications, 66% used Spring and Spring Boot as a framework, followed by Jakarta EE at 53% and Eclipse's MicroProfile at 26%.

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Fast-Track Strain Engineering for Speedy Biomanufacturing
Berkeley Lab News Center
Aliyah Kovner
September 19, 2023

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, San Francisco aim to expedite and simplify the development of new microbial strains through a new biomanufacturing workflow. The Product Substrate Pairing (PSP) workflow integrates CRISPR gene editing with computational models of microbial gene expression and enzyme activity that can be used to anticipate required gene edits. Berkeley Lab's Thomas Eng said, "We've demonstrated that [by] pairing targeted approaches that focus on specific genes and proteins with methods that model the entire genome, you can tremendously reduce product development cycles from years to months." The researchers used PSP to engineer a strain that could feed on lignin-derived molecules, proving the workflow could eliminate trial and error.

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Driverless car company is using chatbots to make its vehicles smarter Driverless Car Company Using Chatbots to Make Its Vehicles Smarter
MIT Technology Review
Will Douglas Heaven
September 14, 2023

U.K.-based driverless car company Wayve has tapped chatbot technology to question its vehicles about their driving decisions. The company combined its self-driving software with a large language model into the LINGO-1 hybrid model, which synchronizes video and driving data with natural-language descriptions that record the car's observations and actions. Wayve aims to know how and why its cars make certain decisions by quizzing the self-driving software at every step, helping to expose flaws faster than sifting through video playbacks or scrolling through error reports. The University of California, Berkeley's Pieter Abbeel said, "With a system like LINGO-1, I think you get a much better idea of how well it understands driving in the world."

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