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April 2016 — May 2016

Paper Gets 'Smart' with Drawn-on, Stenciled Sensor Tags (May 12, 2016)
A piece of paper is one of the most common, versatile daily items. Children use it to draw their favorite animals and practice writing the A-B-Cs, and adults print reports or scribble a hasty grocery list. Now, connecting real-world items such as a paper airplane or a classroom survey form to the larger Internet of Things environment is possible using off-the-shelf technology and a pen, sticker or stencil pattern. Researchers from the University of Washington, Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon...
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Treating the Healthcare Issue with Tech (May 11, 2016)
The healthcare industry, with its maddening inefficiencies and an economic model that incentivizes disease care over health care, desperately needs a Silicon Valley-style overhaul. But even as waves of technological and economic disruption have washed over almost every industry in the United States over the last decade or two — commerce, finance, media, telecommunications — the everyday experience of healthcare stands unperturbed, stuck somewhere in the mid- to late-1990s. Why is the nation�...
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What Humans Need to Learn About Machine Learning (May 11, 2016)
Artificial intelligence, machine intelligence, cognitive computing — whatever you want to call machines that are capable of understanding and acting upon their environment — is no longer solely the purview of highly credentialed lab directors and deep-thinking computer scientists. It has entered mainstream consciousness, and the public expects IT to play a leadership role as machine learning enters our workplaces, our living spaces and our lives. Will you be ready?



Robots May Be Able to Lift, Drive, and Chat, But Are They Safe and Trustworthy? (May 7, 2016)
Whether it's self-driving cars, automated package delivery systems, or Barbie dolls that converse with children, the ways in which humans and robots interact is a rapidly growing field. Movies such as Star Wars, Wall-E, and Ex-Machina reveal how society is fascinated by both the positive and negative implications. In his newly published scan of the literature, expert Thomas B. Sheridan concludes that the time is ripe for human factors researchers to contribute scientific insights that can tackle...
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Why Image Recognition is About to Transform Business (May 7, 2016)
At Facebook’s recent annual developer conference, Marc Zuckerberg outlined the social network’s artificial intelligence (AI) plans to “build systems that are better than people in perception.” He then demonstrated an impressive image recognition technology for the blind that can “see” what’s going on in a picture and explain it out loud. From programs that help the visually impaired and safety features in cars that detect large animals to auto-organizing untagged photo collections ...
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Women In Tech: 5 Fantastic Tips From Entrepreneurs To Princeton Professors (May 6, 2016)
Whether they’re working at the frontiers of computer science or on the unforgiving battlegrounds of enterprise competitiveness, we know there are already some truly incredible women doing remarkable things in tech. But it’s no secret either that there remains a striking imbalance in terms of gender diversity ratios across the industry as a whole. So, while hopefully highlighting some of the great work they’ve been doing, here’s a look at a handful of top tips from some of the women I’v...
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5 World-Changing Computer Science Breakthroughs that Started at University (May 6, 2016)
For decades, universities have been at the forefront of making innovations in computer science. Many of these breakthroughs have significantly changed the world we live in, revolutionizing humanistic and scientific fields such as medicine, natural resources, financial and economic systems, defense, and entertainment, just to name the few. These innovations have also increased connectivity in what has become a vital component of the globalized world. With these historic milestones in modern human...
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'Machine Learning' May Contribute to New Advances in Plastic Surgery (May 5, 2016)
With an ever-increasing volume of electronic data being collected by the healthcare system, researchers are exploring the use of machine learning--a subfield of artificial intelligence--to improve medical care and patient outcomes. An overview of machine learning and some of the ways it could contribute to advancements in plastic surgery are presented in a special topic article in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic...
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The Tech Elite are Moving Left this Election Cycle (May 5, 2016)
This election cycle, the tech elite are almost exclusively backing liberals: Tesla’s Elon Musk donated to Hillary Clinton, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave handsomely to the San Francisco Democratic Party organization, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates gave to three Democratic congressmen. Though often seen as a libertarian stronghold, no household Silicon Valley names publicly donated to the small government torchbearers, Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. Far from being the exception, recent data shows that...
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Researchers Explain How Stereotypes Keep Girls Out of Computer Science Classes (May 4, 2016)
Despite valiant efforts to recruit more women, the gender gap in the fields collectively known as STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — is not getting any better. The gaps in computer science and engineering are the largest of any major STEM discipline. Nationally, less than 20% of bachelor’s degrees in these fields go to women. Women are missing out on great jobs, and society is missing out on the innovations women could be making in new technology. Good work is being done t...
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Now Computers Can Tell When You're Bored (May 4, 2016)
Boredom manifests itself in more than yawns and glazed eyes. Subtle body cues called noninstrumental movements—squirming, scratching, shifting—also give away a person's mental state. Like teachers and other public speakers, machines can now also pick up on these telltale signs of restlessness. A new study reveals that when computer users tune in to on-screen material, their fidgeting lessens—and algorithms can use that information to discern attentiveness in real time.



The Benefits of Being a ‘Dumb’ Girl in Computer Science (May 3, 2016)
Prior to changing my major to computer science, I was studying molecular biology and I hated it. I was studying it for all the wrong reasons and the more I kept trying at it the more both it and I fell apart. I was seriously considering dropping out of college all together until one day during one of my labs my partner said something to me that I will never forget and it started a chain reaction of events that led me directly to computer science.



Computers Play a Crucial Role in Preserving the Earth (May 3, 2016)
Computers have helped revolutionize the commercial world and transformed the lives of the general public through the development of the Internet and mobile technologies like the iPhone. But, practically speaking, they have done little for the good of our planet. This troubled Carla Gomes, a computer science professor at Cornell University, and led her to embark on an effort to develop computational methods that can help cultivate a more sustainable world.



Strengthening Authentication Through Big Data (May 2, 2016)
The fact that plain passwords are no longer safe to protect our digital identities is no secret. For years, the use of two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a means to ensure online account security and prevent fraud has been a hot topic of discussion. Technological advances, especially in the mobile industry, have created new possibilities, and manufacturers and vendors are offering various multi-factor solutions in the domain of biometrics, physical tokens, s...
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The Frustrated Science Student Behind Sci-Hub (May 2, 2016)
Beyond being the founder of Sci-Hub, the world’s largest pirate site for academic papers, and risking arrest as a result, Alexandra Elbakyan is a typical science graduate student: idealistic, hard-working, and relatively poor. In 1988, when Elbakyan was born in Kazakhstan, the Soviet Union was just beginning to crumble. Books about dinosaurs and evolution fascinated her early on. “I also remember reading Soviet science books that provided scientific explanations for miraculous events thought...
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Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? (May 1, 2016)
If you, me and every person and thing in the cosmos were actually characters in some giant computer game, we would not necessarily know it. The idea that the universe is a simulation sounds more like the plot of “The Matrix,” but it is also a legitimate scientific hypothesis. Researchers pondered the controversial notion at the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History.



The Light Stuff: A Brand-New Way to Produce Electron Spin Currents (May 1, 2016)
With apologies to Isaac Asimov, the most exciting phase to hear in science isn't "Eureka," but "That's funny..." A "that's funny" moment in a Colorado State University physics lab has led to a fundamental discovery that could play a key role in next-generation microelectronics. Publishing in Nature Physics, the scientists, led by Professor of Physics Mingzhong Wu in CSU's College of Natural Sciences, are the first to demonstrate using non-polarized light to produce in a metal what's called a spi...
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Google is Funding Screenplays that Change the Image of Computer Science (Apr 30, 2016)
Google wants to help change the way computer science is depicted in the media, so the company is funding a new grant for screenwriters. The company has teamed up with The Black List, a site that lets filmmakers share their scripts online, to look for three writers to create screenplays or teleplays that "changes the image of computer science or computer scientists, [particularly] as it applies to women and minorities." Each will be awarded up to $15,000 and have six months to work on their proje...
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Robotic Consensus (Apr 30, 2016)
Planning algorithms for teams of robots fall into two categories: centralized algorithms, in which a single computer makes decisions for the whole team, and decentralized algorithms, in which each robot makes its own decisions based on local observations. With centralized algorithms, if the central computer goes offline, the whole system falls apart. Decentralized algorithms handle erratic communication better, but they’re harder to design, because each robot is essentially guessing what the o...
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Bullied Parrot Finds New Confidence with 3D-Printed Beak (Apr 29, 2016)
A palm cockatoo named Huizai — Chinese for Grey Boy — has gotten a new lease on life, thanks to the wonders of technology. The parrot who lives in a Nanjing zoo in Jiangsu, China, was on the verge of losing its beak (and respect from its peers) until he was fitted with a new beak. According to one of his keepers, Chen Wei, Huizai's beak started showing cracks after a fight with another parrot, but those cracks got worse and most of it started to fall off. Both Huizai's confidence and appetit...
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With Simple Process, Engineers Fabricate Fastest Flexible Silicon Transistor (Apr 29, 2016)
One secret to creating the world's fastest silicon-based flexible transistors: a very, very tiny knife. Working in collaboration with colleagues around the country, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have pioneered a unique method that could allow manufacturers to easily and cheaply fabricate high-performance transistors with wireless capabilities on huge rolls of flexible plastic.



Intel Scalable Systems Framework: Next Generation Processors Open the Door to Faster, More Efficient Deep Learning (Apr 28, 2016)
Deep learning has inspired a gold rush of technology innovation across a wide range of markets from Internet search, to social media, to real-time robotics, self-driving vehicles, drones and more. Spanning the gamut of machine performance, deep learning (and machine learning in general) encompasses floating-point-, network- and data-intensive ‘training’ plus real-time, low-power ‘prediction’ operations. Intel Scalable Systems Framework (Intel® SSF) is an approach that customers can use ...
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How Social Entrepreneurship is Making a Difference in the World (Apr 28, 2016)
We have grown accustomed to the Silicon Valley zeal driving startups to develop new technologies that will disrupt the market in yet another way. On-demand apps like Uber are aimed at making our lives easier by saving us time and money. In other parts of the world, people are faced with different kinds of “problems.” They aren’t so much worried about finding an app that will water their plants — their actual concern is finding water. An example, among many others, is India.



To Make Computers Better, Let Them Get Sloppy (Apr 27, 2016)
Krishna Palem's computers won’t win any awards for accuracy. Most of the time they can’t even add up correctly. For them, 2 + 2 might as well be 5. But don’t be fooled by the wobbly arithmetic. Palem is making machines that could represent a new dawn for computing. Inaccuracy is not something we typically associate with computers. Since Alan Turing laid down their ground rules in the 1930s, computers have been sticklers for precision, built on the principle of following step-by-step instru...
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XSEDE Bringing Students to New Course (Apr 27, 2016)
Blue Waters seeking partner institutions to offer course on designing and building applications for extreme scale systems. The Blue Waters project and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana are offering an online course on Designing and Building Applications for Extreme Scale Systems for graduate students and are seeking other university partners that are interested in offering the course for credit to their students.

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