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April 2016 — April 2016

Top U.S. Computer Science Undergrad Programs Flunk Cybersecurity (Apr 18, 2016)
A new study out from CloudPassage — a cloud security firm based in San Francisco — concludes that the American higher-education system is failing at preparing students for careers in cybersecurity. CloudPassage hired a third party consultant to analyze computer science programs at 121 universities listed on three rankings which included U.S. News and World Report’s Best Global Universities for Computer Science, Business Insider’s Top 50 best computer-science and engineering schools in A...
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Computers in Your Clothes? A Milestone for Wearable Electronics (Apr 17, 2016)
Researchers who are working to develop wearable electronics have reached a milestone: They are able to embroider circuits into fabric with 0.1 mm precision -- the perfect size to integrate electronic components such as sensors and computer memory devices into clothing. With this advance, the Ohio State University researchers have taken the next step toward the design of functional textiles -- clothes that gather, store, or transmit digital information.

What is a Chatbot? (Apr 17, 2016)
Chatbots are on the rise, but what are they and why is everyone talking about (and to) them? Facebook has just rolled out support for bots on its Messenger platform. Meanwhile, Microsoft has described chatbots as the "new apps" with chief executive Satya Nadella saying that they "unlock conversation as a platform". What is a chatbot? A chatbot is a computer software program that is able to communicate with humans, using artificial intelligence.

High School Student Invents a Cheaper Hearing Aid (Apr 16, 2016)
A summer with his grandfather was all it took for him to be inspired. When Mukund Venkatakrishnan was 14, he visited India and was tasked with helping his grandfather get tested and fitted for a hearing aid. He saw what a costly and difficult process it was and resolved to find an alternative. "Since audiologists are specialists, even finding and getting an appointment with one in India was really hard," said Venkatakrishnan, who is now 16. "And then we got ripped off." Venkatakrishnan said they...
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Artificial Intelligence and Racism (Apr 16, 2016)
Replicants. Cylons. Skynet. Hal 9000. These are the classic pop-culture references the average person might conjure when they hear the term “artificial intelligence.” Yet, while some see AI as a novelty still guised in the trappings of the far-flung future, others realize the dawn of AI is much closer than previously thought. CNBC’s piece on Hanson Robotics shows just how far we’ve come. Indeed, AI is here — although Microsoft’s blunder with Tay, the “teenaged girl AI” embodied b...
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3D-printed Rembrandt Painting Looks Almost as Good as the Real Thing (Apr 15, 2016)
Bringing us one step closer to the day when computers compete directly with humans in the arts, a new painting has been created using software to mimic the style of a master. The painting, titled "The Next Rembrandt" (below), is the result of a team of developers who, with the technical support of Microsoft and backing from Dutch bank ING, sought to create an original new work "by Rembrandt" using data from his existing paintings. "When you want to make a new painting you have some idea of how i...
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New State of Matter Detected in a Two-dimensional Material (Apr 15, 2016)
An international team of researchers have found evidence of a mysterious new state of matter, first predicted 40 years ago, in a real material. This state, known as a quantum spin liquid, causes electrons - thought to be indivisible building blocks of nature - to break into pieces. The researchers, including physicists from the University of Cambridge, measured the first signatures of these fractional particles, known as Majorana fermions, in a two-dimensional material with a structure similar t...
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Titan Helps Shed Light on Membrane Lipids’ Multiple Roles (Apr 14, 2016)
Lipid molecules are schizophrenic. One end likes to hang out with a charged crowd (think water); the other prefers neutral neighbors (think fats). Most of us remember those funky illustrations of the bilayer lipid membrane structure that encloses animal cells from high school biology. Recently, Titan supercomputer was used to show cell membranes may be much more than simple scaffolds for proteins and protective enclosures for cells. Rather, researchers are starting to see that lipids and protein...
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Gestures Improve Communication, Even with Robots (Apr 14, 2016)
In the world of robot communication, it seems actions speak louder than words. Scientists in the UK have discovered that by getting robot avatars to "talk with their hands," we understand them as well as we do our fellow human beings. Avatars have been in existence since the 1980s and today are used by millions of people across the globe. They are big business too: from artificial intelligence to social media and psychotherapy to high-end video games, they are used to sell things, to solve probl...
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First-ever 3-D Printed Robots Made of Both Solids and Liquids (Apr 13, 2016)
One reason we don’t yet have robot personal assistants buzzing around doing our chores is because making them is hard. Assembling robots by hand is time-consuming, while automation — robots building other robots — is not yet fine-tuned enough to make robots that can do complex tasks. But if humans and robots can’t do the trick, what about 3-D printers? In a new paper, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) present the first-ever technique f...
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The Funny Things Happening on the Way to Singularity (Apr 13, 2016)
People often ask me about the impact of 3D printing on jobs. Will the technology be a job creator or destroyer? The short answer is, it will take more jobs than it makes — and 3D printing is not alone. Technology will eventually make work obsolete. Our big problems are going to be figuring out how to survive the transition, then figuring out what to do with all that free time.

The Future of the Car is Not About Propulsion (Apr 12, 2016)
I’m impatient to see breakthroughs in cars. I have high expectations for what Apple will do and respect for what Tesla has already done. I agree with Peter Thiel on the we-were-promised-jet-cars-but-got-140-characters thing, and with Larry Page, who worries that Silicon Valley doesn’t throw the ball down the field enough. So, with all the talk of the Chevy Bolt Tesla-killer, the will-they-or-won’t-they joint venture of Google and Ford, the Tesla Model 3 March unveil, the intrigue around Ap...
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Top 15 Places to Live for Highest-Paying Computer Science Jobs (Apr 12, 2016)
Computer science jobs are some of the most sought-after positions in the world. And with employers looking for new ways to get involved with the digital revolution every day, hard-working and qualified individuals are more valuable than ever. And if you are looking to cash in on the increasing demand for this exciting field, you’ll need to take into consideration quite a bit of information. Luckily, someone has already done it for you.

Using Data from Social Networks to Understand and Improve Systems (Apr 11, 2016)
In the course of our day-to-day lives, we produce vast amounts of data. Whether gathered through online communications platforms, tracking devices, or other sources, these data reveal information about our behavior, decisions, and preferences. Researchers can ultimately use the data to improve systems across a variety of domains. In the process, there are great challenges and opportunities in the work of understanding the flow of ideas through groups, determining which incentives are effective, ...
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Scientists Store Digital Images in DNA and Retrieves Them Perfectly (Apr 11, 2016)
Technology companies routinely build sprawling data centers to store all the baby pictures, financial transactions, funny cat videos and email messages its users hoard. But a new technique developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers could shrink the space needed to store digital data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube. The team of computer scientists and electrical engineers has detailed one of the first complete systems to encode, st...
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Computer Science for All (Apr 10, 2016)
The Internet is big—really big! (About one Yottabyte in size, or a quadrillion Gigabytes, which if stored on CDs would stack from earth to moon ... 4000 times.) Did you ever wonder how Google can respond to your search in mere seconds? Your smartphone’s camera records about 8 million pixels when it snaps a photo, and each pixel represents millions of possible colors. That’s millions and millions of possibilities. How does your phone store those pictures in just a few hundred thousand bytes...
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The Delayed Revolution in Digital Financial Services (Apr 10, 2016)
Technology has transformed how we work, communicate and travel. In contrast, modern digital technology has not yet transformed financial services. Open data is the key to change in this sector of the economy. The time has come for the financial services industry to join the open data revolution. Open data means interoperability of digital information to increase its usability and accessibility. The Obama administration has done much to make open data a cornerstone of its digital government strat...
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Breakthrough Technology to Improve Cyber Security (Apr 9, 2016)
With enough computing effort most contemporary security systems will be broken. But a research team at the University of Sydney has made a major breakthrough in generating single photons (light particles), as carriers of quantum information in security systems. The collaboration involving physicists at the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), an ARC Centre of Excellence headquartered in the School of Physics, and electrical engineers from the School of Electrical a...
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How to Approach Machine Learning as a Non-technical Person (Apr 9, 2016)
The last few years have seen an explosion of interest in machine learning technology and potential applications. As a non-expert, you’ve probably either had to assess ML technology for your product and business or as a potential investment. The jargon around ML technology is vast, confusing and, unfortunately, increasingly being hijacked by overeager sales teams. This post is not a primer on ML technology; this post won’t pretend to give you an explanation of deep learning or any specific te...
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The Anatomy of a Nation-state Hack Attack (Apr 8, 2016)
Cyber-security is not all about cyber-thieves. It is about cyber-spies too. Mixed in among the spam, phishing messages and booby-trapped emails that land in your inbox might be the odd message crafted by hackers working for a government rather than a group of criminals. Unfortunately, those messages are not odd in any other way. They look like every other net-borne threat. That is because the creators of these malicious programs usually exploit the same software vulnerabilities as mainstream mal...
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Tech Unicorns Have Hundreds of Job Openings (Apr 8, 2016)
Despite fears about a slowdown in Silicon Valley, tech's unicorns are still hiring. In the past 30 days, Uber has posted 158 jobs in the Bay Area (and that doesn't include drivers). Dropbox has posted 113 jobs. Even Zenefits, which laid off 250 employees in February after its CEO and founder Parker Conrad abruptly quit, has posted 9 jobs. That's according to a new report from sales intelligence company DataFox. The report looked at job postings at the 100 top privately-held companies in Silicon ...
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Why It’s So Easy to Ignore Your To-do List App But Get Distracted by Twitter (Apr 7, 2016)
I’ve spent the past month in a daze, trying to make sense of my own tasks and responsibilities while forcing myself to adhere to a system I came up with that simply doesn’t work. You can never anticipate how your “perfectly designed” task-management system can fail. It’s our own nature — we’re so sure of ourselves — that makes us think our idea will be the magic trick that solves all our problems. For me, this idea came around a month ago, on a rainy street in a cafe mostly fille...
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10 Hottest Tech Skills for 2016 (Apr 7, 2016)
The IT team at HRHCare has seen its workload rise in recent years, as the Beacon, N.Y.-based nonprofit has added facilities and expanded its services. Eric Brosius, the organization's vice president of technology services, wants to expand the staff so his team will be able to cope with the added responsibilities and tackle new technology initiatives. Specifically, Brosius says he wants to add another six or seven full-time people to his staff of 17 full-timers. His first hiring priority: two tec...
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How Virtual Reality Could Change Moviegoing (Apr 6, 2016)
You're standing on the edge of a cliff, hundreds of feet above a snaking river. Your palms are sweaty. Your heart is beating fast. Someone tells you to jump, but everything in your body screams, "Don't do it!" Your brain is having a hard time overriding what your eyes are seeing in the goggles you wear on your face. "Jump!" you're told again. It's actually a harmless request, since this is virtual reality. Instead of a cliff's edge you're standing on a carpeted floor in a lounge at the Sundance ...
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Bacteria-powered Microrobots Navigate with Help from New Algorithm (Apr 6, 2016)
The problem with having a microscopic robot propelled by a horde of tail-flailing bacteria is you never know where it's going to end up. The tiny, bio-robots, which amount to a chip coated with a "carpet" of flagellated bacteria, emerged from the primordial ooze of microrobotics research a few years ago as a concept for building microscopic devices and delivering medication at the cellular level. But as with any robot, the challenge for making them useful is bridging the gap from movement to aut...
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