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August 2017 — August 2017

Computer Science: Girls Logging Off (Aug 28, 2017)
If you are looking for signs that technical education is being transformed, and that girls are now more eager to study subjects such as computing, then my advice is to avoid the latest GCSE results. I have written before about fears that the revolution in computing education has stalled. Now the GCSEs, coupled with the recent A-level results, provide more evidence for those concerns.



New Antennas Are Up to a Hundredth the Size of Today’s Devices (Aug 28, 2017)
Antennas just got a whole lot smaller. Tiny chips that communicate via radio waves are a tenth to a hundredth the length of current state-of-the-art compact antennas. At only a couple hundred micrometers across — comparable to the thickness of a piece of paper — these next-gen antennas can relay the same types of signals as those used by TVs, cell phones and radios, researchers report in Nature Communications.



We Don't Want AI That Can Understand Us – We'd Only End Up Arguing (Aug 27, 2017)
Forget the Turing test. Computing pioneer Alan Turing's most pertinent thoughts on machine intelligence come from a neglected paragraph of the same paper that first proposed his famous test for whether a computer could be considered as smart as a human. "The original question, 'Can machines think?' I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion.



Artificial Neural Networks Decode Brain Activity During Performed and Imagined Movements (Aug 27, 2017)
Filtering information for search engines, acting as an opponent during a board game or recognizing images: Artificial intelligence has far outpaced human intelligence in certain tasks. Researchers are showing how ideas from computer science could revolutionize brain research. They illustrate how a self-learning algorithm decodes human brain signals that were measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG).



Google Launches Site to Share its NYC-based Algorithm Research (Aug 26, 2017)
Much of Google’s algorithm development occurs in groups scattered throughout New York City. Google launched a single website – NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team page – to provide a deeper view into all of the NYC-based groups work. The NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team comprises multiple overlapping research groups working on large-scale graph mining, large-scale optimization and market algorithms among other areas. Not surprisingly the work is in support of Google products and a wid...
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NSF Announces $17.7 Million Funding for Data Science Projects (Aug 26, 2017)
Today the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced $17.7 million in funding for 12 Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science (TRIPODS) projects, which will bring together the statistics, mathematics and theoretical computer science communities to develop the foundations of data science. Conducted at 14 institutions in 11 states, these projects will promote long-term research and training activities in data science that transcend disciplinary boundaries.



Computer Scientists Use Music to Covertly Track Body Movements, Activity (Aug 18, 2017)
As smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and other smart devices become more prevalent in our lives, computer scientists have raised concerns that these network-enabled devices, if not properly secured, could be co-opted to steal data or invade user privacy. Now researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in th...
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Science Doesn’t Explain Tech’s Diversity Problem – History Does (Aug 18, 2017)
In 2017, the idea that biological differences drive social inequality is considered fairly offensive. For the incurious, the taboo around this argument makes it exciting. But unlike people, not all ideas are created equally, and they should not be treated with same amount of seriousness — especially when those ideas ignore both a broad scientific debate that’s gone on for years and clear evidence that women in tech are excluded more than in other industries.



Google Continues to Push Diversity in Tech – Now with the 4-H Club (Aug 17, 2017)
If you hit the annual Illinois State Fair in Springfield this weekend, you'll see the usual attractions: livestock exhibits, a ferris wheel, puffy funnel cakes. You might also be surprised to find a small booth for one of the largest technology companies in the world. Google has long invested in projects to get kids interested in technology. Now, Google.org is giving the 4-H club a $1.5 million grant to help teach its 6 million members across the country about computer science.



Computer Tech: ‘Organismic Learning’ Mimics Some Aspects of Human Thought (Aug 17, 2017)
A new computing technology called "organismoids" mimics some aspects of human thought by learning how to forget unimportant memories while retaining more vital ones. "The human brain is capable of continuous lifelong learning," said Kaushik Roy, Purdue University's Edward G. Tiedemann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "And it does this partially by forgetting some information that is not critical. I learn slowly, but I keep forgetting other things along the way,...
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An Exascale Timeline for Storage and I/O Systems (Aug 16, 2017)
The more things change, the more they stay the same. While exascale supercomputers mark a next step in performance capability, at the broader architectural level, the innovations that go into such machines will be the result of incremental improvements to the same components that have existed on HPC systems for several years. In large-scale supercomputing, many performance trends have jacked up capability and capacity—but the bottlenecks have not changed since the dawn of computing as we know ...
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Could Georgia Tech Use Online to Shave Time Off Bachelor’s Degrees? (Aug 16, 2017)
University uses model from closely observed master’s in computer science on undergraduates for first time, finds notable success and sees path to shaving a year or more off in-person instruction. Georgia Institute of Technology's online, MOOC-inspired master's degree in computer science has many educators watching closely. This spring, the university tried a similar approach for undergraduates and found it so successful that it's continuing along a path to shave off up to a year and a half of ...
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UMass Amherst Computer Scientists Develop New Technique to Measure Social Bias in Software (Aug 15, 2017)
Today, banks are increasingly using software to decide who will get a loan, courts to judge who should be denied bail, and hospitals to choose treatments for patients. These uses of software make it critical that the software does not discriminate against groups or individuals, say computer science researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Professor Alexandra Meliou in the College of Information and Computer Sciences says, “The increased role of software and the potential impact ...
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De-jargonizing Program Helps Decode Science Speak (Aug 15, 2017)
Science is fascinating to many, but sentences that are full of expert-level terms and description can scare away even the most passionate readers. Can scientists learn to talk about their research without using too many technical terms? One of the obstacles to avoiding jargon is that scientists suffer from "the curse of knowledge" – they simply do not remember not knowing what they now know as experts.



Scientists Successfully Infiltrate Computer Using Malware Coded into DNA (Aug 14, 2017)
In what reads like science fiction becoming reality, researchers at the University of Washington have been able to successfully infect a computer with malware coded into a strand of DNA. In order to see if a computer could be compromised in that way, the team included a known security vulnerability in a DNA-processing program before creating a synthetic DNA strand with the malicious code embedded. A computer then analyzed the “infected” strand, and as a result of the malware in the DNA, the ...
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I'm a Woman in Computer Science. Let Me Ladysplain the Google Memo to You. (Aug 14, 2017)
I’m a lecturer in computer science at Stanford. I’ve taught at least four different programming languages, including assembly. I’ve had a single-digit employee number in a startup. Yes, I’m a woman in tech. I have known, worked for, and taught countless men who could have written the now-infamous Google “manifesto” — or who are on some level persuaded by it. Given these facts, I’d like to treat it — and them — with some degree of charity and try to explain why it generated so...
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Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot (Aug 13, 2017)
The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is the Cancer Moonshot, launched in 2016 by then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and passed as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. Over the years, computational technology has become an increasingly important component in all of these cancer-fighting programs, hand-in-glove with dramatic advances in understanding cancer biology and a profusion...
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HPE goes for Mission to Mars with Supercomputer Launch (Aug 13, 2017)
On August 14, SpaceX intends to launch one of its Dragon Spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station. Part of the payload will be include an HPE supercomputer. This supercomputer, called the Spaceborne Computer, is part of a year-long experiment conducted by HPE and NASA to run a high performance commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer system in space, which has never been done before. The goal is for the system to operate seamlessly in the harsh conditions of space ...
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Colleges Have Increased Women Computer Science Majors: What Can Google Learn? (Aug 11, 2017)
A Google engineer who got fired over a controversial memo that criticized the company's diversity policies said that there might be biological reasons there are fewer women engineers. But top computer science schools have proven that a few cultural changes can increase the number of women in the field. In 2006, only about 10 percent of computer science majors at Harvey Mudd College were women. That's pretty low since Harvey Mudd is a school for students who are interested in science, math and te...
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The Importance of Computer Science Education (Aug 11, 2017)
Imagine a world without Google and you will see your life immediately coming to a standstill. That is the power of Google — a tiny fraction of the products powered by the science behind computers, saving the users a great amount of their precious time. Indisputably, computer science has affected the entire human race in such a way that there is no point of going back. In order to survive, one has to be on a par with the continuously unfolding trends of time. So, it is becoming mandatory for ev...
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Computer Science Tops Indeed’s List of Popular College Majors and Graduate Job Salaries (Aug 10, 2017)
Does picking a college major guarantee a certain salary after graduation? Not necessarily. But jobs site Indeed just released a study that analyzed more than 80 million resumes to identify popular majors among U.S. college grads and subsequent average salaries for those students. The company, which is quickly growing its Seattle outpost, looked at the most popular majors and then the types of roles students with those degrees tend to land after graduating.



AI, Crowdsourcing Combine to Close 'Analogy Gap' (Aug 10, 2017)
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem devised a method enabling computers to mine databases of patents, inventions and research papers, identifying ideas that can be repurposed to solve new problems or create new products. Specifically, they developed a way for computers to find analogies—comparisons between sometimes disparate methods and problems that highlight underlying similarities. As anyone who enjoyed watching TV's MacGyver disarm a missile wi...
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Computer Science Isn’t Just A Boys Club Anymore (Aug 9, 2017)
Computer science is a world where women are disproportionately represented. This leads to a gender bias in the way our technology is innovated in the workforce. Technology and computers permeate through many aspects of society and provide the foundation for most modern innovation, but according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women are significantly underrepresented in the creation of technology. That’s a problem.



Source of Human Heartbeat Revealed in 3-D (Aug 9, 2017)
A team of scientists from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), The University of Manchester, Aarhus University and Newcastle University, have developed a way of producing 3D data to show the cardiac conduction system -- the special cells that enable our hearts to beat -- in unprecedented detail. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.



CSRA Expands NIH Supercomputing (Aug 8, 2017)
CSRA Inc. announced it has installed a second increment to the Biowulf supercomputing cluster at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Information Technology. Biowulf is designed to process a large number of simultaneous computations that are typical in genomics, image processing, statistical analysis, and other biomedical research areas. “We are proud to report the next stage of supercomputing power for Biowulf at NIH,” said Vice President Kamal Narang, head of CSRA’s Federal...
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