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June 2016 — June 2016

AI Fools Humans With Fake Sound Effects (Jun 23, 2016)
The auditory Turing test has been defeated. When MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab researchers showed videos of a drumstick hitting and brushing through various objects, subjects were fooled into believing that the sounds they heard actually came from the objects and materials on screen. They did not. Instead, a computer programmed to analyze the video and apply the correct sounds from its own library of samples chose the audio clips for all the videos. And the subjects were n...
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"Ransomware" Cyberattack Exposes Vulnerability of Universities (Jun 23, 2016)
The first Patrick Feng knew about a cyberattack on his university was when one of his colleagues told him that her computer had been infected by hackers and rendered unusable. Feng, who studies technology and sustainability policy at the University of Calgary in Canada, immediately checked the Dropbox folder that he was sharing with that colleague — and found that it, too, had been compromised. “The hackers had created encrypted copies of all my Dropbox files and deleted the originals,” he...
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How Lawrence Livermore Is Facing Exascale Power Demands (Jun 22, 2016)
When considering the challenges of exascale computing, power is right at the top of the list and the major leadership-class centers want to make sure they’re doing everything they can to manage the demands of power today – which can run as high as 10 MW at peak for the largest machines – and in the coming exascale era, when the number could be three times that high. At loads of this magnitude, the largest HPC facilities need to have all the relevant power data within arm’s reach. Managin...
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Financial Technology Matures as Government Steps In. (Jun 22, 2016)
You would be hard pressed to read the news and not know that fintech is seemingly at a crossroads — from Lending Club‘s CEO resigning to reports of other peer-to-peer lending platforms reducing their workforce to headlines that state that, after a boom in funding, venture capitalists are looking to other sectors out of fear. Indeed, some are already declaring financial technology dead as a space for the near-term. Not so fast. Here’s what we know. These signals are actually the chaotic rea...
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Taipei Computex Gets its Head Around VR (Jun 21, 2016)
At Computex the focus this year shifted to contemporary tech: virtual reality, home robotics, the connected home and the internet of things. In hardware, there were two-in-one notebooks and gaming rigs. Microsoft made a far-reaching announcement that wearers of virtual reality headsets such as HTC’s Vive would be able to manipulate the same holograms that wearers of its HoloLens accessed. It demonstrated a person with a VR headset and another with a HoloLens working together designing the same...
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NVIDIA Unveils the Inception Program (Jun 21, 2016)
NVIDIA today unveiled a comprehensive global program to support the innovation and growth of startups that are driving new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and data science. The NVIDIA Inception Program provides unique tools, resources and opportunities to the waves of entrepreneurs starting new companies, so they can develop products and services with a first-mover advantage. “Startups worldwide are taking advantage of deep learning for its superhuman speed and accuracy in application...
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The Supercomputing Shift (Jun 20, 2016)
Many of the Texas Advanced Computing Center's feature stories highlight the impact of advanced computing for a specific research project. But for one of TACC's users, the introduction of advanced computing and computational expertise resulted in a fundamental shift in the direction of the institute. Jing Su researcher in CBSB and assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology. For over five years, the Center for Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at Wake Forest School of Medicine,...
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Google Moves Closer to a Universal Quantum Computer (Jun 20, 2016)
For 30 years, researchers have pursued the universal quantum computer, a device that could solve any computational problem, with varying degrees of success. Now, a team in California and Spain has made an experimental prototype of such a device that can solve a wide range of problems in fields such as chemistry and physics, and has the potential to be scaled up to larger systems. Both IBM and a Canadian company called D-Wave have created functioning quantum computers using different approaches. ...
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GLC Announces Awards for Time on Blue Waters Supercomputer (Jun 19, 2016)
How the flu virus enters a cell in the body. Evaluating economic policy impacts of potential future climate change. Understanding the dynamics and physics of atomic matter during galaxy cluster formation. These are just a few of the research projects being pursued by the 11 science and engineering teams from across the country who were awarded time on the Blue Waters supercomputer through the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation. Over a twelve-month period, these science and engineer...
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Galaxy Formation Simulations Benefit NASA’s Future Space Telescope (Jun 19, 2016)
For the past five years, Weinberg – whose own research has been buoyed by the Ohio Supercomputer Center for the past 15 years – has been on NASA’s Science Definition Team for the preliminary study of WFIRST along with Ohio State colleagues Scott Gaudi and Chris Hirata. After that preliminary study, NASA announced in February it would move forward with the WFIRST mission. “It’s definitely been exciting to be a part of,” Weinberg said. “To finally have an official start is great for ...
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Rescale HPC Cloud to Foster Return of Supersonic Travel (Jun 18, 2016)
Denver-based Boom Technology is leveraging Rescale’s cloud-based simulation and optimization system to enable a rebirth of supersonic passenger travel. According to Krall, Boom’s aircraft is faster than Concorde yet dramatically more efficient and affordable. Concorde was designed 50 years ago, in an era when aerodynamic optimization required painstaking wind tunnel testing, with each iteration costing millions and taking months. Today, modern computational fluid dynamics simulations enable ...
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Intel's Data Center Chief Talks About Machine Learning Without GPUs (Jun 18, 2016)
The head of Intel’s data center group was at Computex in Taipei, in part to explain how the company's latest Xeon Phi processor is a good fit for machine learning. Machine learning is the process by which companies like Google and Facebook train software to get better at performing AI tasks including computer vision and understanding natural language. It’s key to improving all kinds of online services. It requires a massive amount of computing power, and Bryant says the 72 cores and strong f...
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Actuators Inspired By Muscle (Jun 11, 2016)
To make robots more cooperative and have them perform tasks in close proximity to humans, they must be softer and safer. A new actuator developed by a team led by George Whitesides, Ph.D. - who is a Core Faculty member at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) - generates movements similar to those of skeletal muscles usi...
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6 Ways To Support Computer Science Education (Jun 11, 2016)
New report offers policy recommendations to sustain momentum for computer science education. U.S. schools should make every effort to expand computer science education to keep up with workforce demands, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). And though interest in computer science education, and access to it, is growing, the report found that not enough students are taking high-quality computer science classes at the high school and university...
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This App Builder Is Letting Students Turn Their Ideas Into Apps For Free (Jun 10, 2016)
“We just need a technical co-founder!” “We have the idea, we’re just trying to find a CS major to build it!” In 2016, everyone and their mother has an idea for an app. This is especially true on college campuses, where starting an app has seemingly replaced beer pong as the most popular extracurricular activity. The only problem is that there are far fewer developers than ideas, and no CS major is going to turn your napkin sketches into a full-fledged app for a 3 percent stake in the b...
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Doubling Down On Schrödinger's Cat (Jun 10, 2016)
Yale physicists have given Schrödinger's famous cat a second box to play in, and the result may help further the quest for reliable quantum computing. Schrödinger's cat is a well-known paradox that applies the concept of superposition in quantum physics to objects encountered in everyday life. The idea is that a cat is placed in a sealed box with a radioactive source and a poison that will be triggered if an atom of the radioactive substance decays. Quantum physics suggests that the cat is bot...
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Believe the Hype? How Virtual Reality Could Change Your Life (Jun 9, 2016)
Reducing errors made during surgery, bringing school books to life, enabling us to browse shops from the comfort of home—virtual reality is not just about gaming, it will change our lives, according to some tech leaders. "VR" is the buzz industry at Asia's largest tech fair, Computex, being held in Taiwan's capital Taipei this week. The island is hoping to become a development hub for virtual reality technology. But while VR is currently aimed at gamers, its evangelists forecast it will eventu...
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Computer Science Training Can’t Wait (Jun 9, 2016)
The State Board of Education’s approval of Florida’s inaugural K-12 computer science standards was not a “meaningless gesture,” as claimed by FSU’s professor Paul Cottle in a My View last week. As a longtime computer science advocate and vice chair of the board, I’m happy to acknowledge this seminal action — by itself — will not move the needle very much. But Florida is behind and must get going, and having standards is better than not having standards, I think.

The Impending Bot Backlash (Jun 8, 2016)
Everyone seems to be jumping on the bot bandwagon. Chatbots are not only being touted as the end of apps, but also the next paradigm in human-computer interaction — and, if you believe the hype, the end of many customer service jobs, too. But bots are unlikely to live up to these outsized expectations anytime soon. The fact is that the AI technology used to power chatbots simply isn’t mature enough to come close to replacing humans for anything but the most trivial tasks — the same ones th...
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How Computer Science Is Helping To Fight Viral Infections (Jun 8, 2016)
Viruses like dengue fever, Ebola and Zika have become global health epidemics, and one of the biggest challenges in fighting off these viral infections is how rapidly they mutate and become drug resistant. IBM Research and Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have identified a new breakthrough macromolecule that acts as a ‘magic bullet’ capable of preventing deadly viral infections, regardless of their ability to mutate.

Computer Scientists Quantify Just How Hard Super Mario Bros. Is (Jun 7, 2016)
Calling a game "hard" would seem to be a matter of personal judgement. Not so, according to an international team of computer scientists. For the past several years, the scientists have been analyzing Super Mario Bros. as if it were a math problem and beating a particular level is the solution. Now, they've extended their analysis to cover any possible arbitrary level, and they've shown that Super Mario Bros. belongs to a class of problems called PSPACE-complete.

Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics (Jun 7, 2016)
The consumer marketplace is flooded with a lively assortment of smart wearable electronics that do everything from monitor vital signs, fitness or sun exposure to play music, charge other electronics or even purify the air around you -- all wirelessly. Now, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has created the world's fastest stretchable, wearable integrated circuits, an advance that could drive the Internet of Things and a much more connected, high-speed wireless world.

Gene Circuits in Live Cells Can Perform Complex Computations (Jun 6, 2016)
Living cells are capable of performing complex computations on the environmental signals they encounter. These computations can be continuous, or analogue, in nature -- the way eyes adjust to gradual changes in the light levels. They can also be digital, involving simple on or off processes, such as a cell's initiation of its own death. Synthetic biological systems, in contrast, have tended to focus on either analogue or digital processing, limiting the range of applications for which they can b...
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Urban Planning Tools Synthesize and Collect Data to Improve the Quality of City Life (Jun 6, 2016)
Imagine your city as it might be in the not-so-distant future. Transportation in this city is various, pleasant, and low-impact. There are safe and efficient bike lanes, and anyone can order a cheap ride from an autonomous, minimal-emissions vehicle. Because fewer people drive, and almost no one idles in traffic, air quality is high. There are plenty of parks and open spaces because cars are less prevalent. Life in your city is happy, healthy, and sustainable. Your city is, above all, a smart ci...
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Believe It Or Not, Computer Science Can Help You Solve Your Problems (Jun 5, 2016)
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions may sound like a tech-wonky excursion into topics where only the bored dare venture, but trust me, it’s not. This book will surprise you, and don’t be shocked if you find yourself going back to it for advice on situations you’re facing in your life. That’s right–it’s a solid, research-based book that’s applicable to real life. The algorithms the authors discuss are, in fact, more applicable to real-life problems than I�...
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