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CACM Reports: Adapting Robotics for Operating Rooms

May Issue Reports on Discrimination in Online Ad Delivery, the Limitations of a Friction-Free World, the Other British Computing Pioneer, and the Renaissance in Computing

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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NEW YORK – May 1, 2013 – Researchers at Purdue University and Indiana University School of Medicine have adapted a Kinect-based robotic vision system to recognize and pick up instruments passed to operating team members, freeing surgical technicians to perform other tasks.  In the May cover story of Communications of the ACM they detail the system architecture that enabled their robot Gestonurse to deliver surgical instruments to surgeons by communicating through hand gestures and speech recognition.  The benefits of Gestonurse include shorter operating times, greater accuracy, and fewer risks to patients compared to traditional, human-only surgery.

Also in this issue, ACM President Vint Cerf extols the rewards of volunteering for any of ACM’s myriad opportunities.  He includes USACM, the ACM advisory panel on policy matters that concern computer science and the industry it has spawned as well as the chapters, publications, and committees that make the organization function efficiently all over the world.

            Communications, the flagship publication of ACM, offers readers access to this generation’s most significant leaders and innovators in computing and information technology, and is available online in digital format.

            Other Communications highlights:

·      Editor-in-Chief Moshe Y. Vardi analyzes the impact of reducing friction in computing and communication, which has enabled the world of the Internet and the Web.  He claims that our discipline seems committed to the total elimination of friction in computing, but argues that frictionless computing has numerous adverse effects.

·      Harvard’s Latanya Sweeney takes a scientific dive into online ad delivery to determine the degree of discrimination that marks this process.  Using real-world examples, she examines patterns of ad delivery using black-sounding and white-sounding names inserted in Google Adsense.  Her findings demonstrate that technology can foster discriminatory outcomes, but her study also shows that technology can thwart unwanted discrimination.

·      Although the use of consumer devices and applications in the workplace is a global phenomenon, Iris Junglas of the University of South Florida and Jeanne Harris of Accenture Institute write that their impact is not uniform.  The researchers’ study shows that employees in emerging markets like Brazil, China, India, and Mexico show disproportionately higher consumer IT utilization rates in the workplace, making them more efficient and effective at work.

·      Like Alan Turing, Max Newman was one of the most significant figures in British computing, working at Bletchley Park as war spread across Europe.  Unlike Turing, Newman is described as the forgotten man of early British computing by David Anderson, who details Newman’s pioneering contributions to mechanizing British code-breaking efforts.

·      Science and technology writer Paul Hyman writes that the 2012 election was the first in which economists were able to do complex combination predictions of winners and losers.  This advance was due not only to the increase in available computational power but also to algorithms that were developed just recently.

·      Computing has entered a renaissance that has led to an explosion of new content on the principles of computing, contends Peter Denning of the Naval Post Graduate School.  He surveys the short history of computing and its effects on the education system, and points to the impact of this rebirth in high schools today.

·      Adam Leventhal of Delphix, a database virtualization company, summarizes the lifespan of flash memory from a promising accelerator to an established enterprise component for storing performance-critical data.  He predicts significant improvements in flash technology as solid-state devices have become more pervasive.

·      Blog @CACM blogger Jeannette M. Wing considers how technology acts as a change agent for healthcare, and blogger Mark Guzdial ponders ways to measure quality in computer science education.

For more information on Communications of the ACM, click on

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.