NewsBrief January 8, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: January 8, 2021

DOD Expands Data Repository for Business Information Across the Enterprise

(Nextgov) The Defense Department is expanding its repository for common enterprise data, which helps make certain business information accessible and standardized, to include more information systems across the department, according to an updated system of records notice that will be published Wednesday in the Federal Register. In the notice, DOD modifies the system of records known as the Defense Repository for Common Enterprise Data, or DRCED, to serve as the system of records departmentwide. DRCED will now be managed by data officials from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in addition to the DOD chief data officer and an official from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense Comptroller. Previously, the OUSD(C) was the sole system manager. Read More

The Army looks to pave way for autonomous vehicles with new AI research

(fedscoop) The Army has long wanted to put artificial intelligence in the driver’s seat of its ground vehicles, often with little success. But the service hopes new research could help it build more effective models for autonomous vehicles to learn how to steer through battlefields. The new research, published in December at an AI conference, centers on the flavor of AI currently used in robots called “reinforcement learning.” The branch of machine learning emulates how humans learn: It takes an “agent” that uses prior knowledge gleaned from training datasets to make decisions in novel environments. Read More

Inside the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Contemporary Quantum Pursuits

(Nextgov) A growing team of officials within the primary research and development center for the Air Force and Space Force is helping the U.S. strategically inch closer to what could be life-altering science and technological breakthroughs via quantum information science. During a recent conversation with Nextgov, Michael Hayduk shed light on unfolding and upcoming moves to push forward new, quantum-centered applications at the Air Force Research Laboratory, where he’s worked for 29 years and now serves as the deputy director of its information directorate. Read More

How IT modernization has helped HUD better manage its finances

(fedscoop) IT modernization proved critical to the Department of Housing and Urban Development issuing a clean, audited financial statement for the first time in eight years in December. HUD began working with the General Services Administration’s IT Centers of Excellence (CoE) in the summer of 2018 on its data analytics, contact centers, cloud adoption and customer experience. And after recently completing Phase 1 of work with the CoEs, the department was able to audit 14 areas it couldn’t previously account for in its statement. “The financial infrastructure and reporting in the IT systems at HUD were fairly weak,” Chief Financial Officer Irv Dennis told FedScoop. “Probably the weakest of all of the Cabinet-level agencies.” Read More

Five real world AI and machine learning trends that will make an impact in 2021

(IT World Canada) Experts predict artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will enter a golden age in 2021, solving some of the hardest business problems. Machine learning trains computers to learn from data with minimal human intervention. The science isn’t new, but recent developments have given it fresh momentum, said Jin-Whan Jung, Senior Director & Leader, Advanced Analytics Lab at SAS. “The evolution of technology has really helped us,” said Jung. “The real-time decision making that supports self-driving cars or robotic automation is possible because of the growth of data and computational power.” Read More

NIST updating guidance on facial recognition algorithms

(Federal News Network) The pandemic has inspired new uses for facial recognition software, but may require tweaking of algorithms. Masks, which leave only the forehead, eyes and maybe the bridge of the nose exposed, can make it harder to identify people accurately – especially for law enforcement. One such player in that arena is the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has been a consistent source for best practices, latest tech developments and standards. “We started maybe two or three different bits of work, one on quality assessment – can you look at an image and say it’s a good quality image? That is important to performance downstream. Another bit of work that we’ve been doing during the pandemic, obviously, is to look at – can face recognition work when somebody is wearing a protective face mask?” NIST computer scientist and biometrics expert Patrick Grother said on Federal Monthly Insights – Digital Transformation. Read More

The Difference Between Deep Learning and Machine Learning

(Tech Funnel) Many people are unaware that machine learning, which is actually a form of AI – artificial intelligence, was developed in the 1950s. In 1959, Arthur Samuel developed the initial computer learning program, wherein an IBM computer became better at playing checkers the more played. Jumping decades forward to this modern time, AI is now a cutting-edge innovation that has the potential to create exciting and highly profitable jobs. There is an increase in the demand for machine learning experts because neither software engineers nor data scientists have the precise skills necessary in the machine learning field. Industries are in need of engineers who are proficient in both fields and can still do the things neither software engineers nor data scientists are capable of. This professional is simply a machine learning engineer. Read More

NASA Approves Heliophysics Missions to Explore Sun, Earth’s Aurora

(NASA) NASA has approved two heliophysics missions to explore the Sun and the system that drives space weather near Earth. Together, NASA’s contribution to the Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission, or EUVST, and the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer, or EZIE, will help us understand the Sun and Earth as an interconnected system. Understanding the physics that drive the solar wind and solar explosions – including solar flares and coronal mass ejections – could one day help scientists predict these events, which can impact human technology and explorers in space. Read More

Largest canyon in the solar system revealed in stunning new images

( About 87 million miles (140 million kilometers) above the Grand Canyon, an even larger, grander abyss cuts through the gut of the Red Planet. Known as Valles Marineris, this system of deep, vast canyons runs more than 2,500 miles (4,000 km) along the Martian equator, spanning nearly a quarter of the planet’s circumference. This gash in the bedrock of Mars is nearly 10 times as long as Earth’s Grand Canyon and three times deeper, making it the single largest canyon in the solar system — and, according to ongoing research from the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson, one of the most mysterious. Read More

How Leaders Can Optimize Teams’ Emotional Landscapes

(MITSloan) Emotions are running high. The disruptive events characterizing 2020 — a global pandemic, climate-related disasters, economic uncertainty, and social discontent — are leading employees to bring a higher level of emotionality to work than ever before. This is clashing with the culturally ingrained norm that an appropriate “professional” demeanor minimizes emotional expression. At the same time, work on emotional suppression suggests that there are long-term costs to keeping emotions buried and that, if stifled, they will erupt in counterproductive ways. For that reason, leaders can no longer avoid taking an active role in architecting emotional landscapes — the collective composition of employee sentiments. Read More