Digital Planet

By BBC World Service

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 Jan 5, 2020

Description

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Episode Date
Digital exclusion in Brazil
2702
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in Brazil, but access to digital services is getting harder for many of the country’s poorest residents. Emergency aid and state health advice about the virus are only available online, leaving those without internet access with no help at all. Digital Planet’s Angelica Mari explains the situation in Brazil’s favelas and talks about a number of community projects trying to bridge the technology gap. Mixed reality in Covid-19 wards Over recent months, some hospitals in London have radically reduced the amount of healthcare workers coming into contact with Covid-19. Thanks to mixed reality headsets, only one doctor needs to be at the patient’s bedside while the rest of the medical team sees the same field of view from a different location. Gareth speaks to Dr. James Kinross and Dr. Guy Martin from Imperial College London about how this tech has helped improve working conditions. 3D printing face masks Shortages of face masks are a common issue around the globe. Could 3D printing be the solution? A firm in Chile has developed an open source design using the natural antimicrobial properties of copper. Meanwhile, a shoe factory in the United States has switched to printing masks for healthcare workers. Digital Planet’s Jane Chambers reports. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with studio commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. (Image credit: Getty Images) Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jun 02, 2020
Hacking internet-enabled cars
2554
Hacking internet-enabled cars About 40% of cars in the US are connected to the internet. While this enables many useful functions, it also makes them vulnerable to hacks. As all the electronics systems within the car are connected, hackers could take full control of the vehicle. Skanda Vivek tells Gareth how this is possible, and what would happen if a large number of cars were hacked at the same time. Covid-19 treatment trials in AI It is possible to do drug trials in vitro and in vivo – but what about simulating them? The Cambridge-based company AI VIVO uses machine learning and AI to model diseased cells and their potential treatments. For Covid-19, they screened 90,000 different compounds to find out which drugs could be effective against the virus. Could this be a new way to discover drug treatments? Gareth speaks to David Cleevely to find out how it works. Mobile phone rain forecast for farmers Farmers with small holdings in developing countries often do not benefit from new technologies, but a tech project in Pakistan has managed to help drastically reduce their water consumption. Farmers receive text messages about when it is going to rain and whether they should irrigate their crops, generating an average of 40% in water savings. Roland Pease has been finding out more. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. (Image: Traffic jam on multilane road. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Alex Mansfield
May 26, 2020
Testing EdTech
2631
Across the globe, learning has been transformed over the last few months, often with the help of specialised tech. More and more educational technology, or EdTech for short, is entering the market. But how do governments, schools, and teachers know which tools and platforms to use? And how do countries with limited resources choose the best tech for their needs? Gareth is joined by Joysy John from NESTA and Susan Nicolai, from the Edtech Hub, to find out. Bot or not? With so many of us socialising and working online it becomes more important than ever to know whether we are talking to a real person or a computer-generated bot. A study from Carnegie Mellon University showed that 45.5% of users tweeting about coronavirus have bot characteristics. A new Mozilla-funded project called “Bot or Not” invites visitors to take part in a modern-day Turing test. One of the creators, Agnes Cameron, tells us about the project, bots online, and how to spot them. Lockdown views As many people are forced to stay at home we look at how some are using tech to keep looking out on the world. Many are flocking to online webcams to observe serene nature scenes or unusually empty streets in the tourist hot spots of the world. Jacqui Kenny has long used Google Street View to visit foreign places due to her fear of open spaces. She talks about her new photobook and how machine learning may help her find new images to capture. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with studio commentary by Ghislaine Boddington. (Image: Getty Images) Studio Manager: Donald McDonald Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
May 19, 2020
Spain’s many COVID-19 apps
2450
In Spain, there are a total of nine COVID-19 tracing apps, but is this too many? Which type is preferable and does there need to be a more coordinated technology across Europe to track COVID-19? Digital Planet reporter Jennifer O’Mahony ask these questions and more on the programme. Ovarian cancer and AI In the final of our reports from the Cambridge Science Festival, Gareth and Bill meet Dr. Mireia Crispin Ortuzar. She researches AI that analyses radiographic images to help choose and track treatment for ovarian cancer. In the long-term, this type of technology could lead to more personalised medicine in response to cancer and, perhaps, in other fields of medicine as well. Robotic Ventilators At MIT, a team of scientists and engineers have developed a low-cost, open-source robotic hand that can operate manual ventilators. It could help fill the shortage of mechanical ventilators for Covid-19 patients across the globe, particularly in developing countries. Professor Daniela Rus tells Gareth how this new tech works. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum (Image: Covid-19 tracing. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
May 12, 2020
Chinese mobile data predicts Covid-19 Spread
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Using anonymous mobile data, researchers tracked the movement of people from Wuhan to other regions of China and showed that it was possible to predict the spread of the virus throughout the country. Professor Nicholas Christakis, a co-author of the study, shares how it was done and what other countries could learn from it. Malawi Solar-Powered Radios Malawi could be highly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In particular rural areas without access to electricity are in need of help. Brave Mhonie, the general manager for the charity Solar Aid in Malawi, tells Gareth about the plan to bring solar powered lights to remote clinics as well as radios to rural communities to spread information about COVID-19. Robot Zebra Fish In a laboratory in New York, scientists study zebra fish by having them interact with their robot counterparts. Reporter Anand Jagatia went to Tandon School of Engineering to find out how this is done and how robo-fish might be helpful in the future. (Image: Chinese New Year celebrations. Credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) The presenter is Gareth Mitchell with studio commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio manager: Sarah Hockley. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
May 05, 2020
Privacy concerns over contact tracing apps
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Contact tracing is an essential part of controlling the Coronavirus pandemic but how should this data be collected and shared? In previous pandemics the tech wasn’t advanced enough to be used widely, but now country by country new contact tracing apps are appearing. But what about our privacy, should our personal health information be so easily available and potentially be unsecure? Some of the tech giants have even developed new protocols to anonymise our data – but not all governments think this will work? Journalist Timandra Harkness tells us what types of apps are being used where and about the tech behind them. Making computers intuitive Is it possible to make computers intuitive like us? That’s a question that Professor Mateja Jamnik from Cambridge University is trying to answer by building computational models that capture human informal reasoning – essentially trying to humanise computer thinking. Gareth Mitchell and Bill Thompson visited Professor Jamnik in Cambridge before the lockdown. Tech to tackle locust storms update Gareth speaks to Senior Locust Forecasting Officer Keith Cressman to find out if any of the tech that was being deployed to try and control the locust storms in the Horn of Arica and the Indian Subcontinent is working. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. The Studio Manager is Duncan Hannant. (Image: Covid-19 app on smartphone software in a crowd of people with Bluetooth. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 28, 2020
Could fitness trackers track COVID-19?
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Could your smart fitness device detect if you were coming down with respiratory symptoms? A project collecting data from smart wearable devices to see if they can plot outbreaks of disease symptoms by reporting data in real time and giving it a geographical tag has been launched. This would allow local authorities to mount responses quickly before any virus spreads further. The study is called DETECT and one of those involved is Dr. Jennifer Radin an epidemiologist at Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego California and she joins us on the programme. COVID-19 Cybercrime Why are we more susceptible to cybercrime during lockdown? A new report just published by The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime entitled “Cybercrime – Threats during the COVID-19 pandemic” is trying to answer that question. From attacks on hospitals, to a massive rise in the registration of websites with coronavirus, pandemic and COVID-19 in their addresses, the report looks at how our behaviour, our tech and the criminals, have changed in the last few months making cybercrime an even greater threat than before. How safe are sex robots? Sex robots are increasing in popularity. But as more people around the world bring these increasingly sophisticated androids into their homes, what new risks do they bring with them? As countries across the globe enforce strict lockdowns, many of us have felt the power of technology to counter loneliness and isolation, but how close should we let our tech get? And when technology is so taboo, do important discussions about safety ever see the light of day? Luckily, roboticists and regulators are beginning to grapple with some of these issues. Geoff Marsh has been finding out more… (Image: Smartwatch. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 21, 2020
Supercomputers seeking solutions for Covid-19
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Supercomputing power for COVID-19 solutions The world’s most powerful supercomputers are being used for urgent investigations into the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Professor Peter Coveney from the UCL Centre for Computational Science is part of this consortium of hundreds of scientists across the globe, and tells Gareth how this phenomenal amount of computer power is already trying to identify potential treatments and vaccine candidates for COVID-19. Hot and Cold Cognition Gareth and Bill meet Professor Barbara Sahakian at Cambridge University to discuss her work on hot and cold cognition. Cold cognition is the mechanics of AI. Hot cognition is what humans do so well – being able to empathise. So if we are to take AI to the next stage e.g. interactive care robots, it’s the hot cognition that needs to be developed – the social and emotional side of AI. Digital Radio Mondiale DRM is the sister standard to DAB. DAB has taken off in the UK and other developed countries, but it’s DRM that’s becoming more popular in the developing world – India, Pakistan, China are all using it. Recently Brazil added their support for DRM. The key with DRM is that it digitises everything so we don’t need a new infrastructure for it and it can even act as a backup in disasters when other forms of communication fail. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Bill Thompson. (Image: Supercomputer. Credit: Getty Images Europe) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 14, 2020
Internet and journalist reporting freedom curtailed
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Bolsonaro’s tweets deleted Our South America reporter Angelica Mari tells us about the daily pot banging protests against the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but it’s now not only the people trying to silence him. Social Media platforms have removed some of his posts as they have been, according to them, spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. Internet and journalistic freedoms restricted The Index on Censorship, the global freedom of expression organisation has been charting restrictions on the internet and on journalists, via an interactive map online. Rachael Jolley is editor-in-chief at Index and joins us on the programme. Ubongo – remote learning the African way As many schools around the world close their doors, more and more learning is shifting from the classroom to the home. 17 million households in twelve countries across sub-Saharan Africa are now benefitting from Ubongo – the TV, radio, online and mobile learning platform. Iman Lipumba of Ubongo explains how it works. Culture in Quarantine; sacred music at Easter Twenty musicians in the famous Tenebrae vocal ensemble have recorded an Easter recital for television, despite socially isolating all over the world. Quite a challenge for the singers, their conductor Nigel Short and the production company Livewire Pictures. Jan Younghusband BBC Music Head of Music TV Commissioning explains how it all happened. (Image: Index on Censorship. Credit: IndexOnCensorship.org/Google Maps ) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Ghislaine Boddington. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 07, 2020
Covid-19 cyber attacks rise
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Cyber criminals are exploiting the pandemic to send fraudulent emails and deploy all kinds of tools to steal our money, our contacts or our identities. Armen Najarian, the Chief Identity Officer at email security firm Agari, updates us on the latest coronavirus driven cyber-attacks including scammers pretending they are emailing from the WHO or CDC. Can the internet cope with the massive increase in demand? Jane Coffin, SVP, Internet Growth from the Internet Society is an expert on internet access across the world. We ask how is the network holding up with so many more people now working remotely and what is its resilience for the future? 3D Printing cochlear implants Gareth and Bill visit Dr Yan Yan Shery Huang at the biointerface group at the University of Cambridge. During the interview in her lab her team prints a 3D cochlear implant. It’s part of a growing field using 3D printing to improve medical care and aims to ultimately personalise cochlear implants allowing the patient to hear much more naturally than current implants allow. (Image: Malware Detected Warning Screen. Credit: Getty images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Bill Thompson. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Mar 31, 2020
A digital tracker that monitors new surveillance
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Tracking our digital rights From the moment governments around the world realised the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, many have implemented digital tracking, physical surveillance and censorship measures in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. We hear about a digital tracker which will monitor new surveillance and if it is having an effect Working from home when your work is in Space Most people in countries experiencing a Coronavirus lockdown are working remotely, but what happens when your work is based in Space? The European Space Agency has sent most of it's staff home, we hear from Professor Mark McCaughrean, Senior Science Advisor at ESA, about how this is going. SETI has gone home SETI@home is a scientific experiment, based at UC Berkeley, that uses internet connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You could take part by running a free programme that downloads and analyses radio telescope data. But no more, the experiment is ending on March 31st. US Science reporter Molly Bentley tells the story of searching for ET from home. (Image: Digital tracking. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz  
Mar 24, 2020
Coronovirus tech handbook online
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In these unprecedented times of a global pandemic many people are working or studying from home, doctors are facing new challenges, so medical equipment is in short supply – how do deal with this? Perhaps check the coronavirus tech as a shared open source online document where anyone can post their experiences or advice. Open source tech for COVID-19 A 3d printed ventilator that could be used for COVID-19 patients could be ready by the end of the week. An open source project has led to a collaboration of IT professionals and engineers to work on the project. Developing responsible AI Cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell joins us on the programme to talk about developing AI safely and responsibly. She’s cofounded an innovation institute - the 3Ai Institute at the Australian National University and is looking for new students from around the world to apply. (Image: Coronavirus tech handbook. Credit: Newspeak House) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Mar 17, 2020
Covid-19 makes tech events go virtual
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COVID-19 Major events around the world are being cancelled as the COVID-19 virus spreads across the globe. Despite significant falls in new cases in China and South Korea many tech conferences and meetings are being moved to virtual space instead. We hear from the International Communication Association who have cancelled their annual conference in the physical world and are now moving it online. Regulating the internet As COVID-19 spreads so does misinformation about the virus online. Dr.Jennifer Cobbe from Cambridge University joins us in studio to discuss how to combat this. Fashion and AI Clothes online and on the high street are increasingly being ‘designed’ by AI, according to Alentina Vardanyan from the Judge Business School in Cambridge. She is speaking at the Cambridge Science Festival about how machines could be taking the creativity out of the latest fashion trends. Banana disease app A new app is helping banana plantation owners and workers treat and manage diseases. Now farmers in Africa and South America are using an app to diagnose disease, scientists are using this data to monitor and map the spread of the infection. (Image credit:Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Mar 10, 2020
Will digital sobriety help reduce energy use?
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ITU emissions standard The UN ICT agency, the ITU, wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half in the next decade. It’s the only way that the ICT industry is to stay in line with the Paris Agreement and its target of limiting global warming to one and a half degrees. The new technical standard announced by the ITU says renewable energy and digital sobriety are the best way of achieving these cuts. Domestic violence AI AI could help police forces determine who might be the most at risk of domestic abuse. A new study from the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE in London, suggests that by using already available data about individuals AI could help police decide which emergency calls they need to prioritise. Circulo safety app A safety app that is used only in dangerous situations is helping female journalists stay safe in Mexico. The Circulo app allows users to check in and tell up to six contacts at a time that you’re safe OR raise the alarm if you’re in danger. (Photo: Wind turbines. Credit: Getty Images)
Mar 03, 2020
Ethiopia’s new law banning online hate speech
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Ethiopia’s online hate speech law Disseminating hate speech online in Ethiopia could now land you with a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of $3000US, but the new law has proved controversial. Julie Owonp, Excutive Director of Internet without borders explains their concerns. Kivuwatt Rwanda has an ambitious plan to go from half of the population having electricity at the moment to everyone within the next four years. Digital Planet has been given access to one project that aims to be a key part of that expansion. In the depths of Lake Kivu – one of East Africa’s great lakes – there’s methane and they’re burning the methane to generate electricity. Kivu is one of Africa’s so-called ‘killer lakes’, because the gases it harbours could be deadly for the thousands who live on shore. Burning some of the gas could help make it safer. Gareth Mitchell reports from the floating barge that is supplying 30% of the country’s electricity. Carnival 4.0 It’s Carnival week in Rio and this year for the first time celebrations have gone fully hi-tech with augmented reality floats, QR Codes and RFID tags tracking costumes and smart bands monitoring the health of performers. But there have also been warnings about facial recognition. Brazil-based journalist Angelica Mari has been following proceedings. And joins us on the programme. (Image: Vector illustration of a set of emoticons. Credit: Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Feb 25, 2020
Feminist chatbots
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Why the tone of chatbots matters and how a feminist perspective can help use them to address online problems such as bullying and trolling. We look at some of the methods used to try and scam you, particularly the increasingly sophisticated emails sent to businesses to try and get them to part with their money. We have a drive in a LIDAR enabled electric car, a new development in Autonomous vehicles And the perils of misleading data, why clear and accurate data is so important to a huge variety of global issues such as adequate clean water or food supplies. (Image: Chatbot female robot holding a speech bubble symbol. Credit: Getty Creative Stock) Producer: Julian Siddle
Feb 18, 2020
Repairing Voyager 2
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Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been working flat out over the last week repairing Voyager 2. The spacecraft is about 18 billion kilometres from Earth, so sending a command to it takes seventeen hours. Alexa: save my life please Could personal assistants like Alexa and Siri save your life? Research in the journal BMJ innovations has assessed how good the top four voice assistants are at giving sound medical advice – the results were mixed. Drones mesh it up in Vietnam Managing a natural disaster like a flood is so difficult because often there are many unknowns - responders urgently need real time information on water levels in the swollen rivers for instance. Installing monitoring kit across long stretches of river is expensive and the sensors need replacing regularly. So how about deploying a squadron of drones to pick up the data instead? That’s been happening in a trial in Vietnam. Dr Trung Duong, at Queen’s University Belfast tells us more. Purrfect robots Do you need a robot that can work in the dark or a dangerous environment? Give it whiskers! After all, some bristles and a snout work well for the likes of dogs, mice and shrews. So researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK have spent hours watching whiskers in the wild and are now switching the twitching to robots in the lab. (Photo: Voyager spacecraft. Credit: NASA) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Feb 11, 2020
Drones dealing with locust swarms
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Fighting locust swarms with drones Trials are taking place to manage the massive locust swarms in the Horn of Africa and the Indian subcontinent with drones. Using them to collect real time data allows scientists to predict where the insects might fly to next. Irish data centre power problem Amazon has just announced plans to build another data centre in Ireland. It’s just one of about 60 data centres that are putting a huge demand on electricity. According to a report by the Irish Academy of Engineering 30% more electricity will be needed by 2030 to keep these data centres running. But where will it come from if Ireland is to meet its carbon emission targets? More data leaks in India A new data privacy bill has been passed in India, but with hundreds of millions of individuals having their data leaked last year alone, will this new bill ensure data privacy? BBC data journalist Shadab Nazmi has exposed a number of information security blunders in India and explains what has been happening. Acoustic camera Imagine that you could only hear specific sounds in certain parts of a room. So an intensive care nurse would only hear the beeps from the medical bay of their patient? This might be possible as scientists at the University of Sussex in England are splitting sounds, focusing them into beams and even bending them. Our reporter Hannah Fisher has been there to explore. (Photo: Large swarms of desert locusts threatens Kenya"s food security. Credit: EPA/Dai Kurokawa) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Feb 04, 2020
Internet partially restored in Kashmir
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Internet in Kashmir partially back on Following a court ruling in India, the internet has been partially restored in Kashmir. There is still no access to social media but the Indian government was forced to allow some access. Mishi Choudhary, founder of the Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi updates us on the situation. Pigeonbot Imagine a robot that’s as graceful as a swooping and gliding bird. It could get into crowded environments where drones currently can’t be used. The latest research, published in Science Robotics, into flying robots delivers just that. Laura Matloff from Stanford University in USA is one of the team who designed PigeonBot and joins us on the programme. Will Brazil become a data colony? Brazilians are neither happy with the way in which companies handle their personal data or trust them, according to a new survey by IBM. Sau Paulo based Technology Writer Angelica Mari explains why there are growing concerns that soon private companies may control most citizen’s data. (Photo: Kashmiri youth hold placards during a protest against an Internet, SMS and prepaid mobile services blockade. Credit: EPA/Farooq/Khan) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jan 28, 2020
Internet shutdowns cost $8bn in 2019
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The cost of internet shutdowns The cost of the major internet shutdowns in 2019 has been estimated as $8bn according to a report by the Top10VPN website, with WhatsApp being the platform that is blocked most often. Twitter bots and trolls on bush fires Could the latest orchestrated social media disinformation campaign be unfolding in Australia. Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have been analysing thousands of tweets and found some concerning activity. Could paid for trolls be behind tweets suggesting that arsonists are responsible for this year’s bush fires? Indigenous language keyboards The United Nations has just declared an International Decade of Indigenous Languages. It’s to begin in 2022, so we have been finding out about getting indigenous languages onto a device – and it isn’t always as hard as you think. Worm robots Robotic worms might be soon being used to sniff out people as part of search and rescue operations. Our reporter Jason Hosken has been to the lab where they’re developing chemical sensors that could help trace people who have perhaps been trapped under rubble following a natural disaster. The robotic worm could end up assisting, or reducing the need for, specially trained sniffer dogs. (Image: Internet shut down in India. Credit: AFP) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jan 21, 2020
Tech tracking Australian fires
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Tech and the Australian Bush Fires An app is helping Australian’s stay safe during the Bush fires. “Fires near me” was created by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and we hear how it works from journalist Corinne Podger. Also the WICEN HAM Radio operators who are providing emergency communications when mobile masts and internet connections are disrupted and measuring air quality using low power networks. Safer motorbike taxis in Rwanda and the DRC How do you ensure that the motorbike taxi you are hailing in Kigali or Kinshasa will get you home safely? Using an app that has data on the driver is one big step to having a safer journey. Gareth Mitchell finds out about Cango who collect data about their drivers to rate how safely they ride. Digitising Natural History The famous Natural History Museum in London has only a fraction of its collection on show. To ensure all their specimens are correctly catalogued, the museum is now digitising their collections. Harry Lampert has been finding out how technologies like machine learning are helping to get more and more specimens online. (Image: Fires Near Me app. Credit: New South Wales Rural Fire Service) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jan 14, 2020
South Africa power cuts
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South Africa Power Cuts Is South Africa facing a blackout? Power cuts across the country are now happening regularly as the country struggles with demand for electricity. There’s even an app that tells you if your lights are going to stay on today, or tomorrow. Professor Keith Bell from Strathclyde University explains why this is happening. Plasmonics - computing with light Fancy computing with the speed of light? Well for the first time this is possible thanks to research at Oxford University. Scientists have managed use light to store, access and now process data on chip. The research could significantly increase processing speeds at data centres, not only making computing faster but saving significant amounts of energy. Land of Iron A National Park is usually synonymous with nature and wildlife. Perhaps not the obvious place to find a technology story, but in North Yorkshire in the UK a project is underway that is using technology in many different forms to bring a forgotten history back to life. Our reporter Jack Meegan has been time-travelling for us. Jack finds out how the park’s industrial past can now be seen thanks to technology. World Wise Web Digital Planet gets a sneak preview of a brand BBC new tech podcast. On World Wise Web, teenagers from around the world get the chance to talk to the technology pioneers who have shaped our digital world. (Photo: Township Homes, South Africa. Credit: Getty Images)
Jan 07, 2020
Why is AI so far from perfect?
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A special episode looking at AI – why it still is far from perfect? We discuss what would happen if you took a driverless car from the streets of California and put it on roads in a developing country, why deep fakes are so difficult to detect and how the images that are used to teach machines to recognise things are biased against women and ethnic minorities. Picture: Driverless Cars, Getty Images
Dec 31, 2019
Digital Planet’s 18th Birthday Show
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A special edition of Digital Planet recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre in London to celebrate the programmes 18th birthday. The team look back on the first show and look forward to the tech that is now also coming of age and what we might be seeing in the future. With 3D holographic phone calls, musical performances where the musicians are hundreds of kilometres apart, and the Gravity Synth detecting gravitational waves and turning them into music. Picture: Digital Planet recording, Credit: BBC
Dec 24, 2019
Improving crop yields with mobile phones
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Mobile phones are improving lives and yields for millions of farmers around the world. Michael Kremer, a 2019 Economics Nobel Prize winner developed Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) to give farmers in developing countries advice on how to improve their yields. He and Owen Barder, CEO of PAD, tell Digital Planet how it works. To reduce failures on surveillance or delivery missions, drones need to be monitored effectively. Karen Willcox at the Oden Institute of the University of Texas in Austin explains how her team has found a way to send back real time data using sensors that create a digital twin of the drone, which can show where fatigue and stress may cause damage during the flight. Racist and sexist biases within algorithms are causing concern, especially considering they are making many decisions in our lives. Noel Sharkey, Professor of Robotics and AI at the University of Sheffield in the UK, and he thinks it’s time to halt this decision making until it can be properly regulated, or it will have major, real-life effects on all of us. (Photo: Farmer carrying silage and talking on phone. Credit: Getty Images) Producer: Rory Galloway
Dec 17, 2019
New Phone in China? Scan your face…
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Mobile phone users in China will have to submit to 3D face scans to get a sim card. Technology ethicist Dr Stephanie Hare and New York Times Asia correspondent, Paul Mozur, discuss how this will affect citizens’ privacy, and whether China is alone in making this decision. Petr Plecháč from the Institute of Czech Literature uses a piece of software that can identify people by the pattern of their written language. Gareth speaks with him about Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and the likelihood of Tom Fletcher co-authoring this key text. Reporter William Park takes a go at being a virtual burglar. He investigates a game that is allowing researchers to understand what thieves do during a break-in, with the aim of understanding their moves and decision making. A technique that allows people to check how computer neural networks make decisions about image classification may help to reduce mistakes by AI in medical imaging. Dr Cynthia Rudin explains why bird identification was the perfect model to test the computers’ abilities – and check them. (Image: Facial recognition with smartphone. Credit: Getty Images) Presenters: Gareth Mitchell and Bill Thompson Producer: Rory Galloway
Dec 10, 2019
Humanitarian drone corridor in Africa
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Humanitarian Drone Corridor in Africa Sierra Leone has just launched West Africa’s first drone corridor – it’s a dedicated channel of airspace for medical delivery drones. UNICEF is part of the project and already has three other humanitarian corridors open globally. Wikipedia untagging of women Dr. Jess Wade from Imperial College London is continuing her mission of getting more female scientists onto Wikipedia, however a few days ago many of her entries were marked as not notable enough to be included. This was done anonymously by another Wiki editor. We hear from Jess and Wikipedia’s Katherine Maher. Cats detecting earthquakes Could cats detect earthquakes? Yes says Celeste Labedz a seismologist at Caltech – if they are fitted with a motion tracker device. It’s purely a theoretical idea as she explains on the programme. Smart tattoos Smart ink that changes colour could lead to medical smart tattoos that monito conditions like diabetes. Harrison Lewis has been finding out more. (Image: Drones for good. Credit:UNICEF) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Dec 03, 2019
Google bug bounty hunters
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Google Bug Bounty Hunters Google’s offering up to $1.5m to anyone who can identify bugs in its new chip for Android smartphones. This is an especially high reward but Google’s just one of a host of big well-known companies running bug hunting programmes. But is this the best way for big business to protect its new tech? AI in Africa Does Africa need a different approach to AI – yes according to Professor Alan Blackwell of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University in England. He’s just started a sabbatical year across Africa working with AI experts – we spoke to him on the first leg of his trip at the Bahir Institute of Technology (BIT) in the North West of Ethiopia. WiFi on the bus Being online when travelling on the bus in parts of Kenya and Rwanda is not new, but now it’s also possible in parts of South Africa as BRCK launch their public internet service there. Nanotech tracing stolen cars Around 143,000 vehicles worldwide were reported as stolen in 2018 according to Interpol. In the UK, only half are recovered. Now nanosatellites could be a new tool in retrieving stolen cars. Digital Planet’s Izzie Clarke has more. (Image: Google webpage. Credit: Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Nov 26, 2019
Iran internet shutdown continues
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Iran internet shutdown Iran is now almost entirely offline as authorities try to stem the spread of protests that started last week. The government increased fuel prices by as much as 300% and since people took to the streets online access has been restricted. We find out the latest from online monitoring group NetBlocks. US Election emails unsafe Agari was the company that uncovered and confirmed that the webserver the email that ‘hacked’ Hilary Clinton’s campaign came from Russia. They have now conducted a poll and found that only Elizabeth Warren out of all the potential presidential candidates has secure emails. This matters not only from a data security point of view but also from a voter and donor point – the company has found that voters are less likely to vote for a candidate with a data breach and that donors are less likely to give money. Hate speech control using tech Hate speech that incites violence or hate against vulnerable groups has long been a problem in human societies but has more recently been weaponised by social media. The current system means the direct or indirect recipient needs to complain. The alternative approach is to develop artificial intelligence to identify potential hate speech and put the post in quarantine until either the direct recipient has agreed it should be deleted or has read it and agreed it should be allowed. Cargo Ship tech Our reporter Snezana Curcic has travelled across the North Atlantic Ocean in a bit of an unusual and adventurous way – on a cargo ship. With only eight hours of Wi-Fi allowance per week, Snezana filed this story on her journey from Liverpool to New York on the Atlantic Star. She looks at the tech on board and how this hugely competitive and complex industry is adapting to the digital age to survive. Even e-commerce leaders, like Ali Baba and Amazon, are heavily investing in ocean cargo services and stepping up their game. Picture: Protests in Iran over increasing fuel price, Credit: European Photopress Agency
Nov 19, 2019
The digital gender divide
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The UN reports a widening digital gender gap The UN’s International Telecommunications Unit has published a report showing that over 4 billion people are now online worldwide. Despite this, the proportion of women using the internet is still much lower than men, especially in the developing world. Susan Teltscher, Head of the Human Capacity Building Division, describes the significance of this growing divide. Mookh opens up e-commerce opportunities in Kenya Mookh is a Nairobi-based company that allows users to sell their products online. Founder Eric Thimba describes how the platform has allowed many Kenyan creatives to monetize their products and the boon of mobile money to the African economy. The platform has recently launched in Uganda and Rwanda. Curiosity photographs dunes on Mars The Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars since its landing in 2011. Professor Sanjeev Gupta of Imperial College London explains how planners and software engineers work together to conduct experiments remotely, and muses on the potential of sending a real human to the red planet. Reflecting on humanity and data through dance Hannah Fisher reports on Overflow at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Presented by the Alexander Whitley Dance Company, the piece merges movement and technology to contemplate the nature of being human in an era of big data. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz Photo: Young Somali refugee women look at a smartphone Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images
Nov 12, 2019
Facebook Live on crime tech
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Facebook live – Crime tech special Digital Planet looks at crime tech in a special Facebook live edition. Gareth Mitchell and Ghislaine Boddington are joined by facial recognition expert Dr. Stephanie Hare and Dr. Sarah Morris, the Director of the Digital Forensics Unit at Cranfield University in the UK. The unit helped convict a criminal using the data on the motherboard of his washing machine! (Image: Crime Tech. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 05, 2019
BBC News on the ‘dark web’
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In an attempt to thwart censorship, BBC News is now available through the privacy-focused browser Tor also known as the gateway to the ‘dark web’. Facebook’s ambitions to launch cryptocurrency Last week, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, addressed critical questions about the company’s ambition to launch their own cryptocurrency ‘Libra’. Dr Catherine Mulligan of Imperial College London’s Centre for Cryptocurrency Research explains why some companies are leaving the Libra association. UNICEF start crypto-currency fund UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, will now be able to receive donations in crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Christopher Fabian, co-founder of UNICEF’s innovation unit, explains how this will allow the organisation to buy data directly from suppliers for schools that are currently offline. New spy technology uses wi-fi signals Wi-fi signals are distorted as they bounce off objects. Dr Yasamin Mostofi from the University of California has created a way to use these distortions to ‘see’ and possibly identify a person moving behind a wall. (Image credit: BBC) Producer: Louisa Field
Oct 29, 2019
Health of the Internet report
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Health of the Internet Solana Larsen, leader of the team at Mozilla that compiled the recent Health of the Internet report talks about the highlights, including openness, privacy and security, digital inclusion, web literacy and centralisation. Multi-purpose drones A drone in Malawi in one flight dropped off medical supplies by parachute, was used by game rangers to monitor animal poaching and created a high resolution 3D mapping of an area. Daniel Ronen, co-founder of UAVAid explains how they have developed their multi-purpose drones. Nam June Paik Nam June Paik embraced technology and digital developments in his art. Born in South Korea in 1932 his work has always been collaborative with musicians, poets and other artists using TV and sound in his often playful art. The Tate Modern gallery in London has brought together 50 years of his most innovative and influential art. Reporter Hannah Fisher, and regular studio commentator, Ghislaine Boddington, went along to explore. Image credit: Mozilla, Internet Health Report 2019 Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Oct 22, 2019
First all African smartphone factory
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The first African smartphone factory, where phones are made from scratch, opened this week in Rwanda. The smartphones are designed for the African market, so they are being made as affordable as possible, while being accessible and secure. Tunabot Professor Hilary Bart-Smith at the University of Virginia, USA went back to basics to develop a fast swimming robotic tuna - the tunabot. They took detailed anatomical data from the Yellow-finned tuna and Atlantic mackerel and 3D printed the fast tunabot. The tunabot swims faster than existing tunabots by increasing the frequency with which its tail beats. Tech to help deal with dementia An estimated 130 million of us could have dementia by 2050, but technology could help people live with the condition. Videos that pop up on your phone to help you perform everyday tasks like boiling the kettle or QR codes on your clothes that help others identify you and contact your family if you get lost are just some of the advances that Jason Hosken reports on. Ushahidi Ushahidi is Swahili for witness and it’s also the name of an open source software. It was originally created ten years ago to report reprisals and violence around elections. Since then it’s widened out into all kinds of crisis mapping – everything from monitoring natural disasters to illegal deforestation. Angela Odour Lungati is the recently appointed Executive Director at Ushahidi. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Photo: MaraPhone factory. Credit: MaraPhone)
Oct 15, 2019
Iraq shuts down internet
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Iraq internet shut down In response to anti-government protests the Iraq government shut down the internet six days ago. Coverage returned briefly before the president was due to give a televised address on Sunday allowing social media reports of violence at the demonstrations to be posted. Currently 75% of Iraq is covered by the ban. Kurdistan is unaffected. Mismatch There’s no such thing as normal—so why are we all made to use devices, live in cities or travel in vehicles that are so uniform? Whether it’s a computer accessory that only works for right-handed people or airline seats that are unusable for taller people, we need more inclusive design. We discuss Kat Holmes’ new book Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design. Beatie at the Barbican Singer-songwriter and innovator Beatie Wolfe is showing a “teaser” of her new work at London’s Barbican gallery alongside the launch of a film about her. This environmental protest piece distils 800,000 years of historic data of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. It will become an interactive visualisation and soundtrack using gaming software. The Lightyear One: a self-charging electric car The Lightyear One is a prototype solar-powered electric car. There are plans to take it into production by 2021. The manufacturer claims a range of 720km in sunny climates and even 400 km in cloudy, wet UK winter. Tom Stephens reports. (Photo: Iraq protests. Credit:Reuters) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Oct 08, 2019
Mobile data costs falling globally
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Mobile data costs falling globally New data shows that the cost of mobile data has fallen over the last year and low and middle income countries have generally seen the biggest falls. Research from the Alliance for Affordable Internet shows that despite the drop mobile data is only affordable in 37 out of 100 countries. Blue Broccoli and Nanobots, Qubits and Quiver Trees How do you convince young girls and boys they can have a career in science and technology? In fact the author of a new book, which illustrates possible jobs of the future,, Bryony Mathew is on the programme to explain why she wants children to think differently about their future careers. Qubits and Quiver Trees is the follow up to Bryony’s first book Blue Broccoli and Nanobots Bidding for government business in Kenya A new, simpler and fairer way of bidding for government contracts is in its final stages of development in Kenya. It’s hoped the new online system will encourage women and small businesses to apply for public spending contracts. 3D printed gun conviction A 26-year-old student from London has become the first person in the UK to be convicted of using a 3D printer to make a gun, after police found a machine in his home being fabricating gun parts. It’s a unique case that’s raised questions about how much the law is keeping up with technology as Bobbie Lakera reports (Photo by Chris Jung/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Oct 01, 2019
Investigating marine accidents – sea tech latest
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Digital Planet visits the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch for learn more about the technology used to investigate incidents at sea. Gareth Mitchell and Dr. Leigh Marsh look at voyage data recorders recovered from ship wrecks, location beacons, CCTV footage through to simulators that can recreate incidents at sea. Picture: Yeoman Bontrup, Credit: Marine Accident Investigation Branch
Sep 24, 2019
The latest in disability tech
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The latest in disability tech From fitting prosthetic limbs in a few hours to teaching blind children to code how technology is making a difference to everyday lives. Technology is changing disabled people’s lives, but is it being used as much as it could be? Gareth Mitchell and Ghislaine Boddington are joined by Dr. Giulia Barbareschi, Ben Mustill-Rose and Professor Tim Adlam on the show. (Photo: Prosthetic technician in Kenya controlling the shape of one of the socket fabricated during the trial. Credit: Giulia Barbareschi,GDI Hub) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Sep 17, 2019
Brain implant regulation calls
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iHuman: Blurring lines between mind and machine One of the UK’s top scientific institutions is calling for investigations into brain implants as brain-reading technology advances. Tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have outlined their visions of brain tech, but in reality hundreds of people with neurological conditions are already benefitting from implants positioned in their brains. But how can this be regulated and developed? The UK’s Royal Society has just published their report “iHuman: Blurring lines between mind and machine”. Professor Tim Denison of the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering is one of the authors and joins us in the studio. Biometric legislation – is it keeping up with new developments? Would you want your child’s school attendance registered using facial recognition software? That was a step too far for Swedish regulators, who recently fined a high school $20, 000 for doing just that. Despite a few token control measures there seems to be very little regulation in this field. The UK Biometrics Commissioner Professor Paul Wiles explains his concerns. Privatisation of national assets – what happens to your data? In Brazil, President Bolsonaro is in the midst of a $300bn dollar privatisation drive including selling off the post and tax offices. These organisations hold huge amounts of people’s personal data and as tech reporter Angelica Mari explains it’s not clear what will happen to the personal information of millions of citizens once privatisation happens. Computer memory power save According to UK researchers our ever increasing creation and storing of data will consume a fifth of the world’s energy by 2025. Scientists at the University of Lancaster may have come up with a way of reducing energy use in computer memory. Reporter Hannah fisher has been finding out more. (Picture: Brain implants for Parkinson"s disease. Credit:Science Photo Library) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Sep 10, 2019
Digital Planet’s 18th birthday show
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An hour long Digital Planet from the BBC Radio Theatre in London to celebrate the programmes 18th birthday. The team look back on the first show and look forward to the tech that is now also coming of age and what we might be seeing in the future. With 3D holographic phone calls, musical performances where the musicians are hundreds of kilometres apart, and the Gravity Synth detecting gravitational waves and turning them into music. (Photo: Binary Gift. Credit: Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Sep 03, 2019
Brazilian fire monitoring in real time
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Brazilian fires in real time monitored from space The Head of Remote Sensing at the National Institute of Space Research Brazil Dr. Luiz Aragao joins us on the programme. He explains how optical and thermal satellite images are delivering real time data about the Amazon rainforest fires. This means he and his team can calculate not only what is one fire but how much biodiversity has been lost and carbon released into the atmosphere. They are also analysing date from the ISS and the NASA GEDI mission and are able to recreate 3D images of the surface of the Earth before and after the fires. The Rwandan tech scene Gareth Mitchell visits a tech start-up hub in Kigali. He meets developers from Awesomity Lab who are currently creating e-government websites as well as apps and websites for major international companies. The company was created by a group of young IT specialists and looks just like any other start-up - creative spaces, high tables with designer chairs, blackboards covered with ambitious and 'out there' ideas. Just a few doors down Code of Africa is another tech company that is recruiting young coders and IT engineers - but not for Rwandan companies - Code of Africa is outsourcing their skills to businesses in Europe. 3D printing a moon base 50 years after man first landed on the moon, the race to return seems to be hotting up. India, Russia, USA, China and Europe all have big plans – including setting up a moon base. Reporter Jack Meegan has been to the European Space Agency in the Netherlands to find out if it would be possible to 3D print it. (Photo: Amazon fires Brazil. Credit: Victor Moriyama/Greenpeace/AFP)) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Aug 27, 2019
Harnessing tech during conflict
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Harnessing tech during conflict Twitter and Facebook have removed accounts that originated in mainland China that it says undermines the “legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement”. Evronia Azer knows all about the double-edged sword when it comes to technology in the midst of conflict. On one side there are tools to mobilise protest, on the other are tools of state control and surveillance. She is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business and Law at Coventry University in the UK where her research interests include data privacy and governance. She joins us on the programme Map Kibera Ten years ago Digital Planet reported on the Map Kibera project, which was just an idea to provide information to OpenStreetMap about the Nairobi slum. This quickly turned into the Map Kibera Organisation which makes sure that Kibera is connected and is focussed on improving people’s lives in the slum. Digital Planet has been back to Kibera to see how the project has changed. First ever plant selfie Hannah Fisher reports on a plant called Pete which could revolutionise field conservation by powering a camera to take selfies as he grows. London Zoo scientists have laid the groundwork for the world’s first plant selfie – a pioneering scientific trial in the Zoo’s Rainforest Life exhibit which will try out how microbial fuel cells power a plant to take its own picture. This they hope will lead to using plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild allowing conservationists to monitor habitats remotely. (Protesters in Hong Kong are seen wearing helmets and gas mask while looking at their phone. Credit Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Aug 20, 2019
Millions of Instagram users’ activity tracked
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Hyp3R data grab Instagram has removed US marketing company Hyp3r from its service after it was accused of grabbing users' data. Hyp3r was scraping profiles, copying photos and siphoning off data supposed to be deleted after 24 hours, according to Business Insider investigation. As Stephanie Hare explains, millions of users have been targeted. Breaking Silences – Rwanda’s first podcast On DP’s recent trip to Rwanda Gareth met two young women who have created the first ever podcast in the country. “Breaking Silences” is a podcast that brings you conversation around things happening in African Society particularly in Rwanda. It’s a really lively show and the hosts are not afraid to tackle subjects that no one else has spoken about publically before... Fire Hackathon package Our reporter Tom Stephens has been to a hackathon aimed at radically rethinking the way that fire safety is incorporated into the construction of buildings. The idea for the event came about in the summer of 2017 following the Grenfell Tower fire. (Photo: Instagram application seen on a phone screen. Credit: REUTERS/Thomas White) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Aug 13, 2019
Jakarta power cut - millions without electricity
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Jakarta power cut The lights are finally back on for most of Jakarta’s ten million people, who suffered a nine-hour outage over the weekend. Taking into account surrounding regions, the power cut could have affected more than a hundred million people. Just a few weeks ago, there was a power outage on a similar scale across much of Argentina and Uruguay. The lights went out recently across the west of Manhattan too. Professor Keith Bell from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland joins us live to explain why these types of cuts happen. Project Loon Loon’s mission is (Google) and its mission is to provide internet connectivity to areas that are typically underserved, using high-altitude balloons with solar-powered cellular network gear on board, replacing the need for permanent tower infrastructure in environments where that kind of option either isn’t practical or affordable. Gareth and Bill have visited Loon’s ground station in Nairobi to find out more. Penguin tech The British Antarctic Survey is using satellites to track wildlife in some extremely remote regions. Their surveillance recently revealed that emperor penguins are fleeing some of their biggest colonies as the ice becomes less stable. Satellites are also tracking whale populations in the remote ocean, but the tech doesn’t stop there, as Jason Hosken reports Art or Not app? The power of the neural net has is rendering your handset your friendly art critic in your pocket. You take a quick pic on your phone: is it a masterpiece, or could a young child have done that? The app called ‘Art or Not?’ is fun but for its creators at Monash University in Australia there’s a serious research question about machines and creativity behind it. The application hits the app store within the next week. Dilpreet Singh and Jon McCormack at Monash University’s SensiLab explain how it works. (Photo: Impact Of Electricity Shut Down In Jakarta And Surrounding Areas. Credit: Photo by Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Aug 06, 2019
Not-so anonymised data
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Could so-called anonymized data not be quite so opaque? A recent paper in Nature Communications suggests that information regulators around the world might need to re-assess what constitutes anonymized data by showing that for any American, just fifteen data points could identify an individual person. Insurers, health providers, even media providers should take note of just what can be harvested from these growing numbers of publicly available sets. Smells and Taste A look at sensing. Recently IBM Research demonstrated a new device called Hypertaste which uses AI to learn to identify compounds in water, comparing the unique electrical fingerprint of different molecules. It’s the sort of sensor that just might be included one day on a smartphone. We also look at uses of smell production in immersive storytelling. Could VR experiences of the near future include convincing smells? Meanwhile, reporter Madeleine Finlay reports on efforts to include synthetic smells in immersive storytelling - AKA smellovision. And Jack Meegan meets musicians in northern England who are deploying some digital musical archaeological techniques in efforts to re-create some early Brian Eno. Presenter Gareth Mitchell Comments from Ghislaine Boddington Producer Alex Mansfield (Picture: New research shows how easy it can be to piece together clues in anonymized data sets. Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 30, 2019
Chandrayaan-2: India’s moon landing
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The Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, succeeded this week in getting its latest lunar lander into earth orbit. A new mobile money platform mGurush launches in South Sudan. In London young developers compete for a prestigious award, and in New Zealand a simple app offers security for lonely situations. (Photo: Indian Space Research Organisation orbiter vehicle Chandrayaan-2 launch. Credit: ISRO HANDOUT © European Photopress Agency) Producer: Alex Mansfield
Jul 23, 2019
Kenya Special: A decade on
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Digital Planet re-visits the technology scene in Kenya, 10 years after the submarine broadband cable was connected. Presenter Gareth Mitchell and regular studio commentator Bill Thompson are in Nairobi to find out what has changed in the last decade and what can be expected in the future. High-speed broadband 10 years on; Tonny Tugee from SEACOM discusses the impact of the submarine communications cable, which was switched on in July 2009. Investment in African tech talent; Amrote Abdella from Microsoft 4 Afrika explains why Microsoft has launched its first Africa Development Centres in Kenya and Nigeria, investing in African tech talent to ensure global relevance. Nekewa Were, Managing Director of iHub is also on the programme. The techspace has helped more than 350 startups and raised $40m in investment since it opened in 2010. Future-proofing Kenya in the technological revolution; technologist Juliana Rotich explains why Kenya must learn from past mistakes in other countries when adopting emerging technologies and is working to ensure that data can benefit all elements of society. Photo: Ania and Gareth Credit: BBC
Jul 16, 2019
Chinese surveillance app analysed by researchers
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Travellers to China through Kyrgyzstan are being forced to install a surveillance app on their phones. Professor Thorsten Holt is on the programme to explain, with the help of investigative journalists, how he has hacked into and analysed this surveillance app. He says the app compiles a report on your phone contacts, text messages and even your social media accounts, as well as searching for over 73,000 specific files. Atmospheric Memory A breath-taking new art environment where you can see, hear and even touch sound, has opened in Manchester. The exhibit is inspired by Charles Babbage, a pioneer of computing technology from 180 years ago. He once proposed that if all spoken words remain recorded in the air, a powerful computer could potentially ‘rewind’ the movement of all air molecules. So how has the ground-breaking ideas of Charles Babbage influenced art and technology today?. Robotic Endoscopy Endoscopies are medical procedures that involve threading a camera through the body to see inside. Anyone who has had one will know how uncomfortable they can be. But, they are also challenging for the doctor - taking on average 100 to 250 procedures to be able to perform well. Reporter Madeleine Finlay met Dr Joe Norton, who is part of an international team developing an intelligent robotic system that could make it a lot less painful for both the patient and clinician. Game Designing: Mentoring the Next Generation Mathew Applegate works with over 300 young people in Suffolk on game design, and has just won the BAFTA Young Game Designers Mentor Award. Having been a hacker and spent time working for the government, Mathew then set up his Creative Computing Club in 2012, which delivers courses on game design, robotics, AI, VR and much more. He spoke to us on why he believes game design is so beneficial for the young people of Suffolk. (Photo caption: “Analysing the App’s binary software code” credit: © Mareen Meyer ) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jul 09, 2019
Declaration of digital independence
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Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is on the programme to explain why he wants us to go on strike and boycott big social media platforms for two days. He’s drafted a Declaration of Digital Independence because he says these internet companies have been abusing their political power, optimising our feeds for controversy rather than civilised debate and gathering masses of our personal information along the way. Ira Bolychevsky, founder and director of Redecentralize.org gives her opinion on the idea. Multi-use Drones Currently drones tend to have one function; mapping, filming or delivering packages to name but a few. Now a UK company is about to start trials in Malawi of a universal multiuse drone which could perform a number of these roles. The aim of UAVAid is to be able to complete a number of tasks at the same time, significantly reducing running costs. AI Art: Not Quite Smart Enough Mario Klingemann talks about his latest installation at the Barbican in London “Circuit training” explaining some of the tech behind this AI inspired artwork. He invites viewers to teach a neural network how to create an artwork by allowing the AI to capture their image. Their input means that installation is a constantly evolving piece of live art – but it has not been without its teething problems. Weightless – The ‘Most Relaxing Song Ever’ The song ‘weightless’, by the British band Marconi Union, is regularly called ‘the most relaxing song ever’. The eight-minute track was made in collaboration with a sound therapist, to use in an experiment investigating whether music could help reduce stress. Weightless has gone on to have millions of listens on Youtube, but how did science theory and music technology come together to create the relaxation hit? Bobbie Lakhera went into the recording studio to find out. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Picture: Hands holding speech bubbles with social issue concept. Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 03, 2019
Tax on connectivity in Africa
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Tax on Connectivity Taxes on internet and mobile access are on the rise across Africa, according to the Alliance for Affordable Internet. After a daily levy was introduced on social media services in Uganda for example, internet subscriptions fell by 2.5 million. Eleanor Sarpong, Deputy Director at the Alliance for Affordable Internet explains how it’s the poorest and women who are being hardest hit. Kibera Stories Brian Otieno has been using photography to redefine his hometown’s visual narrative, looking beyond the poverty, crime and hardship of Kibera on the outskirts of Narirobi. One day, Brian was scrolling through pictures of his area on his phone and all he saw was deep poverty, whereas he would look around Kibera and see beautiful scenery and aimed to do photography that would “leave a lasting impression on people’s minds”. Green Monkeys Scientists have found that green monkeys in Senegal make the same alarm calls when they see drones as another population of green monkeys across the continent make to eagles – seeing them as a flying threat. Professor Julia Fischer from the German Primate Centre in Gottingen led the study. She says that technology is making some primates behave differently – for instance hiding until drones disappear. How fit if your fitbit? Zoe Klienman has been to Loughborough University to find out how fit our fittech actually is. (Picture: Tax sign. Credit: Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jun 25, 2019
Fleeing Saudi women tracked by mobiles
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Cell phones used to track runaway Saudi women Saudi Arabia is hunting down women who flee the country by tracking the IMEI number on their cellphones, according to an article on the website Business Insider. Reporter Bill Bostock is in the studio to explain how he was told by runaway women that the authorities IMEI numbers on mobile phones to try and find the. Sir Dermot Turing - who really did invent the first computer? Alan Turing is often credited as being the father of modern computing after designing the Bombe, an electromechanical machine used to speed up the decoding effort at Bletchley Park in WW2. His nephew, Dermot, in his book "x, y, z; The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken” tells Digital Planet that his uncle’s efforts were significantly helped by the Polish mathematicians who broke the Enigma code and a little known Englishman, whose work paved the way for the technology of today. Poland's IT development forging So is Poland still pushing the boundaries in maths and engineering? Polish Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology Jadwiga Emilewicz says the country has always shown strength in these areas. With a booming gaming industry - last week saw Keanu Reeves launch a new Polish game in LA - the country has now set its sights on AI. But with a missed target of delivering faster broadband, the road to top tech is not always easy. Can the promises of AI be delivered safely? Another week and another shiny promotional event to stage the latest technology on the market. Last week it was the turn of the London Tech Summit and reporter Tom Stephens went to see how businesses are developing AI – the main theme of the event – but can the fears about AI be allayed by companies? (Photo: IMEI. Credit: Barnaby Perkins) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jun 18, 2019
Sagrada Família: Can tech complete the build of the basilica?
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A work permit for the unfinished church designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi, 137 years after construction started has been issued. Tristam Carfrae, deputy chair of engineering and design company ARUP tells us how technology will help complete the original design of the Sagrada Família basilica. Africa Tech – Increasing African IT Skills A new report shows that the demand for digital skills in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster rate than in other markets. Entitled Digital Skills in sub-Saharan Africa: Spotlight on Ghana, it estimates that 230 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030. One of the authors of the report – Maryanna Abdo – explains how most workers will need to retrain across their careers in the future. Oluwatobi Otokiti, technology product manager from Andela.com, joins us in the studio to tell us how they are promoting African IT talent across the continent. They have offices in seven countries and they run training courses for software engineers - especially encouraging women. Most companies in Africa look outside the continent for IT workers, but Andela is working to change that. Property Tech: How it’s Changing the Way we Buy, Sell and Rent Property Brazilian tech journalist Angelica Mari on how tech is transforming the housing market. In the US open days for house selling are becoming a thing of the past as online companies are taking over. Sellers can change their ad’s online and arrange viewings, while buyers don’t have to wait long to see a potential new home. In Brazil, renters now don’t need a guarantor to vouch for them when renting property. These guarantors needed to own property themselves. This, coupled with a more mobile population, meant renters were finding it was sometimes impossible to rent a property. Now everything is done online giving many more people access to a home of their own. (Photo: Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona. Credit:Getty images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jun 11, 2019
Marine accident investigation technology
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Marine accident investigation technology On Sunday on the Giudecca Canal in Venice a giant cruise ship crashed into a docked tourist boat. Mike Travis, of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch in the UK, explains how technology will help accident investigators determine what happened Cancer data and AI Scientists have been gathering petabytes of data from cancer patients in a bid to find new treatments. To be able to analyse some of this massive volume of data, they are harnessing machine learning and AI. Dr. Shamith Samara-Jiwa of the MRC Cancer Unit in Cambridge in England tells us about the difference AI is making in cancer research. Human and AI smart speakers A project that combines AI with human researchers is being trailed in India. Smart speakers, positioned in the street, allow people to ask questions, pick up a ticket and return later for the answer. Some speakers have human intelligence behind them, while others have algorithms. Dr. Jennifer Pearson from Swansea University is behind the work. Saving film projection technology Films are made to be shown – but how you project them can have a significant impact on the quality of the viewers experience. Most cinemas now no longer employ a projectionist and use digital technology to play the film. But as Lauren Hutchinson has been finding out some enthusiasts in New York are finding it harder to keep the old film tech working. (Photo: Cruise ship MSC Opera is seen after the collision with a tourist boat, in Venice, Italy.Credit: EPA/ANDREA MEROLA) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Jun 04, 2019
Genderless voice assistants
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The world’s first genderless voice assistant has been unveiled to the public, and it goes by the name Q. Reporter Tom Stephens met with Emil Asmussen, associate creative director of VICE Media’s creative agency VIRTUE, who was involved in Q’s creation to discuss the voice of the future. Detecting bladder problems Dr Elfed Lewis from the University of Limerick and his team has created an optical sensor that can be inserted into the bladder, during other procedures, that monitors pressure in the urinary tract. Internet of Bats Professor Kate Jones from UCL has put up sensors in the Queen Elizabeth Park in East London to record the activities of bats. She talks to Gareth about how this information will in the future help to manage the ecosystem for the benefit of wildlife, including the bat populations. Cocktail party hearing aid One of the most impressive properties of the human auditory system is the way most of us can overhear or eavesdrop on specific voices in an otherwise crowded room. Most hearing aids can’t help with that: they can sometimes filter out noises that are not human voices, but cannot do the very human trick of sorting one voice from a sea of others. Nima Mesgarani from Columbia University reports in the journal Science Advances a proof of principle for a device that might be able to do just that. (Photo: Man and woman talking to a smart speaker. Credit: iStock /Getty Images Plus) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
May 28, 2019
Is facial recognition violating people's privacy?
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Facial recognition software concerns San Francisco has banned it, while other cities are trailing it...facial recognition software is becoming more commonplace. Perhaps there is little you can do to avoid it but would you be keen to help create it? Stephanie Hare is on the programme to discuss if users of the Ever app knew about the use of their photos to create technology that is being sold elsewhere. AI - friend or foe? In western culture machine learning and AI is viewed with some apprehension but in eastern societies it's seen much more as a partnership between human and robot or algorithm. Gareth and Ghislaine discuss these and other differences in our attitudes towards the tech with Suzanne Livingston and Maholo Uchida, the co-curators of the Barbican Centre's new exhibition; AI More than Human. Microchip fashion Why have some four thousand ordinary Swedes had micro-chips inserted in their hands? The practice is part of a much broader, global and diverse biohacking movement outside of traditional institutions that modifies bodies with novel technologies in order to improve life. Snezana Curcic has been finding out more. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz Main Image: A technician tests the face recognition function of intelligent patrol robot 'Meibao' in Beijing, China 20 March 2019. Credit: VCG / VCG via Getty Images.
May 21, 2019
Personal alarms hackable using phone numbers
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Personal alarms with GPS can be hacked An investigation by Fidus Information Security has found that over 10,000 people are using personal alarms with GPS and phone data which can be hacked using the owner’s phone number. Andrew Mabbitt describes how these devices are at risk of being hacked and the danger this could pose to the wearer. Smart buildings can increase efficiency Dr Wendy Belluomini is the Director of IBM Research. She explains how IBM are developing AI and IoT to make our built environment respond to our physical and psychological needs – one day your office could even tell what mood you are in… The Internet of Plants might help your garden Louisa Field has just attended a workshop at the tech event republica 19 in Berlin where she helped build and program hardware which can check on your plants and their progress from anywhere and any device. Theoretical currency could prevent large scale fraud Professor Adrian Kent describes a theoretical framework, dubbed ‘S-money’, and how it could ensure completely unforgeable and secure authentication, and allow faster and more flexible responses than any existing financial technology by harnessing the combined power of quantum theory and relativity. (Photo: Personal alarm GPS.Credit: Fidus Information Security) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
May 14, 2019
Ham radio aids cyclone relief effort
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Ham Radio in Disaster Relief Efforts Ham Radio operators have been drafted in to keep communications open after Cyclone Fani devastated parts of India. HF and VHF will be used to communicate with the main disaster control room in Delhi. Operators have been deployed to areas where all other forms of communication have failed. Soft Robotics Recent advances in 3D printing have led to significant progress in the field of soft robotics. Katia Bertoldi, professor of applied mechanics at Harvard, describes her work with soft robots - compliant robots, made from soft materials, usually rubber, which are suitable to interact with humans in a non-intrusive way. As these robots need to move in a complex way new materials are being developed to allow them to do that. Fighting Back Against Online Trolls in Columbia In Colombia, an organisation called Fundacion Karisma is helping victims of online abuse fight back against misogynistic internet trolls by educating them on data security. The organisation recently won an award from the Index on Censorship, for their digital activism and work for freedom of expression on the internet. Our reporter Tom Stephens speaks to the head of the organisation about their work. (Photo: People ride a motorbike through debris on a road after Cyclone Fani hit Puri. Credit: REUTERS/Stringer) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
May 07, 2019
The latest in health and fintech
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Digital Planet looks at the future of health tech and money Gareth Mitchell, with studio expert Bill Thompson, present a special Facebook live programme of Digital Planet, the BBC’s world technology programme. Halima Khan, Executive Director, Health, People and Impact at Nesta, discusses how technology is being used in healthcare and what we can expect in the future for health technology. Angelica Mari, a Brazilian Business tech & innovation journalist, explains how the financial technology scene is booming in Brazil and how developing countries can learn from the successes and failures in the developed world. (Picture: 3d illustration of mobile phone over blue background with binary cubes and bank card. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 30, 2019
Can tech help rebuild Notre-Dame?
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Can tech help rebuild Notre-Dame? Professor Paul Chapman discusses how Glasgow School of Art has used laser scanned 3D models to try to rebuild their historic Mackintosh building after two damaging fires. Will this technology prove to be vital in the redesign and rebuild of Notre-Dame? Gesture Computing Technology Presenter Gareth Mitchell and studio expert Ghislaine Boddington talk to Per Nohlert from Noenode at the IEEE fifth World Forum on IoT in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. They find out about the latest gesture technology in gaming and medicine, like feeling the air respond to the user’s movements controlling hardware. Dame Steve Shirley The early IT female pioneer Dame Steve Shirley tells the programme about her IT career, what she thinks of the tech scene now and why she has donated millions of her fortune to charity. Should the World Wide Web become feminist? Thursday 25 April marks the ITU Girls in ICT Day. Nora Lindstrom from Plan International - the global child rights organisation - explains why they believe that the World Wide Web must become feminist. (Photo: Laser scan of Notre-Dame de Paris. Credit: Andrew Tallon/Vassar College/AFP) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 23, 2019
Internet of Things - what can we expect?
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Internet of Things encompasses all devices connected to the internet, which can be further connected. This means that all of our “things” can talk to each other to provide an autonomous action. Imagine a system where your fridge decides when to order your groceries, or your dishwasher decides when to wash your dishes. Outside of your smart home, Internet of Things promises even more, such as smart cities, where traffic lights are connected to millions of sensors that can direct your self-driving car down a congestion-free street. This week, Click are in Limerick, Republic of Ireland, reporting from the IEEE 5th World Forum on Internet of Things. The event explores Internet of Things technology, providing the next steps in the Digital Revolution; covering potential applications in agriculture, transportation, healthcare, smart cities and green tech. Presenter Gareth Mitchell, accompanied by Ghislaine Boddington, discusses emerging Internet of Things utilisation with academics and experts to discover what can be expected from this technology in the near-future. (Picture: Illustration depicting the internet of things. Credit: Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 16, 2019
Shut down of Google’s Ethics Panel
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Shut down of Google’s Ethics Panel Google announces an advisory artificial intelligence ethics board and then closes it down within a fortnight, following a row over the choice of its members. BBC Technology reporter Jane Wakefield explains why the now ex-Advanced Technology External Advisory Council has been disbanded. Do robots have morals? Who is responsible for incidents involving autonomous machines? A paper considering the moral responsibilities of robots has been published, prompting these big questions. Yochanan Bigman, a postdoc at the University of North Carolina, discusses what they found. The Music Memory Box for dementia patients A small box combining objects that are precious to a person with dementia and music from their past has reached its crowdfunding target. The ‘Music Memory Box’ includes a miniature Raspberry Pi computer and RFID sensors and is based on the idea that a sense of music often endures in a dementia patient long after many of their other faculties have diminished. Reporter Madeleine Finlay finds out more. GDPR a year on - success or failure? Almost a year after Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation came into effect, Josephine Wolff, Assistant Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, explains why the policy can be regarded as both a success and a failure. (Photo: Google search engine web page. Credit: Getty Images)
Apr 09, 2019
#ShareNoEvil
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#ShareNoEvil A new Chrome browser extension aimed at blocking terrorist content following the mosque shooting in Christchurch in New Zealand has been launched. It blocks the alleged Christchurch shooter’s name from appearing in any search on Chrome and replaces any mention of the blocked name with the words Share No Evil. Simon Morton explains how internet service providers and mobile telecom companies in New Zealand have been blocking videos of the Christchurch attack. Digital diplomacy Snezana Curcic reports on how the traditionally secretive world of diplomacy is now being acted out on social media. The governments of 169 countries (88 per cent of all UN members) are now on Facebook, and Denmark even has an Ambassador to Silicon Valley. Wifi on the metro How is the mobile broadband on your city’s metro system? Great if you commute in Moscow, Rome, Tokyo, Barcelona, Hong Kong or Melbourne. However other cities don’t fare so well. In London WiFi is available at stations but there is no connectivity in the tunnels. Wired’s Business Editor Katia Moskvitch has been finding out why there are such differences. Building Information Modelling How can tech make building quicker and more economical? Using a system called BIM! It stands for Building Information Modelling and works by constructing a building twice – firstly digitally and then physically. But it’s much more complicated than just creating a virtual model as Thayla Zomer from the Centre for Digital Built Britain at the University of Cambridge explains. (Picture: Share No Evil. Credit: Sharenoevil.co.nz) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Apr 02, 2019