Digital Planet

By BBC World Service

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 Jan 5, 2020


Technological and digital news from around the world.

Episode Date
Internet shutdowns cost $8bn in 2019
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
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. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Photo: Fires Near Me app. Credit: New South Wales Rural Fire Service)
Jan 14, 2020
South Africa power cuts
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?
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
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
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…
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 John 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
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
Google’s offering up to $1.5m to anyone who can identify bugs in its new chip for Android smartphones. This is a 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. Wi-fi on the bus Being online when travelling on the bus in parts of Kenya and Rwanda is not new, but now it is 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. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Photo: Google webpage. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 26, 2019
Iran internet shutdown continues
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
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
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! (Photo: Binary numbers on a finger tip. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 05, 2019
BBC News on the ‘dark web’
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Photo: Prosthetic technician in Kenya controlling the shape of one of the socket fabricated during the trial. Credit: Giulia Barbareschi,GDI Hub)
Sep 17, 2019
Brain implant regulation calls
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
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
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
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
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: Thomas White/Reuters) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
Aug 13, 2019
Jakarta power cut - millions without electricity
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 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
Chandrayaan-2: India’s moon landing
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
Chinese surveillance app analysed by researchers
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
Tax on connectivity in Africa
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