Digital Planet

Digital Planet

By BBC World Service

Technological and digital news from around the world.


Tech Life

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Digital Planet says goodbye

On Digital Planet’s final ever show we discuss the legacy of Gordon Moore, the father of transistors and creator of Moore’s law.Special guests this week are Angelica Mari and Ghislaine Boddington.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
28/03/2352m 16s

3D printed food – what’s cooking?

Could 3D-printing be serving us up a tasty food revolution, or is it the ultimate in gimmicky processed foods taking us yet further away from natural eating? In the kitchen, a 3D-printer builds up customised tasty treats like exotic cheesecakes, layer by layer, using edible pastes, gels and liquids. The results look delicious, and delicate, and can be tweaked to suit the individual’s specific nutritional needs. The latest possibilities are one of the main courses in the latest issue of npj Science of Food. One of the article’s authors is Dr Jonathan Blutinger worked at the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University in New York where the research was carried out. Jimmy Wales on AI and its impact on Wikipedia In our second interview with Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, Gareth asks about the balkanisation of the internet and how ChatGPT and other AI tech could impact Wikipedia.  Bollywood and the multiverse India is now officially the most populated country in the world and everything there is measured in huge numbers. Take film, for example. With nearly two thousand films made each year in over 20 regional languages, India produces the most films worldwide. And Bollywood is just a part of it. This year marks 110 years since the first Indian feature movie was made - ‘Raja Harishchandra’, a silent movie by legendary Dadasaheb Phalke. Since then Indian film has come a long way, winning an Oscar in two categories at the Academy Awards this year. Our reporter Snezana Curcic recently went to Mumbai, the city where it all started. She’s explored how digitalisation has disrupted and affected the industry and Indian film audiences in recent years. Pod EXTRA: A make-up applying app for the visually impaired How would you feel about applying make-up for a date or an important meeting without the aid of a mirror? Well, if you're blind or visually impaired, that's effectively a situation you might find yourself in on a regular basis. But now it seems help could be at hand. A new app called the Voice Enabled Makeup Assistant has been developed by the International cosmetics company Estee Lauder. So will it help if you're a blind dater, or is it all just lip service. Our reporter, Fern Lulham takes up the story. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: 3D-printed cheesecake using edible food inks, including peanut butter, Nutella, and strawberry. Credit: Jonathan Blutinger/Columbia Engineering)
21/03/2352m 5s

Jimmy Wales on bots and blockages

Digital Planet caught up with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. In the first of two interviews with Gareth, Jimmy explains why Wikipedia was restricted in Pakistan recently and how they overcame the block. And he gives his thoughts on Twitter’s plans to stop the bots and banish its free API. 6G – what we can expect Professor Sana Salous, Chair of Communications Engineering at Durham University is about to submit her latest recommendations for the implementation of 6G connectivity to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). She’s on the show to explain how this will change the way we communicate and tells Gareth that we should be connected to 6G by 2030. Computer labs for schoolchildren in rural Kenya Nelly Cheboi’s nonprofit, TechLit Africa, has provided thousands of students across rural Kenya with access to donated, upcycled computers - and the chance for a brighter future. When she began working in the software industry, she realised that there are many computers that are thrown away as companies upgrade their technology infrastructure. So, together with a fellow software engineer they founded TechLit Africa. The students not only get upcycled computers but are also learning various skills such as coding. Wairimu Gitahi reports from Nairobi. Podcast Extra Following months of debate and discussion about what caused Gareth’s motorbike key fob to malfunction near a major TV transmitter, Imperial College and Durham University engineers have joined forces to establish what actually happened. Please do listen as we have a definitive answer. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari. Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Wikipedia logo seen on screen of laptop through magnifying glass. Photo by Altan Gocher/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
14/03/2351m 38s

Digital identity: Where are we now?

It may seem that in some countries surveillance cameras are everywhere – recording almost our every move. We are using fingerprints and facial recognition to get access to our banking, work emails and even our healthcare systems. Alongside this rise in use comes a rapid increase in biometric data gathering, spurred on by contact tracing apps during Covid-19. But where is this very personal data going, who is using it and how. We bring together a panel of experts to discuss what’s happening now and what’s next for our biometric data – shouldn’t we be the ones in control of our own digital identity? Contributing expert Ghislaine Boddington will shed light on these questions and will be joined by Dr Stephanie Hare, author of Technology is Not Neutral: A Short Guide to Technology Ethics, Alice Thwaite, founder of the Hattusia consultancy and The Echo Chamber Club a philosophical research institute, and BBC China Editor Howard Zhang are all on the show.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz Sound: Andrew Garratt(Illustration: A fingerprint scanner is integrated into a printed circuit. Credit: Surasak Suwanmake/Getty Images)
07/03/2338m 33s

Ukraine’s drone spotting app

As Ukraine enters the second year of the full-scale Russian invasion, we hear about an app through which citizens can help alert defence authorities of air attacks. To help prevent future attacks, the country’s Air Defence Forces want people to use their phones to report hostile airborne objects. Simply install an app, point your handset at the object, select the category – say a drone or a missile - and press the button. It means observers on the ground can pick up objects flying too low for radar detection. Gareth speaks to one of the app’s developers, Gennadiy Suldin of the tech start up NGO Technari. Supercomputing predicting weather in Brazil – has it worked? The clear up continues in Sao Paulo following last week’s devastating floods and landslides, which have claimed dozens of lives. But could these extreme weather events have been better predicted with supercomputers? Angelica Mari has been asking if Brazil’s supercomputers are super enough? Spotting illegal farms in Taiwan with citizen tech With 1500 hectares of farmland lost to illegal usage each year in Taiwan, an environmental advocacy group tried to find ways of bringing this attention to the wider public. Stuck for what to do and not wanting to use conventional means like petitions, they turned to Taiwan’s volunteer technology community for inspiration. Shiroma Silva went to find out more for Digital Planet.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari. Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: A drone approaches for an attack in Kyiv on 17 October 2022. Credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
28/02/2342m 3s

Data in disaster zones

After the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Northern Syria, how do you collate data to aid those coordinating the disaster response? Cecilia Utas from DEEP (Data Entry and Exploration Platform) explains how important data is in disaster relief and crisis management. And Aziz Şasa from the Turkish Amateur Radio Association also explains the vital role of amateur radio as a key communication method in the region after the earthquake. High altitude communication platforms After multiple objects have been shot down in US airspace, Professor David Grace from the University of York is on the show to talk Gareth through these high-altitude communication and surveillance platforms. The devices serve many purposes and take many different forms, from balloons to airships.Electricity from human waste In the village of Lelo in South Western Kenya, 21 year old Vincent Odero is harnessing electricity from a surprising source – human waste. Using the warmth from human waste in a pit, he is making enough electricity to power his home. Wairimu Gitahi went to meet Vincent and to see his invention in action. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Andrew Garratt Producer: Hannah FisherImage: Digital earthquake wave with circle vibration illustration Credit: Varunya/Getty Images
21/02/2346m 26s

Internet shutdowns around the world

Within hours of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake across Turkey and northern Syria, the internet in Turkey was partially shutdown. And it wasn’t just because of damage to network infrastructure from the quake itself, but Twitter was blocked, as the authorities raised concerns over misinformation online.Internet shutdowns are used by governments around the world to control people’s access to information, for example during protests, but also somewhat surprisingly to prevent cheating during public examinations.Shutting down the internet costs individuals and countries huge amounts of money. The TopTenVPN annual report which analysed every major intentional internet shutdown in 2022 has revealed that they cost a world economy, already reeling from a number of shocks, a further $24 billion.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Michael Millham Producer: Alun Beach(Image: Keyboard lit up in red in the dark. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
14/02/2335m 9s

What’s the future of bots on Twitter?

What is happening with API’s, more commonly known as bots, on Twitter? The platform is set to eliminate free access to its APIs this Thursday, although there appears to have been some backtracking following announcements that bots providing “good content” will have access to the Twitter API for free. Tech writer, broadcaster and bot user and creator Kate Bevan will be on the show with the latest. The right to disconnect Kenya is the latest country to propose a new law that will block employers from interrupting their staff during their time off. The Employment Amendment Bill aims to give Kenyans “the right to disconnect in the digital age” and protect them from working out of hours, at weekends and public holidays – often for no additional pay. Nairobi based tech reporter Wairimu Gitahi is on the show.Tech that tells you when fruit is ripe Harvesting a crop at the correct time is vital to ensure higher profits for the farmer and also to reduce food waste. Reporter Rani Singh has met two entrepreneurs in India who have developed a device that checks 19 vegetable and fruits for ripeness, texture and taste – just by scanning their skin. The handheld device checks the chemical composition e.g. sugar levels of fruits and veg and can tell if there has been damage from insects or disease.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Michael Millham Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California Credit: David Odisho/Stringer/Getty Images)
07/02/2344m 41s

A smart glove to save babies

One of the main causes of maternal mortality during childbirth is that the baby cannot be delivered vaginally, most likely because it is not positioned correctly in the womb. Without a plethora of medical equipment and training to check the baby’s position, midwives and doctors in developing countries struggle to reposition the baby safely. Scientists at UCL have developed a smart glove that links to an app, which in lab tests appears to be able to correctly identify the position of a baby’s head and how much pressure is being applied to it. The glove costs $1, making it an affordable solution in developing countries. Dr Shireen Jaufuraully and Carmen Salvadores Fernandez of University College London, lead authors on the study, explain their work so far.Photometric-stereo 3D imaging reveals secrets of the past At the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, a series of previously little studied copper plates is now, finally, giving up its secrets after three hundred years. The shallow engravings on the copper have become worn and difficult to read after more than three centuries. So, researchers are picking out relief on the metals surface by moving a light around, to draw out the shadows and give contrast. Except, this is a moveable virtual lamp, thanks to some clever 3D imaging. Hannah Fisher has been to the library to find out more about the ARCHiOx project.Wi-fi seeing through walls Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are able to detect the 3D shape and movements of human bodies in a room, using only WiFi routers. The WiFi method overcomes problems with cameras e.g. poor light. The tech could be used to monitor elderly people at home or check on intruders. Professor Fernando De La Torre Frade and Dr Dong Huang from Carnegie Mellon University tell Gareth more.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Photo: Smart glove embedded with a sensor on the fingertip of the index finger. Credit: Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences)
31/01/2343m 36s

What happens when the Bitcoin miners leave?

In the summer of 2021 Kazakhstan was the second biggest producer of Bitcoin in the world, but what has happened since the crypto currency crash? Tech reporter Peter Guest is on the show to tell us about his trip to the country and how mega warehouses that once contained the computing power to make crypto millions now stand empty in the country’s rust belt. He tells us the story of the rise and fall of the bitcoin miners in this remote part of the world.Wearable tech, AI and potential new treatments for rare diseases Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Friedreich's ataxia (FA) are very rare genetic diseases neither of which has a cure. Now scientists and engineers in the UK have used motion sensors to capture the way patients move. They processed this data through new AI medical technology that they say can predict disease progression and significantly increase the efficiency of clinical trials in these conditions. Treatments are desperately needed as both diseases can lead to paralysis and currently there are often not enough patients for clinical trials. Dr. Valeria Ricotti, honorary clinical lecturer at the UCL GOS ICH and lead author of the studies is on the show to tell us more.Sony’s new game controller for disabled gamers Our gaming correspondent Chris Berrow reports on Sony’s new “Project Leonardo”, its PlayStation 5 controller for disabled gamers. The company teamed up with accessibility experts and charities to design the modular controller which can be adapted in many different ways to allow as many people as possible to use it. Launched at CES it still doesn’t have a release date or price though. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Huge transformers and high tension cable to power bitcoin mines in Kazakhstan. Credit:
24/01/2340m 57s

Self-driving cars could be a massive source of global carbon emissions

MIT researchers have concluded in a new study that computers that power self-driving cars could generate as many greenhouse gas emissions as the total of the world’s data centres do today. We’ve reported many times on the huge carbon footprint of data centres as well as the massive amounts of electricity needed to run them. They currently account for 0.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions – a similar level to Argentina - according to the International Energy Agency. The models created show that 1 billion autonomous vehicles, driving for one hour a day each, need a computer consuming 840 watts. These would consume enough energy to generate similar emissions as data centres currently do. Lead author Soumya Sudhakar joins us on the show to explain how hardware efficiency will need to advance rapidly to avoid these high levels of emissions.Brazil’s antisocial media Following last week’s events in Brasilia we look at the role social media played in the violence by far-right protestors. Angelica Mari, and activist and researcher Bruna Martins dos Santos who specialises in the Politics of Digitalization discuss if President Lula’s new government can reclaim the social media space and curb the spread of far right disinformation. Getting South Africa connected – a new initiative Last week we heard from one of our listeners about how he tries to stay online during power shortages in Ukraine following Russian air strikes. Another country that is significantly affected by energy shortages is South Africa. In addition, getting a reliable internet connection is also very hard. The government has announced that it’s going to spend over 160 million dollars over the next three years creating 33,000 community Wi-Fi hotspots as well as investing in improving IT skills across the population. Our reporter Rani Singh has been looking at how this might be achieved…The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari. Studio Manager: Michael Millham Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Stylised car icon. Credit: Smartboy10/Getty Images)
17/01/2349m 41s

Getting online in Ukraine’s blackouts

One of our listeners in Ukraine contacted us to tell us how he stays online during power outages following bombing in Ukraine. Volodymyr Bielikov is on the show to explain the issues he’s regularly facing with internet connectivity.AI avatars undressed and virtual employees Ghislaine Boddington looks at the alarming story of how a young female reporter created avatars in the AI avatar app Lensa and was shocked to find that out of 100 avatars, 16 were topless and another 14 wore very skimpy clothing and were in provocative poses. Why has this app created astronauts and warrior avatars for her male colleagues and is undressing her avatars? Ghislaine also looks at the rising employment of virtual staff. The tech company Baidu says the number of virtual people projects its working on has doubled in the last year with prices of a virtual employee starting at just under $3k. Why are they becoming popular and what jobs are they being used for? Evelyn Cheng, senior correspondent from in Beijing, has been investigating the story.An AI age verification system Age verification has long been a topic of discussion, particularly in the online space with regards to young people who often don’t have verifiable ID such as a driver’s licence. Now a promising AI powered age estimation system, called YOTI, which analyses a person’s face is gaining popularity. Shiroma Silva has been testing it out on her colleagues – including Gareth – and reports how some major platforms are using it to keep younger users safe online.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Power outage, blackout in Ukraine. Credit: Anton Petrus/Getty Images)
10/01/2341m 46s

Agritech Special Edition

This week and to start the New Year we take a look at the use of technology in agriculture around the world. Agriculture as an industry is keen to clean up its act on emissions, so what could be better than an electric tractor. But will it be able to manage all that farming throws at it? Gareth puts the questions to Praveen Penmetsa who is co-founder and CEO of Monarch Tractors which recently launched a ‘Smart Tractor’.It’s no use having a tractor smart or not, if your crop has been devastated by insects. Pests destroy up to 40 percent of global crops and cost 220 billion US dollars of losses worldwide annually, according to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the FAO. Matej Stefancic the Chief Executive Officer of Trapview a Slovenian company, has developed intelligent insect traps. He explains to Gareth how they monitor bugs in the field, in an effort to cut the need for indiscriminate use of insecticides.And once you’ve grown your crop you need to harvest it, and in the case of soft fruit it needs careful picking and packing for the market. With a shortage of skilled labour around the world a robot picker capable of matching a human would be ideal. Well, one developed in Britain is currently doing just that on a farm in Portugal, and fruit picked by it could be on sale in supermarkets very soon. The academic founder and Chief Science Officer of Fieldwork Robotics Martin Stoelen is the brains behind this robot and he explains to Gareth the challenges involved in developing it.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood Producers: Ania Lichtarowicz and Alun Beach(Image: Smart Farming graphic Credit: Jackie Niam/Getty Images)
03/01/2342m 38s

The Tech of 2022

We’re looking back on the technology year that was 2022. We go firstly to Ukraine to look at the booming tech industry before the war and discuss how that is doing now. Also how the cybersecurity declaration signed in Africa is already leading to the beginnings of a legal and regulatory framework across the continent. There was trouble for visually impaired patients using an implant to improve their sight – with some of the hardware becoming obsolete and finally the amazing popularity of flight tracking apps.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington, Angelica Mari and Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald Producers: Ania Lichtarowicz and Alun Beach(Image: Getty Images)
27/12/2241m 10s

Eight million SIMs blocked in Ghana

More than 8 million unregistered SIM cards have been blocked in Ghana. The Ministry of Communications and Digitisation set a final deadline for mobile phone users to link their SIM card to their identification cards and now those who have not been able to register cannot use their SIMS. Opposition parties and civil liberties groups are protesting as the SIM needs to be registered with the biometric Ghana Card. The scheme has been full of delays, but it looks as though the government is standing firm this time. BBC reporter in Accra Thomas Naadi is on the show.Heart attack on a chip Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a “heart attack on a chip” to ultimately test new drugs and even personalise medicines. Prof Megan McCain and Dr Megan Rexius-Hall speak to Gareth about how the chip can monitor oxygen imbalances that happen in the heart during an attack. The heart muscle doesn’t regenerate as well as other tissue in the body, meaning patients are often tired and do not recover to the previous levels of fitness. The chip will allow researchers to watch a ‘heart attack’ as it happens, which isn’t possible in animals, and see how damage is being done. They hope to be able to monitor and see how the cells on the chip respond to different concentrations of oxygen as this too cannot be studied in animals or humans. The end of hard copy games? Nowadays, video games are getting so big, that you can't even fit them onto a CD anymore! In fact physical copies of the latest Call of Duty Game - Modern Warfare II, were essentially links to download the game, which is a massive 130 gigabytes! Our gaming reporter Chris Berrow has been finding out if it really is the end of physical games. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz Studio Manager: Michael Millham(Photo: SIM cards. Credit: Getty Images)
20/12/2243m 42s

Shopee in Thailand – is it safe?

One of the biggest platforms in South East Asia, which is as popular as Google, YouTube and Facebook, has stopped bank transfer payments. Users have reported money missing from their accounts – the transactions should have been secured with a one-time passcode but according to social media they we processed without permission. Shopee have now stopped customers from linking their accounts to the platform directly. The company also denies they were hacked and that they had taken the decision to stop bank transfers last month. It also says that the customers were probably victims of phishing scams. The BBC’s Tossapol Chaisamritpol has been covering the story and joins us from the Bangkok Bureau. Facial recognition plans dropped in Sao Paulo – for now Plans for the controversial facial recognition surveillance system in Sao Paulo have been scrapped – at least for now. Twenty thousand cameras, half of which had facial recognition capabilities, were to be erected across the city – making it one of the largest facial recognition rollouts in the world. Much opposition from civil liberty groups – who claim that the system would allow the city authorities to track people’s activities on social media with the data they gathered through the cameras – has forced this announcement. However, many people fear this may just be a postponement. Angelica Mari explains more.3D printed violins Imagine printing a violin in library for just $7US? That’s what Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Brown, the Director of Montreal-based AVIVA Young Artists Program, has managed to do. The instrument at this cost is suitable for a young child to play, and full size instruments can be 3D printed but with industrial printers, not ones we have at home or in local libraries. Dr. Brown is on the show to explain the technology behind the printing and why she is determined to make learning musical instruments much more accessible. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
13/12/2245m 12s

Predicting cyclones with mobiles

Due to climate change cyclones are increasing in frequency and intensity. Data available to study these weather phenomena though is quite scare, so a new project at Imperial College in London, hopes to harness the computing power of people’s mobile phones to create a virtual supercomputer and create a massive public database of simulated cyclone models to help predict future events. Professor Ralf Toumi, Co-Director of Grantham Institute, is leading the project and is on the show. Listeners are being invited to take part by downloading the Dreamlab app to help process the billions of calculations needed for the project. What is the Fediverse? If you’re on twitter then you’ve probably heard of Mastodon, you may even have moved onto it. It’s the largest service on what is known as the Fediverse. We speak with Cindy Cohn, the Executive Director of the Electronic Freedom Foundation to find out what the Fediverse is and why we should be part of its growth. It’s not a single social media platform like Twitter or Facebook. It’s an growing network of entwinned social media sites and services that you can interact with even if you don’t have an account for each one. The big difference here is that the Fediverse isn’t owned by big tech giants or multibillionaires – Cindy Cohn argues “You don’t fix a dictatorship by getting a better dictator. You have to get rid of the dictator. This moment offers the promise of moving to a better and more democratic social media landscape.” An app that helps you buy medicines if you’re blind The tiny print on medicine packet instructions is hard to read for many people, and for those people with low literacy skills, learning disabilities like dyslexia, impaired sight or who are blind it can be impossible. Now the Seeing AI app – a joint project between Haleon and Microsoft- has been upgraded to be able to read out loud the detailed information on more than 1500 products across the UK and US. Our reporter Fern Lulham has been testing out the new functionality of the app.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
06/12/2241m 17s

Robots that can assemble almost anything.

Researchers at MIT have made significant steps toward creating robots that could practically and economically assemble nearly anything, including things much larger than themselves, from vehicles to buildings to larger robots. Many objects could be built from tiny identical lightweight pieces e.g. an airplane wing or a racing car, and this latest work is a big step towards a fully autonomous self-replicating robot assembly system. Two of the authors are Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Director of the Centre for Bits and Atoms, and doctoral student Amira Abdel-Rahman, they explain how these robots self-assemble.War of words on Wikipedia.We’ve reported on the disinformation on the War in Ukraine on Twitter and Facebook, now reporter Shiroma Silva looks at what’s happening on Wikipedia. From paid editing, harassment of editors and using multiple online identities to push certain messages, Wikipedia entries are being pushed towards a pro-Kremlin stance. It’s not the first time that these coordinated activities have happened. Last year the Wikimedia Foundation banned seven editors linked to a mainland China group for editing articles with the objective of promoting “the aims of China”, potentially threatening the very foundations of Wikipedia.Can AI predict suicide risk?Predicting if someone is at risk of suicide is incredibly difficult and increasingly researchers are attempting to train AI to be able to do this. However with data bias and complex medical histories of patients the AI being developed are not yet reliable. Even if accurate machine learning can be created, will there be services in place for those patients identified as being at high risk of suicide? Much needs to be considered before this type of diagnosis is used in patient care. Joseph Early from Southampton University and Karen Kusuma from the Black Dog Institute at the University of South Wales in Australia explain more. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Image: MIT - Swarm Robot Courtesy of the researchers at MITStudio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
01/12/2242m 56s

Twitter – what next?

What is happening with Twitter and what can we expect? Bill Thompson give us his assessment while Angelica Mari discusses the how the new direction of the platform Pix payments two years on PIX payments have revolutionised how people in Brazil use money – especially the 40 million of the population who are unbanked. We discuss with Fintech expert David Birch why Pix has been so successful and where does it go from here.What’s new in WhatsApp Angelica Mari brings us up to date with WhatsApp’s latest plans for one of its biggest markets. It aims to bring "everything that matters to business and consumers" into its app. WhatsApp is central to people's lives in places like India and Brazil, and the company want to monetise that by taking people of browsers and allowing them to complete transactions from start to finish on the app. Could this signal the end of some apps e.g. food delivery apps?Can video games improve your memory? Parents often worry about the harmful impacts of video games on their children, whether it's staying indoors too much, or the impact of the online world on their mental health. But a large new study in America indicates that there may also be benefits associated with the gaming – although the work does pose many more questions than it answers. Our gaming reporter Chris Berrow has been finding out more. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Image: Twitter logo displayed on a phone screen. Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesStudio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
22/11/2236m 14s

The Open Internet for Africa

We hear about a new plan to drive economies and improve lives across Africa – the Open Internet project between the continent and the EU. A report “The Open Internet as Cornerstone of Digitalisation” is funded by the EU and points out in detail what needs to done to secure easy, reliable and cheap online access without which development will simply stall. We speak to two of the report’s authors – one from the EU and the other from Africa.Monitoring Mangroves in the Pakistan Indus Delta Mangrove forests are hugely impacted by climate change and monitoring them from space with satellites doesn’t deliver enough data to know fully how they are being impacted by rising temperatures and sea levels. Now a pilot project in the Indus River Delta, just south of Karachi in Pakistan, has used drones to image the mangroves allowing the researchers to study one of the world’s largest forests. The project’s director Obaid Rehman is on the show to tell us about their work and also how these mangrove forests can be used for carbon capture. He says their work should lead to more plantations of the forest too.The talk at Web Summit 2022 Technology gatherings are back in full swing and Web Summit in Portugal is one of the biggest. This year’s conference was at full capacity and tech reporter Jane Wakefield joined the queues to see what was preoccupying the tech industry as 2022 draws to an end – and the big thing appears to be the Metaverse.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
15/11/2236m 47s

Controlling protesters in Iran via phones

A new report shows how the authorities in Iran can track and control protestors phones. An investigation by The Intercept news organisation has found that mobile phone coverage is being switched from a healthy 5G or 4G network to slow and clunky 2G coverage when protestors gather. This means they no longer can communicate using encrypted messages or calls on their smartphones and instead have to rely up traditional phone calls or SMS messages which can be intercepted and understood easily. This, according to the report is being done by a web programme. One of reports authors Sam Biddle, a journalist specialising in the misuse of power in technology, is on the programme.Policing the metaverse Imagine being attacked in virtual reality – will the experience be as traumatic as in real life? Perhaps not yet but in the near future if we are living as least part of our live in the Metaverse, crime will also be part of the virtual life. But currently there is little if no protection if a crime committed against our virtual selves. Now Europol – the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation – has published a report into Policing the Metaverse. Journalist Emma Woollacott has been reading the report and she explains the many perils that we could face and also how we need to act now to manage these crimes in the Metaverse.Hollyplus -a digital twin AI that sings anything you want to (even if you can’t!) Imagine being able to sing any song you like – and in any language you choose – even in musical styles that you have never studied? That’s now possible thanks to artist, musician and composer Holly Herndon. She has trained a computer algorithm to sing like her – the cloned voice can sing in any language or style she chooses – even extending her own vocal range. The project is called Hollyplus and the digital twin has just released its version of Dolly Parton’s song Jolene. The real Holly explains how she’s done this.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Sue Maillot Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Protest in Iran. Credit: Getty Images)
08/11/2241m 26s

The Twitter takeover

Elon Musk completed on a 44-billion-dollar takeover of Twitter last week. He’s expressed the want to restructure the platform and create a digital ‘town square’, a potential space for free speech, growth and learning. But defining freedom of speech is a minefield, and some parties are afraid that Elon’s vision could provide opportunity for greater disinformation and misinformation. Gareth and Becky Hogge speculate as to whether Twitter can ever fulfil the digital idealism that many first dreamt of at the conception of the internet. As social media platforms have become ever more adept at seeking out and closing bots, a thriving underground ecosystem has grown up where people make a living from setting up multiple fake accounts. Clients buy their services through so called ‘click farms’ that sell packages of likes and shares. For a few dollars a celeb, a business or a politician can simply buy a big following, and influence. A new report highlights the stories of the largely exploited gig economy workers behind the clicks. One of the authors is Rafael Grohmann of University of Toronto, Canada.At the Digital Doorstep is a recent report that shines the spotlight on the manner in which novel doorbell cameras alter the behaviour and management of delivery drivers. Harrison Lewis speaks to the authors, Eve Zelickson and Aiha Nguyen from Data and Society, to find out how some of our doorsteps have become a social enigma; where does surveillance belong on private property when that same space also acts as a work place for others? The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Harrison Lewis(Image: Elon Musk 'Chief Twit' Photo Illustration. Credit: Getty Images)
01/11/2240m 49s

Chip exports and US-China relations

The Biden administration announced a monumental policy shift earlier this month, set to limit and control the exportation of artificial intelligence and semiconductor technologies to China. The restrictions will block leading U.S. chip designers from accessing the Chinese market; selling goods that form the backbone of AI and supercomputing. Gregory Allen from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies explains how these actions could potentially ‘strangle’ large segments of the Chinese technology industry. Whilst access to the World Wide Web becomes ever more integral to modern day life, the digital divide is growing. Those residing in Africa and the Americas appear to have the least affordable, least reliable and slowest internet. Elena Babarskaite at Surfshark, a VPN service company located in the Netherlands, unpicks their latest investigation into our Digital Quality of Life.In one Ghana household, an AI powered chatbot tutor called Rori, developed by Rising Academies, helps its student stay up to date with his favourite subject, maths. Lucinda Rouse hears how this smart teacher, available through Whatsapp, could soon reach 200,000 children across West Africa, bypassing expensive tuition fees.(Image: Semiconductor and circuit board. Credit: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill ThompsonStudio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Harrison Lewis
25/10/2244m 1s

5bn mobile phones to become waste in 2022

The WEEE forum estimates that of the 16 billion mobile phones in the world about 5.3bn will no longer be in use this year. Despite being packed with precious metals like gold, silver and palladium and other recyclable parts most will not be disposed of properly. This mountain of e-waste (that if piled on top of each other would reach 120 times higher than the International Space Station) is only part of e-waste problem with other small consumer electronics e.g. remotes, headphones, clocks, irons etc., being hoarded in even greater numbers than mobiles. Magdalena Charytanowicz from the WEEE forum is on the show and explains the magnitude of the problem and how it needs to be tackled.100 years of the BBC As the BBC starts its 100th anniversary celebrations, we have a report from BBC Northampton’s Martin Heath, who is spending the day at the site of the Daventry transmitting station at Borough Hill. Martin tells us about the history of the station (it was initially was used for long wave, and short wave broadcasting and closed in 1992) and we also speak to one of the engineers who worked there about the technology used.The biggest radio telescope in the Northern Hemisphere The NOEMA radio telescope is now the most powerful radio telescope in the northern hemisphere. Twelve antennas in the French Alps will simultaneously detect and measure a large number of signatures of molecules and atoms. More than 5000 scientists from across the world will now be able to observe stars being born, comets, black holes and light from cosmic objects that has been travelling to Earth for more than 13 billion years. We find out about the tech that is making this possible.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Gayl Gordon Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image credit: Getty Images)
18/10/2240m 38s

Internet under attack in Ukraine

Ukraine has faced internet outages since missile attacks restarted on Monday -a drop of more than 20% was recorded yesterday by The Internet Observatory Netblocks. This loss of connectivity is not thought to be due to cyber attacks but more about physical attacks on power infrastructure. Director of Netblocks, Alp Toker, is on the show to explain what’s happened.The boom in mobile money in Somalia Despite the worst drought in 40 years, Somalians are embracing mobile money to the point that it’s replacing formal currency. Without a central bank following the collapse of the government, the country was flooded with counterfeit money, this led to mobile money becoming popular. Two thirds of payments now being made via mobiles with 73% of the population over the age of 16 using mobile money services. Aid agencies are using the services to get money to remote rural populations in al-Shabab controlled areas impacted by the drought. We speak to Quartz East Africa Correspondent Tom Collins and Dean of Economics at SIMAD University in Mogadishu, Abdinur Ali Mohamed.Pass me that lobster: Conjuring up the metaverse On Tuesday Meta announce their metaverse plans. The sheer volume of images needed to fill the metaverse for it to be a success cannot be left to big tech if the metaverse is going to be a success. The metaverse will also have to rely on the next generation image making tools to fill the space for everyone who wants to use it in the way they want to use it . Bill Thompson explains how we will be able to take a lobster out of our backpack in the VR future. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Michael Millham Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image credit: Getty Images)
11/10/2242m 34s

Pandemic pushes women online

In 2020 more than 40% of the world’s population was not using the internet, with many more women being unable to get online. Now a new global study into digital access in 90 countries shows that although women were disproportionately impacted by the Covid pandemic, it seems to have got more of them online in South East Asia and Africa. In these two parts of the world, the study shows progress in terms of bridging the gap between men and women and access to tech and the internet. While, historically, 90% of transactions in India were done by cash, the researchers say the pandemic forced more people to turn to digital payments for everyday items including food and other goods. In many parts of South East Asia, including India, many women are doing most of the shopping. The combination paved the way for progress and highlights a unique instance where the pandemic benefited women in these regions. Additionally, now equipped with their own digital wallets, women are afforded more agency over their finances. The progress in gender parity was seen in sub-Saharan Africa (8% improvement from 2019-2021), the Middle East and North Africa (6%), and South Asia (3%). We speak to Tufts University researchers who carried out the work, the dean of Global Business, Bhaskar Chakravorti, and research manager Christina Filipovic.War Games: Real Conflicts/Virtual Worlds/Extreme Environments Gareth and Ghislaine visit the Imperial War Museum in London to see the UK’s first-ever exhibition to explore video games and what they can tell us about conflict. Developing technology has introduced new ways of telling and experiencing war stories; toy soldiers and board games, cinema screenings of World War One, radio broadcasts from the frontlines of WWII, and TV images of the Cold War have given way to first-person shooter games on iconic consoles like the Atari 2600 and the Super Nintendo to internet driven team battles with the latest graphics and audio immersion. But is gaming tech the right place to explore conflict and how much is this entertainment industry driving tech development elsewhere?Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Photo: Rural woman talking on a mobile phone and using a laptop, India. Credit: Images Group/Getty Images)
04/10/2239m 9s

Tiny robots cure mice with deadly pneumonia

Microrobots have been created and used to treat the most common form of pneumonia that infects patients in ICU. In experiments, currently carried out in mice at the University of California San Diego, the tiny robots swam around the lungs and delivered antibiotics that killed the disease-causing bacteria. The amount of antibiotics needed is a tiny fraction of the amount currently used to treat this infection intravenously. The robots are made from algae cells (this allows them to move) covered in antibiotic-filled nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are made with tiny spheres that are coated with the cell membranes of neutrophils – a type of white blood cell that fights infection and inflammation - making the microrobots more effective at fighting the lung infection. We hear from lead author Professor Joseph Wang about the tech that’s allowed the team of nanoengineers to create these microrobots.Internet shutdowns in India – on what grounds are they allowed? Since 2012 there have been 683 full internet blackouts in India according to the internet shutdown tracker run by the Software Freedom Law Centre (SLFC). Many of these are done without following government rules. Now India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has only a week left to reveal the grounds on which it approves or imposes internet shutdowns in the country. The SFLC filed a lawsuit against the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal, after internet shutdowns were ordered to prevent cheating during state exams. This is a common occurrence around the time of public exams across the country as stolen exam papers often appear on the internet. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the protocols on which these decisions are made need to be made public. Tech reporter Emma Woollacott explains the massive impact of these shutdowns and lawyer Mishi Choudhary founder of the SFLC explains why they bought about the lawsuit.National Robotarium opens in Edinburgh Digital Planet’s Hannah Fisher has been given access to the UK’s first robotarium and reports on the eve of its opening for the programme. A big aim of the national robotarium at Heriot Watt University is to change public opinion about what robots actually are and how we can use them. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Andrew Garratt Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Illustration of microrobots entering the lungs to treat pneumonia. Credit: Wang lab/UC San Diego:)
27/09/2246m 22s

Gamification – does making things fun work?

Do you track your physical activity on your phone, count your daily steps, or how many calories you’ve burnt? Perhaps you are learning a new language using an app or have performance-related leaderboards at work? All these things are part of gamification – making everyday tasks more fun. But is all this gameplay good for us and is there actually any evidence that it works? Digital Planet this week explores the phenomenon of gamification with guests Adrian Hon, the CEO and founder of the games developer Six to Start and co-creator of one of the world’s most popular gamified apps, Zombies, Run! and Gabe Zichermann founder of six high-tech companies and author of three books on Gamification, including “Gamification by Design”.The programme is presented by Bill Thompson with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Gamification. Credit: Getty Images)
20/09/2230m 7s

Community Networks: Connecting the unconnected

The Digital Divide in Tribal Communities Across the North American continent, there is a stark difference in the availability of the internet to different communities. Tribal lands are typically remote, rural, and rugged landscapes, and often have very patchy, or non-existent internet connectivity. Dr. Traci Morris explains why such a digital divide exists and how tribes are working together, both within their communities and with each other, to create and gain access to communications networks. Digital Deras connecting farmers in rural Pakistan In rural Punjab in Pakistan, farmers and villagers gather in places called ‘Deras’ to socialise, drink tea and coffee and discuss their farms. But one project has created a community network to transform one of these Deras to have digital facilities – a ‘Digital Dera’. Farmers use this Digital Dera to access crucial weather forecasts and other information to help them manage their farms more efficiently. It also helps them battle the impact of climate change, as the crop cycles change due to shifting weather patterns. Founders of the project Fouad Bajwa and Aamer Hayat speak to Gareth about the impact of the Digital Dera project on the farming community. Offline interview in Cuba Cuba is one of the least digitally connected countries in the Western hemisphere. This is due to the US trade embargo but also poor internet infrastructure and tight control of its own government on the flow of information. Although accessing digital technologies is getting better, for ordinary Cubans going online is still a challenge. The internet connection is slow, unreliable, and prohibitively expensive. To combat this, they have created an offline underground internet called ‘El Paquete Semanal’ or ‘Weekly Package’ – it is a one-terabyte collection of eclectic material of movies, tv-series, sports, and music while turning a blind eye to copyright. Reporter Snezana Curcic visited to learn more about this Cuban alternative to broadband internet. This programme was first transmitted on Tuesday 7th June 2022.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum Producer: Hannah Fisher(Photo: 5G data stream running through a rural village Credit: Huber & Starke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)
13/09/2231m 54s

Happy birthday Digital Planet!

In this special 21st birthday show we’re bringing our Digital Planet community together for the first time since 2019. The team has been asking World Service listeners about their favourite bit of tech – we hear from around the world about the software and hardware that our listeners can’t live without. We will also be having not one but two special appearances – holograms from Canada and France – using the technology that President Zelensky used to beam himself to UN and London Tech week. We’ll be hearing from the listener who set up our Digital Planet Facebook group back in 2007 and we’ll also have a multimedia premier of Wiki-Piano that has been collaboratively composed by our listeners.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mair, Bill Thompson and Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Managers: Andrew GarrettRadio Theatre Manager: Mark Diamond Sound Balance: Guy Worth Stage Engineer: Alexander Russell Screen Visuals: Brendan Gormley PA Sound: Clive Painter Lighting: Marc Willcox Stage Hand: Alan BissendenProducer: Ania Lichtarowicz
06/09/2258m 25s

Inoculation videos against misinformation

Inoculation against misinformation Could people be inoculated and protected against misinformation online? A new study published in Science Advances shows that short animated videos could protect people from harmful content. Controlled experiments where people were shown how misinformation is spread e.g. using emotional language or scapegoating, appeared highly effective in helping people judge what might be fact or fiction on the web. Psychologists worked with Google Jigsaw and tested their experiments in real life by placing them in the ads section on YouTube videos. They saw a 5% impact in being able to spot misinformation and they also reduced sharing frequency. This “pre-bunking” strategy exposes people to tropes and explains how malicious propaganda is spread, so they can better identify online falsehoods. Researchers behind the Inoculation Science project compare it to a vaccine: by giving people a “micro-dose” of misinformation in advance, it helps prevent them falling for it in future – an idea based on what social psychologist’s call “inoculation theory”. Lead author Dr. Jon Roozenbeek is live on the programme to explain why this works and Beth Goldberg from Google talks about their new project to reduce misinformation spread about refugees in central Europe.Indonesian data breaches There have been five major data breaches in Indonesia this month, three alone in the last fortnight; the personal data of more than 26 million users of state-owned telecommunication provider PT Telkom was allegedly leaked – but the company denied this. Last week, foreign companies, including Microsoft and PwC, were also reportedly hit by a data breach. Astudestra Ajengrastri, Deputy Editor in the BBC Jakarta office, is on the show to explain why this is such a huge problem, how little is being done about it and why so many Indonesians seem indifferent to the breaches.Robotic Dogs Have you seen the video of a robotic dog firing a sub-machine gun? It’s had well over 4 million views. It comes swiftly after reports of robotic dogs being used to patrol the US-Mexican border. But can robotic dogs become our virtual best friend despite them being used by the military and security services? Reporter Dominic Watters looks at the tech and what these robots are truly capable of (walking on uneven surfaces still needs to be mastered) and could actually be used for the benefit of humankind – using their sensory systems to navigate dangerous terrains after natural disasters for instance?The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image credit: Screenshot of a video collaboration between Cambridge University, the University of Bristol, and Google Jigsaw)
30/08/2243m 0s

India’s cyber scam scourge

Nearly a third of people in India lost money through online fraud in 2020 alone. Of them, it is thought that only 17% saw any returns through redressal mechanisms. Despite this prevalence of scams, reports have shown that the Indian population have got more trusting of unsolicited messages from companies online over the last five years. New Delhi based journalist Mimansa Verma from Quartz has been exploring this problem and joins the programme to discuss. Ultrasound sticker that monitors your heart A postage stamp size sticker could give doctors a more detailed picture of our health. Ultrasounds are one of the most common medical diagnostic tools in the world, but they only measure a snapshot in time and rely on the skill of the sonographer. A newly proposed ultrasound patch could record our heart changing shape during exercise, the impact of eating or drinking on our digestive system, and even the flow of blood through veins and arteries. Ghislaine Boddington checks out the tech and how this, and other devices, are giving doctors a much more complete picture of how our bodies work.Finally getting your slot on the JWST More than twenty years ago, Professor Mark McCaughrean submitted a proposal for observations to be made on a new space telescope. At midnight on August 29th he will finally see the results of his first observations from the James Webb Space Telescope. In the convening years, Prof. McCaughrean has become a scientific advisor for the European Space Agency and a collaborator on the JWST project. He joins the programme to talk about his hopes for observing star and planet formation with the JWST, as well as the tech that underpins the telescope.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonStudio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: An Indian man counts Indian rupee currency. Credit: Getty Images)
23/08/2245m 23s

Misinformation on the midterms on social media

With the US midterm elections only a few months away Twitter has announced how it plans to “enable healthy civic conversation” on its platform i.e. how they plan to control political disinformation. Journalist Emma Woollacott who has written about the new measures for Forbes is on the show, as is New York Times Reporter Tiffany Tsu to tell us about political misinformation on TikTok.Facebook evidence – should they have handed over private messages? Should Facebook have handed over private messages between a mother and her teenage daughter about procuring abortion pills? The two are facing criminal charges. Bill Thompson examines why this happened – Facebook messenger data, unlike many other messaging apps, is not end-to-end encrypted. Should the company be able to hold onto so much data and what can our listeners do to ensure their conversations on messenger apps remain private.Satellite pollution In this week’s Discovery reporter Jane Chambers looks at the unexpected impact of satellites. There are currently around 7000 active satellites orbiting space and there are plans for many more to be launched in the next decade by internet companies and countries around the world. They are revolutionizing our lives but having some unintended consequences from disrupting million dollar astronomical research to the real danger of satellite collisions in space as orbits become increasingly crowded. She tells us what the satellite companies are doing to minimize the impact.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Hash tag over US election badges credit: Getty Images)
16/08/2236m 8s

How Nancy Pelosi’s flight was tracked

Were you one of the 2.92million people who was watching Nancy Pelosi fly into Taiwan on FlightRadar24 bypassing Chinese bases in the South China Sea as it approached Taipei? It’s one of the most popular flight tracking sites in the world and uses open standard surveillance technology which allows planes to transmit their location data to anyone with a receiver. As the receivers are fairly inexpensive it now has a network of more than 30,000 and collects data from other sources too like satellites. These data sources aren’t blocked which is why so many flights can be tracked (although they are not always named). It’s often used by fans to track celebrities, especially sports stars, it also shares information with air crash investigators. Ian Petchenik from FlightRadar24 is on the show to explain more.New push to get women into fintech in Ethiopia Digital payments in Ethiopia are just part of a much wider push by the government to get the country financially online. Currently most payments – including fuel bills - are paid by cash. Wairimu Gitahi, Global Communications & Knowledge Management Analyst at the United Nations Capital Development fund tells us about a new project the “Women’s Digital Inclusion Advocacy Hub.” The project is aimed at women, so they don’t get left behind in Ethiopia’s fintech revolution.Wikipiano – a call to compose our Radio Theatre performance piece Digital Planet is celebrating its 21st birthday this September and we’re recording a special show in the Radio Theatre (you’re all invited). To help us party we’re asking our listeners to compose a special multimedia performance of Wikipiano that will be premiered on the night in the Radio Theatre. You don’t have to be musical – just log onto and add text, video, images, compose new music (if you can), add actions for cyber soloist Zubin Kanga to perform on the night. Zubin helps Gareth add to the score and invites all our listeners to have a go themselves. The piece was composed by Alexander Schubert.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: FlightRadar24. Credit:
09/08/2237m 46s

Is disability tech delivering?

Why does tech not understand my speech? Physicist Dr Claire Malone is facing a problem: no speech-to-text software understands her. She is living with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her movement and muscle coordination, including her speech. Claire shares how much of a difference this tech could make in her life, and Gareth speaks to Sara Smolley, the co-founder of Voiceitt, one of the leading companies in the area, about how close we are to having software that can understand people like Claire.Listening glasses Many people have reading glasses, but what about glasses that can hear? A new pair of augmented reality glasses can hear what other people say, transcribe it, and then displays the text on your glasses like real-life subtitles. How could this type of tech help people with hearing impairment? Gareth speaks to XRAI CEO Dan Scarfe, as well as Josh Feldman, who was born hard of hearing and usually relies on lip reading. Will the listening glasses work live on the show? Who gets to use assistive tech? Technological solutions for people with disabilities are hugely beneficial, but as a new report from WHO and UNICEF shows, many people in need never get to access them. Chapal Khasnabis, head of the Access to Assistive Technology and Medical Devices unit at WHO, tells Gareth just how big the global inequity of assistive tech, and what we can do to fix it.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Florian Bohr(Image: Wheelchair user using assistive technology credit: Getty Images)
02/08/2236m 53s

Grassroots data – holding the powerful to account

Open source investigators We live in an age where there is data on almost everything, and a large chunk of it is publicly available. You only need to know where to look. There are many investigators on the internet that are gathering Open Source Intelligence, or OSINT for short, and conduct research and verification, much of it focussed on war zones. The most prominent collective in this field is the NGO Bellingcat, but there is a whole ecosystem of amateur sleuths online. Gareth speaks to Charlotte Godart who leads the volunteer programme at Bellingcat, on how they effectively crowdsource part of their investigations, and we hear from several hobbyists who rose to prominence on Twitter about why they spent much of their free time on this type of research.Data tackling gun violence Brazil has a gun violence issue, and a public data issue. In the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, there were, on average, 13 shootings every single day last year, and the only reason we know this is because of open data platform Fogo Cruzado. They collect data in real-time on shootings happening in Rio and other cities across Brazil via their app, social media, and public police reports, and they make that data publicly available for ordinary citizens, organisations, and journalists to use. The founder of Fogo Cruzado, Cecília Olliveira, explains how it all works, and how having data can help set the public agenda.The blue map: environmentalist action in China Only 10 years ago, Beijing was a city covered in smog with many residents opting to wear pollution masks. Now, the situation has, remarkably, improved, with blue skies being a normal sight. One possible reason for this drastic change is environmentalist Ma Jun, who, in 2006, started the blue map database aggregating government data and making it more easily accessible to the public. Since then, the blue map project has grown into an app that lets users check many types of environmental data and even contribute to the database themselves by simply taking a picture of a dirty river, a cloud of smog, or a factory that isn’t following environmental guidelines. Gareth speaks to Ma Jun, founding director of China’s Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs and founder of the Blue Map, about how this crowdsourcing approach works, and how environmental activism in China differs from Western countries.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Michael Millham Producer: Florian Bohr(Image: Crowd and data credit: Getty Images)
26/07/2241m 16s

Self-driving cars on the horizon?

A recent amendment to a regulation by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will extend automated driving technology to 130 km/h. The regulation, which will come into effect in January 2023, will set the standard for car manufacturers to develop so-called "level 3" autonomous vehicle. Gareth speaks to Francois Guichard, who is leading UN regulations on vehicle automation, about what "level 3" really means, and when we will see these types of cars on the road. Also, Prof Jack Stilgoe tells us about the potential issues and implications of self-driving technology.Robbed of mobile innovation In many cities globally, urban robberies have become a familiar occurrence, so much so that many people have started to develop their own strategies to mitigate losing their mobile phone. In São Paulo, some leave their phones at home or take a second throw-away phone that they can give away instead, but there are more technological solutions as well. Expert contributor Angelica Mari tells us more, and shares why this is affecting the adoption of mobile phone innovation, in particular fintech. Crypto adoption during Argentina's inflation crisis In Argentina, rising inflation has become a growing issue. Economy minister Martin Guzman resigned earlier this month, and annual inflation is set to hit above 70%. In light of the peso's instability, some Argentines are deciding to invest in cryptocurrencies instead. Is this a safer bet? Could crypto adoption affect Argentina's economy? Our reporter Lucía Cholakian has been finding out more.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Florian Bohr(Image: Auto driving system and technology. Credit: show999 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
19/07/2240m 6s

Are internet shutdowns evolving?

Internet shutdowns have been a global issue for many years, and Digital Planet has reported on many of them, from Cuba and Myanmar to Iran. A new United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) report now warns of the dramatic real-life effects. Gareth speaks to Peggy Hicks, one of the authors of the report, about how internet shutdowns impact the lives of millions worldwide. In addition, Rest of World journalist Peter Guest, and #KeepItOn campaign manager at AccessNow, Felicia Anthonio, join live in the studio to discuss why internet shutdowns occur, and whether they have changed over time. Quantum-safe algorithms The encryption methods we currently use to keep our data safe and secure could be a thing of the past soon. Experts expect quantum computers to be able to crack these encryption codes quite easily in the future, which could have devastating consequences. After a six year selection process, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States has chosen four initial algorithms for their quantum-safe cryptography standards. Gareth speaks to Anne Dames, an engineer at IBM, where three of the final four were developed.Mobile app for tinnitus Hearing a ringing or buzzing in your ear can be very difficult to deal with. A number of mobile tinnitus apps are now promising help. One of them, called TinniBot, even includes an AI chatbot that provides support whenever it is needed. Our reporter Fern Lulham has been finding out more.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill ThompsonProducer: Florian Bohr Studio manager: Duncan Hannant(Image: Abstract Digital Pixel Noise Credit: The7Dew/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
12/07/2235m 9s

Deepfake calls to European mayors?

On June 24th, the mayor of Berlin thought she was on a video call with the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko. The call, however, was fake. The head of the Deutsche Welle’s fact-checking team Joscha Weber tells Gareth what happened, how the mayors of Vienna and Madrid were deceived by similar fake calls, and how a Russian comedy duo claims to be behind it all. The video call was initially thought to be a deepfake, but a later analysis by German media suggests that it may have been a shallowfake instead. What do these two terms mean, and what is the difference between them? We have deepfake experts Hany Farid and Hao Li in the studio to answer this question, explain how deepfakes are created, and discuss the wider issues that they pose. India’s great VPN exit In late April, the Indian government decided to enact new cybersecurity rules that include forcing virtual private network (VPN) providers to keep users’ data such as names, contact numbers, and IP addresses for a period of five years. VPN companies in India have sharply criticised the ruling, and some have already exited and pulled their servers out of the country. India has now given VPN providers another three months to comply with the new rules. Expert contributor Bill Thompson tells Gareth what VPNs are, why these new rules conflict with their premise, and what this could mean for privacy and the tech sector in India. Can AI solve prostate cancer? In a recent machine learning competition, developers used a new prostate biopsy dataset to train artificial intelligence algorithms to diagnose and grade tumours. Gareth speaks to Ph.D. student Nita Mulliqi about the difficulties of using AI in prostate cancer grading and how a dataset from diverse clinical settings is needed to create effective algorithms. We also hear from a consultant for the WHO, Rohit Malpani, about the limitations of applying machine learning applications in healthcare in low- and middle-income countries.Studio manager: Michael Millham Producer: Florian Bohr(Image: Vitali Klitschko. Credit: Getty Images)
05/07/2237m 40s

What’s the deal with the metaverse?

So what is the metaverse really? Following a montage of BBC World Service listeners’ responses and opinions, contributing expert Ghislaine Boddington will shed light on this question. As it turns out, while there are current examples of virtual worlds, the metaverse is still being formed. Predicting exactly what it will be like is harder than one might think.An afternoon in Altspace What does it feel like to be in the metaverse? Reporter Chris Berrow strapped on his VR headset and spent some time in AltspaceVR to find out. From holding a virtual cat to doing yoga class, his experience turned out to be stranger than he had anticipated.Future implications If the metaverse becomes as popular as some predict, where are we headed? In a live discussion with tech futurist and metaverse expert Cathy Hackl, video game writer Colin Harvey, and our very own Ghislaine Boddington, we discuss the big issues on the horizon. Who will be creating it and who will have access? Could this lead to harvesting of biometric data? Will all of us actually use the metaverse?The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Sue Maillot Producer: Florian Bohr(Image: Looking through virtual reality glasses into the metaverse world. Credit: Cemile Bingo l/ Getty Images)
28/06/2237m 34s

Japan tackles online insults

Increased punishment for online insults in Japan Japan has taken the first steps to make online insults punishable by up to one year in prison. This new legislation comes two years after the suicide of Japanese reality TV star and professional wrestler Hana Kimura. BBC reporter Mariko Oi tells us how this new legislation came to be and what it means, and legal expert Dr. Sanae Fujita and cyberpsychologist Dr. Nicola Fox Hamilton talk to Gareth about why online abuse occurs so frequently, what ways we can tackle it, and whether this new law is fit for purpose.27 years of Internet Explorer After almost three decades, Microsoft has decided to retire the Internet Explorer (sort of). Contributing expert Bill Thompson takes us on a journey to the early days and back again. What has changed since the once-popular browser’s inception?Smart lipstick Brazilian cosmetics company Grupo Boticario and centre for innovation CESAR are developing 'O Batom Inteligente' – 'the smart lipstick'. The device will use artificial intelligence to apply lipstick automatically. Reporter Fern Lulham spoke to the creators of the device, and explains to Gareth how applying lipstick is a much harder feat to accomplish than one might think, and what it could mean for people with disabilities.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood Producer: Florian Bohr
21/06/2243m 7s

Archiving music in glass

‘Project Silica’ uses ultrafast laser optics and machine learning to utilise glass as a storage device. The fused silica glass is fully resilient to electromagnetic pulses (EMP) and to the most challenging environmental conditions, ensuring the data written into it is not degraded. In this proof of concept for the Global Music Vault in Svalbard, this glass platter will have a selection of some of the most important music data and files on it. Gareth talks to Ant Rowstron, who has been working on the technology at Microsoft, and Beatie Wolfe, a musician whose music has been included in the data storage proof of concept.Data-driven city planning Barcelona is developing a digital twin of its city to aid with city management decisions. The city is currently at the initial stage of the project, designed to produce simulations of different planning scenarios to create more data-driven decisions. Gareth chats to Deputy Mayor of Barcelona Laia Bonet and Patricio Reyes, a researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, about the potential uses of simulations and how digital twins could improve city planning in the future. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood Producer: Hannah FisherPhoto: Music stored in fused silica glass Credit: Global Music Vault
14/06/2239m 18s

Community Networks: Connecting the unconnected

Across the North American continent, there is a stark difference in the availability of internet to different communities. Tribal lands are typically remote, rural and rugged landscapes, and often have very patchy, or non-existent internet connectivity. Dr Traci Morris explains why such a digital divide exists and how tribes are working together, both within their communities and with each other, to create and gain access to communications networks. Digital Deras connecting farmers in rural Pakistan In rural Punjab in Pakistan, farmers and villagers gather in places called ‘deras’ to socialise, drink tea and coffee and discuss their farms. But one project has created a community network to transform one of these deras to have digital facilities – a ‘digital dera’. Farmers use this digital dera to access crucial weather forecasts and other information to help them manage their farms more efficiently. It also helps them battle the impact of climate change, as the crop cycles change due to shifting weather patterns. Founders of the project Fouad Bajwa and Aamer Hayat speak to Gareth about the impact of the digital dera project on the farming community. Offline internet in Cuba Cuba is one of the least digitally connected countries in the Western hemisphere. This is due to the US trade embargo but also poor internet infrastructure and a tight control of its own government on flow of information. Although accessing digital technologies is getting better, for ordinary Cubans going online is still a challenge. The internet connection is slow, unreliable and prohibitively expensive. To combat this, they have created an offline underground internet called ‘El Paquete Semanal’ or ‘Weekly Package’ – it is a one terabyte collection of eclectic material of movies, tv series, sport and music, while turning a blind eye to copyright. Reporter Snezana Curcic visited to learn more about this Cuban alternative to broadband internet. Presenter: Gareth Mitchell With expert commentary from Bill ThompsonProducer: Hannah Fisher Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum(Photo: 5G data stream running through a rural village. Credit: Huber & Starke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)
07/06/2234m 23s

Data-driven football

Data-Driven football With the end of this year’s Premier League season and the Champion’s League final in the last two weekends, viewers around the world were cheering on their favourite teams. While the rules of football may not have changed much in recent years, there is one thing that has: the amount of data. Coaches and teams can now examine player performance and statistics in great detail. Has this transformed the way the game is played? Gareth chats to Ruben Saavedra, CEO of Metrica Sports, which uses software to analyse videos of football games, and we hear from John Muller, a sports journalist at The Athletic, and Jordi Mompart, Director of Research and Analytics at FC Barcelona. The tech behind the ABBAtars ABBA's show opened this week in London, using digitally created avatars of their younger selves. Ghislaine tells Gareth about the cutting-edge tech that makes this performance possible and where else it might be used in the future.Cultural representation in video games Video games are a booming industry that is making its way across the globe. But are different cultures and places actually represented in mainstream games? BBC Arabic reporter Hossam Fazulla chats to Gareth about Jordanian games company Tamatem, which localises games for Arab audiences. And we speak to game developer Dimas Novan from Mojiken Productions in Indonesia, about their upcoming title 'A Space for the Unbound' and making content rooted in local culture.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Florian Bohr and Hannah Fisher(Photo: Futuristic silver soccer ball exploding into pixels Credit: Colin Anderson Productions pty Ltd/Getty Images)
31/05/2235m 41s

Detecting earthquakes with seafloor internet cables

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory have released research that utilises existing subsea telecommunications cables as environmental sensors, for example to detect earthquakes. These cables exist in many parts of the world already, so this finding has the potential to revolutionise seafloor earthquake monitoring. Research scientist Giuseppe Marra explains how it all works and Laura Kong, the director of the International Tsunami Information Centre, tells Gareth how this could improve tsunami warning systems. Healthcare delivery drones in India India’s first organised medical drone programme was recently completed in the state of Telangana. Over the course of the 45-day trial, drones delivered different medical supplies including vaccines. What are the takeaways from this trial? Could this technology be used in other parts of the world? Gareth speaks to Rama Devi Lanka, Director of Emerging Technologies of Telangana government, and India lead for aerospace and drones at the World Economic Forum, Vignesh Santhaman.AI translating African Bantu languages The African continent has over a thousand languages and many of these are spoken by small populations. Abantu AI is a startup in Nairobi aiming to broaden the access to translation services by training AI on datasets of Bantu languages. Founder James Mwaniki tells Gareth how translation into these smaller African languages might be used in the future.Presenter: Gareth Mitchell With expert commentary from Bill ThompsonProducer: Florian Bohr(Photo: Underwater fibre-optic cable on ocean floor. Credit: imaginima/Getty Images)
24/05/2243m 25s

Reclaiming African art in digital form

A Nigerian project called Looty is seeking to take back African art in digital form. Members go into museums, take LiDAR scans using their phones, and recreate these African artworks as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The first piece is one of the Benin Bronzes from the British Museum. Different artistic reimaginations of this ancient artwork are now being sold as NFTs, with parts of the proceeds going to emerging Nigerian artists. Gareth speaks to Looty’s founder Chidi about the idea, and blockchain expert Anne Kaluvu comments on the project. The innovative vision of Amazonia 4.0 The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at an alarming rate. Could there be another way? The project Amazonia 4.0 is envisioning harnessing the rainforest’s inherent biodiversity through a sustainable bioeconomy. Professor Carlos Nobre explains how, with the help of drones, fibre optic cables and other technologies, this vision may become a reality. The common fruit fly’s digital twin One of the most ubiquitously used and best understood organisms in science is the common fruit fly. Many important developments in medicine and biology stem from research on this tiny insect. Now Professor Pavan Ramdya and his team have developed a complete simulated model of the fruit fly, a so-called digital twin. This model can be used by researchers to conduct experiments digitally, which may help speed up research and solve unanswered questions. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producers: Hannah Fisher and Florian Bohr(Photo: A man uses Sony's 3D Creator scanning to create a three-dimensional image Credit: PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)
18/05/2240m 16s

North Korean digital control

North Korea is known as one of the most isolated countries in the world. Yet, there are North Koreans who have access to some of the same kind of technologies that are available to the rest of the world, albeit with severe restrictions. A new report suggests that some even hack their smartphones to get around the stringent digital controls. The authors of the report looked at North Korean phones and spoke to two escapees, a former computer programmer for the North Korean government and a former computer science student. One of the authors Martyn Williams as well as North Korea expert and co-host of the BBC podcast The Lazarus Heist Jean H. Lee join us on the programme.Clean Drinking water at the push of a button Researchers at MIT have created a portable device that can clean and desalinate seawater. It works by creating an electrical field that pulls salt and suspended solids out of the water. Unlike other methods, this requires little electricity and no filters. Research scientist Junghyo Yoon is hoping to improve and commercialise the technology in the next couple of years.Military virtual and augmented reality Microsoft has recently been contracted to construct more than 120,000 augmented reality headsets for the U.S. Army. How is virtual and augmented reality used in the military? Will it be used on the battlefield? Gareth speaks to journalist and VR training expert Andy Fawkes.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood Producer: Florian Bohr(Image: Woman browsing on tablet in the dark Credit: Christina Reichl Photography/Getty Images)
10/05/2245m 3s

Electric road trip on Jersey

This week you can listen again to our electric vehicle Jersey road trip. Gareth and Bill are on the small English speaking island off the coast of France investigating the tech scene. We’re travelling around in an on-demand electric vehicle – all booked, paid for and locked and unlocked with an app from our smart phones. We’re finding out about agricultural tech on a dairy farm – how the famous Jersey Cows that produce premium milk are being managed by the latest innovations, and we’re also out in the fields where a host of sensors and data analytics are helping with the Jersey potato harvest. And we visit the remote control tower at St. Helier airport and see how remote airfields around the world are beginning to embrace this technology, pioneered on Jersey, to make flying to seldom used airports safer. Guests include: Gavin Breeze, Director of Evie, Air traffic controllers Marc Hill and Richard Mayne, Jersey Cow Girl Becky Houzé and Mike Renouard Business Unit Director at the Jersey Royal Company.The programme was presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. It was first broadcast on 14th September 2021.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Bill Thompson has a pre-interview chat with guest on Digital Planet. Credit: Ania Lichtarowicz / BBC)
03/05/2234m 57s

Can we predict Twitter’s future?

What’s in store for twitter, now that Elon Musk’s offer has been accepted by the Twitter board? Bill and Gareth discuss.Is video chat tech still listening when you’re muted? Video conferencing technology might still be listening to your voice even when you are on mute. A new study shows that a number of video meeting apps were recording audio even when the user had switched off their microphone. The researchers analysed the code behind the apps and found that all of the apps in the test were gathering raw audio when they were on mute – and that one of them was sending that information over the internet at the same rate, whether the user was muted or not. They even identified what someone was doing 82% of the time e.g cooking, typing. Professor Kassem Fawaz, one of the authors of the study, explains more.World first – swarming molecular robots working together Scientists from Hokkaido University in Japan have for the first time shown that molecular robots are five times more effective at transporting cargo when working as a swarm compared to working alone. Inspired by insects, like ants, honey bees and even fish and birds, they have created microscopic molecular robots that use microtubules propelled by proteins and DNA. Dr Mousumi Akter explains how they work together so successfully and the possible applications which include intensive drug delivery to a specific location or collection of micro-contaminants in the environment.How to encourage more women into game design Many women enjoy playing video games – but why are so few of them involved in designing them? Our gaming correspondent Leigh Milner has been meeting those at the top of the business, who are doing something to widen access to its creative side.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Photo: Woman having a video meeting on her laptop. Credit: Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images)
26/04/2247m 11s

Audio beats - the new digital drugs?

Could audio files be the new digital drugs? New research shows that binaural beats - illusionary tones created by the brain when the brain hears two different tones in each ear – can change someone’s emotional state. The work, published in Drug and Alcohol Review, shows for the first time that people use binaural beats to relax, fall asleep and even to try to get a psychedelic drug high. BBC’s R&D Audio team have created a binaural beat soundscape especially for Digital Planet and we speak to Dr Alexia Maddox, a tech sociologist, one of the researchers behind the study.Publishing via What’s App – getting female authors recognised in Zimbabwe Getting a book deal may seem like an impossible dream for many budding authors, but in Zimbabwe, for many female writers, this is a reality. Linda Mujuru, a senior reporter for Global Press Journal, tells us how most publishers are struggling in Zimbabwe due to the dire economic situation over the last twenty years and why so many authors have turned to social media as their only way of telling their stories. Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure set up her own publishing house in the UK as she could not get her work printed. She reads one of her poems in Shona, a native Zimbabwean language, and explains how she now looks for fellow female authors online and publishes their work too.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Music in the mind concept. Credit: Getty Images)
19/04/2246m 57s

Africa’s first cyber-security declaration

As African connectivity improves, so does the spread of cybercrime across the continent. The first ever African cybersecurity conference was held in Togo recently and resulted in twenty nine nations signing the Lomé declaration, a policy that commits to establish a legal and regulatory framework across Africa to improve cybersecurity. Sasha Gankin was at the conference and has sent us a report which highlights the different types of cybercrime that are the biggest threat to businesses, governments and individuals in Africa today and how countries are trying to protect themselves. We discuss if this declaration will really make the online environment safer.Alexa vs Alexa Cybersecurity researchers have been able to get Alexa to hack itself. They managed to do this in a number of ways, half of which have already been patched by Amazon, but the ability to connect to someone’s device via Bluetooth to issue malicious commands, e.g. setting off alarms in the middle of the night or cancelling appointments in calendars, still exists. Sergio Esposito from Royal Holloway, University of London, explains why they exposed these vulnerabilities and we discuss what can be done to protect your devices.New Notre-Dame AR experience Three years after the devastating Notre-Dame fire the cathedral remains shut but now a new AR experience has been launched to allow the public to explore the cathedrals’ 850 year history. Visitors can watch a reconstruction of the coronation of Napoleon in 1804 or stand alongside the Paris fire brigade as they tried to get the Great Fire under control. Hannah Fisher has been to the exhibition in Paris and armed with a HistoPad has experienced the 360° 3D reconstructions of parts of the cathedral that no longer exist. The exhibition is due to visit 12 capital cities around the world by 2024.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Cyber security in Africa map. Credit: Getty Images)
12/04/2244m 45s

Robot boat to survey Tonga volcano

A robot boat is to gather data following Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha'apai’s eruption to try and help scientists what may have caused one of the fiercest volcanic eruptions in more than a century. The 12m long robot boat, called Maxlimer, will map the new volcano’s shape as well as collect readings on environmental conditions like the oxygen content of the surrounding seawater, which impacts marine life. Ashley Skett, operations director at Sea-Kit International, the company that created the robot boat, is on the show.e-Mongolia – making life easier for those with internet access Back in 2020, Mongolia launched a digital initiative to allow government services from land access rights to social security payments, to be accessed online and the project appears to be a success, at least for those who have online access. That’s currently around 63% of the population – so what happens to everyone else? Global Press Journal’s Khorloo Khukhnokhoi explains the positives and negatives of the scheme.Haptic robotic finger Two weeks ago we reported on a biodegradable and edible robotic finger, this week we hear from Professor Katherine Kuchenbecker from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, who is one of the team behind the design of a haptic robotic finger. Giving a robotic finger a sense of touch (that is similar to our own) allows it to “know” how much pressure it is applying and therefore adapt its movements – this is key if robots are to be used in medical or care settings ensuring they do not injure the patient.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Maxliner at sea. Credit: Sea-Kit International)
05/04/2253m 10s

Facial recognition identifies dead Russian soldiers

It’s been reported that Ukraine is receiving help to identify Russian infiltrators or ID dead soldiers. A facial recognition company called Clearview AI is offering access to its database of billions of facial images. We’ve reported on Clearview before as it has been accused of overstating its algorithms’ effectiveness as well as being fined by data regulators. Rhiannon Williams of MIT Download is on the programme and has been following the story. How Ukraine isn’t winning the Information War The assumption in the West is that Ukraine and President Zelensky are dominating the narrative online, but according to a new analysis that’s only the way it seems in the western social media bubble. 23 million tweets which included hashtags like #IstandwithPutin and #IstandwithRussia were monitored to see how and where they were sent. The White paper just published by CASM Technology shows that Russia is targeting BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and more generally Africa and Asia. Carl Miller from CASM explains what they’ve found and why we can’t assume that everyone around the world is getting the same online messages.Okta data breach – who, what, where, why, when and how Okta is probably one of the biggest tech companies in the world you’ve never heard of until now. Its customers use its software to allow employees to work remotely by accessing their systems from outside the office. However, they had a data breach back in January and now the hacking group Lapsus$ is claiming it may have accessed more data than Okta is willing to admit. Protocol’s Sarah Roach explains what’s happened and why possibly millions of logins from around the world could be impacted.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Facial Recognition Concept. Credit:Getty Images)
29/03/2247m 26s

Splinternet Risks

The shifting geopolitical economics following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to the reappearance of the word “Splinternet”. In recent years some countries have created the physical infrastructure to potentially run many internet services outside of the reach of the global network of networks most people know as the internet. As sanctions are imposed, popular websites and social networks blocked, and economic lines are drawn, could some countries like Russia and China withdraw completely, developing different protocols of connection within their borders – and maybe beyond - that might become incompatible with those of the current internet? Emma Taylor, CEO of Oxford Information Labs, drops into Digital Planet to discuss the fears.When scientists analyze fallen meteorites they provide invaluable clues about the history of our solar system. Antarctica is a good place to look as they are seldom disturbed, and arguably easier to spot. Yet It is a vast and hard to access area. Could big data and AI provide a guide to help researchers know where to look? Veronica Tollenaar and colleagues at the Glaciology Laboratory at the Université libre de Bruxelles, in Belgium think so. In a recent paper in the journal Science Advances, Veronica and her colleagues have described their algorithm for constructing a “where to go” list, rather like a treasure map, to rank the locations most likely to bear the rocky treasure.Whilst most games are obviously played for fun, many of them sure can feel like unrelenting hard work. Hours spent to “win” trophies or “earn” credits, are increasingly “sold” or transferred between players within these games. Could NFTs transform these sorts of activities into new economic structures? BBC’s Chris Berrow reports. Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Technical Production by Giles Aspen Produced by Alex Mansfield
22/03/2237m 21s

Calls for facial recognition tech ban on Brazilian metro

A number of Brazilian civil rights organisations have filed a civil lawsuit against a company operating the São Paulo metro and their use of facial recognition technology. They are calling for an immediate suspension of the technology as well as compensation for moral damages to the rights of passengers, however the company denies they are using the technology for facial recognition.How to spot disinformation in wartime Have you seen the video on TikTok of a Russian paratrooper recording himself while jumping out of a plane as part of the invasion of Ukraine? Well it is not that at all – it is actually from 2015. But how can you check images and videos that pop up in your social media feeds? Reverse image search it on Google to see where else it has been posted, says Dr Shelby Grossman from the Stanford Internet Institute. She tells Gareth a whole host of tips to help tell the difference between what is fake and what is real online about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.Biodegradable soft robotics Soft robots are seen by many scientists as the future of human-robot interaction, but one setback is that the more malleable material needs replacing as it wears out quicker than rigid material more often associated with robots. Now a team of scientists has developed a translucent soft and tactile robotic finger, and it’s biodegradable. Looking for inspiration in the kitchen the team developed this biogel from gelatine by modifying a 3D printer. The material is in fact edible – which will make future soft robotics safe for young children. One of the authors, Professor Martin Kaltenbrunner from the Institute of Experiment Physics at Linz University, tells Gareth why the team was keen to make machines out of biodegradable material. Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Photo: People moving and traveling inside of the Metro subway system in Sao Paulo Brazil. Credit: Adam Hester/Getty Images)
15/03/2244m 37s

Tracking Russian disinformation and propaganda sites

NewsGuard – tracking Russian disinformation and propaganda sites False claims and misinformation about Ukraine and its allies have been rife online for months. Now a new tracking centre, which monitors Russian-Ukraine disinformation, has been set up and has published its first report. 120 websites are currently being monitored, recorded and the misinformation debunked by NewsGuard. Steven Brill, Co-CEO of NewsGuard is live on the show to give us the latest. Archiving the information war in Ukraine For many years Russian misinformation online has simply been removed, but now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, should this be archived and secured as it is evidence of the information war? Protocol’s chief correspondent Issie Lapowsky is on the show to explain why keeping a record of this is so important.Wikipedia’s Ukraine pages The Wikimedia Foundation has received a Russian government demand to remove content from its Russian site. They have said they have never backed down in the face of government threats to deny people their fundamental human right to access free, open, and verifiable information. We hear from Dr Jess Wade, a Wikipedia Editor known for thousands of entries about women, how the collaboratively authored online encyclopaedia is ensuring their content is accurate.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Russian fake news button, key on keyboard. 3D rendering. Getty Images)
08/03/2238m 55s

Ukraine’s massive global tech presence

Did you know that the tech behind your door bell was likely to have been designed in the Ukraine? Or that Grammarly’s founders are Ukrainian. It’s probably easier to list the tech that we all use that has Ukrainian roots: What’s App, Paypal, CleanMyMac, Revolut App and the masking tech in Snapchat to name but a few. We spoke to Mike Sapiton, Forbes Ukraine Technology Editor, about the massive influence of Ukrainian developers on our everyday lives.Detecting COVID from your mobile As people begin to return to work in some countries, COVID cases continue to rise in others. Testing is still key to monitoring the spread of the virus and detecting any mutations. A Chilean start-up company called Diagnosis Biotech have developed an accurate, non-invasive and low-cost method of testing for COVID 19 called Phone Screen Testing – also known as POST. Our reporter Jane Chambers went to find out more.How to access blocked online content Internet content is blocked by many governments around the world, Russia’s current block is again highlighted in the press, yet President Putin’s regime isn’t able to control their information agenda as it did before. So how are people accessing what the authorities may not want them to see? We speak to Abdallah al-Salmi, Strategy Analyst, Systems Integration at the BBC World Service who tells us how the BBC is ensuring it’s content remains accessible including how they’ve made a copy of all the BBC News websites on the dark web that can be accesses via the TOR browser.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Sue Maillot Producer: Ania LichtarowiczPicture credit: Getty Images
01/03/2244m 39s

The bionic eye that’s obsolete

Imagine receiving the latest medical implant that can partially restore your vision, now imagine the technology behind your implant no longer being produced or supported. That’s what happened to about 350 patients around the world, as the medical start-up company behind a particular implant called Second Sight medical products has hit financial difficulties. Eliza Strickland and Mark Harris from IEEE Spectrum first reported on the story and tell us what happened.iPhone 13 Pro Max – the latest in ophthalmic medicine? As recently as February 2021, medical journal "The Lancet" reported that "Almost everyone will experience impaired vision or an eye condition during their lifetime and require eye care services". Chances are then, that at some point, you'll be visiting an eye doctor. But what sort of equipment would you expect them to use to examine your eyes? Well, you might be surprised, as our reporter Fern Lulham found out. This is the final in Fern’s series on blind tech.What might happen with our COVID data? Since the pandemic started, an unprecedented amount of data about our health and our whereabouts has been collected by governments and private companies – but what will happen to this data and do we have any control over it? Dr. Stephanie Hare, is about to publish her new book “Technology Is Not Neutral: A Short Guide to Technology Ethics” where she discusses this problem. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
22/02/2244m 7s

India to launch digital rupee

India has announced a digital budget with plans to create its own cryptocurrency – the digital rupee. It also plans a 30% digital asset tax. Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean at the Fletcher School at Tufts University explains the implications.Mars landing on Earth Long-time Digital Planet listener Gowri Abhiram has visited the landing site of NASA’s Perseverance Rover in India. The trip was part of Chris Riley’s project comparing the landing sites of Mars to their corresponding locations on Earth, which we reported on last year. We hear about her journey a year after the successful Martian landing.Robot-assisted navigation – the augmented white cane As we've heard before on Digital Planet, tech can be a real game-changer for blind and visually impaired people in helping them to live their lives independently.. However, even now in 2022, one of the most common mobility aids - the white cane - is pretty much as low tech as it gets! But is that too about to get the tech treatment? Our reporter, Fern Lulham tells us more.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz and Rami Tzabar(Image: Indian Currency virtual world with connection network. Credit: Global data information and technology exchange. stock photo)
15/02/2248m 24s

Tonga internet satellite kit deployed

Télécoms Sans Frontières has sent satellite kits to Tonga to improve connectivity on the islands following the volcanic eruption. Before the pandemic TSF would have immediately deployed to Tonga after it went dark, but strict quarantine rules limit what they can do. As their engineers can’t go out, they’ve had to adapt the equipment they send so that it can be set up on the island. Their kit is now out of quarantine and should be deployed imminently and will eventually bring internet connectivity to the smaller islands where people are still completely cut off. TSF Regional Manager Sebastien Latouille also tells us in the podcast about their latest deployment to Madagascar following Cyclone Batsirai.Could NFT protect our health data? If you think NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) are just the new way to buy art then think again as they could be the way to secure our medical data. Once our medical information is digitised into an electronic health record we have no control over what is done with it. Writing in the journal Science, Prof Kristin Konstick-Quenet, suggests that NFTs could provide a way to secure ownership over the management of digital information using blockchain technology. However, will the companies who currently monetise our medical records be willing to give up access to it? Legislation will be necessary if we are to have any control over our own health data. Enhanced Audio Description Reporter Fern Lulham begins her first in a series of reports into the latest disability tech looking at audio descriptions of films and TV shows. There's plenty of evidence to show that despite the draw of social media and endless other activities, watching telly or going to the cinema remain extremely popular. In the UK for example, figures tell us that even before the pandemic, people spent an average of just over three hours a day watching TV, And since the mid -80s, visits to the cinema had risen quite dramatically to well over 150 million a year before Covid19 restrictions kicked in. But how accessible are these media if you're blind or visually impaired?The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Aftermath of volcanic eruption and Tsunami in Tonga. Credit: Malau Media/via Reuters)
08/02/2252m 33s

First-ever unassisted robotic surgery

The first-ever robotic surgery without a human surgeon guiding it has been successfully performed at Johns Hopkins University. The Smart Tissues Autonomous Robot (STAR) completed a keyhole procedure called intestinal anastomosis – the sewing together of two sections of soft bowel - on pigs. More than a million of these surgeries are performed each year in the US alone and they need to be carried out very precisely and accurately to avoid potentially fatal complications. Professor Axel Krieger, the mechanical engineer on the team, tells Gareth how this is a major advancement in robotic surgery.Singapore Surveillance Singapore often introduces innovative tech to its citizens, but there is a lack of transparency about the way the data is collected and used. As public tech becomes more affordable it is becoming increasingly available. While the hope is it will solve complex social problems there is no transparency over the algorithms used. This means we don’t know the kind of prejudices, privileges, and assumptions being built in. Without intervention, societal prejudices will continue to be perpetuated. Peter Guest from the Rest of World website has been looking into the dangers of public tech in Singapore and beyond. He tells us why tech companies need to be more transparent.unReal City Backstage at the Brighton Dome looks more like the technical suite of a TV studio than a theatre, as technicians watch multiple screens showing the audience and actors in different rooms - and showing a variety of feeds from their VR headsets - because this piece of immersive theatre, unReal City, takes place in both physical and virtual reality. Reporter Claire Jordan has been meeting with the Director of dreamthinkspeak and disabled artists from Access All Areas – the two companies behind the production - which explores if it’s easier or better to connect in the flesh or as an avatar and if links are stronger in reality or could the Metaverse allow us to re-invent ourselves.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania LichtarowiczPhoto: The smart tissue autonomous robot performing laparoscopic anastomosis. Credit to Jiawei Ge//Johns Hopkins University
01/02/2243m 0s

Internet connectivity still patchy in Tonga

Connectivity to Tonga partially restored but undersea cable repair could take weeks. The underwater volcanic eruption severed the country’s only underwater network cable and ash clouds have made satellite connectivity impossible. Professor Nicole Starosielski from NYU, an expert in underwater connectivity and author of “The undersea network”, joins us on the show. An underwater cable is severed every three days somewhere in the world, yet the network has the capacity to usually cope with this disruption. Many developing countries do not have this extra capacity as they cannot afford it. Professor Starosielski argues that richer nations should step up and fund this lack of spare connectivity.Virtual IT brain drain in Argentina IT workers in Argentina are being enticed by US and European tech companies to work remotely for them, by offering very attractive salaries and remote working contracts. Local IT businesses are struggling to retain workers as they leave for salaries in US$ or Euros that can be four times what they are currently earning. And this is what is different about this type of employment, unlike outsourced IT workers in India or Africa, the employees are not working on local conditions. As reporter Lucila Pelletieri from Global Press Journal tells Gareth, the loss of local talent will impact not only the country’s IT companies but potentially the economy as well.Robot training made easy We hear about machine learning all the time, but how does a machine actually learn? Say it’s a robot that you need to teach to perform a task in a factory, or even in your home. Well, it’s ok if you happen to be an ace programmer and are happy to dash off a load of computer code. But at the Robot Learning Lab at Imperial College London, they want to make it easier for us to train the machines - as easy as grabbing the robot’s arm and moving it through the task, so that next time, the bot does the movement itself. The Lab presented its latest work at a robot learning conference just before Christmas. The lab’s director is Dr. Edward Johns and Gareth has been to pay him – and his robot – a visit. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Underwater fiber-optic cable on ocean floor. Credit: Getty Images)
25/01/2243m 48s

Twitter returns to Nigeria

After 222 days the social media platform is back up and running in Nigeria. The country suspended Twitter after it deleted a tweet by President Buhari and Nigerians have been accessing the platform via VPN, but now Twitter has agreed to the government's demands which include opening a local office, paying taxes, and being respectful of Nigerian laws. Abubakar Idris, the reporter for tech site Rest of World, joins us on the show. We are waiting on a response from Twitter.100 years of the BBC The BBC Historian Robert Seatter joins us live to talk about some of the tech innovations that the BBC developed over the last 100 years. He’s behind these amazing websites - Objects of the BBC - BBC 100 and even more will be revealed throughout the year. He will be discussing the first OB in 1924 (The Cello and the Nightingale), the development of the first ribbon microphone by BBC engineers (as the BBC could not afford those designed in Hollywood), the fully digitised audio archive, and many other marvels of tech innovation.Ban on online education classes in China A few months ago, we reported on the Chinese government’s ban on online video gaming in children, where it restricted it to three hours a week. That was followed by a new set of regulations on private tutoring that has hit some of the biggest tech companies in China. While the new rules will certainly give young people more leisure, there’s a lot more to it than children’s well-being. On the show today we have science and technology journalist Yuan Ren to explain one of the biggest shakeups in Chinese education.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Pius Utomi Ekpei /AFP via Getty Images)
18/01/2246m 40s

Robots under the Thwaites Glacier

Huge robots, including a seven-metre two-tonne vessel named Ran, are on their way to the Thwaites Glacier to learn more about the retreating ice and its impact on Climate Change. But this won’t be the only tech that’s being deployed on the 65-day mission; British Antarctic Survey’s Boaty McBoatface and the Autosub Long Range vehicle operated by the National Oceanography Centre in the UK, will travel under the ice shelf along with Ran. Professor Anna Wåhlin from the University of Gothenburg tells us more about her robot Ran and about the data she’ll be collecting.Tiny light engines We’re talking to Ed Tang, the CEO of Avegant. They’re the company behind the world’s smallest light engines for augmented reality. Developing projectors thinner than the width of a pencil means we’re on the brink of AR glasses that will barely look different from standard glasses. Alongside talking about how this technology works, Ed also spoke to us about what this means for the future of AR. James Webb telescope tech Space journalist Kate Arkless-Gray is live on the show to tell us about the tech that got the James Webb Telescope into space and how vital it is that none of the tech deployed goes wrong - unlike the Hubble space telescope, repair missions to James Webb are impossible.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Ran navigates its way under the ice front of Thwaites Glacier. Photo credit: Filip Stedt)
12/01/2244m 36s

Afrofuturism and tech innovation

This week we have a special programme on Afrofuturism and tech innovation. It’s a subject often covered in science fiction, but what makes Afrofuturism different from standard science fiction is that ancient African traditions and black identity is steeped throughout the story. A text that has a black character in a futuristic world is not enough. But Afrofuturism is more than just Sci-fi. It’s the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through the perspective of black people. We will be exploring Afrofuturism and technology with India Gary-Martin, formerly JPMorgan’s MD and COO for investment banking tech and operations, Dr. Mave Houston, Head of UXR Disney+ and Nana Baffour, a Ghanaian born venture capitalist and investor who is now CEO of one of Brazil’s largest tech companies join us on the programme. In addition, we have an extract of Afrofuturism Sci-Fi, Ale Santos’s new book “The Last Ancestral” and his view on Afrofuturism and its role in the development of technology. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
04/01/2244m 13s

A tech review of 2021

We look back on some of the stories we covered in 2021 – from age appropriate design to protect children, through internet shutdowns, a remote air traffic control tower and a WhatsApp school in Zimbabwe to a virtual reality opera.The podcast has even more stories: comparing Mars locations to Earth locations, a smart phone test to detect malaria, how technology can help prep for a date at home if you’re blind and controlling our devices with a muscle in our ear! Available on BBC Sounds.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari, Bill Thompson and Ghislaine Boddington.Image: Man using mobile phone Credit: Chaiwat Chaythawin/EyeEm/Getty ImagesStudio Manager: Donald MacDonald Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
28/12/2149m 16s

The Internet Archive is 25!

Twenty-five years ago the world wide web was 2.5 terabytes and you needed to dial-up via your phone line to get onto it, so Brewster Kahle decided to set up a project to archive what was out there already. Now the Internet Archive consists of more than 588 billion web pages, as well as 28 million books and texts, 14 million audio items, and 580,000 software titles, making it one of the world’s largest digital libraries. Brewster tells Gareth how they’ve done this – especially making content that runs on old and absolute technologies accessible today.The Future of Text Why is our tech for text so simple and boring – in effect it’s little more than an electronic copy of a paper page? But this changes with new technology bringing books and documents to life with interaction and metadata tags that allow you to search, source and organise text as never before. Father of the internet, Vint Cerf and Frode Hegland, Founder of the Augmented Text Company, are on the show to tell us why we’re now able to move on from using the click of a mouse to manage our text. Moonshot – tech used to learn more about neglected diseases is fighting COVID The COVID Moonshot project began as a virtual collaboration during UK 2020 lockdown. Scientists, academics, researchers & students started a twitter-fuelled race against the clock to identify new molecules that could block SARS-CoV-2 and develop treatments that would be globally affordable and easily manufactured for most vulnerable communities. Coordinating this effort is the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, using the AI tools and computer crowdsourcing tech they’ve adopted for neglected diseases as well as the use of the Diamond Light Source technology. All of this tech allows the scientists to build up a huge catalogue of the structures of disease-causing parasites and then model potential treatments to see if they might work. Dr. Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases, DNDi joins us.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Bill Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image credit: Internet Archive)
21/12/2143m 42s

Brazil: Where is all the Covid data?

Ministry of Health websites in Brazil are still down following a number of cyber-attacks. Millions of people now do not have access to their Covid-19 vaccination data (including certificates). It is estimated that 50TB of data has been removed by Lapsus$ Group, which is claiming responsibility for the ransomware attack. Dr Patricia Peck, who is on the board of the National Data Protection Authority is on the programme with the latest on the attacks.First-ever delivery of medicines by drone in Sierra Leone The first-ever delivery of medicines by drone in Sierra Leone has been a success. The drones are not the typical helicopter drones, but small plane types with propellers that have a number of advantages. The fixed-winged drones can carry much heavier payloads over much further distances. We hear from Daniel Ronen from the UK drone specialist, UAVaid, who is behind the project.Reimagining the new Spider-Man trailer through animation Fans prepared to dedicate hundreds of hours looking for the perfect clips have been making their own trailers that reimagine popular content. One such creation from the YouTube channel 100Bombs Studio has recreated the latest Spider-Man trailer using clips from the original animated series. Filmmaker and critic Maxim Thompson has been talking to us about these projects and how they allow people to engage with films.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonStudio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Hacker with computers in a dark room. Credit: Getty Images)
14/12/2137m 2s

Mobile phones not always beneficial to displaced people

New research shows that mobile phones may not be as beneficial to displaced people as previously thought. Using video diaries, where displaced people in Somalia recorded their mobile phone use, researchers found that women, in particular, are being exploited by employers who fail to pay them using mobile money. Professor Jutta Bakonyi from Durham University is on the show and her colleague Dr. Peter Chonka joins us in the podcast.Slaughterbots – autonomous lethal weapons Slaughterbots - if human: kill(), is a short film that warns of humanity's accelerating path towards the widespread use of slaughterbots – autonomous weapons that use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify, select, and kill people without human intervention. It’s produced by The Future of Life Institute and its lead on autonomous weapons Dr. Emilia Javorsky explains how the UN is currently looking at banning this type of tech.WikiAfrica A growing movement to create and edit Wikipedia articles in official African languages is proving successful following a series of Afrocurations, organised by the Moleskine Foundation, where young people from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Morocco are learning how to tell the stories of their lives, culture, and history through Wikipedia. We hear from one of these students and also Lwando Xaso, a South African lawyer, writer and activist, who helped set up the events. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: John Boland Producers: Alex Mansfield and Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
07/12/2147m 8s

PIX instant payment limits to reduce kidnappings

PIX instant payment limits to reduce kidnappings Last year the PIX instant payment system was introduced in Brazil. It currently has 112 million registered users – that’s 62% of the population. It’s proving incredibly popular and is allowing the 40 million unbanked people in the country access to electronic payments. Unfortunately its popularity has also led to significant issues – namely ransom demands by kidnappers that can be paid immediately. By lowering the payment limit and stopping night payments, it’s hoped this will curb the problem. Silvia Bassi, who runs the tech website The Shift in Brazil, is on the show.Bitcoin mining in Navajo Nation – crypto-colonialism In the past traditional mining often took advantage of local people living near the mine, now something similar may be happening with cryptocurrencies. A bitcoin mine in the Four Corners region of New Mexico which belongs to the Navajo nation is causing controversy. It consumes enough to power 19,600 homes, yet many local residents lack water and electricity. The scheme was originally set up with the Navajo’s support but there is opposition from some local people. Mining companies argue though that investing in their schemes will ultimately reap financial rewards for the local people. Reporter Luke Ottenhof is on the show to discuss this story and the rise of crypto-colonialism globally.AI training for top flight football Our gaming correspondent Chris Berrow reports on the latest tech to train footballers. Norwich City are the first UK Premiership club to use the Soccerbot360 simulator which claims to replicate real-life match scenarios - enabling players to work on their decision-making. We will soon see if it improves the Canaries’ game.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Pix logo on smartphone with Brazilian currency Credit: Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
30/11/2142m 44s

Smart speakers used in gaslighting

IoT devices like smart speakers and networked heating controls are increasingly being used by perpetrators of domestic violence – for instance by changing the temperature the heating is set to or the music that the victim listens too, remotely. Julia Slupska from the Oxford Internet Institute will be discussing these new findings at the Shameless! Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence in London. She joins us on the show.A possible alternative to GPS? We have relied on GPS for location services for almost 30 years, but it’s vulnerable to inaccuracy and attack. Professor Zak Kassas from the University of California, Irvine, explains his proposal for its replacement, harnessing the power of increasingly abundant low earth orbit communication satellites like SpaceX’s Starlink.Mapping sea cucumbers using drones Sea cucumbers aren't the flashiest creatures on Australia’s great barrier reef, and they have long been understudied and poorly understood. But Dr Karen Joyce, co-founder of GeoNadir wants your drone footage to help learn more to help map the animals and their habitats.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Man setting home gadgets via smartphone. Credit: ismagilov/Getty Images)
23/11/2145m 24s

Distress of TikTok fake school accounts

TikTok School challenge It’s November so school children in the US are being encouraged to “Kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school”. In September the TikTok school challenge suggested they “Vandalize the restroom”. These are just two of the examples that schools in the US have been dealing with following a call on TikTok to pupils. Now in the UK teachers are facing an onslaught of online abuse via TikTok too. Headteacher Sarah Raffray, who is also the Chair of the Society of Heads in the UK, is live on the show. The fake account created at her school has been removed by TikTok as have hundreds of others, but is the social media platform doing enough to control this libellous behaviour?Disinformation campaign in Kenya The Pandora papers revealed that Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his family have offshore accounts containing $30m. Following the release of this information a collaborative disinformation campaign manipulating Twitter’s algorithms was launched attempting to exonerate the President. Odanga Madung is a Mozilla fellow and is on the programme to discuss a report he’s co-authored “How to Manipulate Twitter and Influence People: Propaganda and the Pandora Papers in Kenya”. So far 400 accounts have been deleted, but with elections next year this campaign could already be influencing the outcome.AI (lack of) diversity in the workforce Research from the Digital Planet team at Tuft’s University has examined the world's top AI hubs and ranked them in terms of diversity. Bhaskar Chakravorti, who led the team behind the work, tells us that San Francisco has the lowest proportion of black AI talent in the US. When it comes to the proportion of women in the field, AI is much less diverse than the industry overall. 17 percent of the AI talent pool in the 50 hotspots in the world is female as compared to 27 percent in STEM overall. Tel Aviv comes out on top globally for employing women in AI. We discuss how this imbalance is impacting AI development.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: TikTok logo displayed on a smart phone. Credit: Illustration by Nikolas Joao Kokovlis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
16/11/2145m 25s

Blockchain’s e-waste a growing problem

We’ve reported before on the programme about the massive energy consumption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which is based on blockchain technology. Now we’ll be looking at some of the other environmental impacts of blockchain. Professor Cathy Mulligan, Blockchain Expert and Member of the Institution of Engineering & Technology’s Digital Panel, joins us live to discuss the massive e-waste problem of mining cryptocurrencies and how miners change their electronic kit every six months to keep up with the ever increasing processing capacity they need to make money. This issue is not only linked to blockchain tech, it’s also seen in the mobile phone industry.AR reducing single plastic use - 100 Days to #BeatPlasticPollution Six out of the top 20 marine litter polluters are in Southeast Asia, so where better to launch a social media campaign to reduce single use plastic. The MeshMinds Foundation and the UNEP is behind the Instagram campaign to raise public awareness “100 Days to #BeatPlasticPollution” and we speak to Kay Vasey from MeshMinds as to how they hope AR will change habits and reduce single use plastic. We also have a campaigner from the Philippines whose own efforts to reduce plastic use are about to be showcased online.More than a million years of data in the ice – an immersive exhibition at COP26 A new immersive exhibition, Polar Zero, is on at the Glasgow Science Centre. The idea behind the show is to pause and reflect on humanity’s impact on our past, present and future climate. The centrepieces of the exhibition are a cylindrical glass sculpture encasing Antarctic air from the year 1765 – the date that scientists say predates the Industrial Revolution – and an Antarctic ice core containing trapped air bubbles that reveal a unique record of our past climate. With more than a million years of data stored in the ice and computer modelling vital to creating the exhibits, reporter Hannah Fisher finds out how climate data is being presented to allow us to understand the science better.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Bitcoin crypto coin mining hardware. Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
09/11/2143m 50s

How green is our data?

Digital Planet is looking at green tech during COP26. Firstly, we discover the green credentials of your favourite websites with the Green Web Foundation. Can we really make the internet more environmentally friendly? Also we’ll be hearing about the homes in Sweden’s Stockholm that are heated using waste heat from local data centres. And how a company in Wyoming in the US is using technology to change the way data centres are cooled, using liquid and not air, and then using this excess heat for agriculture. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonStudio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: A processing facility at the Riken Center for Computational Science in Japan) Credit: STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)
02/11/2147m 40s

Online safety laws

This week former Facebook employee and whistleblower, Frances Haugen, was speaking to the committee that’s discussing the UK’s draft online safety bill, legislation that will tackle harmful content online. Canada is working on similar legislation. But there are questions over policing the new laws and over freedom of speech. Gareth Mitchell discusses these issues with Professor Lee Edwards of the Department of Media and Communications at LSE in London who has been involved in a submission to the Online Safety Bill Committee. Venezuela is rapidly turning its back on cash. An ongoing economic crisis and an inflation rate of 2,500% are driving Venezuelans toward digital payments. Leo Schwartz of the technology news website explains more.And Thom Hoffman reports on a project in India to put solar panels over canals. Not only do you get renewable energy, but the shade from the panels stops so much of the valuable water underneath from evaporating. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Sue Maillot Producer: Deborah Cohen (Image: Frances Haugen. Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
26/10/2138m 5s

Women's safety online

False information online has left one in five girls feeling physically unsafe, according to The Truth Gap, a new report by Plan International. One in three say false information is affecting their mental health, leaving them feeling stressed, worried and anxious. Others reported concerns about bogus events advertised on social media placing them at physical risk, or unreliable medical advice that could harm their health.Girls and young women from low and middle-income countries were more likely to be affected by unreliable or false information online, and twice as likely to have questioned whether to get the vaccine than those in high income countries.The researchers are calling on governments to educate children and young people in digital literacy.Related to this, BBC Misinformation reporter Marianna Spring, who has also been subjected to misogynistic online, abuse set out to understand how why such content seems to be promoted on some social media platforms. We examine her findings.There is more from Marianna’s investigation in Panorama ‘ Online abuse :why do you hate me?’ And Emily Bird reports on robots used to study glaciers in situations which would be far too dangerous for human researchers. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonStudio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Julian Siddle(Image: ‘Barry’ CGI image from Panorama ‘ Online abuse :why do you hate me?. Credit:
19/10/2144m 38s

Economic cost of the digital gender gap

Research by the World Wide Web Foundation has found that the gender gap for internet accessibility has cost countries billions of USD in lost GDP. In the 32 countries studied a third of women were connected to the internet compared to almost half of men. This digital gender gap, their report says, has cost low and lower middle income countries USD $1 trillion over a decade. Director of Research, Catherine Adeya, joins us live from Nairobi and we also hear from Ian Mangenga who set up the Digital Girl Africa project to get more women online.Counting people with WiFi Researchers have developed a method of counting crowds that doesn’t require complex AI or expensive camera surveillance but rather simple WiFi signals. Yasamin Mostofi from the University of California Santa Barbara tells us more about how this method measures fidgeting behaviours to figure out the size of a crowd and how it could be put to use.The BFI London Film Festival Expanded The BFI London Film Festival is going immersive. Reporter Hannah Fisher has had a preview of this year’s hybrid programme which is full of tech - interactive VR, 360 films, augmented reality, mixed reality and live immersive performance.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Majority World / Getty Images)
12/10/2145m 21s

Census goes digital in India

This decade’s Indian national census will be the first to be carried out digitally. However, COVID-related delays have slowed progress and there are growing concerns about its accuracy. Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Bhaskar Chakravorti explains how data will be collected and why the census is likely to miss essential parts of the population. Getting mums coding and encouraging girls into tech in Nigeria June Angelides set up the UK’s first child-friendly coding school for mums, Mums in Tech, while on maternity leave. She’s now asking children to take part in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s “Super Realoes” competition to design a superhero gadget that can make a positive impact in the world around them or a piece of assistive tech to help improve someone’s life. Unfinished symphony finished by AI Beethoven’s 10th unfinished symphony has now been completed by AI and will be performed for audiences in Bonn later this week. Dr. Ahmed Elgammal, Professor at Rutgers University and Director of the Art and AI Lab who developed Beethoven’s AI, tells us more about the process. Credit for music: Deutsche Telekom.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
05/10/2145m 3s

Spyware threatening independent media

Spyware threatening independent media Samuel Woodhams, the author of a report entitled “Spyware: An unregulated and escalating threat to independent media”, is live on the show. His research shows that the current unchecked growth of the commercial spyware industry is allowing repressive governments to monitor, harass and attack independent journalists and their sources as part of the battle against the free flow of information. We ask about the tech that is involved and if it’s possible to control it.Eating out with an app So COVID has brought about significant changes in how we order our food – not only have takeaway apps increased significantly in popularity but food ordering in restaurants in a number of countries was only possible thanks to our smart phones. As restrictions in some parts of the world ease, many restaurants are reluctant to go back to the traditional way of running their businesses. Gareth and Bill meet Dominic Jones, CEO of JPRestaurants in Jersey, who explains how ordering on an app has streamlined his business, allowed them to open earlier than they thought they could during the pandemic and how customers have taken to it. Gareth and Bill even sneak into the kitchens to see how the tech allows the food to be prepared incredibly quickly.TikTok promotes COVID vaccine misinformation within minutes of signing up Newsguard, who provides a browser extension that flags up untrustworthy information, has found that the incredibly popular app TikTok (which has a huge following amongst under 18’s) posts COVID vaccine misinformation videos to children within minutes of them signing up to the service. Alex Cadier, Managing Director of NewsGuard in the UK, is on the show to explain how they discovered that children were being targeted.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Unidentifiable hacker cracking a computer code in the dark Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images)
28/09/2142m 21s

Can AI predict Arctic ice loss?

Arctic AI Have you checked the ice-cap forecast? Melting sea ice might be a well-known symptom of global warming, but how do scientists predict how quickly ice will recede? A new Artificial Intelligence tool does a better job than traditional prediction methods to forecast whether sea ice in the arctic will be present two months in advance. We hear from Tom Andresson, Data Scientist at the BAS AI Lab, who developed the algorithm.VR Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is vital for managing bladder cancer and something that those affected will need to undergo regularly for the rest of their life when their cancer has gone into remission. However the process can be very unpleasant which means some people choose not to keep up with their life saving visits. Dr Wojciech Krajewski has been studying how using VR goggles to create a more relaxed environment can help patients manage the pain cystoscopy causes. Immersing patients in an Icelandic waterfall meant patients reported lower pain scores and they tolerated the procedure better.5G festival Working remotely has been a difficulty for many of us over the past year - but musicians have found it particularly hard, as slow connections make playing together almost impossible. Over the past two years Digital Catapult have been developing a way of using 5G networks to solve this problem. They will be running a virtual festival next year to highlight the technology. Claire Jordan visited the trials and reports for Digital Planet.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image credit: British Antarctic Survey)
21/09/2143m 31s

Tech on the island of Jersey

Digital Planet is back in Jersey, the small English speaking island off the coast of France. We’re travelling around in an on-demand electric vehicle – all booked, paid for and locked and unlocked with an app from our smart phones. We’re finding out about agricultural tech on a dairy farm – how the famous Jersey Cows, that produce premium milk - are being managed by the latest innovations and we’re also out in the fields where a host of sensors and data analytics are helping with the Jersey potato harvest. And if that is not enough we visit the remote control tower at St. Helier airport and see how remote airfields around the world are beginning to embrace this technology, pioneered on Jersey, to make flying to seldom used airports safer. Guests include: Gavin Breeze, Director of Evie, Air traffic controllers Marc Hill and Richard Mayne, Jersey Cow Girl Becky Houzé and Mike Renouard, Business Unit Director at the Jersey Royal Company.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Bill Thompson has a pre-interview chat with guest on Digital Planet. Credit: Ania Lichtarowicz / BBC)
14/09/2144m 16s

The Children’s Code protecting kids online

The so-called Children’s Code has just come into force in the UK. The Age-appropriate design code aims to protect children online by making digital services accessed by children comply with standards that safeguard children from being tracked and profiled. This includes toys, games and edtech but also social media and video sharing platforms. Changes have already been made by the likes of FB, TikTok and Instagram that will be implemented worldwide. Professor Sonia Livingstone from the LSE, a specialist in children’s digital rights, is on live. The rise of telemedicine in China China adopted a digital health code earlier this year and has seen a massive increase in the use of tech for healthcare since the start of the COVID pandemic. Reporter Yuan Ren explains how this rise is taking the pressure off the heavily burdened public healthcare system, despite higher costs to the patient but it’s also driving a demand for online doctors and changing the way the Chinese look after their health.China’s online gaming limits Our games correspondent Chris Berrow reports on the highly restrictive online gaming clampdown on teenagers announced by the Chinese authorities and how it could bring bigger problems for young people in the future. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image credit: Getty Images)
07/09/2142m 37s

Digital us

This week’s Digital Planet is something of a celebration, it's 20 years since the BBC World Service launched the programme. Originally entitled ‘Go Digital’, the programme has always been innovative. It was the first radio programme to generate digital video, and also launched podcasting. We look back over two decades at how technological innovation has changed global society. The programme began in an era where smartphones didn’t exist and the social media we know today had yet to be invented. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Tracey Logan, Alfred Hermida, Ghislaine Boddington, and the programme’s longest-serving contributor Bill Thompson. Producer: Julian Siddle(Image: Bill and Gareth meet bloggers in Delhi. Credit: Julian Siddle/BBC)
31/08/2147m 22s

Why the Taliban love social media

While the stereotype of the Afghan Taliban is that they lack sophistication, that certainly isn’t true for their online presence, which is geared to influence across many languages within Afghanistan and around the world. Adam Rutland co-founder of the Centre for Information Resilience looks at the effectiveness of their campaign and how they have learnt from both ISIS and Hamas. We also look at computer guided initiatives for understanding the working of the human brain. Alex Frangi and Ali Sarrami Foroushani from Leeds University have a model which can be used to do research which would be dangerous in real people. And Fern Luham reports on the technology she and other blind people can use around the home from practical devices to those that help with her social life.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Julian Siddle(Image: Getty Images)
24/08/2146m 16s

Uganda, too much surveillance?

Uganda introduced an extensive CCTV network ostensibly to cut down on crime. Now there are plans to place trackers on every vehicle for similar reasons. However, critics see both measures as ineffective and open to abuse. They are particularly concerned over the use of such surveillance to spy on opponents of the government says Dorothy Mukasa from Unwanted Witness.And schoolchildren in Uganda have been enrolled to pilot a new device for rapid Malaria testing. Developed with local partners and the University of Glasgow it uses locally made 3d printed test materials married to a mobile phone both to power the test and collect the results. There’s potential for its use in detecting and analysing many diseases say Jonathan Cooper and Julien Reboud.And can’t get to school? No problem you can now take your lessons and exams via WhatsApp. That is if you’re enrolled in Zimbabwe’s Dr. Maxx WhatsApp school - run with considerable success by Maxwell ChimedzaThe programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Julian Siddle(Image credit: Julian Siddle/BBC)
17/08/2143m 19s

Brazil’s Data Protection Law comes into force

Brazil’s Data Protection Law Brazil has started to enforce its data protection law with companies facing fines of up to $10m USD if they fail to comply. We’re speaking to the Director of the recently formed National Data Protection Authority, Miriam Wimmer, about how the legislation will protect the data of individuals and the impact on companies in Brazil.Twitter Disaster Bot As the clean-up operation following the floods in Henan province in central China continues Yuan Ren reports on the tech that has or hasn’t worked in preventing and managing these floods. We also hear about a disaster alerting twitter bot that’s been developed in Indonesia. Jakarta produces 2% of all tweets globally, it is also hit by a huge number of disasters, from flooding to earthquakes. The information people are tweeting about these disasters can now be collected into a real time map, PetaBencana or Disaster Map, with the help of a twitter bot. This bot recognises certain words associated with disasters, such as “flood”, and will respond to the sender to ask if they’d like to add the info onto the map. This real time map can help local residents and emergency services know what is happening on the ground. Director Nashin Mahtani told us more.Bitclout Harrison Lewis reports on a brand new form of social media. Bitclout is not a company, but a proof of work blockchain designed for running social media. A platform where you can speculate, buy and sell creator coins associated with the social media user, this could be a friend, influencer or high profile celeb like Elon Musk. To do so, you need to hold a token for the website, this is called Bitclout and can be bought with Bitcoin. In itself Bitclout is a native cryptocurrency. Even if you do make money though, you can’t retrieve it.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.(Image: A hand holding a padlock in front of html code to illustrate online data protection Credit: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
10/08/2142m 45s

How Jersey is leading tech development

This week we’re reporting from Jersey, somewhere that’s at the forefront of development for digital technology. Known for its financial tech it’s also leading the way in ecological and medical technology too. This digital innovation is supported by a commitment to connectivity on the Island. Every home and almost every commercial property in Jersey has had fibre broadband installed, and its internet speeds are some of the highest in the world. On top of this it has total 4G LTE coverage, and it was the first nation globally to achieve this . We’re joined by Tony Moretta, CEO of Digital Jersey, which is dedicated to growing the digital sector in Jersey. Nick Ogden, founder of Worldpay, who is currently developing frictionless atomic settlements which can move trillions of dollars around the world in milliseconds and Rebecca Curtis, Monitoring and Impact Officer for Jersey Overseas Aid, who are using technology to enable effective aid projects including major conservation work in southern Rwanda.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Digital Planet/BBC)
03/08/2146m 4s

IoT saves driver after kidnapping in Mexico

After a fleet driver was kidnapped whilst driving in Mexico, the technology he had in his car alerted emergency services. Artificial vision and in-cabin video were used to flag the event in real-time. Combining Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things technology sent the driver's location and video to the company's control centre who alerted law enforcement, allowing them to track him down and return him safely the same day. To find out more we spoke to Romil Bahl CEO of KORE Wireless the company behind the technology and Niv Yarimi CEO of KABAT, the fleet company whose driver was kidnapped.Protecting the Amazon from deforestation with tech Providing indigenous communities in the Amazon with technology, including satellite images, maps, smart phones and GPS, can reduce deforestation. Data delivered to remote communities on USB by couriers navigating the Amazon river enabled communities to monitor for forest loss. Connecting deforestation alerts with indigenous communities means local patrols can guide themselves to areas thought to be undergoing unauthorised deforestation. In turn this allows communities to defend their land from deforestation. Jessica Webb from Global Forest Watch tells us more.Neurorights in Chile Brain altering technology is becoming more sophisticated. Mostly developed to try and treat conditions including Parkinson's and epilepsy, there are concerns however about what might be created in the future. Could future smart devices in our homes read our thoughts? Chile hopes to protect neurorights through modification of their constitution. Jane Chambers reports.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Concept of technology of the future in safe driving by car. Credit: Igor Borisenko / Getty Images)
27/07/2136m 2s

Internet shutdowns in Latin America

As protests continue in Cuba, so do its internet shutdowns. Anti-government protesters are demonstrating against food shortages, power cuts and coronavirus restrictions. In response Cuban authorities have been shutting down internet connections in an attempt to stop protests. Meanwhile Venezuela is becoming known for its frequent online restrictions. David Aragort from Latin American tech rights NGO RedesAyuda updates us on what has been going on. The world’s first 3D printed smart bridge The world's first 3D-printed steel bridge has been unveiled in Amsterdam. Pedestrians can now use it to cross over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. Sensors will continuously monitor how the bridge is used and its ongoing safety. This data will influence how other 3D-printed structures could be built in the future. Professor Leroy Gardner and Dr. Craig Buchanan from Imperial College’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering tell us more.Ecosystem soundscape monitoring with AI One way to monitor the health of an ecosystem is through sound. Anthea Lacchia reports on how scientists are using machine learning to monitor these ecosystem sounds. From Okinawa to Borneo, they can listen to the sounds of the forest without having to be physically present. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill ThompsonStudio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
20/07/2147m 52s

Fighting for the right to repair

US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission to “limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs”. This could mean manufacturers can no longer require repairs only be offered by themselves or through authorised retailers. Gay Gordon-Byrne, CEO of The Repair Association in the US, has been speaking about the impact this could have.Are public-funded cultural institutions falling behind in creating digital content and in danger of becoming irrelevant? A new report from the Serpentine Galleries, “Future Art Ecosystems: Art x Metaverse”, suggests that might be the case. While the Games Industry is ploughing huge amounts of money into developing the spatial decentralised web (web 3.0), cultural institutions are lagging behind. Kay Watson, Head of the Arts Technologies team at the Serpentine Galleries, tells us more about the tech they are using to be part of this new metaverse.It’s the 30th anniversary of the first public website. Composer Kieran Brunt is back to tell us about his latest creation. This new work explores how the internet has dramatically reshaped our lives over the past 30 years. Woven around personal stories Kieran Brunt features electronic and vocal elements that explore the impact the internet has had on all our lives. The full Virtual Symphony can be heard on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 18th July 2021.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonStudio Manager: Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
13/07/2142m 26s

Big tech platforms to protect women online

Four of the world’s biggest tech platforms are adopting a new set of commitments to tackle online abuse and improve women’s safety online. This is the first time there has been cross-industry collaboration on ways companies can address the issue. Web Foundation Senior Policy manager Azmina Dhrodia is on the show to explain how, while Azerbaijani journalist Arzu Geybulla tells us about some of the abuse she has received online.Wireless pacemaker that dissolves in the body A wireless pacemaker that can dissolve in the body has been created for patients who need only temporary help to regulate their heartbeat. Pacemakers can be used for short periods, especially after open heart surgery, but are associated with quite a few issues such as infection from leads or the dislodging of the power supply and damaging heart tissue on removal. Professor John Rogers from Northwestern University, Illinois in the US, has developed a battery-free pacemaker that can be implanted directly onto the surface of the heart and it can then be absorbed by the body when no longer needed. He’s on the programme to discuss the tech that made the invention possible.Reducing car pollution from tyres Future car pollution will mainly come from tyres, not the exhaust. Even now tyre and road wear pollution is one of the leading causes of microplastics in the air. Our reporter Jason Hosken has been investigating how technology can be used to reduce the harmful impacts of tiny tyre particles, that are released from vehicles as they drive along.(Image: Internet troll sending comment to picture on imaginary social media website with smartphone Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
06/07/2145m 46s

YouTube’s rules silencing human rights activists

Why did YouTube take down video testimonies from family members of people imprisoned in China’s internment camps? To ensure the credibility of these videos, people show proof of identity. Now, YouTube says it has concerns that these people may be harassed. Eileen Guo, who reported the story for MIT Tech Review is on the show.Matter connecting our devices With so many smart devices in the home its incredibly frustrating that setting them up and connecting them to your house is so complicated. Now a new standard has been agreed. It’s called ‘Matter’ and the first Matter certified products are to be released at the end of this year. Tech journalist and IoT expert Stacey Higginbotham explains why this new standard will make smart devices much easier to use and much more secure.Sonic the Hedgehog is 30! The cute blue spikey hedgehog Sonic has been on our screens for 30 years. Digital Planet’s gaming reporter Chris Berrow has been finding out about the tech that made his design possible. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill ThompsonStudio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
29/06/2142m 33s

Bias in AI – what next?

Our own bias is becoming engrained in computer code. There is a huge amount of evidence showing that human bias and ignorance is encoded into our digitally driven world. The impact of this is unsurprisingly impacting the most vulnerable communities the hardest – decisions on health care, employment and even police surveillance are now being made very often by machines. But can anything be done to stop this bias from getting any worse and can the current bias be removed? As part the WebSci 2021 conference Digital Planet looks at what can be done by public bodies and the private sector to improve AI ethics.Joining us are Professor Lucy Hooberman, Professor Ricardo Baeza-Yates, Dr. Rumman Chowdhury and Dr. Margaret Mitchell.(Image: Getty Images) The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Bill Thompson Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
22/06/2141m 3s

Bitcoin’s environmental cost

El Salvador has voted to recognise bitcoin as legal tender, and there is a great deal of interest globally in digital currencies that provide an alternative to cash. However mining bitcoin, the intensive computation needed to claim ownership of new Bitcoins, uses vast amounts of electricity – more than many countries produce. Currently most of this energy is supplied from traditional fossil fuel sources rather than renewables. Larisa Yarovaya from Southampton Business school discusses whether Bitcoin is really worth the environmental cost. Drones for surveying disaster areas with cameras have been around for a while , but now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics have revealed a drone based system that can listen to the environment and pinpoint people who may be in distress following floods or earthquakes. Researcher Macarena Varela describes the drone and its microphone array.And lidar, the survey method which used lasers to reveal topographic detail is now finding a use in mapping Rio De Janero’s Favelas. These areas of informal housing developed in largely unplanned ways, but a wider understanding of their geography might help those who live there access essential services. The lidar survey has the advantage of being conducted without revealing the inhabitants personal information say MIT researchers Arianna Salazar Miranda and Claire Gorman.(Image: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica MariStudio Manager: Sue Maillot Producer: Julian Siddle
15/06/2146m 54s

NFT? That’ll do nicely

‘Non-fungible tokens’ are a kind of digital asset that can be bought and sold. They have captured the imagination of many artists. Art pieces can be given a digital identity as an NFT. However, they have also been used to successfully sell viral videos. Musician Imogen Heap has released a number of works to be auctioned as NFTs Tim Shaw from Endlesss is working with artists who see NFTs as a useful way to market their work.And hyper-reality meets traditional art in the form of opera. A new immersive experience has been pioneered by London’s Royal Opera House, placing the audience firmly in the centre of the production as our reporter Hannah Fisher discovered.Which web browser do you use? Does it matter? Most browsers now rely on the same underlying technology, but Firefox is different. It's one of the favourites of computer engineers but has been losing market share. There are concerns that the growing sameness of browser technology could have a negative impact on the web. As Firefox relaunches we speak to their Senior Vice President Selena Deckelmann, (Image: First NFT. Credit ImogenHeapxEndlesss)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Producer: Julian Siddle
08/06/2137m 46s

WhatsApp v Indian government

India has brought in stringent new laws that WhatsApp says will force it to break its end-to-end encryption. In a social media chat that’s been forwarded by multiple users, the new rules require the person who originated and shared that message, to be traced. And that’s a big problem for WhatsApp, a service that’s built itself around privacy. Gareth talks to Mishi Choudhary of the Software Freedom Law Centre about the regulations and the potential impact beyond India.After the new zombie heist film, Army of the Dead, had wrapped, the lead actor, Chris D’Elia, who played the part of an all-action helicopter pilot, was digitally removed from the movie, after he found himself the subject of serious allegations, which he denies. Edited in was Tig Notaro, another actor. Maxim Thompson explains how this remarkable cut and paste job was done.There’s a new way of driving a games controller, answering a phone or reading a text, using the inside of your ear. It works because many of us, without even realising it, can control a tiny muscle in our ear called the tensor timpani. Roland Pease has been trying out this prototype technology with Nick Gompertz, director of Earswitch(Image: An advertisement from WhatsApp seen in a newspaper at a stall in New Delhi. Credit: Sajjad Hussain /AFP via Getty Images)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Deborah Cohen
01/06/2139m 1s

The first African voice assistant

Speech smart assistants currently do not support any African language, but now Mozilla’s Common Voice project is building a dataset for Kiswahili which is spoken by more than a 100 million people in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. They have just been awarded almost $5m for the project. Remy the community lead at Common Voice Kinyarwanda and Chenai chair special adviser for Africa Innovation at the Mozilla Foundation tells us more about the work.Federated Learning As more of our data is processed through machine learning systems, Dr Nic Lane, of the Cambridge Computer Laboratory, explains a new way of processing and using our data without the need to send it through data centres. One solution to reduce the impact is federated learning – where data is processed on the edge, on your device, rather than being centralised. Not only does this reduce the environmental impact of computing, but it also has benefits for privacy and opens up opportunities for data sharing between companies.Electronic VR socks Reporter Claire Jordan has been investigating a novel approach to “walking” in a virtual reality. Existing ways are expensive and need considerable space to function, as well as having a less than satisfactory user experience. A new technology being developed by Professor Yusuke Matsuda of Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan could expand the reach of immersive VR movement to a much wider audience and deliver a better user experience than current solutions. The user wears electronic socks that create the feeling of walking in VR even though the user is sitting down. This could allow users to spend much longer in VR and also allow people with mobility issues to move around more freely, and possibly feel as though they are moving, in VR. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Mozilla’s Common Voice project. Credit: Mozilla) (Image: Mozilla’s Common Voice project. Credit: Mozilla)
25/05/2138m 43s

WhatsAppening with pandemic misinformation?

More than 100 million people worldwide have interacted with Covid-19 misinformation since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a new study in PLOS One. We speak to Professor David Nemer, from the University of Virginia, to explain the impact of social media misinformation in Brazil – What’s App’s number one market. As he tells Gareth Mitchell, Covid myths and untruths are spread easily with no consequences to those behind the lies.Tracking your face online Dr Stephanie Hare joins live to discuss the implications of AI facial recognition site, PimEyes, affecting privacy and safety. The current lack of regulation allows such software to be used by anyone – and means we are likely to see more services like this emerge in the near future – but are there steps individuals can take to stop AIs recognising their face?Why PS5 is still out of stock The pandemic has had wide reaching impacts on the manufacture of computer chips, leading to a shortage of the component used in many devices. This means that 6 months since the release of the PS5 many consumers are still waiting for a device – but that is just one product – cars, mobile devices, and even the 5G roll out are also impacted, with their production delayed.(Image: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonStudio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
18/05/2142m 47s

Urgent calls for mandatory recycling of e-waste

Pascal Leroy, Director General of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum joins us live to discuss their report on a proposed recycling framework for critical raw materials – CEWASTE – and why recycling critical raw materials from circuit boards, neodymium magnets, fluorescent lights and batteries is essential for the long-term sustainability of electronic manufacture.Geek TV Stephen Cass, senior editor of IEEE spectrum, explains how he has repurposed an old CRT TV to display his favourite web pages using a Raspberry Pi and a bit of python code. We also discuss the importance of the maker movement and the right to repair laws coming into force later this summer.Apple vs. Epic Our Games Correspondent Chris Berrow, delves into the detail of the Apple vs Epic lawsuit, with Epic asking if Apple's control over the App Store is anti-competitive, by only allowing in-app purchases through the store and taking a 30% cut of the sales? If Epic wins, this could have huge implications for the games industry, and potentially make in-app purchases considerably cheaper.(Image: Electronic waste. Credit: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica MariStudio Managers: John Boland and Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
11/05/2148m 11s

Tech does not impact teenage mental health

There is little association between tech use and mental health problems in teenagers, according to a new study by the Oxford Internet Institute. Lead author Dr Matti Vuorre explains how they analysed data from 430,000 UK and US teenagers and found little or no associations between adolescents’ tech use and mental health problems. But he says the data they were using is limited. Ideally, he wants to use the data that big tech companies hold on our tech use. The findings are published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.Africa Teen Geeks and Africa Tech Week Founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, Lindiwe Matlali, discusses her work in technology education and improving access for African children. During the pandemic she set up online schooling for South Africa, reaching over 600,000 children, and is working with Unicef to improve access to coding and robotics education across the continent. She also runs the ‘Knit2Code’ scheme that teaches women python coding through knitting, empowering mothers and grandmothers to support their daughters’ technology education.AI colourisation of historical photos Gwen Katz, a historical novelist and games designer, explains the problems of colourising historical photos. To test the efficacy of colourisation AI she compared the artificial colourisation of black and white photos with their colour originals and found that the bright colours of the original images were lost when colourised by an algorithm. Marta Mrak from BBC R&D discusses how the problem of loss of colours is being solved, by providing the algorithms with reference images, as well as future challenges for designing neural networks to colourise film. Presenter: Gareth Mitchell With expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonProducer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Photo: Two girls wearing face masks looking at their phone. Credit: Getty Images)
04/05/2135m 10s

Indians tweeting for oxygen

The latest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic affecting India has caused heart-breaking shortages of essential medical equipment across the country. As hospitals run out of beds and basic supplies like oxygen, citizens are turning to sites like Twitter and Instagram to source medicines, exchange knowledge and hold the government accountable. Ananya Bhattacharya from Quartz India explains how social media has influenced the response to the pandemic.Illegal Brick Kilns in Bangladesh In Bangladesh, the brick making industry provides thousands of jobs and supports the country’s rapid industrialisation – but the kilns used to make the bricks can be heavily polluting. Laws aim to mitigate the environmental and health impacts, but many brick factories have not implemented these changes. Dr Nina Brooks and her research team at Stanford University have developed an AI model that uses satellite imagery to identify which kilns are operating illegally, and hope that it can be used to encourage more factories to abide by the law.EU and AI regulation This week the EU Commission published proposals to ban “AI systems considered a clear threat to the safety, livelihoods, and rights of people” and to increase the legal regulations of biometric data, such as facial recognition software. Technology journalist and independent researcher Dr. Stephanie Hare joins the show live to explain the proposals and their likely impacts in Europe and across the world.(Image: Instagram)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
27/04/2146m 39s

Malware on mobiles

16% of mobile phones in emerging markets like Brazil Indonesia, South Africa and Thailand are infected with malware, compared to 2.6% globally, according to a new report by the mobile anti-fraud firm Upstream. The company looked at one billion mobile phone transactions in 23 emerging markets covering nearly 840 million users. One mobile device in Brazil tried to make almost 16000 purchases from an app in just one month. CEO of Upstream Dimitris Maniatis explains their findings.Tech under the ice sheet The cryoegg, is a small device that monitors the most extreme of environments, streams of ice-cold water flowing under glaciers. It's a rugged device that wirelessly transmits data back to the surface of a glacier from one and a half kilometres below the ice. Dr. Mike Prior-Jones and Dr. Liz Bagshaw from Cardiff University are using the device to monitor glaciers in Greenland.Indoor Solar Cells We live in a world with more and more smart devices in our homes and, of course, all of them need electricity. A potential way to supply that power is via the lights we use indoors. A recent paper shows that there are new, environmentally friendly, and safe materials that could help make this a reality. Digital Planet reporter Florian Bohr found out more.(Image: Getty Images)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine BoddingtonStudio Managers: Bob Nettles and Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
20/04/2147m 30s

Overcoming internet shutdowns in Myanmar

Internet shutdowns continue in Myanmar and now two new reports show the impact these have had. Top10VPN estimates these have cost the country’s economy more than $1bn, while cybersecurity firm Recorded Future Inc. has confirmed how people are still trying to connect with each other using Bluetooth and messaging apps like Bridgefy as well as accessing the dark web. Samuel Woodhams, Digital Rights Lead from Top10VPN, is on the show to tell us what they’ve observed.Vietnam water salinity app The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has launched an app in Vietnam to help rice farmers save their crops. High salt levels in the water channels between fields can now be monitored remotely and results sent to farmers’ mobile phones. High salt levels can destroy an entire annual rice crop so the app is significantly improving yields. Kisa Mfalila, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for Asia and the Pacific region at IFAD, explains how the app works.Computer Modelling of the Canon of English Literature The Canon of English Literature – the books that are considered to be worthy of studying - are overwhelmingly written by white men, with books written by female novelists often considered less literary in comparison. Now, a new project “Novel Perceptions: Towards an Inclusive Canon” aims to use computer modelling to investigate the public’s reading preferences. It's led by Professor Sebastian Groes from the University of Wolverhampton, who has just launched a Reader Review survey asking for responses to 400 recent novels. The novels will also undergo computer analysis that will look at sentence length, vocabulary and grammar difficulty to see if an algorithm can identify a best seller.(Image: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
13/04/2142m 16s

Phones sending data every 4.5 minutes

Our smartphones are sharing data every four and a half minutes according to research from Trinity College Dublin. Telemetry, automated recording and transmission of data, from Apple and Android devices back to these company’s servers is going on even if the phone is only used to make calls. Professor Douglas Leith is on the programme and explains that even when a user has logged out of sending telemetry or they are not logged on, data is still being transmitted.R.U.R. versus Q.U.R. The 1921 play Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U.R.) by Karel C̆apek gave rise to the term “robot,” but the 1941 short story Quinby’s Usuform Robots (Q.U.R.) by Anthony Boucher more accurately reflects today’s robots says Professor Robin Murphy from Texas A&M University. Robin, herself a disaster robotics specialist, is on the show to discuss how these two different ideas developed in very different social and political climates and what we can learn from both these Sci-fi stories.Virtual Stadium Noise If you've been watching sport in the last few months you may have noticed that stadiums are almost empty. But when you watch the game, it's very likely that you will hear a crowd cheering the players on. So what's going on? It looks like broadcasters are turning to video games, for the sound of the crowd. Our reporter Chris Berrow has been finding out. (Image credit: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
06/04/2149m 11s

China’s online restrictions increase

The Chinese government’s highly restricted approach to online freedom of expression has intensified during the COVID pandemic – not surprising maybe, but the implication of this on Chinese citizens and countries across Asia is significant. That’s one of the findings of research published by Chatham House. Harriet Moynihan, from the International Law Programme at Chatham House, is one of the authors of the paper and joins us on the show.Cellulose Electronic Thread For electronic textiles to enter the market on a large scale they need to be sustainable. Now scientists at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have developed thread made from conductive cellulose, which can be threaded through a sewing machine. The sewn garments can even be washed in a machine. Sustainable wearable tech would massively reduce electronic waste and could also lead to better healthcare monitoring eg blood pressure or heart rate of the person wearing the smart clothes. Sozan Darabi explains how they developed the thread and how she had to use her sewing skills to create the outfits.Evil Corp – the board game of tech giants Fancy becoming a tech billionaire who can save the world? Well you can by playing a new board game called “Evil Corp”. The game allows you to play as one of 6 Evil CEO billionaires intent on accruing billions of dollars and start-ups. The aim is to “Save the World, No Matter the Cost”. The games’ inventor Alfie Dennon says he wants us to think about the power tech tycoons have over our everyday lives online, in how we shop, work and play. Image: Chinese flag displayed on laptop screen, plus smartphone with block symbol displayed Credit: Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesThe programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producers: Emil Petrie and Ania Lichtarowicz
30/03/2153m 30s

AI chatbot takes witness statements

Court cases can collapse due to unreliable witness statements. These are often taken some time after the crime has happened – but what if it was possible to take a witness statement very quickly using AI chatbots? Dr Julia Shaw is on the programme discussing her latest research into using an AI chatbot in reporting harassment in the workplace. Not only are statements taken more quickly, they are done better by a machine than a person, as people can interrupt, misinterpret, judge or incorrectly record statements. The AI chatbot sticks to a script and allows the witness to do the same.Machine learning to understand Tinnitus AI is helping to advance research into tinnitus, a condition often described as a ringing, buzzing or hissing in the ears, which affects up to 1 in 5 adults. Clinicians currently have no objective means of diagnosing tinnitus and must rely on the accounts of people living with the condition. But machine learning algorithms, combined with brain imaging techniques, are allowing scientists to develop a clinical tool to measure tinnitus objectively. Anthea Lacchia reports.Women’s Engineering Society Prize Shrouk El-Attar describes herself as an Electronics Engineer, a bellydancer, an LGBTQ+ campaigner and refugee. She is the winner of the WES Prize IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award, to add to a multitude of prizes she has already received. She’s helped design a pelvic floor trainer - a treatment for incontinence - and is redesigning the breast pump to allow women to express their milk much more easily and quietly. Gareth finds out what inspires her and more about the tech she designs.The programme was presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Image: AI chatbot Credit: tadamichi/iStock Getty Images Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz and Emil Petrie
23/03/2144m 43s

Is Bitcoin energy use unsustainable?

It seems that the price of Bitcoin cannot stop increasing, but how sustainable is Bitcoin itself? With such huge energy demands to keep Bitcoin mined, are some countries risking the stability of their electricity supplies to take advantage of the Bitcoin boom? Financial economist and founder of the blog “Digiconomist”, Alex de Vries is on the show to answer these questions. He says, in his paper published in the journal Joule, that the entire Bitcoin blockchain network consumes as much energy per year as all data centres across the world. Access to the internet – affordability and lack of infrastructure still a major barrier It’s the web’s 32nd birthday, yet its creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that too many young people cannot connect and that the digital gap has widened during the pandemic. His comments come just after the latest ITU/A4AI report into the affordability of the internet, which found that nearly half of people with 4G coverage are not online as it’s too expensive to connect. A4AI’s Executive Director Sonia Jorge returns to the show to discuss the latest figures. TBL also called for a global push to connect young people. The WebFoundation has announced a list of global web champions, and one of them, Ian Mangenga from South Africa, joins us on the show to talk about her project Digital Girl Africa.(Hi)Story of a Painting (Hi)Story of a Painting is a new animated VR series to be premiered at the SXSW Online festival. The five episodes take the viewer on a journey through iconic paintings and tell the stories behind them; the artist’s practice, struggles and successes. The series’ co-creator Gaëlle Mourre, is on the programme to discuss how she created this gaze tech-led immersive experience, and made it safe to view in our own homes during lockdown.Image: Mining rigs of super computer inside the bitcoin factory ‘Genesis Farming’ near Reykjavik, Iceland Credit: Photo by HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP via Getty ImagesThe programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari. Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
16/03/2143m 58s

The cost of bias in AI fintech

We’ve been discussing bias in AI on the programme for more than a year now but what is the actual cost of it? KPMG is publishing a report, commissioned by the fintech company Finastra, which examines the size of global consumer lending markets and the potential impact of algorithmic bias in money lending decisions. Amber Sappington, Head of Data & Analytics at Finastra, discusses the potential problems and why there’s an urgency for the industry to acknowledge the problem and act on it.Problematic Smartphone Use ‘Smartphone addiction’ has been in the news, following the publication of a new study by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience Library at King’s in London. However, ‘Smartphone addiction’ is not a recognised medical condition. Gareth speaks with Dr Nicky Kalk, one of the authors of the study, about problematic smartphone use, and if it will be recognised as an illness. Virtually Shakespeare The Royal Shakespeare Company, the Philharmonia and Epic Games are amongst 15 organisations who are premiering a new live performance of “Dream” (which was inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream) using motion capture to tell the story of Puck. The aim is to create a shared live experience between a remote audience and a group of physical performers where the live audience can directly influence the world of the actors. Unlike a regular live stream, audiences will play an active role in world-building and the wider storytelling experience, as they would in any gaming environment. Reporter Hannah Fisher has more.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary by Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: John Boland Producers: Emil Petrie and Ania LichtarowiczImage: Young woman uses digital tablet on virtual visual screen at night Credit: dowell/Moment/Getty Images
09/03/2139m 55s

Will algorithms always be biased?

Will there ever be equality in machine learning technology or will our cultural biases continue to be reflected in algorithms? Dr. Sandra Wachter from the Oxford Internet Institute argues in her latest research that data bias is unavoidable because of the current bias within western culture. How we now try and negate that bias in AI is critical if we are ever to ensure that this technology meets current legislation like EU non-discrimination law. She’s on the programme to discuss how we make real progress in AI equality.This research has come from the Oxford Internet Institute, whose Incoming Director is also on the show – Professor Victoria Nash tells us of her plans in the new role.EdTech in Malawi A programme which allows seven year olds to have three lessons a week on ipads in Malawi is narrowing the learning gap between girls and boys. With an average class size of around 60 pupils with one teacher, young girls are often left behind and drop out of formal education, but with this individual approach many more are staying on in school. The programme is so successful it is now being rolled out to hundreds of schools, with the hope of going nationwide. Director for Education, Youth and Sports Lucia Chidalengwa of Education, Youth and Sports in Malawi’s Ntcheu district explains why this approach is so successful.Online learning via your games console With COVID cases rising in many countries and some regions even facing a third wave of the pandemic, many children around the world will continue to learn remotely – but what if there is no computer or laptop for them to use at home? How about converting a games console into an online school workstation? Reporter Chris Berrow shows you how to do it by powering up his games console and getting online to learn.(Image: Getty images:) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producers: Emil Petrie and Ania Lichtarowicz
02/03/2141m 48s

Facebook reverses ban on news in Australia

Tech giant Facebook blocked news content across its Australian platform last Thursday on account of a proposed law which would enforce some firms to pay news publishers for use and distribution of their information. Nearly a week later the government has agreed to amend the law and negotiate the value of this content. Tech reporter Angharad Yeo in Australia returns to the show to discuss the new law and how it could be seen as a test case for online regulation across the globe. Can AI be a playwright? To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Czech playwright Karel Čapek’s production R.U.R. in which the word ‘robot was first used, Prague's Švanda Theatre, working alongside, are set to present a play written entirely by AI, exploring the everyday life of a robot. Reporter Hannah Fisher speaks to Tomáš Studeník, Czech radical innovator, computational linguist Rudolf Rosa and drama expert David Košťák about their upcoming project set to air on 26th February. Robo Squid and Jellyfish Engineers have developed a robotic squid that propels itself with pulses of water at the natural resonance of the robot. By using the resonance frequency that the robot naturally has they increased its speed without increasing energy consumption – a trick used by a number of animals in nature. Dr. Nicole Xu, who is researching and creating robotic jellyfish, is on the programme to explain how this technique could allow for much better exploration and monitoring of our oceans.(Image credit: European Pressphoto Agency)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
23/02/2150m 24s

Comparing the landscape of Mars to Earth

‘With every new view from the surface of Mars comes a reminder of just how fortunate we are to live on Earth.’ Acclaimed science writer and filmmaker Dr Chris Riley uses images from the landing sites on Mars to compare relative locations on Earth. Hear how you might be able to help.Old Tech Our Digital Planet social media community is a-buzz with stories of old technology, and the role you have had in technological history. Several listeners share their experiences with expert opinion from the curator of Technology and Engineering at the Science Museum Dr Rachel Boon. Wearable Thermoelectric Batteries Thermoelectric technologies are able to generate electricity by manipulating heat differences, but they are usually bulky and fragile. Dr Jianliang Xiao, and his team based in Colorado, discuss advancements in material composition that have led to the creation of a self-healing and recyclable battery with the potential to power wearable devices. (Image: NASA) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producers: Harrison Lewis and Hannah Fisher Editor: Deborah Cohen
16/02/2143m 38s

Wikipedia’s new universal code of conduct

Wikipedia introduces its first universal code of conduct in an attempt to combat aggressive behaviour towards marginalised and ethnic communities. Some editors believe this code will hinder the grassroots of the website. Dr. Jessica Wade of Imperial College London discusses her own experiences whilst attempting to promote awareness of women in science.Open Banking launches in Brazil Seven years into a recession, how will open banking in Brazil help to reboot the economy? This month changes in regulation will support open banking and encourage the growth of Fintech. We speak to Ricardo Taveira, CEO of Quanto, a platform that has received $15 million USD in funding to aid open banking and aims to connect digital and traditional banks by sharing user’s financial data. Cybersecurity and digital identity This week in our series on the cybersecurity threats of the future: digital identity. What does our digital identity consist of? How will our personal information be stored, protected and shared and why does it pose such a cybersecurity risk? Florian Bohr reports. (Image: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producers: Harrison Lewis and Deborah Cohen
09/02/2142m 8s

Internet shutdowns in Myanmar and India

Internet services are returning to normal in Myanmar following a partial shutdown after the military took power over the weekend following their accusations of election fraud. In India though, the internet remains down in New Delhi and some surrounding regions as farmer’s protests continue. Mishi Choudhary, founder of the Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi, updates us on the situation. Should Google pay for News content? Following the threat by Google Australia that it could pull out of the country if new conditions are imposed forcing it to pay for News published in Australia, we speak with Angharad Yeo, tech reporter and the voice behind the “Queens of the Drone Age” podcast on what the row is about, the latest developments and how it might impact users in Australia.Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing This week in our series on the cybersecurity threats of the future: Quantum Computing. These new types of computers use the laws of quantum physics and are fundamentally different from our current computers. They are powerful machines – perhaps too powerful for the way we currently protect our data. What can we do about it? Florian Bohr has been finding out more. (Image: A young woman reads her mobile phone in front of a poster proposing an access to Internet. Credit: Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Producers: Deborah Cohen and Ania Lichtarowicz
02/02/2144m 7s

Loon Balloon internet deflated

Loon Balloon internet deflated. Also Rabies vaccinations in Malawi – how tech is eliminating the disease in dogs and Cybersecurity and AI.Alphabet, Google’s parent company has announced it’s winding down Project Loon. Hundred’s of high altitude balloons carrying miniature mobile phone towers were to drift around the globe providing internet connectivity to very remote regions. Digital Planet has been following the project from its first trials in 2013 and even visited one of their base stations in Kenya. We discuss why it didn’t succeed.Rabies vaccinations in Malawi – how tech is eliminating the disease in dogs Vaccinating dogs is the best way of reducing human deaths from rabies, but getting a minimum of 70% of dogs vaccination in an area (the coverage needed to eliminate the disease in the dogs) is very time consuming and costly. Now a new app, along with detailed data-driven analysis, has led to halving the time it takes to vaccinate dogs as well as significantly reducing costs and the workload for vets. Dr. Stella Mazeri, from Edinburgh University, is on the show explaining how their data-based approach has been so successful in Malawi.Cybersecurity and AI In the second of his reports on cybersecurity threats of the future Florian Bohr looks at artificial intelligence. Apparently, hackers are starting to use machine learning to attack systems more effectively. On the flipside, cybersecurity professionals are depending on AI more and more to control and defend their systems but who will prevail? The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: A Google Project Loon internet balloon. Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam)
26/01/2148m 27s

Online manipulation on a global scale

Social media influence by governments and political parties is a growing threat to democracies according to the 2020 media manipulation survey from the Oxford Internet Institute. In the last year social media manipulation campaigns have been recorded in 81 countries, up from 70 countries in 2019 and most of the countries involved have deployed disinformation campaigns. The main author of the report, Dr. Samantha Bradshaw is on the show.GPS Grazing Collars How do you control where your animals graze if you can’t fit a fence to keep them contained to a certain area? Use a GPS grazing collar. This technology has been developed by Norwegian firm NoFence and uses GPS to track individual animals and stop them crossing boundaries that have been progammed using a mapping app on a smart phone. The collars emit a bleeping noise that gets louder as animals reach a virtual fence and will receive a small electric shock if they cross it (this is much smaller than one from an electric fence). Electric fences are expensive and difficult to fit in remote terrains and these GPS collars allow farmers to regularly change their grazing sites. We hear about the tech from UK manager of NoFence Synne Foss Budal and about the conservation benefits from Emma Wright from North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty who is trailing the collars in their upland pastures. Ubiquitous Connectivity and cybersecurity Late last year the World Economic Forum and the University of Oxford, released a report on the future of cybersecurity. They identified four emerging technology trends that could endanger security in the digital world within the next 5 to 10 years. In a series of reports Digital Planet’s Florian Bohr looks into each of these cybersecurity threats of the future. This week, we hear about how the sheer amount of digital connections between devices, services, and people is an inherent cybersecurity risk. (Image: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica MariStudio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
19/01/2143m 49s

Has tech been compromised in the US Capitol?

Following the events at the US Capitol this week, photos have emerged on social media showing protestors in offices where what appear to be emails can be seen on screen. Also with access to these offices, could protestors have downloaded sensitive data or compromised the tech in some way? Some cybersecurity experts are even questioning if the whole IT system should be replaced. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai from Vice Motherboard explains the possible risks.Internet shutdown costs in 2020 The website Top10VPN has released its annual report into the costs of internet shutdowns in 2020. They’ve found the economic cost of internet shutdowns in 2020 was $4.01bn, 50% lower than in 2019, however the total duration of disruptions around the world was up 49% from the previous year. One of the report’s authors, Samuel Woodhams, joins us live.The tech that helped bring back the first asteroid samples to Earth The first asteroid samples have reached Earth thanks to some amazing engineering and technology. Chris Edge, Digital Planet listener and IT and communications technician was one of the team that tracked the incoming capsule containing the samples from the asteroid Ryugu so that it could be recovered in the Australian desert. (Image: Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol. Credit: Probal Rashid via Getty Images)The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
12/01/2141m 47s

Blindness in the digital age

Smartphone apps and other digital technologies have completely changed the lives of visually impaired and blind people around the world. This special programme on blindness and digital technology takes us through some of the tech responsible. Motivational speaker Fern Lulham narrates her trip to the shops with her guide-dog Nancy, talking us through the different apps that she uses to help her find her keys, navigate there, and even colour match her clothes. She joins us live. Presenter Gareth speaks with an Ophthalmologist in Delhi, India who is helping to train visually impaired people about how smartphone apps like ‘Be My Eyes’ can improve their independence and quality of life. We meet Brian Mwenda, the Kenyan inventor of the Fourth Eye and the Sixth Sense, two inexpensive, touch-based echo-location technologies that will help to give cheap and high-quality help with mobility for people with visual impairments around the world. (Image: Brian Mwiti Mwenda - Hope Tech Plus) Presenter: Gareth MitchellStudio Expert: Bill Thompson Producer: Rory Galloway
05/01/2140m 19s

The best tech stories of 2020

This week Digital Planet looks back on some of the stories we’ve covered in 2020; electricity from Lake Kivu on the Rwandan/DRC border, internet shutdowns across the world, contact tracing apps during the pandemic and how technology has changed digital death rituals and allowed us to grieve.The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington, Angelica Mari and Bill Thompson.(Image credit: Getty Images)Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
29/12/2043m 4s

Solar grid brings power to Yemen

A solar farm, set and run by women in the Abs district of Yemen is providing cleaner and cheaper electricity to families. Arvind Kumar is Project Manager in the Yemen Country Office of the United Nations Development Programme. He is overseeing the programme and joins us on the show.Tackling climate change with data A global initiative to satellite observations, sensors across land and sea, commercial data sets and even citizen observations from our mobile phones is gathering momentum. Now the UNEP is highlighting environmental data as essential combatting climate change. David Jensen, Head of Policy and Innovation, Crisis Management Branch, UN Environment explains their plans.Smelltech In the world of virtual reality, companies normally focus on images and sound to create the most immersive experience. But there is a new kid on the block: olfactory VR. Companies now seek to capture one of our more neglected senses and recreate smell in a virtual environment. Digital Planet reporter Florian Bohr has been finding out more.The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.(Image: Getty Images) Studio Manager: Matilda Macari Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
22/12/2042m 1s

Dispelling COVID-19 vaccine myths online

Thousands of people in the UK have now received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations have just started in Canada, yet despite promotion from the government, a recent survey shows many people are reluctant to have it. Part of this hesitation is due to misinformation and vaccine myths on social media. Anna-Sophie Harling Managing Director for Europe at NewsGuard– the trust tool web extension provider – talks about their special report on top COVID-19 vaccine myths online. Many of these myths have been circulating online for months so how can governments dispel these falsehoods and convince their populations to be vaccinated? God of Mars PKGE: Production has just started on the world’s first feature-length film to be shot with video game technology. “Gods of Mars” uses something called “the Unreal Engine”, which is normally used to make games like Fortnite and Gears of War. But this time it’s creating all the film’s special effects and virtual environments… from rocket ships to robots! It’s hoped that this kind of technology could save film-makers huge amounts of money. Chris Berrow has been taking a look for us.Data Action In her new book, “Data Action,” Associate Professor Sarah Williams from MIT issues a call for thinking ethically about data today. She’s on the programme to warn of the possibilities of using data for bias and segregation and how we need to learn to see the value behind the numbers. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.(Image: Getty Images) Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
15/12/2043m 32s

Is the internet affordable where you live?

Malaysia, Rwanda and Columbia are amongst the countries where it is cheapest to get online, according to the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) 2020 Affordability Report. A4AI Director Sonia Jorge explains how despite broadband prices having fallen by half in five years, the cost to connect remains one of the biggest barriers to internet access - over one billion people live in countries where data is still not affordable.India sharing economy during COVID Just before the spring global lockdown our reporter Snezana Curcic travelled around India using only sharing economy platforms, for her transport, accommodation and eating out as she wanted to experience India first-hand. Her report somewhat changed from the original idea. Snezana catches up with the people she met to find out how they’ve adapted their use of the sharing economy during the pandemic. Prayer app data danger Over the last few weeks dedicated religious apps have had serious data breaches or have sold the data of their subscribers to other parties who have then sold them onto third parties like the US military. How concerned should users be – is this just another data privacy issue for app users or could it have more significant and dangerous implications for those concerned? Stephanie Hare joins us on the programme to unravel the many issues concerning these apps.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.(Image: Getty Images)Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
08/12/2041m 20s

Almost two-thirds of the world’s population now online

The Digital Intelligence Index (DII) has calculated that almost two-thirds of the world’s population is now online. The newly published report analyses 12 years of data to map 90 economies and over 95% of the world’s population to report on countries’ progress advancing their digital economies. Bhaskar Chakravorti, the dean of global business at Fletcher, The Graduate School of Global Affairs at Tufts University, led the research and is on the show.VR/AR personal data safety and identification Do you like playing video games in VR or perhaps take part in AR arts shows? Well if you do you may want to ask what is happening with your personal data – not your name or your age but the way you move. Research from Stanford University shows that it’s possible to identify someone from the way they walk in VR in just minutes. Professor Jeremy Bailenson has also looked at identifying medical conditions from our behaviour in VR – is it now possible to be anonymous in these environments and also to keep our very personal data safe? Keeping an eye on your waste The way we sort our recycling could be about to change, and all thanks to a sensor that mimics the relationship between the human eye and brain. Engineers at UK start-up RecyclEye have combined low-cost camera technology with a machine learning system to give waste sorting an intelligence boost. Digital Planet reporter Jack Monaghan finds out how this new technology might make rubbish a thing of the past, with sound engineering by Robert Moutrey.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.(Image: Getty Images)Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
01/12/2049m 11s

Increase in stalkerware installations

New data shows an increase in stalkerware use. This is software that grants a remote user the ability to monitor the activity on another user’s device without their consent, and can be preloaded in technology given as gifts. It’s an increasing problem around the world according to the cybersecurity form Kaspersky. Tara Hairston from Kaspersky and Sachiko Hasumi, Manager of Information Security & Compliance at UN Women highlight the growing problem as part of the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women this week. Robots are not immune to bias and injustice An editorial in Science Robotics is calling on roboticists and AI developers to consider racial biases and inequalities when developing new technology. Professor Ayanna Howard who co-leads the organisation “Black in Robotics” wants the robotics community to welcome and employ a more racially diverse workforce as current developers do not reflect the global population and both robotics and AI are therefore being developed without many people in mind.Military tech adapted to find the blue whales of South Georgia Scientists who have discovered the return of critically endangered Antarctic blue whales to the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia - 50 years after whaling all but wiped them out - used military sonobuoys to track the animals. This tech is usually deployed from aircraft into the sea to track submarines. The team looked at 30 years of data – reports of sightings, photographs and underwater sea recordings – to track the world’s largest mammal back to these waters. The new study follows recent research that humpback whales are also returning to the region. Lead author of the study, Susannah Calderan of the Scottish Association for Marine Science explains how they are using sonobuoys to track blue whales hundreds of miles away. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.(Image: Getty Images) Studio manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
24/11/2043m 32s

Video games can be good for you

Playing video games is positively linked with wellbeing according research from the Oxford Internet Institute. The new study is the first of its kind as, instead of asking players how much they play, it uses industry data on actual play time for popular video games EA's Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The study suggests that experiences of competence and connecting with others through playing the games may contribute to people’s wellbeing – however if you already are in a bad mood, playing video games is not going to improve your mood! Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, explains the findings.Underwater navigation 'solved' GPS does not work underwater and powering location devices so they can emit sound with batteries is not practical in wet environments. This means that locating animals and robots underwater is not easy. Now though a team at MIT may have found a solution that uses sound for navigation and by reflecting signals from the underwater environment doesn't need batteries. Possible applications include marine conservation, climate data gathering and mapping the ocean itself.Brazilians on lower incomes are embracing digital services A new study by the Brazilian Network Information Center shows that Brazilians on lower incomes are turning to digital services - especially fintech - during the COVID19 pandemic. The unbanked population has fallen by about 70% in the country as more and more people use apps and computers to move money.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.(Main Image: Still from Animal Crossing game Copyright: Nintendo) Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
17/11/2045m 57s

Voyager 2 contacted after seven months

Voyager 2 contacted for the first time since March - says “hello” We reported back in February how scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory were working flat out repairing Voyager 2. The only antenna that can command the 43 year old spacecraft has been offline since March undergoing repairs and upgrades – but now the Voyager team have called the craft and Voyager 2 returned a signal confirming it had received the "call" and executed the commands without issue. Voyager’s Project Manager Suzanne Dodds explains how they did this and what happens next.Danielle George MBE – the new president of the IET Getting more women and young people engaged in tech and engineering is top of Professor Danielle George’s list as she takes over as the president of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). She joins Gareth and Bill on the programme live to discuss digital poverty and what the IET is doing to reduce it Online recruitment scams during the pandemic What would you do if you realised the job you’d applied for online didn’t actually exist? You’d think it would be easy to tell if you were being scammed – but with the coronavirus pandemic forcing people out of jobs and to stay at home, police and cybercrime experts have been warning people how much easier it is to be lured in by recruitment fraud. Reporter Matt Murphy has been speaking to people who’ve been affected over the last few months.The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.(Image: Voyager 2. Credit: NASA) Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
10/11/2045m 15s

Who is most susceptible to fake news?

A new study shows that twitter remains a platform with many conspiracy believers. The work also reveals that compared to the Dutch public, the British are not as good at judging false coronavirus stories to be untrue. The Covid-19 and the Rhetoric of Untruth project - an Anglo-Dutch research initiative – has focussed on the impact of fake news and conspiracy theories during the coronavirus pandemic. Professor Sebastian Groes from Wolverhampton University explains the findings so far. The Social Network of Game of Thrones What are the secrets behind the hugely successful fantasy series? New research into the George R.R. Martin book series “A Song of Fire and Ice” shows that very plausible and almost real life social network between characters is the key. Professor Colm Connaughton of the University of Warwick explains how physics, mathematics, psychology and computing, were all used to build a network map linking the two thousand characters and their thousands of interactions.AI that Can Identify Individual Birds Could machines be better ornithologists than humans? Deep learning systems are now able to distinguish between species of birds, but also individual animals. At the moment, the only way that conservationists can identify individual birds is by tagging them. That’s time consuming, costly and a bit of an inconvenience for the creatures themselves. Anthea Lacchia has been finding out more about how the algorithms are helping out. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Getty Images)
03/11/2043m 0s

Why do we vote with paper in the age of the smart phone?

Despite a pandemic, nearly everyone voting in the upcoming US election will do so with a tick in a box on a piece of paper. They may post their ballot, or go in person to a voting station, but the process is still physical. Why? Presenter Gareth Mitchell will be asking election voting advisor Susan Greenhalgh. Despite the prevalence of paper, there are some voting machines in the USA, Beatrice Atobatele tells us why she bought one online and how hacking into it could help to make the coming US election more secure. Also on the programme, data is central to nearly everything in computing today. It presents issues, but imagine if you could train your machines on clean, orderly, high quality data? Well a new technique to generate clean data artificially has been released, open source, by MIT. We explore what this could mean with Nicolai Baldin, the CEO of the London company ‘Synthesized’. (Image: Getty Images) Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Bill Thompson Produced by Rory Galloway Studio Manager: Giles Aspen
27/10/2041m 18s

Go Viral! online game

Go Viral! is a browser based game where you have a go at being a spreader of misinformation. Along the way, you learn the tactics of the trolls and you come out the other end, better able to differentiate the facts from the alternative facts online. Gareth discusses why these games can change peoples’ minds with one of the game’s co-developers, Jon Roozenbeek of the Department of Psychology at Cambridge University in England.Human rights lawyer Flynn Coleman has just published a book called A Human Algorithm – how artificial intelligence is redefining who we are. She explains to Gareth why she’s concerned about the small group of individuals who are in charge of the digital world and what should be done to change that. In the pandemic choreographer Alexander Whitley has had to postpone his live shows. Hannah Fisher reports on how he’s moved his dance project online and invited others to collaborate. The music is ‘Memory Arc’ by Rival Consoles.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington(Image: Cambridge University) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz Studio Producer: Deborah Cohen Studio Manager: Nigel Dix
20/10/2042m 47s

Predicting US elections results every hour

Can political forecasting be quicker? That’s a question posed by Thomas Miller from Northwestern University, who has created a model that simulates a million hypothetical US presidential election results every hour. The model does not use traditional data sources like polling surveys but betting data. Recycling Solar lamps in Zambia We hear from SolarAid who have started a repair, refurbishment and recycling project for their solar lights in Zambia. Some electronics built to serve the world’s poorest, are also built to be incredibly challenging to repair, which adds to an increasing amount of e-waste generated - a record of 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2019. SolarAid have developed a manual, an app, are training technicians and opening workshops to encourage people to have their lamps repaired. The Rising Sea Symphony How do you create a new music masterpiece during a pandemic – using technology in ways not used before. A new BBC Radio 3 commission (due to be broadcast on Sunday 18th October), entitled The Rising Sea Symphony, by composer Kieran Brunt, has been recorded by BBC Philharmonic players in isolation, individually, and then “painfully” pasted together to create the full orchestral sound over the last few months. The piece is inspired by the increasing dangers of the climate change crisis and mixes orchestral parts, vocals, electronics, and spoken contributions from inhabitants of different parts of the world which are being affected by sea level rising. We speak to the composer and to Studio Manager Donald MacDonald who faced the challenge of mixing the piece.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari. (Image: Getty Images) Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
13/10/2048m 49s

Can AI predict criminal behaviour?

For at least two decades now police forces have been using crime data tech to analyse crime patterns and therefore reduce crime rates, but they have not been able to predict who may have carried out a crime. Now the Sheriff’s office in Pasco County, Florida is using what it calls ‘intelligence led policing’ to do just that. Could AI algorithms really identify offenders? Not according to Kathleen McGrory, Deputy Investigations Editor at the Tampa Bay Times who has been researching this mysterious tech that the local law enforcement agency has been using. Similar schemes have been scrapped in LA and Chicago but continue in Pasco County. We asked for an interview with the Pasco County Police Sheriff and one of the engineers behind the tech – but did not receive a response.The rise of the Honjok lifestyle in South Korea Honjok is the term used by those Koreans who decide to live, eat, drink, and undergo most activities on their own, and are happy when they are alone with themselves. This movement started in the first half of the 2010’s and has been growing in parallel with South Korea's rate of smartphone ownership and the emergence of on-demand shopping and social media. It would seem that tech adoption is one of the main factors that helped elevate Honjok into a national movement. Reporter Silvia Lazzaris has been delving into the online world of Honjok.Could data unions give you some control and gain from your personal data? Would you like to make money from your Google search history? A new platform to democratize our data by tech start up Streamr will allow individuals to take control of their personal data and even gain financially from it. Until now, most of the data we generate browsing the web and using smart devices is controlled by a few giant corporations. It’s also sold without us receiving any share of its value. The Streamr platform enables developers to create their own data unions (such as Swash, which has a growing user base, and allows people to earn money as they browse) to decentralize control of data away from big tech and back to the individual. These data unions can also significantly improve the quality and security of data sets. Shiv Malik, Head of Growth at Streamr, is on the programme to explain how data unions work.The programme was presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.(Image: Getty Images)Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
06/10/2050m 2s

Mapping Covid-19 to your phone

Google maps has a new feature - COVID19 maps. You can now filter onto your chosen area the current Covid-19 case rates. Launched in more than 200 countries the mapping feature could help people decide if they feel it is safe to travel to new areas – but as is often the case with new tech when it is launched it is not as informative as you may have hoped…yet. Charlotte Jee, MIT Technology review reporter, gives us a rundown of what’s good and what’s not so good about the new feature.The ethics of digital communication Can you remember the early days of the internet – how it was going to improve freedom of expression because of this amazing fast connectivity that we had never had before? Well obviously things haven’t quite panned out that way, says Prof (Baroness) Onora O’Neill form Cambridge Uni. In fact it’s done the opp as well as damaged our right to privacy. She speaks to Gareth about what can be done to reverse some of this damage.Hack a Sat Florian Blor reports from the first ever satellite hacking competition at DEF CON - the world's largest, longest continuously run underground hacking conference. The idea was to hack into a satellite, change it’s orientation in orbit and point it at the moon and take a photo. It wasn’t a real satellite in space but an earthbound stand in and part of hackasat – a cybersecurity completion aimed at ultimately protecting satellites from a cyberattack. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.(Image: Getty images) Studio Manager: Sarah Hockley Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
29/09/2045m 30s

Keeping the structure of the internet safe

The Internet Society has created a way of checking how new regulations could harm the structure of the internet. As the internet doesn’t respect borders, what happens in one country can impact the internet in another. The internet can sustain one or two attacks but many at the same time could even bring it down. Until now there has been no way of predicting how such changes could affect the internet’s architecture. The new toolkit also identifies the critical properties that must be protected to enable the Internet to reach its full potential. EEG that works with Black African American hair Measuring brain activity can be done using Electroencephalograms, or EEGs. These rely on a number of electrodes being attached to the scalp and the tests are used to diagnose diseases like epilepsy. However if the electrodes are not attached to the scalp properly then getting accurate readings is very hard. This is a problem for people with thick and very curly hair – with some patients having to shave their hair for the test. Now Arnelle Etienne, a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has designed electrodes that suit her hair type – she is African American and hopes her design will significantly improve test results for patients like her.Buddy PKGE – tech to monitor animal vital signs Harrison Lewis reports on a device capable of measuring animal vital signs that is being adapted to save human lives. The non-invasive tech could help sniffer dogs find people following natural disasters, alerting the handler as soon as dog detects a human heartbeat.The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.(Image: Getty Images) Studio Manager: Sarah Hockley Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
22/09/2050m 27s

AI captain to sail the Atlantic

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) is due to set sail this week (scheduled for Wednesday) from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts with no crew on board. The AI captain will steer the trimaran across the Atlantic with the help of servers and cloud and edge computing, gathering data on global warming, micro-plastic pollution and marine mammal conservation. If successful, it will be one of the first self-navigating, full-sized vessels to cross the Atlantic Ocean and could herald a new era of autonomous research ships. Andy Stanford-Clark, Chief Technology Officer at IBM, tells Gareth about the tech on board.Farmbot - tech to ensure cattle have water Crop and livestock farming uses around 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply, and access to water is something every farmer in the world thinks about, every single day. Is there enough of it, is there too much or too little, and are there any problems that need fixing. Those problems get even bigger for farmers who don’t live on-site, or – as is the case in Australia – an issue with a water pipe or dam might be several hours’ drive away. Robotic devices are increasingly taking the strain, even now linking to satellites to help farmers keep their livestock healthy. Corinne Podger reports. Lie Machines Have you ever been lured to false political messaging online or been attracted to clickbait that has directed you to a conspiracy theories or false news? How and why this happens is the subject of a book “Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives”. Its author, Philip Howard, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute in the UK explains how to take these lie machines apart.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.(Image: The Mayflower Autonomous Ship. Credit: IBM) Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
15/09/2044m 4s

Scammers scamming the scammers

(Dis)honour amongst thieves Cyber criminals use online forums to sell stolen identity information and other illicit goods. Alex Kigerl, a criminologist at Washington State University explains how a recent leak from two such forums allowed him to identify different types of criminals, with implications for online policing. Migrant money The pandemic has made it harder for migrants to send money home, forcing some to use criminal networks to avoid expensive bank fees. But new digital platforms are creating safer and cheaper options - as Digital Planet reporters Benjamin Breitegger and Katharina Kropshofer find out.Frictech Imagine being able to pay with nothing more than a smile – frictionless technology (frictech) aims to make financial transactions as smooth and easy as that. Anders Hartington from Sao Paulo based firm Unike Technologies gives listeners a vision of the future from this fast developing technology.The programmes is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary by Angelica Mari.(Image: Cyber crime. Credit: Getty images) Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
08/09/2038m 52s

Algorithm apocalypse

The UK government used a statistical algorithm to alter children’s grades for exams missed in lockdown. But critics have argued that this algorithm, which used old data on school performance, unfairly stigmatised pupils from poorer backgrounds. Stian Westlake from Britain’s Royal Statistical Society speaks to Gareth and Bill about the challenges of creating such an algorithm and where the government went wrong.The Language of Trolls What is it like to work as a Twitter troll? Researcher Sergei Monakhov, from the Friedrich Schiller University in Germany, used this question to discover how the language used by trolls is different from that used by regular users. He discusses how these patterns can be used to spot troll’s social media posts much more quickly.Saving lives with data in Africa A digital tool-kit has been designed to help governments and health organisations in Africa tackle the spread of Covid-19. Dr. Sema Sgaier, executive director of the Surgo Foundation describes the Africa Covid-19 Community Vulnerability Index, which maps regional data on health, economic, and social robustness to find where Covid might hit hardest.(Photo: Student protesters hold up banners. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA) Producer: Julian Siddle
18/08/2043m 55s

A year without internet in Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir have faced an unprecedented communication blockade, with no or slow internet for 12 months. We hear voices from the region on what the impact has been on life there, with insight from technology lawyer and online freedoms activist Mishi Choudhary. Whiteness in AI Portrayals of artificial intelligence – from the faces of robots to the voices of virtual assistants – is overwhelmingly white and removes people of colour from the way humanity thinks about its technology-enhanced future. That’s according to a new paper by Dr. Kanta Dihal, researcher at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge, which suggests that current stereotypical representations of AI risk creating a “racially homogenous” tech workforce, building machines with bias baked into their algorithms. Hurricane Radio in the British Virgin Islands In 2017 Hurricane Irma caused catastrophic damage across the Caribbean. One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, 180mph winds battered the British Virgin Islands leaving a mammoth task for local search and rescue crews. Digital Planet reporter Jason Hosken investigates how, three years on, the territory now has emergency communication networks in place thanks to some pretty rudimentary broadcast technology.The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary by Angelica Mari(Image: Getty Images)Producer: Jackie Margerum Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
11/08/2043m 37s

Why India can’t work from home

India came last out of 42 countries in a recent study of remote-working readiness. Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean of Global Business for The Fletcher School at Tufts University, explains what his research means for the 1.3 billion people living in India, and what the future holds for the second largest internet market in the world. Saving lives with a hologram heart A holographic visualisation has been proven to help heart-surgeons operating on children. Jennifer Silva, an associate professor of Paediatric Surgery, and her husband Jon Silva, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, used a Microsoft HoloLens headset to give surgeons real-time information about the electrical signals passing through a patient’s hearts during surgery.Mapping earthquakes with localised EDGE computing Observing natural phenomena like earthquakes and volcanoes relies on data from the earth’s satellite network. As the volume of this satellite data grows it becomes harder for scientists to get it back to Earth. EDGE computing offers a solution. The opposite of cloud computing, it keeps data near the source by processing it on-site and only sending back relevant or interesting information. Digital Planet reporter Hannah Fisher finds out more. (Image: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
04/08/2046m 20s

Tracking the trolls

How can we distinguish the online posts written by real people from those coming out of professional bot-farms intent on influencing elections? New research from Princeton University in America uses machine learning to identify malicious online trolls, even before they’ve sent a single tweet. Lead author Meysam Alizadeh explains the power of this work to protect voters in future elections.Gesture-controlled robots Robots can now be controlled by a simple wave of your arm. Professor Daniela Rus from MIT explains how new research has simplified robot controls by using human movement rather than complicated systems of buttons and gear-sticks. The aim is to allow anyone to pilot a robot without requiring any training.Augmented surgery Digital Planet’s Florian Bohr reports from Augmented World Expo USA to discover how the new field of spatial computing can be used in medicine. From doctors with x-ray spectacles to virtual reality surgery training, new visual technologies are promising a big impact on healthcare. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.(Image:Getty Images) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
28/07/2042m 8s

Covid 19: Mapping changing sentiment in tweets

Using machine learning, researchers analysed 30 million English language tweets from across the world to track the changing global sentiment as the Covid-19 pandemic spread. Lead author of the study, professor May Lwin at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore explains how machine learning found that sentiments of fear in the early months of the pandemic are now outnumbered by anger and hope.Researcher Aretha Mare, from The Next Einstein Forum in Rwanda says the pandemic has put a renewed focus on home grown African initiatives involving Artificial intelligence. Already some novel approaches to testing and tracing have been developed. These could have global impact. The pandemic has made weather forecasting less accurate. Aircraft help forecasters gather changes in data such as temperature, humidity and pressure during the course of a flight. Environmental researcher, Ying Chen explains how fewer commercial flights during the pandemic have affected the amount of data gathered by forecasters. (Image: Getty images) Producer: Julian Siddle
21/07/2042m 3s

Ethiopia’s continuing online censorship

The internet shutdown in Ethiopia has been in place for 2 weeks now. The Ethiopian Government cut internet connectivity following protests over the killing of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa. The civil society group NetBlocks monitors connectivity around the world. Their Executive Director Alp Toker explains how by controlling mobile telecoms Ethiopian authorities are able to keep a tight grip on internet access. Researchers at Queen Mary University looked at the network traffic data generated by internet-connected home security cameras. Their work flagged up that hackers can get information about your daily routine without looking at any video content from the cameras. Dr Gareth Tyson, lead author of the study, explains how the rate at which cameras upload internet data can predict whether a house is occupied or not.BBC series Springwatch has been using automated wildlife cameras to record animals in areas of interest, such as Woodpecker nests across the UK. They have been training machine learning systems to only recognise when an activity is happening with a particular animal. Gareth speaks to senior BBC Research engineer, Robert Dawes to find out more.(Image:Getty Images) Producer: Julian Siddle
14/07/2047m 40s

Can we make the web a better space?

What is Web Science, and why does it matter? The internet is the most complex machine built by humans but it so much more than just the engineering behind it. The internet moves the data around, but the web is the space in which we humans have experiences, think of the web as a sort of super app. We're interested in the underlying technology, in that it facilitates the movement of data that makes the web possible. But from the human side, we're interested in our interaction with each other as made possible by the web, so how do we understand it in its totality rather than thinking about it as a collection of websites? Did the inventors of the internet foresee how it could be used now – as a force of good and change but also as a way of spreading hate and misinformation? By studying Web Science could the internet be made better for humanity in the future? Joining us from the WebSci 2020 Conference are: “Father of the Internet” Vint Cerf, Executive Director, Web Science Institute Wendy Hall, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute in Cambridge Carly Kind and JP Rangaswami former Chief Data Officer and Head of Innovation of Deutsche Bank Chief Scientist at BT.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary by Bill Thompson.Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant Producer: Ania LichtarowiczMain image credit: Getty Images
07/07/2043m 3s

Exploring digital death

This week Digital Planet explores digital death and how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to update our death rituals and move most of our grieving online. We hear from a listener whose mother passed away with her children by her side via Facetime and how they then moved their traditional American-Irish funeral practices online. In India people of all religions are facing huge disruptions to their traditional burials and are taking tech into their own hands to share their experiences. In some developed countries funeral businesses are using cutting edge tech including sophisticated recording set ups in places of worship to bring together mourners from across the world. People are moving more and more online not only with virtual memorials, RFID tags on gravestones and also ceremonies in gaming environments including Animal Crossing. And we find out more about the Reimagine Festival that’s about to start. The now virtual event explores death during COVID-19 and we see how people are determining their digital legacies after they die.Guests include Khyati Tripathi, a PhD student at the University of Delhi, who tells how the restrictions in the pandemic have changed funerals in the country, Candi Cann, Associate Professor of Religion at Baylor University, and co-creator of the Virtual Funeral Collective and Dr Stacey Pitsillides, a Senior Research Fellow at Northumbria University who is organising the virtual festival “Reimagine: Life, Loss, & Love”. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with studio commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.(Image: Mourners live stream a funeral to family back in Nepal and to those waiting just outside. Credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds vis Getty Images) Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
30/06/2047m 18s

Nigerian internet land rights costs fall

A major problem in laying internet cables in Nigeria is the phenomenal cost of right of way charges – these are local state imposed fees to broadband providers. Ekiti, one of Nigeria’s smallest states, has cut its right of way charges by 96%. It will now cost $374 to lay a kilometre of broadband cable down from $11,600. Tech reporter Yomi Kazeem joins us from Lagos and explains that Ekiti aims to have full broadband access by 2021.Superethics instead of superintelligence Artificial intelligence research is striving towards creating machines that could surpass the human mind, but shouldn’t we focus on technologies that make us wiser instead of smarter? This is the central question in philosopher Pim Haselager’s most recent paper. He explains how we might use technology as moral crutches for ethical behaviour.Solar Batteries storage Renewable technology accounted for a quarter of energy production globally in 2018. It’s expected to rise to 45% by 2040. At the end of last year, the Pavagada solar park, in Karnataka, India, became fully operational. Spanning 53 square kilometres, and with a capacity of over 2000 megawatts, this is the largest solar farm in the world. But basic limitations still exist - what can be done to supply electricity when there isn’t sufficient sunlight? Our reporter, Jason Hosken, has been finding out about some energy storage solutions. (Image: Nigeria network map. Credit: Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Tim Heffer Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
23/06/2050m 23s

Is this the end of facial recognition tech?

Facial recognition – what’s the future for the tech with the big names pulling out? Most of the big tech companies have now declared they will not sell facial recognition tech to police, but will this mean that police forces will stop using this tech? There are many smaller companies that have so far not declared their intentions and others are clearly breaking the few regulations in place by using people’s images without consent. It’s widely known that facial recognition technology is racially and sexually biased, and there is little, if any, evidence that this tech does help to reduce crime levels. Dr.Stephanie Hare discusses what might now happen with this tech. Online gambling surge during COVID-19 Lockdowns are making many players and gamblers move to online gambling platforms, the big issue here is that they do not come under strict regulations like their real world counterparts. Silvia Lazzaris and Katie Kropshofer report on this growing problem. Can you protect a rising number of online gamblers, many of whom suffer from addiction and are bunkered in their homes, from targeted advertising and fraud? And how can regulation catch up with this sudden shift to the online world? Will gaze tech replace touch tech in times of the pandemic? As computer processing speeds continue to increase, so does the versatility and accuracy of gaze tech – using your eyes instead of a computer mouse or touchpad. Dr. David Souto, from the University of Leicester, explains that as our eye muscles do not tire this technology has untapped benefits. His work is part of the British Academy Virtual Summer Showcase which goes live online this week.The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.(Image: Human face recognition scanning system illustration. Credit: Getty Images) Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz  
16/06/2047m 49s

Algorithm activism – a new type of protest

Sophia Smith-Galer reports on algorithm activism – ways of boosting protests online. With many people forced to protest digitally because of the pandemic, digital protesting, especially by young people, is the most accessible form of demonstrating support and prompting change. Sophia looks at new ways this is being done during the Black Lives Matter protests around the world.The biggest robotics conference ever… …is now virtual, just like so many other events. But this has led to more people attending than ever before and from many more lower income countries too. We hear from one team in California who are using drones to take the bus when delivering packages.Fake news during Covid-19 Since the pandemic started, many of us have found ourselves interacting less with the outside world and spending more time online. A survey by British and Dutch researchers is now looking into whether this move online has caused us to be more susceptible to fake news and misinformation. What makes one person more likely to believe a conspiracy theory than another? Professor Bas Groes tells Gareth how they are trying to find out.The presenter is Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary by Bill Thompson.(Image: Social media apps on a mobile phone. Credit: Getty Images) Studio Manager: Matilda MacariProducer: Ania Lichtarowicz
09/06/2048m 30s

Digital exclusion in Brazil

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 BolandProducer: Ania Lichtarowicz
02/06/2045m 2s

Hacking internet-enabled cars

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
26/05/2042m 34s

Testing EdTech

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
19/05/2043m 51s

Spain’s many COVID-19 apps

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
12/05/2040m 50s

Chinese mobile data predicts Covid-19 Spread

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. (Photo: Chinese New Year celebrations. Credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) The presenter is Gareth Mitchell with studio commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
05/05/2044m 51s

Privacy concerns over contact tracing apps

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
28/04/2044m 0s

Could fitness trackers track COVID-19?

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
21/04/2052m 39s

Supercomputers seeking solutions for Covid-19

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 eg. interactive care robots, it is 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 is DRM that is 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. Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Bill Thompson. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image: Supercomputer. Credit: Getty Images)
14/04/2044m 8s

Internet and journalist reporting freedom curtailed

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: Maps ) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Ghislaine Boddington.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
07/04/2042m 15s

Covid-19 cyber attacks rise

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) Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Bill Thompson.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
31/03/2040m 44s

A digital tracker that monitors new surveillance

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  
24/03/2035m 25s

Coronovirus tech handbook online

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
17/03/2036m 20s

Covid-19 makes tech events go virtual

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.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Image credit:Getty Images)
10/03/2043m 27s

Will digital sobriety help reduce energy use?

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)
03/03/2035m 30s

Ethiopia’s new law banning online hate speech

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
25/02/2038m 19s

Feminist chatbots

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
18/02/2046m 48s

Repairing Voyager 2

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 17 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 has 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
11/02/2044m 45s

Drones dealing with locust swarms

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: Dai Kurokawa/EPA) Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
04/02/2043m 13s

Internet partially restored in Kashmir

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
28/01/2033m 33s

Internet shutdowns cost $8bn in 2019

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 is 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.Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz(Photo: Internet shut down in India. Credit: AFP)
21/01/2045m 32s

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)
14/01/2043m 9s

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)
07/01/2043m 18s

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
31/12/1938m 7s

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
24/12/1929m 27s

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
17/12/1946m 59s

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
10/12/1942m 42s

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
03/12/1946m 26s

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)
26/11/1940m 7s

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
19/11/1938m 46s

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 LichtarowiczPhoto: Young Somali refugee women look at a smartphone Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images
12/11/1930m 35s

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)
05/11/1936m 24s

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
29/10/1940m 4s

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 2019Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
22/10/1939m 19s

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)
15/10/1940m 51s

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
08/10/1943m 10s

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 NanobotsBidding 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
01/10/1942m 49s

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
24/09/1937m 16s

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)
17/09/1948m 7s

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
10/09/1940m 9s

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
03/09/1957m 48s

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
27/08/1938m 15s

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 programmeMap 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
20/08/1940m 57s

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
13/08/1939m 38s

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 reportsArt 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
06/08/1943m 52s

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
23/07/1936m 39s

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 LichtarowiczProducer: Ania Lichtarowicz
09/07/1940m 34s

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
25/06/1941m 15s
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