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Technology

Digital Planet

Updated 15 days ago

Technology
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Technological and digital news from around the world.

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Technological and digital news from around the world.

iTunes Ratings

96 Ratings
Average Ratings
76
12
2
3
3

Technology at its best

By World Traveler Expert - Mar 02 2016
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Great. Engaging and educational.

Too much spin and not enough tech news

By KevinICdesigner - Aug 05 2014
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Way too chatty. More technology news please and less opining on the social implications in your opinion. Focus better please!

iTunes Ratings

96 Ratings
Average Ratings
76
12
2
3
3

Technology at its best

By World Traveler Expert - Mar 02 2016
Read more
Great. Engaging and educational.

Too much spin and not enough tech news

By KevinICdesigner - Aug 05 2014
Read more
Way too chatty. More technology news please and less opining on the social implications in your opinion. Focus better please!
Cover image of Digital Planet

Digital Planet

Latest release on Nov 17, 2020

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Technological and digital news from around the world.

Rank #1: Why is AI so far from perfect?

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A special episode looking at AI – why it still is far from perfect? We discuss what would happen if you took a driverless car from the streets of California and put it on roads in a developing country, why deep fakes are so difficult to detect and how the images that are used to teach machines to recognise things are biased against women and ethnic minorities.

Picture: Driverless Cars, Getty Images

Dec 31 2019

38mins

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Rank #2: Iran internet shutdown continues

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Iran internet shutdown
Iran is now almost entirely offline as authorities try to stem the spread of protests that started last week. The government increased fuel prices by as much as 300% and since people took to the streets online access has been restricted. We find out the latest from online monitoring group NetBlocks.

US Election emails unsafe
Agari was the company that uncovered and confirmed that the webserver the email that ‘hacked’ Hilary Clinton’s campaign came from Russia. They have now conducted a poll and found that only Elizabeth Warren out of all the potential presidential candidates has secure emails. This matters not only from a data security point of view but also from a voter and donor point – the company has found that voters are less likely to vote for a candidate with a data breach and that donors are less likely to give money.

Hate speech control using tech
Hate speech that incites violence or hate against vulnerable groups has long been a problem in human societies but has more recently been weaponised by social media. The current system means the direct or indirect recipient needs to complain. The alternative approach is to develop artificial intelligence to identify potential hate speech and put the post in quarantine until either the direct recipient has agreed it should be deleted or has read it and agreed it should be allowed.

Cargo Ship tech
Our reporter Snezana Curcic has travelled across the North Atlantic Ocean in a bit of an unusual and adventurous way – on a cargo ship. With only eight hours of Wi-Fi allowance per week, Snezana filed this story on her journey from Liverpool to New York on the Atlantic Star. She looks at the tech on board and how this hugely competitive and complex industry is adapting to the digital age to survive. Even e-commerce leaders, like Ali Baba and Amazon, are heavily investing in ocean cargo services and stepping up their game.

Picture: Protests in Iran over increasing fuel price, Credit: European Photopress Agency

Nov 19 2019

38mins

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Rank #3: Humanitarian drone corridor in Africa

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Humanitarian drone corridor in Africa
Sierra Leone has just launched West Africa’s first drone corridor – it’s a dedicated channel of airspace for medical delivery drones. UNICEF is part of the project and already has three other humanitarian corridors open globally.

Wikipedia untagging of women
Dr. Jess Wade from Imperial College London is continuing her mission of getting more female scientists onto Wikipedia, however a few days ago many of her entries were marked as not notable enough to be included. This was done anonymously by another Wiki editor. We hear from Jess and Wikipedia’s Katherine Maher.

Cats detecting earthquakes
Could cats detect earthquakes? Yes says Celeste Labedz a seismologist at Caltech – if they are fitted with a motion tracker device. It’s purely a theoretical idea as she explains on the programme.

Smart tattoos
Smart ink that changes colour could lead to medical smart tattoos that monito conditions like diabetes. Harrison Lewis has been finding out more.
(Image: Drones for good. Credit:UNICEF)

Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

Dec 03 2019

46mins

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Rank #4: Google bug bounty hunters

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Google’s offering up to $1.5m to anyone who can identify bugs in its new chip for Android smartphones. This is a especially high reward but Google’s just one of a host of big well-known companies running bug hunting programmes. But is this the best way for big business to protect its new tech?

AI in Africa
Does Africa need a different approach to AI – yes according to Professor Alan Blackwell of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University in England. He’s just started a sabbatical year across Africa working with AI experts – we spoke to him on the first leg of his trip at the Bahir Institute of Technology (BIT) in the North West of Ethiopia.

Wi-fi on the bus
Being online when travelling on the bus in parts of Kenya and Rwanda is not new, but now it is also possible in parts of South Africa as BRCK launch their public internet service there.

Nanotech tracing stolen cars
Around 143,000 vehicles worldwide were reported as stolen in 2018 according to Interpol. In the UK, only half are recovered. Now nanosatellites could be a new tool in retrieving stolen cars. Digital Planet’s Izzie Clarke has more.

Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

(Photo: Google webpage. Credit: Getty Images)

Nov 26 2019

40mins

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Rank #5: South Africa power cuts

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South Africa Power Cuts
Is South Africa facing a blackout? Power cuts across the country are now happening regularly as the country struggles with demand for electricity. There’s even an app that tells you if your lights are going to stay on today, or tomorrow. Professor Keith Bell from Strathclyde University explains why this is happening.

Plasmonics - computing with light
Fancy computing with the speed of light? Well for the first time this is possible thanks to research at Oxford University. Scientists have managed use light to store, access and now process data on chip. The research could significantly increase processing speeds at data centres, not only making computing faster but saving significant amounts of energy.

Land of Iron
A National Park is usually synonymous with nature and wildlife. Perhaps not the obvious place to find a technology story, but in North Yorkshire in the UK a project is underway that is using technology in many different forms to bring a forgotten history back to life. Our reporter Jack Meegan has been time-travelling for us. Jack finds out how the park’s industrial past can now be seen thanks to technology.

World Wise Web
Digital Planet gets a sneak preview of a brand BBC new tech podcast. On World Wise Web, teenagers from around the world get the chance to talk to the technology pioneers who have shaped our digital world.
(Photo: Township Homes, South Africa. Credit: Getty Images)

Jan 07 2020

43mins

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Rank #6: Repairing Voyager 2

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Scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been working flat out over the last week repairing Voyager 2. The spacecraft is about 18 billion kilometres from Earth, so sending a command to it takes 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

Feb 11 2020

44mins

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Rank #7: Covid-19 cyber attacks rise

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Cyber criminals are exploiting the pandemic to send fraudulent emails and deploy all kinds of tools to steal our money, our contacts or our identities. Armen Najarian, the chief identity officer at email security firm Agari, updates us on the latest coronavirus driven cyber-attacks including scammers pretending they are emailing from the WHO or CDC.

Can the internet cope with the massive increase in demand?
Jane Coffin, SVP, Internet Growth from the Internet Society is an expert on internet access across the world. We ask how is the network holding up with so many more people now working remotely and what is its resilience for the future?

3D Printing cochlear implants
Gareth and Bill visit Dr Yan Yan Shery Huang at the biointerface group at the University of Cambridge. During the interview in her lab her team prints a 3D cochlear implant. It’s part of a growing field using 3D printing to improve medical care and aims to ultimately personalise cochlear implants allowing the patient to hear much more naturally than current implants allow.

(Image: Malware Detected Warning Screen. Credit: Getty images)

Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Bill Thompson.

Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

Mar 31 2020

40mins

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Rank #8: Coronovirus tech handbook online

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In these unprecedented times of a global pandemic many people are working or studying from home, doctors are facing new challenges, so medical equipment is in short supply – how do deal with this? Perhaps check the coronavirus tech as a shared open source online document where anyone can post their experiences or advice.

Open source tech for COVID-19
A 3d printed ventilator that could be used for COVID-19 patients could be ready by the end of the week. An open source project has led to a collaboration of IT professionals and engineers to work on the project.

Developing responsible AI
Cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell joins us on the programme to talk about developing AI safely and responsibly. She’s cofounded an innovation institute - the 3Ai Institute at the Australian National University and is looking for new students from around the world to apply.
(Image: Coronavirus tech handbook. Credit: Newspeak House)
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

Mar 17 2020

36mins

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Rank #9: A digital tracker that monitors new surveillance

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Tracking our digital rights
From the moment governments around the world realised the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, many have implemented digital tracking, physical surveillance and censorship measures in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. We hear about a digital tracker which will monitor new surveillance and if it is having an effect
Working from home when your work is in Space
Most people in countries experiencing a Coronavirus lockdown are working remotely, but what happens when your work is based in Space? The European Space Agency has sent most of it's staff home, we hear from Professor Mark McCaughrean, Senior Science Advisor at ESA, about how this is going.

SETI has gone home
SETI@home is a scientific experiment, based at UC Berkeley, that uses internet connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You could take part by running a free programme that downloads and analyses radio telescope data. But no more, the experiment is ending on March 31st. US Science reporter Molly Bentley tells the story of searching for ET from home.
(Image: Digital tracking. Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

Mar 24 2020

35mins

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Rank #10: Internet and journalist reporting freedom curtailed

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Bolsonaro’s tweets deleted
Our South America reporter Angelica Mari tells us about the daily pot banging protests against the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but it’s now not only the people trying to silence him. Social Media platforms have removed some of his posts as they have been, according to them, spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.

Internet and journalistic freedoms restricted
The Index on Censorship, the global freedom of expression organisation has been charting restrictions on the internet and on journalists, via an interactive map online. Rachael Jolley is editor-in-chief at Index and joins us on the programme.

Ubongo – remote learning the African way
As many schools around the world close their doors, more and more learning is shifting from the classroom to the home. 17 million households in twelve countries across sub-Saharan Africa are now benefitting from Ubongo – the TV, radio, online and mobile learning platform. Iman Lipumba of Ubongo explains how it works.

Culture in Quarantine; sacred music at Easter
Twenty musicians in the famous Tenebrae vocal ensemble have recorded an Easter recital for television, despite socially isolating all over the world. Quite a challenge for the singers, their conductor Nigel Short and the production company Livewire Pictures. Jan Younghusband BBC Music Head of Music TV Commissioning explains how it all happened.
(Image: Index on Censorship. Credit: IndexOnCensorship.org/Google Maps )

The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Ghislaine Boddington.

Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

Apr 07 2020

42mins

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Rank #11: Tech tracking Australian fires

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An app is helping Australian’s stay safe during the Bush fires. Fires Near Me was created by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and we hear how it works from journalist Corinne Podger. Also the WICEN HAM Radio operators who are providing emergency communications when mobile masts and internet connections are disrupted and measuring air quality using low power networks.

Safer motorbike taxis in Rwanda and the DRC
How do you ensure that the motorbike taxi you are hailing in Kigali or Kinshasa will get you home safely? Using an app that has data on the driver is one big step to having a safer journey. Gareth Mitchell finds out about Cango who collect data about their drivers to rate how safely they ride.

Digitising Natural History
The famous Natural History Museum in London has only a fraction of its collection on show. To ensure all their specimens are correctly catalogued, the museum is now digitising their collections. Harry Lampert has been finding out how technologies like machine learning are helping to get more and more specimens online.

Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

(Photo: Fires Near Me app. Credit: New South Wales Rural Fire Service)

Jan 14 2020

43mins

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Rank #12: Supercomputers seeking solutions for Covid-19

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Supercomputing power for Covid-19 solutions
The world’s most powerful supercomputers are being used for urgent investigations into the Sars-Cov-2 virus. Professor Peter Coveney from the UCL Centre for Computational Science is part of this consortium of hundreds of scientists across the globe, and tells Gareth how this phenomenal amount of computer power is already trying to identify potential treatments and vaccine candidates for Covid-19.

Hot and Cold Cognition
Gareth and Bill meet Professor Barbara Sahakian at Cambridge University to discuss her work on hot and cold cognition. Cold cognition is the mechanics of AI. Hot cognition is what humans do so well – being able to empathise. So if we are to take AI to the next stage 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)

Apr 14 2020

44mins

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Rank #13: Covid-19 makes tech events go virtual

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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)

Mar 10 2020

43mins

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Rank #14: Internet shutdowns cost $8bn in 2019

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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)

Jan 21 2020

45mins

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Rank #15: Drones dealing with locust swarms

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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

Feb 04 2020

43mins

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Rank #16: Ethiopia’s new law banning online hate speech

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Ethiopia’s online hate speech law
Disseminating hate speech online in Ethiopia could now land you with a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of $3000US, but the new law has proved controversial. Julie Owonp, Excutive Director of Internet without borders explains their concerns.

Kivuwatt
Rwanda has an ambitious plan to go from half of the population having electricity at the moment to everyone within the next four years. Digital Planet has been given access to one project that aims to be a key part of that expansion. In the depths of Lake Kivu – one of East Africa’s great lakes – there’s methane and they’re burning the methane to generate electricity. Kivu is one of Africa’s so-called ‘killer lakes’, because the gases it harbours could be deadly for the thousands who live on shore. Burning some of the gas could help make it safer. Gareth Mitchell reports from the floating barge that is supplying 30% of the country’s electricity.

Carnival 4.0
It’s Carnival week in Rio and this year for the first time celebrations have gone fully hi-tech with augmented reality floats, QR Codes and RFID tags tracking costumes and smart bands monitoring the health of performers. But there have also been warnings about facial recognition. Brazil-based journalist Angelica Mari has been following proceedings. And joins us on the programme.
(Image: Vector illustration of a set of emoticons. Credit: Getty Images)
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

Feb 25 2020

38mins

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Rank #17: Will digital sobriety help reduce energy use?

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ITU emissions standard
The UN ICT agency, the ITU, wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half in the next decade. It’s the only way that the ICT industry is to stay in line with the Paris Agreement and its target of limiting global warming to one and a half degrees. The new technical standard announced by the ITU says renewable energy and digital sobriety are the best way of achieving these cuts.

Domestic violence AI
AI could help police forces determine who might be the most at risk of domestic abuse. A new study from the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE in London, suggests that by using already available data about individuals AI could help police decide which emergency calls they need to prioritise.

Circulo safety app
A safety app that is used only in dangerous situations is helping female journalists stay safe in Mexico. The Circulo app allows users to check in and tell up to six contacts at a time that you’re safe OR raise the alarm if you’re in danger.
(Photo: Wind turbines. Credit: Getty Images)

Mar 03 2020

35mins

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Rank #18: Internet partially restored in Kashmir

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Internet in Kashmir partially back on
Following a court ruling in India, the internet has been partially restored in Kashmir. There is still no access to social media but the Indian government was forced to allow some access. Mishi Choudhary, founder of the Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi updates us on the situation.

Pigeonbot
Imagine a robot that’s as graceful as a swooping and gliding bird. It could get into crowded environments where drones currently can’t be used. The latest research, published in Science Robotics, into flying robots delivers just that. Laura Matloff from Stanford University in USA is one of the team who designed PigeonBot and joins us on the programme.

Will Brazil become a data colony?
Brazilians are neither happy with the way in which companies handle their personal data or trust them, according to a new survey by IBM. Sau Paulo based Technology Writer Angelica Mari explains why there are growing concerns that soon private companies may control most citizen’s data.
(Photo: Kashmiri youth hold placards during a protest against an Internet, SMS and prepaid mobile services blockade. Credit: EPA/Farooq/Khan)
Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

Jan 28 2020

33mins

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Rank #19: Feminist chatbots

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Why the tone of chatbots matters and how a feminist perspective can help use them to address online problems such as bullying and trolling.

We look at some of the methods used to try and scam you, particularly the increasingly sophisticated emails sent to businesses to try and get them to part with their money.

We have a drive in a LIDAR enabled electric car, a new development in Autonomous vehicles

And the perils of misleading data, why clear and accurate data is so important to a huge variety of global issues such as adequate clean water or food supplies.
(Image: Chatbot female robot holding a speech bubble symbol. Credit: Getty Creative Stock)
Producer: Julian Siddle

Feb 18 2020

46mins

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Rank #20: New Phone in China? Scan your face…

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Mobile phone users in China will have to submit to 3D face scans to get a sim card. Technology ethicist Dr Stephanie Hare and New York Times Asia correspondent, Paul Mozur, discuss how this will affect citizens’ privacy, and whether China is alone in making this decision.

Petr Plecháč from the Institute of Czech Literature uses a piece of software that can identify people by the pattern of their written language. Gareth speaks with him about Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and the likelihood of John Fletcher co-authoring this key text.

Reporter William Park takes a go at being a virtual burglar. He investigates a game that is allowing researchers to understand what thieves do during a break-in, with the aim of understanding their moves and decision making.

A technique that allows people to check how computer neural networks make decisions about image classification may help to reduce mistakes by AI in medical imaging. Dr Cynthia Rudin explains why bird identification was the perfect model to test the computers’ abilities – and check them.
(Image: Facial recognition with smartphone. Credit: Getty Images)

Presenters: Gareth Mitchell and Bill Thompson
Producer: Rory Galloway

Dec 10 2019

42mins

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Video games can be good for you

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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

Nov 17 2020

45mins

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Voyager 2 contacted after seven months

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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

Nov 10 2020

45mins

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Who is most susceptible to fake news?

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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)

Nov 03 2020

43mins

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

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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

Oct 27 2020

41mins

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Go Viral! online game

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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

Oct 20 2020

42mins

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Predicting US elections results every hour

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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

Oct 13 2020

48mins

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Can AI predict criminal behaviour?

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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

Oct 06 2020

50mins

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Mapping Covid-19 to your phone

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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

Sep 29 2020

45mins

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Keeping the structure of the internet safe

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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

Sep 22 2020

50mins

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AI captain to sail the Atlantic

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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

Sep 15 2020

44mins

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Scammers scamming the scammers

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(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

Sep 08 2020

38mins

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Algorithm apocalypse

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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

Aug 18 2020

43mins

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A year without internet in Kashmir

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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

Aug 11 2020

43mins

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Why India can’t work from home

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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

Aug 04 2020

46mins

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Tracking the trolls

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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

Jul 28 2020

42mins

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Covid 19: Mapping changing sentiment in tweets

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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

Jul 21 2020

42mins

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Ethiopia’s continuing online censorship

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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

Jul 14 2020

47mins

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Can we make the web a better space?

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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 Lichtarowicz

Main image credit: Getty Images

Jul 07 2020

43mins

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Exploring digital death

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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

Jun 30 2020

47mins

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Nigerian internet land rights costs fall

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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

Jun 23 2020

50mins

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iTunes Ratings

96 Ratings
Average Ratings
76
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2
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3

Technology at its best

By World Traveler Expert - Mar 02 2016
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Great. Engaging and educational.

Too much spin and not enough tech news

By KevinICdesigner - Aug 05 2014
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Way too chatty. More technology news please and less opining on the social implications in your opinion. Focus better please!