Tech updates with BBC Digital Planet
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Meet The Team at Digital Planet
About Gareth Mitchell
Before Gareth Mitchell joined BBC World Service, he was a broadcast engineer.
“The people who seemed to be having all the good fun were the creative types in the studios,”
And so he swapped engineering for presenting.
In his spare time, he lectures in broadcast and written journalism at Imperial College in London.
About Bill Thompson
Technology writer Bill was born in Jarrow, grew up in Corby and went to Cambridge University.
He still lives and works in Cambridge.
Bill began to write for The Guardian in 1990 and 1994 set up the paper’s website.
Two years later, he became a freelance writer and had been writing and broadcasting ever since.
About Ghislaine Boddington
Ghislaine joins the programme with many years of experience in integrating the human body and digital technologies.
Passionately considering from all angles the best outcomes for us living beings within this wonderful world.
A Reader in Digital Immersion at the University of Greenwich, she is Creative Director and curates and presents worldwide on her futuristic ideas.
Technology for all BBC Digital Planet
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Previously on Digital Planet: Can AI predict Arctic ice loss?
Melting sea ice might be a well-known symptom of global warming, but how do scientists predict how quickly ice will recede?
Digital us at Digital Planet
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)
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 that 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)
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 collects 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 Chimedza.
The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Julian Siddle (Image credit: Julian Siddle/BBC)
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
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 a total of 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, the founder of Worldpay, 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)
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, smartphones 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 mean 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 its constitution. Jane Chambers reports.
The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.
Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
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.
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. David Aragort from Latin American tech rights NGO RedesAyuda updates us on what has been going on.
Ecosystem soundscape monitoring with AI One way to monitor the health of an ecosystem is through sound. 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.
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.
Gareth Mitchell presents the programme with expert commentary from Bill Thompson Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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 to 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. 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 lag. 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.
The internet is 30! 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. Gareth Mitchell presents the programme with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington Studio Manager: Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Getty Images)
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.
A 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 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.
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 reduce the harmful impacts of tiny tyre particles that are released from vehicles as they drive along.
(Image: Internet troll sending a comment to picture on imaginary social media website with smartphone Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images)
Gareth Mitchell presents the programme with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
YouTube’s rules silencing human rights activists
Why did YouTube takedown 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, it’s incredibly frustrating that setting them up and connecting them to your house is so complicated. Now a new standard has been agreed upon. 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 found out about the tech that made his design possible.
Gareth Mitchell presents the programme with expert commentary from Bill Thompson Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Getty Images)
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. 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 of 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