Podcast

Digital Planet

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Episodes

  • Facebook reverses ban on news in Australia

    Feb 23 2021

    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 pl...more

  • Comparing the landscape of Mars to Earth

    Feb 16 2021

    ‘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...more

  • Wikipedia’s new universal code of conduct

    Feb 09 2021

    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 ...more

  • Internet shutdowns in Myanmar and India

    Feb 02 2021

    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...more

  • Loon Balloon internet deflated

    Jan 26 2021

    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 stat...more

  • Online manipulation on a global scale

    Jan 19 2021

    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...more

  • Has tech been compromised in the US Capitol?

    Jan 12 2021

    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...more

  • Blindness in the digital age

    Jan 05 2021

    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 Gare...more

  • The best tech stories of 2020

    Dec 29 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) Stud...more

  • Solar grid brings power to Yemen

    Dec 22 2020

    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 th...more

  • Dispelling COVID-19 vaccine myths online

    Dec 15 2020

    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 m...more

  • Is the internet affordable where you live?

    Dec 08 2020

    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...more

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

    Dec 01 2020

    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 identificatio...more

  • Increase in stalkerware installations

    Nov 24 2020

    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 ...more

  • Video games can be good for you

    Nov 17 2020

    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...more

  • Voyager 2 contacted after seven months

    Nov 10 2020

    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 Su...more

  • Who is most susceptible to fake news?

    Nov 03 2020

    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 So...more

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

    Oct 27 2020

    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 ...more

  • Go Viral! online game

    Oct 20 2020

    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 ...more

  • Predicting US elections results every hour

    Oct 13 2020

    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 worl...more

  • Can AI predict criminal behaviour?

    Oct 06 2020

    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 mysterio...more

  • Mapping Covid-19 to your phone

    Sep 29 2020

    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 ethic...more

  • Keeping the structure of the internet safe

    Sep 22 2020

    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 protecte...more

  • AI captain to sail the Atlantic

    Sep 15 2020

    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 ...more

  • Scammers scamming the scammers

    Sep 08 2020

    (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 ...more

  • Algorithm apocalypse

    Aug 18 2020

    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...more

  • A year without internet in Kashmir

    Aug 11 2020

    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 ...more

  • Why India can’t work from home

    Aug 04 2020

    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 Pa...more

  • Tracking the trolls

    Jul 28 2020

    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...more

  • Covid 19: Mapping changing sentiment in tweets

    Jul 21 2020

    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 renew...more

  • Ethiopia’s continuing online censorship

    Jul 14 2020

    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 gen...more

  • Can we make the web a better space?

    Jul 07 2020

    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 othe...more

  • Exploring digital death

    Jun 30 2020

    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 som...more

  • Nigerian internet land rights costs fall

    Jun 23 2020

    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 intellig...more

  • Is this the end of facial recognition tech?

    Jun 16 2020

    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...more

  • Algorithm activism – a new type of protest

    Jun 09 2020

    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...more

  • Digital exclusion in Brazil

    Jun 02 2020

    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 ...more

  • Hacking internet-enabled cars

    May 26 2020

    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 w...more

  • Testing EdTech

    May 19 2020

    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 socialis...more

  • Spain’s many COVID-19 apps

    May 12 2020

    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 tr...more

  • Chinese mobile data predicts Covid-19 Spread

    May 05 2020

    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 ...more

  • Privacy concerns over contact tracing apps

    Apr 28 2020

    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...more

  • Could fitness trackers track COVID-19?

    Apr 21 2020

    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 Translati...more

  • Supercomputers seeking solutions for Covid-19

    Apr 14 2020

    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 ...more

  • Internet and journalist reporting freedom curtailed

    Apr 07 2020

    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 rest...more

  • Covid-19 cyber attacks rise

    Mar 31 2020

    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 a...more

  • A digital tracker that monitors new surveillance

    Mar 24 2020

    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 h...more

  • Coronovirus tech handbook online

    Mar 17 2020

    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 c...more

  • Covid-19 makes tech events go virtual

    Mar 10 2020

    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...more

  • Will digital sobriety help reduce energy use?

    Mar 03 2020

    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 ri...more

  • Ethiopia’s new law banning online hate speech

    Feb 25 2020

    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...more

  • Feminist chatbots

    Feb 18 2020

    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 var...more

  • Repairing Voyager 2

    Feb 11 2020

    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 ...more

  • Drones dealing with locust swarms

    Feb 04 2020

    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 wi...more

  • Internet partially restored in Kashmir

    Jan 28 2020

    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 res...more

  • Internet shutdowns cost $8bn in 2019

    Jan 21 2020

    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 th...more

  • Tech tracking Australian fires

    Jan 14 2020

    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...more

  • South Africa power cuts

    Jan 07 2020

    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 Univers...more

  • Why is AI so far from perfect?

    Dec 31 2019

    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

  • Digital Planet’s 18th Birthday Show

    Dec 24 2019

    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: BB...more

  • Improving crop yields with mobile phones

    Dec 17 2019

    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...more

  • New Phone in China? Scan your face…

    Dec 10 2019

    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 ...more

  • Humanitarian drone corridor in Africa

    Dec 03 2019

    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 ...more

  • Google bug bounty hunters

    Nov 26 2019

    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 acr...more

  • Iran internet shutdown continues

    Nov 19 2019

    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 ...more

  • The digital gender divide

    Nov 12 2019

    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...more

  • Facebook Live on crime tech

    Nov 05 2019

    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)

  • BBC News on the ‘dark web’

    Oct 29 2019

    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....more

  • Health of the Internet report

    Oct 22 2019

    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...more

  • First all African smartphone factory

    Oct 15 2019

    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 tu...more

  • Iraq shuts down internet

    Oct 08 2019

    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...more

  • Mobile data costs falling globally

    Oct 01 2019

    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...more

  • Investigating marine accidents – sea tech latest

    Sep 24 2019

    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

  • The latest in disability tech

    Sep 17 2019

    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 tr...more

  • Brain implant regulation calls

    Sep 10 2019

    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 the...more

  • Digital Planet’s 18th birthday show

    Sep 03 2019

    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) ...more

  • Brazilian fire monitoring in real time

    Aug 27 2019

    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 m...more

  • Harnessing tech during conflict

    Aug 20 2019

    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...more

  • Millions of Instagram users’ activity tracked

    Aug 13 2019

    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 Si...more

  • Jakarta power cut - millions without electricity

    Aug 06 2019

    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...more

  • Chandrayaan-2: India’s moon landing

    Jul 23 2019

    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:...more

  • Chinese surveillance app analysed by researchers

    Jul 09 2019

    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, ...more

  • Tax on connectivity in Africa

    Jun 25 2019

    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 narr...more