56 episodes

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Digital Planet BBC

    • Technology
    • 4.4, 10 Ratings

Technological and digital news from around the world.

    Why India can’t work from home

    Why India can’t work from home

    India came last out of 42 countries in a recent study of remote-working readiness. Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean of Global Business for The Fletcher School at Tufts University, explains what his research means for the 1.3 billion people living in India, and what the future holds for the second largest internet market in the world.

    Saving lives with a hologram heart
    A holographic visualisation has been proven to help heart-surgeons operating on children. Jennifer Silva, an associate professor of Paediatric Surgery, and her husband Jon Silva, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, used a Microsoft HoloLens headset to give surgeons real-time information about the electrical signals passing through a patient’s hearts during surgery.

    Mapping earthquakes with localised EDGE computing
    Observing natural phenomena like earthquakes and volcanoes relies on data from the earth’s satellite network. As the volume of this satellite data grows it becomes harder for scientists to get it back to Earth. EDGE computing offers a solution. The opposite of cloud computing, it keeps data near the source by processing it on-site and only sending back relevant or interesting information. Digital Planet reporter Hannah Fisher finds out more.



    (Image: Getty Images)


    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson.



    Studio Manager: Tim Heffer
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 46 min
    Tracking the trolls

    Tracking the trolls

    How can we distinguish the online posts written by real people from those coming out of professional bot-farms intent on influencing elections? New research from Princeton University in America uses machine learning to identify malicious online trolls, even before they’ve sent a single tweet. Lead author Meysam Alizadeh explains the power of this work to protect voters in future elections.

    Gesture-controlled robots
    Robots can now be controlled by a simple wave of your arm. Professor Daniela Rus from MIT explains how new research has simplified robot controls by using human movement rather than complicated systems of buttons and gear-sticks. The aim is to allow anyone to pilot a robot without requiring any training.

    Augmented surgery
    Digital Planet’s Florian Bohr reports from Augmented World Expo USA to discover how the new field of spatial computing can be used in medicine. From doctors with x-ray spectacles to virtual reality surgery training, new visual technologies are promising a big impact on healthcare.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

    (Image:Getty Images)


    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 42 min
    Covid 19: Mapping changing sentiment in tweets

    Covid 19: Mapping changing sentiment in tweets

    Using machine learning, researchers analysed 30 million English language tweets from across the world to track the changing global sentiment as the Covid-19 pandemic spread. Lead author of the study, professor May Lwin at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore explains how machine learning found that sentiments of fear in the early months of the pandemic are now outnumbered by anger and hope.

    Researcher Aretha Mare, from The Next Einstein Forum in Rwanda says the pandemic has put a renewed focus on home grown African initiatives involving Artificial intelligence. Already some novel approaches to testing and tracing have been developed. These could have global impact.

    The pandemic has made weather forecasting less accurate. Aircraft help forecasters gather changes in data such as temperature, humidity and pressure during the course of a flight. Environmental researcher, Ying Chen explains how fewer commercial flights during the pandemic have affected the amount of data gathered by forecasters.

    (Image: Getty images)

    Producer: Julian Siddle

    • 42 min
    Ethiopia’s continuing online censorship

    Ethiopia’s continuing online censorship

    The internet shutdown in Ethiopia has been in place for 2 weeks now.
    The Ethiopian Government cut internet connectivity following protests over the killing of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa. The civil society group NetBlocks monitors connectivity around the world. Their Executive Director Alp Toker explains how by controlling mobile telecoms Ethiopian authorities are able to keep a tight grip on internet access.

    Researchers at Queen Mary University looked at the network traffic data generated by internet-connected home security cameras. Their work flagged up that hackers can get information about your daily routine without looking at any video content from the cameras. Dr Gareth Tyson, lead author of the study, explains how the rate at which cameras upload internet data can predict whether a house is occupied or not.


    BBC series Springwatch has been using automated wildlife cameras to record animals in areas of interest, such as Woodpecker nests across the UK. They have been training machine learning systems to only recognise when an activity is happening with a particular animal. Gareth speaks to senior BBC Research engineer, Robert Dawes to find out more.


    (Image:Getty Images)


    Producer: Julian Siddle

    • 47 min
    Can we make the web a better space?

    Can we make the web a better space?

    What is Web Science, and why does it matter?

    The internet is the most complex machine built by humans but it so much more than just the engineering behind it. The internet moves the data around, but the web is the space in which we humans have experiences, think of the web as a sort of super app.

    We're interested in the underlying technology, in that it facilitates the movement of data that makes the web possible. But from the human side, we're interested in our interaction with each other as made possible by the web, so how do we understand it in its totality rather than thinking about it as a collection of websites? Did the inventors of the internet foresee how it could be used now – as a force of good and change but also as a way of spreading hate and misinformation? By studying Web Science could the internet be made better for humanity in the future?

    Joining us from the WebSci 2020 Conference are: “Father of the Internet” Vint Cerf, Executive Director, Web Science Institute Wendy Hall, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute in Cambridge Carly Kind and JP Rangaswami former Chief Data Officer and Head of Innovation of Deutsche Bank Chief Scientist at BT.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary by Bill Thompson.

    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    Main image credit: Getty Images

    • 43 min
    Exploring digital death

    Exploring digital death

    This week Digital Planet explores digital death and how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to update our death rituals and move most of our grieving online. We hear from a listener whose mother passed away with her children by her side via Facetime and how they then moved their traditional American-Irish funeral practices online. In India people of all religions are facing huge disruptions to their traditional burials and are taking tech into their own hands to share their experiences. In some developed countries funeral businesses are using cutting edge tech including sophisticated recording set ups in places of worship to bring together mourners from across the world. People are moving more and more online not only with virtual memorials, RFID tags on gravestones and also ceremonies in gaming environments including Animal Crossing. And we find out more about the Reimagine Festival that’s about to start. The now virtual event explores death during COVID-19 and we see how people are determining their digital legacies after they die.

    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

    • 47 min

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