65 episodes

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Digital Planet BBC

    • Technology
    • 4.2 • 211 Ratings

Technological and digital news from around the world.

    Go Viral! online game

    Go Viral! online game

    Go Viral! is a browser based game where you have a go at being a spreader of misinformation. Along the way, you learn the tactics of the trolls and you come out the other end, better able to differentiate the facts from the alternative facts online. Gareth discusses why these games can change peoples’ minds with one of the game’s co-developers, Jon Roozenbeek of the Department of Psychology at Cambridge University in England.

    Human rights lawyer Flynn Coleman has just published a book called A Human Algorithm – how artificial intelligence is redefining who we are. She explains to Gareth why she’s concerned about the small group of individuals who are in charge of the digital world and what should be done to change that.

    In the pandemic choreographer Alexander Whitley has had to postpone his live shows. Hannah Fisher reports on how he’s moved his dance project online and invited others to collaborate. The music is ‘Memory Arc’ by Rival Consoles.

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

    (Image: Cambridge University)


    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz
    Studio Producer: Deborah Cohen
    Studio Manager: Nigel Dix

    • 42 min
    Predicting US elections results every hour

    Predicting US elections results every hour

    Can political forecasting be quicker? That’s a question posed by Thomas Miller from Northwestern University, who has created a model that simulates a million hypothetical US presidential election results every hour. The model does not use traditional data sources like polling surveys but betting data.

    Recycling Solar lamps in Zambia
    We hear from SolarAid who have started a repair, refurbishment and recycling project for their solar lights in Zambia. Some electronics built to serve the world’s poorest, are also built to be incredibly challenging to repair, which adds to an increasing amount of e-waste generated - a record of 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2019. SolarAid have developed a manual, an app, are training technicians and opening workshops to encourage people to have their lamps repaired.

    The Rising Sea Symphony
    How do you create a new music masterpiece during a pandemic – using technology in ways not used before. A new BBC Radio 3 commission (due to be broadcast on Sunday 18th October), entitled The Rising Sea Symphony, by composer Kieran Brunt, has been recorded by BBC Philharmonic players in isolation, individually, and then “painfully” pasted together to create the full orchestral sound over the last few months. The piece is inspired by the increasing dangers of the climate change crisis and mixes orchestral parts, vocals, electronics, and spoken contributions from inhabitants of different parts of the world which are being affected by sea level rising. We speak to the composer and to Studio Manager Donald MacDonald who faced the challenge of mixing the piece.

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

    (Image: Getty Images)

    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 48 min
    Can AI predict criminal behaviour?

    Can AI predict criminal behaviour?

    For at least two decades now police forces have been using crime data tech to analyse crime patterns and therefore reduce crime rates, but they have not been able to predict who may have carried out a crime. Now the Sheriff’s office in Pasco County, Florida is using what it calls ‘intelligence led policing’ to do just that. Could AI algorithms really identify offenders? Not according to Kathleen McGrory, Deputy Investigations Editor at the Tampa Bay Times who has been researching this mysterious tech that the local law enforcement agency has been using. Similar schemes have been scrapped in LA and Chicago but continue in Pasco County. We asked for an interview with the Pasco County Police Sheriff and one of the engineers behind the tech – but did not receive a response.

    The rise of the Honjok lifestyle in South Korea
    Honjok is the term used by those Koreans who decide to live, eat, drink, and undergo most activities on their own, and are happy when they are alone with themselves. This movement started in the first half of the 2010’s and has been growing in parallel with South Korea's rate of smartphone ownership and the emergence of on-demand shopping and social media. It would seem that tech adoption is one of the main factors that helped elevate Honjok into a national movement. Reporter Silvia Lazzaris has been delving into the online world of Honjok.

    Could data unions give you some control and gain from your personal data?
    Would you like to make money from your Google search history? A new platform to democratize our data by tech start up Streamr will allow individuals to take control of their personal data and even gain financially from it. Until now, most of the data we generate browsing the web and using smart devices is controlled by a few giant corporations. It’s also sold without us receiving any share of its value. The Streamr platform enables developers to create their own data unions (such as Swash, which has a growing user base, and allows people to earn money as they browse) to decentralize control of data away from big tech and back to the individual. These data unions can also significantly improve the quality and security of data sets. Shiv Malik, Head of Growth at Streamr, is on the programme to explain how data unions work.

    The programme was presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

    (Image: Getty Images)

    Studio Manager: Tim Heffer
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 50 min
    Mapping Covid-19 to your phone

    Mapping Covid-19 to your phone

    Google maps has a new feature - COVID19 maps. You can now filter onto your chosen area the current Covid-19 case rates. Launched in more than 200 countries the mapping feature could help people decide if they feel it is safe to travel to new areas – but as is often the case with new tech when it is launched it is not as informative as you may have hoped…yet. Charlotte Jee, MIT Technology review reporter, gives us a rundown of what’s good and what’s not so good about the new feature.

    The ethics of digital communication
    Can you remember the early days of the internet – how it was going to improve freedom of expression because of this amazing fast connectivity that we had never had before? Well obviously things haven’t quite panned out that way, says Prof (Baroness) Onora O’Neill form Cambridge Uni. In fact it’s done the opp as well as damaged our right to privacy. She speaks to Gareth about what can be done to reverse some of this damage.

    Hack a Sat
    Florian Blor reports from the first ever satellite hacking competition at DEF CON - the world's largest, longest continuously run underground hacking conference. The idea was to hack into a satellite, change it’s orientation in orbit and point it at the moon and take a photo. It wasn’t a real satellite in space but an earthbound stand in and part of hackasat – a cybersecurity completion aimed at ultimately protecting satellites from a cyberattack.

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

    (Image: Getty images)

    Studio Manager: Sarah Hockley
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 45 min
    Keeping the structure of the internet safe

    Keeping the structure of the internet safe

    The Internet Society has created a way of checking how new regulations could harm the structure of the internet. As the internet doesn’t respect borders, what happens in one country can impact the internet in another. The internet can sustain one or two attacks but many at the same time could even bring it down. Until now there has been no way of predicting how such changes could affect the internet’s architecture. The new toolkit also identifies the critical properties that must be protected to enable the Internet to reach its full potential.

    EEG that works with Black African American hair
    Measuring brain activity can be done using Electroencephalograms, or EEGs. These rely on a number of electrodes being attached to the scalp and the tests are used to diagnose diseases like epilepsy. However if the electrodes are not attached to the scalp properly then getting accurate readings is very hard. This is a problem for people with thick and very curly hair – with some patients having to shave their hair for the test. Now Arnelle Etienne, a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has designed electrodes that suit her hair type – she is African American and hopes her design will significantly improve test results for patients like her.

    Buddy PKGE – tech to monitor animal vital signs
    Harrison Lewis reports on a device capable of measuring animal vital signs that is being adapted to save human lives. The non-invasive tech could help sniffer dogs find people following natural disasters, alerting the handler as soon as dog detects a human heartbeat.


    The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.


    (Image: Getty Images)

    Studio Manager: Sarah Hockley
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 50 min
    AI captain to sail the Atlantic

    AI captain to sail the Atlantic

    The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) is due to set sail this week (scheduled for Wednesday) from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts with no crew on board. The AI captain will steer the trimaran across the Atlantic with the help of servers and cloud and edge computing, gathering data on global warming, micro-plastic pollution and marine mammal conservation. If successful, it will be one of the first self-navigating, full-sized vessels to cross the Atlantic Ocean and could herald a new era of autonomous research ships. Andy Stanford-Clark, Chief Technology Officer at IBM, tells Gareth about the tech on board.


    Farmbot - tech to ensure cattle have water
    Crop and livestock farming uses around 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply, and access to water is something every farmer in the world thinks about, every single day. Is there enough of it, is there too much or too little, and are there any problems that need fixing. Those problems get even bigger for farmers who don’t live on-site, or – as is the case in Australia – an issue with a water pipe or dam might be several hours’ drive away. Robotic devices are increasingly taking the strain, even now linking to satellites to help farmers keep their livestock healthy. Corinne Podger reports.

    Lie Machines
    Have you ever been lured to false political messaging online or been attracted to clickbait that has directed you to a conspiracy theories or false news? How and why this happens is the subject of a book “Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives”. Its author, Philip Howard, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute in the UK explains how to take these lie machines apart.


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

    (Image: The Mayflower Autonomous Ship. Credit: IBM)

    Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
211 Ratings

211 Ratings

TheIceni ,

Keep it Techy

Last episode was gold dust, it’s brilliant when they do proper technical deep dives into the hardware and software.

Cockneyspock ,

Excellent show

Been listening for year and always covers interesting topics. Digital gold! This is what the beep does best.

Kinywaji ,

Future

Big fan of equality. Big fan of finally realising that we have not used approx 50% of the world's brain power by under utilising the fantastic ability of women's brains BUT I feel as if the past few years has been like realising the world had apartheid and rather than making use of equality we have gone to a world like South Africa and started affirmative action.
Let's use the best of male, the best of female ability and progress, not just stop and correct the mistakes we've made in the past.

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