166 episodes

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Digital Planet BBC World Service

    • Teknologi
    • 4.4 • 15 Ratings

Technological and digital news from around the world.

    Tiny robots cure mice with deadly pneumonia

    Tiny robots cure mice with deadly pneumonia

    Microrobots have been created and used to treat the most common form of pneumonia that infects patients in ICU. In experiments, currently carried out in mice at the University of California San Diego, the tiny robots swam around the lungs and delivered antibiotics that killed the disease-causing bacteria. The amount of antibiotics needed is a tiny fraction of the amount currently used to treat this infection intravenously. The robots are made from algae cells (this allows them to move) covered in antibiotic-filled nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are made with tiny spheres that are coated with the cell membranes of neutrophils – a type of white blood cell that fights infection and inflammation - making the microrobots more effective at fighting the lung infection. We hear from lead author Professor Joseph Wang about the tech that’s allowed the team of nanoengineers to create these microrobots.

    Internet shutdowns in India – on what grounds are they allowed?
    Since 2012 there have been 683 full internet blackouts in India according to the internet shutdown tracker run by the Software Freedom Law Centre (SLFC). Many of these are done without following government rules. Now India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has only a week left to reveal the grounds on which it approves or imposes internet shutdowns in the country. The SFLC filed a lawsuit against the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal, after internet shutdowns were ordered to prevent cheating during state exams. This is a common occurrence around the time of public exams across the country as stolen exam papers often appear on the internet. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the protocols on which these decisions are made need to be made public. Tech reporter Emma Woollacott explains the massive impact of these shutdowns and lawyer Mishi Choudhary founder of the SFLC explains why they bought about the lawsuit.

    National Robotarium opens in Edinburgh
    Digital Planet’s Hannah Fisher has been given access to the UK’s first robotarium and reports on the eve of its opening for the programme. A big aim of the national robotarium at Heriot Watt University is to change public opinion about what robots actually are and how we can use them.


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

    Studio Manager: Andrew Garratt
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: Illustration of microrobots entering the lungs to treat pneumonia. Credit: Wang lab/UC San Diego:)

    • 46 min
    Gamification – does making things fun work?

    Gamification – does making things fun work?

    Do you track your physical activity on your phone, count your daily steps, or how many calories you’ve burnt? Perhaps you are learning a new language using an app or have performance-related leaderboards at work? All these things are part of gamification – making everyday tasks more fun. But is all this gameplay good for us and is there actually any evidence that it works? Digital Planet this week explores the phenomenon of gamification with guests Adrian Hon, the CEO and founder of the games developer Six to Start and co-creator of one of the world’s most popular gamified apps, Zombies, Run! and Gabe Zichermann founder of six high-tech companies and author of three books on Gamification, including “Gamification by Design”.


    The programme is presented by Bill Thompson with expert commentary from Angelica Mari.

    Studio Manager: Tim Heffer
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: Gamification. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 30 min
    Community Networks: Connecting the unconnected

    Community Networks: Connecting the unconnected

    The Digital Divide in Tribal Communities
    Across the North American continent, there is a stark difference in the availability of the internet to different communities. Tribal lands are typically remote, rural, and rugged landscapes, and often have very patchy, or non-existent internet connectivity. Dr. Traci Morris explains why such a digital divide exists and how tribes are working together, both within their communities and with each other, to create and gain access to communications networks.

    Digital Deras connecting farmers in rural Pakistan
    In rural Punjab in Pakistan, farmers and villagers gather in places called ‘Deras’ to socialise, drink tea and coffee and discuss their farms. But one project has created a community network to transform one of these Deras to have digital facilities – a ‘Digital Dera’. Farmers use this Digital Dera to access crucial weather forecasts and other information to help them manage their farms more efficiently. It also helps them battle the impact of climate change, as the crop cycles change due to shifting weather patterns. Founders of the project Fouad Bajwa and Aamer Hayat speak to Gareth about the impact of the Digital Dera project on the farming community.

    Offline interview in Cuba
    Cuba is one of the least digitally connected countries in the Western hemisphere. This is due to the US trade embargo but also poor internet infrastructure and tight control of its own government on the flow of information. Although accessing digital technologies is getting better, for ordinary Cubans going online is still a challenge. The internet connection is slow, unreliable, and prohibitively expensive. To combat this, they have created an offline underground internet called ‘El Paquete Semanal’ or ‘Weekly Package’ – it is a one-terabyte collection of eclectic material of movies, tv-series, sports, and music while turning a blind eye to copyright. Reporter Snezana Curcic visited to learn more about this Cuban alternative to broadband internet.

    This programme was first transmitted on Tuesday 7th June 2022.

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

    Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum
    Producer: Hannah Fisher

    (Photo: 5G data stream running through a rural village
    Credit: Huber & Starke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

    • 31 min
    Happy birthday Digital Planet!

    Happy birthday Digital Planet!

    In this special 21st birthday show we’re bringing our Digital Planet community together for the first time since 2019. The team has been asking World Service listeners about their favourite bit of tech – we hear from around the world about the software and hardware that our listeners can’t live without. We will also be having not one but two special appearances – holograms from Canada and France – using the technology that President Zelensky used to beam himself to UN and London Tech week. We’ll be hearing from the listener who set up our Digital Planet Facebook group back in 2007 and we’ll also have a multimedia premier of Wiki-Piano that has been collaboratively composed by our listeners.

    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mair, Bill Thompson and Ghislaine Boddington.

    Studio Managers: Andrew Garrett

    Radio Theatre Manager: Mark Diamond
    Sound Balance: Guy Worth
    Stage Engineer: Alexander Russell
    Screen Visuals: Brendan Gormley
    PA Sound: Clive Painter
    Lighting: Marc Willcox
    Stage Hand: Alan Bissenden

    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 58 min
    Inoculation videos against misinformation

    Inoculation videos against misinformation

    Inoculation against misinformation
    Could people be inoculated and protected against misinformation online? A new study published in Science Advances shows that short animated videos could protect people from harmful content. Controlled experiments where people were shown how misinformation is spread e.g. using emotional language or scapegoating, appeared highly effective in helping people judge what might be fact or fiction on the web. Psychologists worked with Google Jigsaw and tested their experiments in real life by placing them in the ads section on YouTube videos. They saw a 5% impact in being able to spot misinformation and they also reduced sharing frequency.

    This “pre-bunking” strategy exposes people to tropes and explains how malicious propaganda is spread, so they can better identify online falsehoods. Researchers behind the Inoculation Science project compare it to a vaccine: by giving people a “micro-dose” of misinformation in advance, it helps prevent them falling for it in future – an idea based on what social psychologist’s call “inoculation theory”. Lead author Dr. Jon Roozenbeek is live on the programme to explain why this works and Beth Goldberg from Google talks about their new project to reduce misinformation spread about refugees in central Europe.

    Indonesian data breaches
    There have been five major data breaches in Indonesia this month, three alone in the last fortnight; the personal data of more than 26 million users of state-owned telecommunication provider PT Telkom was allegedly leaked – but the company denied this. Last week, foreign companies, including Microsoft and PwC, were also reportedly hit by a data breach. Astudestra Ajengrastri, Deputy Editor in the BBC Jakarta office, is on the show to explain why this is such a huge problem, how little is being done about it and why so many Indonesians seem indifferent to the breaches.

    Robotic Dogs
    Have you seen the video of a robotic dog firing a sub-machine gun? It’s had well over 4 million views. It comes swiftly after reports of robotic dogs being used to patrol the US-Mexican border. But can robotic dogs become our virtual best friend despite them being used by the military and security services? Reporter Dominic Watters looks at the tech and what these robots are truly capable of (walking on uneven surfaces still needs to be mastered) and could actually be used for the benefit of humankind – using their sensory systems to navigate dangerous terrains after natural disasters for instance?


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

    Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image credit: Screenshot of a video collaboration between Cambridge University, the University of Bristol, and Google Jigsaw)

    • 43 min
    India’s cyber scam scourge

    India’s cyber scam scourge

    Nearly a third of people in India lost money through online fraud in 2020 alone. Of them, it is thought that only 17% saw any returns through redressal mechanisms. Despite this prevalence of scams, reports have shown that the Indian population have got more trusting of unsolicited messages from companies online over the last five years. New Delhi based journalist Mimansa Verma from Quartz has been exploring this problem and joins the programme to discuss.

    Ultrasound sticker that monitors your heart
    A postage stamp size sticker could give doctors a more detailed picture of our health. Ultrasounds are one of the most common medical diagnostic tools in the world, but they only measure a snapshot in time and rely on the skill of the sonographer. A newly proposed ultrasound patch could record our heart changing shape during exercise, the impact of eating or drinking on our digestive system, and even the flow of blood through veins and arteries. Ghislaine Boddington checks out the tech and how this, and other devices, are giving doctors a much more complete picture of how our bodies work.

    Finally getting your slot on the JWST
    More than twenty years ago, Professor Mark McCaughrean submitted a proposal for observations to be made on a new space telescope. At midnight on August 29th he will finally see the results of his first observations from the James Webb Space Telescope. In the convening years, Prof. McCaughrean has become a scientific advisor for the European Space Agency and a collaborator on the JWST project. He joins the programme to talk about his hopes for observing star and planet formation with the JWST, as well as the tech that underpins the telescope.

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

    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: An Indian man counts Indian rupee currency. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 45 min

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