71 episodes

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Digital Planet BBC

    • Technology
    • 3.5 • 2 Ratings

Technological and digital news from around the world.

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

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

    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 identification
    Do you like playing video games in VR or perhaps take part in AR arts shows? Well if you do you may want to ask what is happening with your personal data – not your name or your age but the way you move. Research from Stanford University shows that it’s possible to identify someone from the way they walk in VR in just minutes. Professor Jeremy Bailenson has also looked at identifying medical conditions from our behaviour in VR – is it now possible to be anonymous in these environments and also to keep our very personal data safe?

    Keeping an eye on your waste
    The way we sort our recycling could be about to change, and all thanks to a sensor that mimics the relationship between the human eye and brain. Engineers at UK start-up RecyclEye have combined low-cost camera technology with a machine learning system to give waste sorting an intelligence boost. Digital Planet reporter Jack Monaghan finds out how this new technology might make rubbish a thing of the past, with sound engineering by Robert Moutrey.

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



    (Image: Getty Images)

    Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 49 min
    Increase in stalkerware installations

    Increase in stalkerware installations

    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 Elimination of Violence against Women this week.

    Robots are not immune to bias and injustice
    An editorial in Science Robotics is calling on roboticists and AI developers to consider racial biases and inequalities when developing new technology. Professor Ayanna Howard who co-leads the organisation “Black in Robotics” wants the robotics community to welcome and employ a more racially diverse workforce as current developers do not reflect the global population and both robotics and AI are therefore being developed without many people in mind.

    Military tech adapted to find the blue whales of South Georgia
    Scientists who have discovered the return of critically endangered Antarctic blue whales to the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia - 50 years after whaling all but wiped them out - used military sonobuoys to track the animals. This tech is usually deployed from aircraft into the sea to track submarines. The team looked at 30 years of data – reports of sightings, photographs and underwater sea recordings – to track the world’s largest mammal back to these waters. The new study follows recent research that humpback whales are also returning to the region. Lead author of the study, Susannah Calderan of the Scottish Association for Marine Science explains how they are using sonobuoys to track blue whales hundreds of miles away.

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


    (Image: Getty Images)

    Studio manager: John Boland
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 43 min
    Video games can be good for you

    Video games can be good for you

    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 – however if you already are in a bad mood, playing video games is not going to improve your mood! Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, explains the findings.

    Underwater navigation 'solved'
    GPS does not work underwater and powering location devices so they can emit sound with batteries is not practical in wet environments. This means that locating animals and robots underwater is not easy. Now though a team at MIT may have found a solution that uses sound for navigation and by reflecting signals from the underwater environment doesn't need batteries. Possible applications include marine conservation, climate data gathering and mapping the ocean itself.

    Brazilians on lower incomes are embracing digital services
    A new study by the Brazilian Network Information Center shows that Brazilians on lower incomes are turning to digital services - especially fintech - during the COVID19 pandemic. The unbanked population has fallen by about 70% in the country as more and more people use apps and computers to move money.

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

    (Main Image: Still from Animal Crossing game Copyright: Nintendo)

    Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 45 min
    Voyager 2 contacted after seven months

    Voyager 2 contacted after seven months

    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 Suzanne Dodds explains how they did this and what happens next.

    Danielle George MBE – the new president of the IET
    Getting more women and young people engaged in tech and engineering is top of Professor Danielle George’s list as she takes over as the president of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). She joins Gareth and Bill on the programme live to discuss digital poverty and what the IET is doing to reduce it

    Online recruitment scams during the pandemic
    What would you do if you realised the job you’d applied for online didn’t actually exist? You’d think it would be easy to tell if you were being scammed – but with the coronavirus pandemic forcing people out of jobs and to stay at home, police and cybercrime experts have been warning people how much easier it is to be lured in by recruitment fraud. Reporter Matt Murphy has been speaking to people who’ve been affected over the last few months.

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

    (Image: Voyager 2. Credit: NASA)

    Studio Manager: Giles Aspen
    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    • 45 min
    Who is most susceptible to fake news?

    Who is most susceptible to fake news?

    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 Social Network of Game of Thrones
    What are the secrets behind the hugely successful fantasy series? New research into the George R.R. Martin book series “A Song of Fire and Ice” shows that very plausible and almost real life social network between characters is the key. Professor Colm Connaughton of the University of Warwick explains how physics, mathematics, psychology and computing, were all used to build a network map linking the two thousand characters and their thousands of interactions.

    AI that Can Identify Individual Birds
    Could machines be better ornithologists than humans? Deep learning systems are now able to distinguish between species of birds, but also individual animals. At the moment, the only way that conservationists can identify individual birds is by tagging them. That’s time consuming, costly and a bit of an inconvenience for the creatures themselves. Anthea Lacchia has been finding out more about how the algorithms are helping out.
    The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington.

    Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

    (Image: Getty Images)

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

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

    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 election more secure.
    Also on the programme, data is central to nearly everything in computing today. It presents issues, but imagine if you could train your machines on clean, orderly, high quality data? Well a new technique to generate clean data artificially has been released, open source, by MIT. We explore what this could mean with Nicolai Baldin, the CEO of the London company ‘Synthesized’.

    (Image: Getty Images)

    Presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert comment from Bill Thompson
    Produced by Rory Galloway

    Studio Manager: Giles Aspen

    • 41 min

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