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BBC World Service - Digital Planet


Technological and digital news from around the world.


  • Jaron Lanier – Creator of the Term Virtual Reality
    Dawn of the New Everything by Jaron Lanier is a history and exploration of virtual reality, the term that he coined for the pioneering technology that he was instrumental in creating. The book is a hybrid of memoir and philosophy and gives a compelling account of the origins and development of the digital revolution. Lanier joins Click to discuss his journey through virtual reality. A network of wildlife sanctuaries in New Zealand has led to the reintroduction of nearly twenty native bird species, and now machine learning software could be an important tool in monitoring the survival. Click’s Simon Morton reports from Victoria University of Wellington. pureLiFi pioneers LiFi technology that aims to revolutionise the future of wireless networks. Roland Pease reports on their latest product and its capability to open up thousands more additional channels for wireless communications than traditional Wi-Fi routers. (Photo credit: Author, musician and artist Jaron Lanier © Doug Menuez/Stockland Martel) Producer: Colin Grant

  • Orwell and the Future of Surveillance
    "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." The words of George Orwell, writer, journalist, critic and for a few years, a BBC producer. On the 7th November at Broadcasting House in London, the BBC erected a statue to the author of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, with the words “Liberty” engraved on it. Orwell wrote of webcams, mass surveillance and the death of privacy in his dystopian classic, many of his ideas resonate to this day. So why is his work still relevant and what can it teach us about our relationship with our privacy and technology? The Future of Surveillance Nearly seventy years ago, Orwell gave us his satire of a possible post-privacy surveillance future. Well now we are in that future – well some kind of version of it, what next? What of surveillance in the years and decades ahead? And how about the idea that if we have nothing to hide then we have nothing to fear. Some say that is lackadaisical at best, downright dangerous at worst. LAPD Right at the beginning of Nineteen Eighty-Four, our protagonist Winston is in his flat, pen poised, about to write in his diary. When, in the distance, he notices a helicopter hovering “like a bluebottle”, it was a police patrol “snooping into people’s windows”. Was Orwell anticipating police surveillance drones? Well in Los Angeles, California the LAPD has just approved a one-year pilot programme to evaluate drones in law enforcement. (Photo caption: Big brother electronic eye concept © Getty Images) Producer: Jack Meegan

  • DC Labs: Future of Gaming?
    Click is travelling North to one of the oldest cities in the country to look at some of the most groundbreaking artificial intelligence in gaming. We are visiting the Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York where they are researching creative technologies that will come to our games consoles and entertainment systems in the years to come. Gaming for Peace in South Sudan A mobile game called Salaam, meaning 'peace' in Arabic has been developed by a Lual Mayen, a games designer from South Sudan. But this is a game with a difference, instead of arming players with guns and ammo, the object is to destroy them and spread some peace instead. He has two big influences: Grand Theft Auto but even more significantly, the conflict in South Sudan. He was raised as a refugee but eventually managed to pursue his interest in programming by developing mobile banking applications and then gaming. Salaam featured in South Sudan’s first ever games jam earlier this year. Calling the BBC - Ham Radio is Back! For over half a century the BBC has had its own Ham Radio group. After several years of planning, the group’s latest home has just opened in BBC Broadcasting House in London. The Director General Tony Hall officially opening the new radio shack recently under direction from Jonathan Kempster. But in an age of Skype, FaceTime and instant messaging, is amateur radio still relevant and if so why? (Image caption: Girl playing with lights and virtual reality simulation device © Getty Images) Producer: Jack Meegan

  • Tim O’Reilly’s Vision of the Future
    Tim O’Reilly made his name spotting technologies with world-shaking potential - from proselytising about the World Wide Web to popularising terms like 'Web 2.0' and 'Open Source' over the last decade. He joins Click to discuss his new book WTF? What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us. O’Reilly is fundamentally optimistic saying that robots are not going to take our jobs, arguing they will "only if that's what we ask them to do!" TechCrunch and Facebook hosted Startup Battlefield Africa in Nairobi, Kenya recently. The Startup Battlefield pitch-off competition featured startups from all over Africa in three categories. Top notch investors and founders served as judges to pick the winners in each category as well as an overall winner. Click talks to one of the speakers at the event, Rebecca Enonchong and Francis Obirikorang CEO and Co-founder AgroCenta. John Akomfrah, a founder of the experimental film group Black Audio Film Collective, has just produced a beguiling immersive experience at the Barbican in London. The video installation projected on six screens marries images of the earth’s squandered natural resources, Akomfrah’s own new footage and a wealth of archival material, to reflect subtly the damage humanity has wrought to the biosphere. Click talks to Akomfrah about Purple. (Photo caption: Robot control forklift truck © Getty Images) Producer: Colin Grant