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BBC World Service - Digital Planet

Digital Planet

Technological and digital news from around the world.

Digital Planet

  • Mobile phones not always beneficial to displaced people
    New research shows that mobile phones may not be as beneficial to displaced people as previously thought. Using video diaries, where displaced people in Somalia recorded their mobile phone use, researchers found that women, in particular, are being exploited by employers who fail to pay them using mobile money. Professor Jutta Bakonyi from Durham University is on the show and her colleague Dr. Peter Chonka joins us in the podcast. Slaughterbots – autonomous lethal weapons Slaughterbots - if human: kill(), is a short film that warns of humanity's accelerating path towards the widespread use of slaughterbots – autonomous weapons that use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify, select, and kill people without human intervention. It’s produced by The Future of Life Institute and its lead on autonomous weapons Dr. Emilia Javorsky explains how the UN is currently looking at banning this type of tech. WikiAfrica A growing movement to create and edit Wikipedia articles in official African languages is proving successful following a series of Afrocurations, organised by the Moleskine Foundation, where young people from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Morocco are learning how to tell the stories of their lives, culture, and history through Wikipedia. We hear from one of these students and also Lwando Xaso, a South African lawyer, writer and activist, who helped set up the events. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: John Boland Producers: Alex Mansfield and Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Getty Images)

  • PIX instant payment limits to reduce kidnappings
    PIX instant payment limits to reduce kidnappings Last year the PIX instant payment system was introduced in Brazil. It currently has 112 million registered users – that’s 62% of the population. It’s proving incredibly popular and is allowing the 40 million unbanked people in the country access to electronic payments. Unfortunately its popularity has also led to significant issues – namely ransom demands by kidnappers that can be paid immediately. By lowering the payment limit and stopping night payments, it’s hoped this will curb the problem. Silvia Bassi, who runs the tech website The Shift in Brazil, is on the show. Bitcoin mining in Navajo Nation – crypto-colonialism In the past traditional mining often took advantage of local people living near the mine, now something similar may be happening with cryptocurrencies. A bitcoin mine in the Four Corners region of New Mexico which belongs to the Navajo nation is causing controversy. It consumes enough to power 19,600 homes, yet many local residents lack water and electricity. The scheme was originally set up with the Navajo’s support but there is opposition from some local people. Mining companies argue though that investing in their schemes will ultimately reap financial rewards for the local people. Reporter Luke Ottenhof is on the show to discuss this story and the rise of crypto-colonialism globally. AI training for top flight football Our gaming correspondent Chris Berrow reports on the latest tech to train footballers. Norwich City are the first UK Premiership club to use the Soccerbot360 simulator which claims to replicate real-life match scenarios - enabling players to work on their decision-making. We will soon see if it improves the Canaries’ game. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari. Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Pix logo on smartphone with Brazilian currency Credit: Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

  • Smart speakers used in gaslighting
    IoT devices like smart speakers and networked heating controls are increasingly being used by perpetrators of domestic violence – for instance by changing the temperature the heating is set to or the music that the victim listens too, remotely. Julia Slupska from the Oxford Internet Institute will be discussing these new findings at the Shameless! Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence in London. She joins us on the show. A possible alternative to GPS? We have relied on GPS for location services for almost 30 years, but it’s vulnerable to inaccuracy and attack. Professor Zak Kassas from the University of California, Irvine, explains his proposal for its replacement, harnessing the power of increasingly abundant low earth orbit communication satellites like SpaceX’s Starlink. Mapping sea cucumbers using drones Sea cucumbers aren't the flashiest creatures on Australia’s great barrier reef, and they have long been understudied and poorly understood. But Dr Karen Joyce, co-founder of GeoNadir wants your drone footage to help learn more to help map the animals and their habitats. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Man setting home gadgets via smartphone. Credit: ismagilov/Getty Images)

  • Distress of TikTok fake school accounts
    TikTok School challenge It’s November so school children in the US are being encouraged to “Kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school”. In September the TikTok school challenge suggested they “Vandalize the restroom”. These are just two of the examples that schools in the US have been dealing with following a call on TikTok to pupils. Now in the UK teachers are facing an onslaught of online abuse via TikTok too. Headteacher Sarah Raffray, who is also the Chair of the Society of Heads in the UK, is live on the show. The fake account created at her school has been removed by TikTok as have hundreds of others, but is the social media platform doing enough to control this libellous behaviour? Disinformation campaign in Kenya The Pandora papers revealed that Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his family have offshore accounts containing $30m. Following the release of this information a collaborative disinformation campaign manipulating Twitter’s algorithms was launched attempting to exonerate the President. Odanga Madung is a Mozilla fellow and is on the programme to discuss a report he’s co-authored “How to Manipulate Twitter and Influence People: Propaganda and the Pandora Papers in Kenya”. So far 400 accounts have been deleted, but with elections next year this campaign could already be influencing the outcome. AI (lack of) diversity in the workforce Research from the Digital Planet team at Tuft’s University has examined the world's top AI hubs and ranked them in terms of diversity. Bhaskar Chakravorti, who led the team behind the work, tells us that San Francisco has the lowest proportion of black AI talent in the US. When it comes to the proportion of women in the field, AI is much less diverse than the industry overall. 17 percent of the AI talent pool in the 50 hotspots in the world is female as compared to 27 percent in STEM overall. Tel Aviv comes out on top globally for employing women in AI. We discuss how this imbalance is impacting AI development. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: TikTok logo displayed on a smart phone. Credit: Illustration by Nikolas Joao Kokovlis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

  • Blockchain’s e-waste a growing problem
    We’ve reported before on the programme about the massive energy consumption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which is based on blockchain technology. Now we’ll be looking at some of the other environmental impacts of blockchain. Professor Cathy Mulligan, Blockchain Expert and Member of the Institution of Engineering & Technology’s Digital Panel, joins us live to discuss the massive e-waste problem of mining cryptocurrencies and how miners change their electronic kit every six months to keep up with the ever increasing processing capacity they need to make money. This issue is not only linked to blockchain tech, it’s also seen in the mobile phone industry. AR reducing single plastic use - 100 Days to #BeatPlasticPollution Six out of the top 20 marine litter polluters are in Southeast Asia, so where better to launch a social media campaign to reduce single use plastic. The MeshMinds Foundation and the UNEP is behind the Instagram campaign to raise public awareness “100 Days to #BeatPlasticPollution” and we speak to Kay Vasey from MeshMinds as to how they hope AR will change habits and reduce single use plastic. We also have a campaigner from the Philippines whose own efforts to reduce plastic use are about to be showcased online. More than a million years of data in the ice – an immersive exhibition at COP26 A new immersive exhibition, Polar Zero, is on at the Glasgow Science Centre. The idea behind the show is to pause and reflect on humanity’s impact on our past, present and future climate. The centrepieces of the exhibition are a cylindrical glass sculpture encasing Antarctic air from the year 1765 – the date that scientists say predates the Industrial Revolution – and an Antarctic ice core containing trapped air bubbles that reveal a unique record of our past climate. With more than a million years of data stored in the ice and computer modelling vital to creating the exhibits, reporter Hannah Fisher finds out how climate data is being presented to allow us to understand the science better. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Bitcoin crypto coin mining hardware. Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)