Could a $7 device bring computing to the world's poorest people? Click joins the first day of a global campaign starting in Kenya. Includes tech news and Webscape.
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This week on Click,
we're in Africa for the start of a global campaign using these
to bring computing to some of the poorest areas on the planet.
And we'll show you how you could use them too, to protect your privacy.
We discover the secret formula to predicting how
popular your snaps will be before you post them.
And we travel to San Francisco to see how shoppers are tapping into
the biggest brains on the planet to help them decide what to buy.
Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly.
As teched up as we are, it's important to remember that
two thirds of the world's population don't have access to
a smartphone or a computer. That's five billion people.
And for those who do want to get online,
bridging that digital divide can be really, really difficult.
We've reported in the past on how charities are helping out
in poorer areas but now, two colourful entrepreneurs think
they might have found a solution which funds itself.
Dan Simmons has been to Kenya to witness the first day of a global campaign.
The slums of Nairobi are some of the largest on the planet.
Mathare is home to around half a million people, and although
most don't have free access to some of life's basics,
they are interested in, and want access to, computers and the Net.
To grow, information is one of life's basics, and it's arriving here
in a way and on a scale that's not been tried before.
So far, most attempts to bridge the digital divide have
revolved around communities sharing refurbished PCs or tablets.
But now, one group has come up with an idea that could
see 150,000 people here own their own computer.
And it's all down to this, the humble flash drive.
The mission starts today at a school somewhere down there.
The WhyNot Academy has just been built.
Like other schools in East Africa, it uses textbooks
-and chalkboards to teach.
-What is this?
But in 2012 it was hooked up to the power grid, sort of unofficially.
And now these two characters have arrived,
it's been hooked up to the Net as well.
The WhyNot Academy is officially connected to the internet.
The makeshift solution, courtesy of a SIM card
and a router hanging in a plastic bag, is classic Nissan and Franky.
They're rough and ready entrepreneurs who just want to get things working
rather than worry about how they might look.
So they're making use of some cheap, old laptops too.
This is now my Keepod.
I use this little brain. But if Dominic needs now my computer,
no problem. I take this out.
He takes his Keepod, puts it in and starts working.
They may not get the explanation first time round,
but when the children are shown how they can say, "Hello, world"...
-..interest quickly picks up. And everybody wants one.
Next, headteacher Dominic hands out the flash drives which,
importantly, each child gets to keep. It's why they call it Keepod.
The laptops run directly from the small USB keys.
No key, no laptop as they don't have a hard drive inside.
In fact, any computer with a screen, keyboard
and a basic processor will play the perfect host
because each Keepod comes with its own operating system.
This unique desktop version of Google's Android mobile OS
makes any laptop or PC as simple to use as a smartphone.
So whoever's USB or Keepod this is in here,
whatever we browse will be kept on it so that next time they go online,
they'll be able to go straight to where they were before.
Obviously, you don't want to lose yours
-or swap it out for somebody else's.
-I see photos. Even, there's movies.
-This is a new technology. Wonderful!
-Talking to others, sending messages.
Back in the office, another good piece of news comes in.
This is calling the United States.
They want to donate for the project.
Even Arthur, the local PC repair man, is getting involved.
He'll offer IT support and strip the hard drives out of the laptops.
He can get up to 70 for these, so he's quite happy about it.
They're using the Keepod.
The first Keepods are being given away,
but soon, they'll be sold for about 7 each, making a small profit,
which should help pay for the project.
It will help Africans help themselves.
They are going to start to learn the skills of business.
They are going to learn to read the story of people who have
made it from nothing and through business,
people who did not go to a lot of education but they made it.
I mean, they are going to download viruses.
They probably will download some sort of malware
but it doesn't affect the hub that everybody uses.
It's just the one individual.
Anybody else can get on and carry on using things as normal.
You are not allowed to put that on the Net!
Backing up each Keepod is part of the plan but the steep learning curve
and the economics of this inventive scheme will be a big test.
Some fear the Keepods may be traded by parents for some meat to
put on the table if they don't fully understand its potential value.
And in many areas like Mathare, just getting electricity
and then online will be tough.
But here, the magic flash drives have arrived.
Each owner feels like they have their own computer and the party has begun.
Dan Simmons reporting from Kenya on the start of what could be
a game changer for many.
And if you'd like to get involved in that project,
we're told that starter packs will be available to buy later this year
which should allow anyone to supervise a version of that project
anywhere they like.
Now, while having an operating system on a portable drive
like this isn't anything new, the ways of using it,
like the Keepod project, are.
And one reason you might want one of these is to protect your privacy
because it's emerged that that's what
CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden used his for.
Last month, we discovered that Mr Snowden had been using
an operating system called Tails, a version of Linux that,
once on a flash drive or SD card, can be plugged into any computer
and which makes it easier to go incognito on the Web.
Tails includes super secure versions of common software.
It uses high-level encryption for everything
and accesses the internet via the Tor network, so wherever you surf,
they'll find it much more difficult to work out who or where you are.
Finally, it leaves no trace of what you were up to on the computer you used.
Tails is free to download by anyone but before you do,
you should know that, like any system offering security,
it's not actually 100% secure and it's not suitable for certain tasks.
So if it appeals, just make sure you're aware
of its limitations as well as what it's capable of.
OK, next up, a look at this week's Tech News.
Police in Japan have arrested a man suspected of possessing guns
made with a 3-D printer.
27-year-old Yoshitomo Imura is believed to have kept
the plastic guns at his home in Kawasaki.
It's the first time firearms laws have been applied
to 3-D printed guns, which can be lethal.
easyJet is turning to drones to inspect its aircraft, saying
it may introduce flying maintenance robots as early as next year.
The drones, developed by the Bristol Robotics Centre,
will be fitted with lasers and video cameras to scan
the outside of the aircraft and report back to engineers.
The Norwegian army has found a slightly different use for the
virtual reality headset Oculus Rift - driving a tank.
Cameras on the armour show a 360 degree feed of the terrain,
which helps soldiers to steer the vehicle.
Testing is ongoing as army officials admit the picture quality
isn't yet good enough to tell if the enemies are carrying weapons.
And a new range of kitchen appliances that can be
controlled by text message has gone on sale in South Korea.
The LG models allow users to request a picture of the inside of their
fridge be sent to their mobile phone so they can see what they've got.
You can also ask this washing machine what it's up to to
save getting into a spin over the laundry.
Now, we all like to take pictures of what we're up to with friends, but
have you ever wondered what makes a great photo, a popular picture?
And here's a thought.
If you did know that, would it change the pictures that you took?
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
one researcher reckons he can predict which photos will be
the most popular after analysing more than two million snaps
posted to Flickr.
His algorithm analyses colour and recognises objects.
So, what's he learned?
Miniskirts tend to make photos popular, bikinis and such,
as well as, I guess, revolvers.
And the ones that, you know, tend to reduce the popularity
of photos are things such as laptops, spatulas and plungers, as well as...
You know, some of the colours also tend to affect
the popularity of photos, such as, you know,
having brighter colours tends to make people click on them more
often as compared to having, like, the dull or more outdoorsy colours.
Actually, Aditya's colour analysis shows that these are the most
So aim to include the ones on the right in your pictures.
What do you hope will come of this study?
Do you hope that we'll all become better photographers or do
you just think that we'll all start putting more swimsuits
and fewer plungers in our photos to get more likes?
Part of the problem that I was hoping to help people solve was,
I call this a problem of selfie selection.
I guess people tend to take, you know, I don't know,
50 or 100 photos and possibly select one or two out of them to upload.
And maybe, if you have this objective way to figure out which one is
likely to be more popular, it might save you some time
and maybe you can do something else.
You know, it's hard for me to say exactly how people could use this,
but I think there's many more...
There's a lot of space left to explore here.
But is there a danger that if we all start taking these good photos,
good photos will become boring?
I mean, I don't know about you but if all my Facebook feed was,
you know, full of women wearing swimsuits,
I'd probably be spending all my time there.
Well, armed with the knowledge of what sells,
we aimed to take the most popular picture ever!
-HE CLEARS THROAT
It's got a revolver - a toy one - a mug from the BBC canteen
and a swimsuit. So...
Well, the results were slightly disappointing, to be honest.
Do you think we missed something?
Is it the woman with a lot of skin on show or is it the bikini
that makes it a popular photo? Be honest.
I'm almost certain it's the bikini itself. No.
I'm just messing with you.
It's actually the person wearing the bikini.
OK, joking aside, it does seem that we're starting to discover
more about what makes a photo popular.
So let's add another dimension to the mix - time.
What if your photo was shared as soon as you took it, together
with your exact location, pinpointed and broadcast for everyone to see?
This is what's happening in Stockholm right now.
Instant Peeping is a Stockholm-based website that displays live
Instagram posts on city maps around the world.
Dubbed a real-time social media experiment by its creators,
users - or peepers -
can watch the pics pop up as they're taken in any of nine cities.
The reaction from people so far has been positive overall and,
depending on where they're from when looking at different countries,
some countries have been talking more about the voyeuristic
part of it and calling it, like, the big brother of Instagram,
and some other people are really interested in the technology
part of it, how it works.
Instagram stores a lot of data alongside each picture -
its location, timestamps, filters used and so on.
And that means that Instant Peeping can plug the location data
into Google Maps and precisely pinpoint each snap.
And unless you revoke Instagram's access to your location,
this information could be aggregated by any site which want wants
to make use of it.
It's an interesting question - who actually owns the data?
It depends on how you interpret the policies, I suppose.
Instagram or Google haven't contacted us yet.
Wherever you look, though,
it does seem that you're likely to come across some familiar faces.
The most popular images right now, I would say, are selfies
and also cats.
Cats are a constant and selfies seem to be trending now.
It started as an ambitious IBM research project in 2007 -
to build a supercomputer which was capable of understanding
questions and answering them quickly and accurately.
Seven years on, Watson, as it became known,
is moving with the times in that it's shrinking and going mobile.
In fact, apps that use Watson will be
available for your smartphone later this year.
IBM has challenged companies to come up with clever ways of
taking advantage of all that supercomputing heavyweight
and Simmi Das has been to see one of them.
Nate sells outdoor gear at the North Face store in San Francisco.
Now meet Watson, IBM's cognitive computing whizz.
Three years ago, the supercomputer won the top prize
on the popular American TV quiz show Jeopardy.
Ask Watson a question in plain English
and it uses sophisticated tech to speedily find the best answer.
And we find...
Not just a literature buff, Watson assists physicians with
an immense job - keeping current on clinical trials.
And soon, it'll help shoppers.
San Francisco start-up Fluid is using it to power its expert personal shopper or XPS app.
It's building a prototype for the North Face.
Watson's computational might is the result of several technologies,
including artificial intelligence and machine learning.
What Watson can do and its power is that it can ingest millions
and millions of documents.
What's called unstructured data, which is essentially anything that's
written or spoken, it can digest, consume and learn from that content.
As you ask it questions, it gets smarter and smarter.
Content fed to Watson creates a corpus -
a database stored in The Cloud.
For the XPS app, it could include product catalogues and reviews.
Think of it as Watson's cheat sheet.
Can you tell me more about ABS technology?
Watson also relies heavily on natural language processing or NLP.
But that could create confusion.
What happens when you're communicating in human language
is you have expectations that the system on the other end
is going to act like a human.
So if it misunderstands something in a way a human wouldn't,
it's frustrating, or worse, you get the wrong outcome.
To use XPS, just ask a question.
What technical pack is needed for an expedition to
Fitz Roy, Patagonia, in the winter?
XPS aims to offer the expertise of a star salesperson with some added convenience.
Ever been shopping on a particularly busy day,
maybe mother's or fathers' day, or worse, Christmas Eve?
A salesperson might be hard to find, but an app?
That you can just pull out of your bag.
So you can type your questions in, you can actually speak to it
and it will ask you questions back and it will give you products
recommended along the way based on what you're talking about.
And that's just the start.
IBM is using Watson to tackle problems in Africa,
like water sanitation and education.
It's a tall order, one that'll test
whether Watson lives up to its supercomputer status.
Simmi Das with a massive brain in a tiny phone.
Now, even if you're not using these as a full-on supercomputer,
they are, of course, really useful.
For example, they help us find stuff - bargains, businesses,
buildings, people. But what happens if you don't want to be found?
Well, Kate Russell has an app now that helps you avoid your friends.
Here comes Webscape.
The prolific use of social media
and an apparent compulsion to friend everyone
we meet has resulted in connections with hundreds of random people,
not all of whom you want to stop and chat with.
Cloak is an iPhone app that hooks into social networks
Foursquare, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, keeping track of where your
so-called friends last checked in so you can avoid them if you want to.
It calls itself the antisocial network tool,
allowing you to flag certain people so you'll be alerted
if they pop up close to where you are.
If you're in a particularly unsociable mood,
or you're up to something you'd rather keep private, you can
set it up to alert you for everyone.
Of course, this app does rely on your contacts checking in somewhere
with Foursquare or posting a location-tagged image
through Instagram, for instance.
But those are just the kinds of people I like to avoid,
so it works perfectly for me in that context.
If you've ever felt frustrated about the lack of transparency some
social platforms have when it comes to privacy, My Face Privacy is
a free download that takes away the pain by managing everything for you.
It works with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+,
and using the plain language interface, you can
set close friends and choose what you want to share with who.
The software then updates your settings automatically without
you needing to hunt through menus
and dig deep into the complicated interface on each site.
Even if you think you've got a handle on the privacy settings,
software developers are constantly changing
and tweaking stuff behind-the-scenes
and My Face Privacy will keep an eye on that for you
and automatically make any amendments necessary
if a change affects the information you're sharing.
Once you've set your own privacy settings, you can
add additional accounts to organise your children's networks, too.
It's a great way to make sure the whole family are safe.
The London Underground has been running for 150 years
and carries over a billion passengers each year.
Running it is a complex city planning job
and you can find out exactly how complex by playing Mini Metro.
This is a bit like SimCity, where you have to make
decisions about what resources to use where,
setting up new lines to link the stations as they're built.
And choose carefully because if your stations get overcrowded
and your passengers can't get where they need to go,
the game is over and you'll have to start from scratch.
The early alpha build of the game is free to play online
or as a Mac, Linux and Windows download,
with the full version of the game, a premium upgrade, coming soon.
The privacy bandwagon rolls on and this week, colourful antivirus
software pioneer John McAfee has launched a messaging app.
Chadder is free on Android and Windows phone 8.1
and focuses on encryption and security.
For iPhone users, a new way to share -
Route Share lets you share your location
and when you should arrive at your destination, with real-time
updates via SMS, e-mail and other popular social platforms.
Perfect for making sure whoever is expecting you has got the kettle on.
Thank you, Kate.
Kate's links are available at our website if you missed them.
You'll also find clips from this week's programme and previous progs there, too.
And if you'd like to get in touch with us,
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e-mail, which, I'm led to believe, is going to be big one day.
Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.