Quiet Zone Click


Quiet Zone

Scissor Sister Ana Matronic finds out how nature is influencing robots. Plus the latest from the Gamecity Festival, and the town in the USA that is free from radio signals.


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Transcript


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to Hamilton Academical.

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That's all sport for now.

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Now on BBC News, Click.

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This week...

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Robot octopus gets a hand.

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People hit a wall.

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And a man walks across a big dish.

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We've dreamed of robots for decades.

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In fact we've been thinking about them for a lot longer than

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we had the ability to build them.

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But one of the biggest barriers to robots working alongside us

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in the real world is, well, their lack of ability to cope

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with the real world.

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See, living bodies are amazing.

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See, living bodies are amazing.

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See, living bodies are amazing.

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They can do all kinds of things that robots mind really hard.

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They can balance without thinking about it, they can walk

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without burning up loads of energy, they can react to pain

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without waiting for the brain.

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Now, scientists have given this name.

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Embodied intelligence.

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And they're getting interested in building it into bots, too.

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To find out more, we sent in our very own humanoid.

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She is one part Scissor Sister, one part robo- fanatic,

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and she is all Ana Matronic.

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So we've gone and added a bona fide pop star to the Click crew.

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Having already documented the greatest robots of all time,

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we sent her to Italy to find out how machines may soon be pulling moves

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that would make Jake here proud.

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The world is full of extraordinary creatures with highly specialised

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abilities that allow them to navigate and thrive in the most

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hostile environments.

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And the genius of nature is exactly where scientists are looking to take

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inspiration for designing the next generation of robots.

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I have come to Scuola Sant'Anna in Italy where researchers

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and engineers at the soft robotics lab have been studying the octopus.

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A highly intelligent and adaptable creature with complex motor skills,

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a unique method of locomotion, and an aptitude for solving problems.

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The octopus's highly sensitive and agile tentacles have evolved

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to move in intricate and sophisticated ways.

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Yet most of the intelligence lies within the arms themselves,

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and not in the sea creature's brain.

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It's this sort of intelligence soft robotics are emulating.

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Engineering robots with motor function built into its limbs,

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and without the heavy parts or computer processing that

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traditional mechanical robotics rely on.

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Sometimes if you design the soft body well, in the smart way,

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even with just one movement, I'm pulling the wires,

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it's just one motor that can do that, you would say a nice grasping.

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And the materials are such that they can adapt

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to the object to grasp.

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And be effective.

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I think that soft robotics can make new scenarios

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for robots that can deform, can elongate, like the octopus

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can deform and pass through small spaces.

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Or they can even grow.

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And another advantage of building robots inspired by nature

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is that their interactions with humans could become

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more naturalistic, too.

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The team here have created this shower head, in effect

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a giant octopus arm, to assist people with mobility

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issues with washing themselves.

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You developed this, and then you sort of gave it

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to the world, didn't you?

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And asked what they wanted from this technology, is that correct?

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Yes, in a sense.

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Actually at the beginning of our octopus project the typical

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question was, what is it for?

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Why are you building a robot in the shape of an octopus?

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And it was a good question.

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But for me it was clear that the challenge

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was in the technologies for building a soft robot.

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A very nice field of application is the biomedical field.

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Because there one of the big challenges is the interaction

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with the patient, with the person to assist.

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So you have a soft robot, of course, a lot of problems are solved,

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because safety is more intrinsically in the robot.

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It can bend in any direction and is made entirely by soft

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materials, and while its movements are complex, the limbs contain no

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artificial intelligence in the traditional sense.

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All the movement is achieved, like the octopus, by its physical

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design, by the special material that it's made from,

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and their ability to expand and contract, only by changing air

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pressure going through its tubes.

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And the team is looking to take advantage of this natural

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movement even further.

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This time by miniaturising it.

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This is made from a 3-D printed mould.

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So you get a lot of tiny, tiny, very intricate detail.

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And just like the larger version, uses pneumatic force

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to move the arm.

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And here we go, there it goes.

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And what are the applications of this tiny structure?

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Surgery.

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On the human body.

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Hopefully your innards don't look like this.

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But it is not the accuracy of human anatomy we are interested in,

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but this tiny octopus arm's ability to move around.

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Keyhole surgeries are a lot safer than open surgeries.

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Performed by creating multiple small incisions instead of one large one.

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So, tell me about the advantages of soft robotics in

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microscopic surgery?

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The idea is to be able to move inside the human body,

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pass around the organs, in a very flexible way.

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So to be also intrinsically safe.

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But when the surgical sight is reached, of course the surgeon

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has to be able to apply forces.

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And these can be enabled by activating these different

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mechanics.

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The entire system undergoes a sort of freezing.

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So it becomes harder, and that it is able

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to produce higher forces.

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And that is the next phase of this project.

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To provide surgeons with not only a highly flexible camera,

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but with a range of flexible surgical instruments that

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will increase the surgeon's precision and range of motion

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and decrease both trauma to the body and time

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of recovery for the patient.

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So all hail the mighty octopus and robotics

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revolution is inspiring.

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And with an entire world of remarkable animals

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with exceptional abilities, there's no telling just where robot

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it will take its next inspiration, and where that inspiration

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will take us.

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Everybody, Ana Matronic.

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Thanks for doing that.

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Oh, thank you.

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This is a real passion of yours, isn't it?

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It is, it is.

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I was not yet three when the first Star Wars came out.

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So I grew up with R2-D2 and C3P0 and all these amazing robots

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from science fiction.

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Robots are the one aspect of science fiction that

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are here, and they are real.

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It certainly seems from your experiences in Pisa that the future,

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the real future is very different from the future

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that we all imagined growing up.

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Yes.

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The future we envision, mechanical people, you know,

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humanoid robots walking around just like we do but I don't really

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think it's like that.

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I think it's similar actually to the Jetsons where there

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are going to be robot hands or appendages coming out

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of the walls.

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So what was the take-home moment for you from your experience?

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Human intelligence is not necessarily the holy

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grail of robotics.

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Evolution has shown us that intelligence takes many forms.

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And we don't possess every form of intelligence

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there is on this planet.

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So why not make use of every kind of intelligence when we are building

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artificial intelligence?

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Hello and welcome to The Week in Tech.

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It was the week that Twitter accidentally shut down

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Chief Executive Jack Dorsey's account before reinstating it

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a few hours later.

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It was revealed some users of delivery website Deliveroo's

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accounts were hacked, serving up bills for food

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they hadn't ordered.

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They were subsequently refunded.

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And parking for many motorists became even more frustrating

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than usual as pay for parking app and website RingGo went

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down for half a day.

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It was also the week it was announced that

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Bletchley Park, the site famed for World War II code breaking,

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is set to become home to the UK's first National College

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of cyber security.

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It will open in 2018 as a free to attend boarding school for gifted

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16 to 19-year-olds perceived as the cyber talent of the future.

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A robot that doesn't run the risk of taking a tumble

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has been developed.

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Essentially a helium balloon on legs, it can

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navigate land, staircases, skateboards and tightropes.

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Even showing off some funky dance moves.

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It may be getting an overinflated view of itself, though.

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And finally, Autel Robotics have found a new purpose in life for one

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of their drones.

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Helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner.

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Chopping carrots with a propeller and safely transporting a turkey

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are just a couple of its talents.

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But the video does come with don't try this at home warning.

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Just in case you were tempted.

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And it does look a bit messy.

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I don't know what it's like where you are but here in

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London, Christmas is a massive deal.

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All the shop windows are full of crazy displays and every year

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Claridges gets a famous designer to do their Christmas display.

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This year it's Jonny Ive.

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Yes, Apple's design guru.

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And his idea has created a bit of a stink in the media.

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Take a look at these headlines.

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Not exactly kind.

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And that may be why Claridges don't want us to go and film the thing.

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So I'm going to go tourist.

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Give me a couple of minutes.

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Well.

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I thought that was quite nice, actually.

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There were some trees, they were covered in snow,

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the whole thing smelt of pine, there was an owl hooting.

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No decorations, but then, you know, if I was Jonny Ive,

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and I was asked to compete against previous designs

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from previous years which include this and this, I might go

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a bit minimalist, too.

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Talking of which, you know on this programme we love to bring

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new cutting-edge innovation from high-tech corners of the world.

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So when David Lee told us he wanted to go somewhere that offered

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completely the opposite, we weren't exactly thrilled.

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And then he explained why.

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Drive long enough through beautiful West Virginia and you'll get

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to what is literally the quietest place in America.

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As you arrive, your phone will stop working, the radio will crackle out,

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and you'll find yourself in a place unlike any town in the world.

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Welcome to Greenbank, population 150.

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Things to do, not very many.

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But the research that takes place here could one day have a profound

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effect on the lives of all of us.

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The town is at the centre of the US national radio quiet zone.

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The rules are no mobile phone coverage, no strong Wi-Fi,

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nothing that might interfere with this, the Greenbank telescope.

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Once a week the telescope goes down briefly for maintenance.

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This was my chance to take in a truly incredible sight.

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It weighs more than 7000 tons, it's bigger than a football pitch,

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it can rotate in the fullest circle and it has a very important job.

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In the same way that an optical telescope is able to see far

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away into the universe, this enormous thing is able

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to listen far away.

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The energy given off by a single snowflake is much greater

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than the astronomical signal that this telescope

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is trying to receive.

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They use 20% of the time on this telescope to specifically search

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for signals that may be coming from an advanced civilisation.

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So if it happens we're fairly certain that it

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will happen here first.

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Back down on earth I meet Chuck.

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Locals call him the wi-fi police.

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I joined him on patrol.

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Interesting.

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It's Chuck's job to drive around Greenbank in search of interference

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that could be affecting the operation of the telescope.

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It's looking for wi-fi hotspots.

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So we've got a general-purpose receiver that is really the main

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piece of equipment we use when we are looking

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for interference.

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Then we've got a bunch of junk underneath here.

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If you're thinking Chuck doesn't look like a particularly ferocious

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enforcer, you're right.

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In the battle of Chuck versus home wi-fi, the wi-fi has won.

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So now he just concentrates on the bigger signals.

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You'd think living here with all these restrictions on normal,

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modern life would be irritating, quite hard to deal with.

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But there are some people who live in Greenbank and it's precisely

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the reason why they are here.

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Diana is one of around 20 people who have moved to Greenbank

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because they feel they are essentially allergic

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to electronic interference.

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Being near the cell tower, I had a headache.

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Being away from the cell tower the headache went away.

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Returning closer from a distance, the headache kept growing

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and growing and growing.

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Shortly after I arrived she asked if she could turn out the lights.

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Made these gifts to us be blessed.

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I used to multitask.

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I used to have a monitor here and I had another

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computer monitor there, and I could work those two things

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and I would be listening to the radio.

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I could do many things.

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But now, uh-uh.

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It's not one something wants to have, it's not something one

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would pretend to have.

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Diane has the full support of her family.

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But there are many out there that don't believe her condition is real.

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Regardless, she and several others see Greenbank not as a quaint

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American town, but as the last remaining safe place.

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But that peace and quiet could be under threat.

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The US government has said it may no longer be able to afford

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the upkeep of the telescope.

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Without it here, the legal protection for the quiet zone

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may no longer exist.

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Starts off our number one of something different

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for this Tuesday night.

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Despite the restrictions, the town does have a radio station

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that broadcasts on a frequency that does not interfere.

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For a sense of how the town may change if the telescope was to go,

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I popped in and found a friendly face.

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There is some people would be just over the moon and happy that we'll

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finally get cellphone service.

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But it's not going to change the fact that you can't

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put up a TV antenna, unless you're high mountain,

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and pick up some local TV station.

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If you talk to the middle school kids especially in Greenbank,

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they definitely wish that they did have cell service.

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Back at the observatory I'm told how they've rebranded in an attempt

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to import private investment.

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And while rather out of the way, there's ambitions that one

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day Greenbank could be a tourist destination.

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Eventually they hope it can sustain itself even without government help.

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Coming here and seeing this great big thing, it really

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makes your imagination run wild.

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What if they were to hear something?

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What if they were to hear that aliens were out there,

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communicating, perhaps even communicating with us.

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It would change everything, I think.

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So if you want them to keep on listening in that thing over

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there, then I suggest you try and visit Greenbank.

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I can promise you it's worth it.

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Dave Lee, getting a spot of peace and quiet.

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Not words that you would associate with video games.

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Although I hope you know by now that video games are not just super

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violent shoot 'em ups.

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In fact there is a far more thoughtful side to

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the games industry.

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And Marc Cieslak sampled it recently at a games festival that

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embraces all things indie.

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Every autumn for the last 11 years, Nottingham plays host to a video

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games event like none other, the GameCity Festival.

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Most games events are pretty loud and a little bit flash.

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They are about selling people something.

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GameCity feels very different.

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Most of the new games that are on show here are from much

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smaller developers, and the whole event has an indie vibe to it.

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A lot of the action takes place at the National Videogame Arcade.

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Here members of the public can get their hands on games

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old and new as well as attending seminars or joining

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in with interactive experiences like Alistair Aitcheson's

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Incredible Playable Show.

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One of the biggest developers here are Sumo Digital.

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They use this event as an opportunity to test audience

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reaction to titles in development like unusual adventure

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puzzler Snake Pass.

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The games industry is very similar to the film industry, I suppose.

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There's a big blockbuster part of it which makes the sequels

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and they generate a lot of money, but there's also the arthouse,

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if you like, side of it.

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So there's more independent developers making more independent

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games.

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They are making statements about society, actions, behaviours,

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feelings and thoughts, and telling stories

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that are interesting.

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The National Videogame Arcade is the centre of this festival.

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But there are events spread out all over the city,

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in different bars and galleries, showing off a whole

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host of indie games.

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If you really, really want to get to grips with what's

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going on at GameCity, you've got to get out and about.

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For most of the indie devs here, GameCity is the first time these

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titles have been played by the public.

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Repeat, abort mission.

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I am sorry, the connection seems to be failing.

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I am going through a tunnel.

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Return to Earth.

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So this is 2000:1 A Space Felony.

0:21:480:21:50

I think I can spot a slight Stanley Kubrick influence in here.

0:21:500:21:53

A space-based zero gravity murder mystery.

0:21:530:21:56

This particular game took six weeks to make and was completed just hours

0:21:560:21:59

before the event began.

0:21:590:22:02

I have run diagnostics.

0:22:020:22:04

The chance of critical hardware failure is at 0.05%.

0:22:040:22:11

So how important are events like this one for you to

0:22:110:22:13

show your gamesto people and get their immediate feedback?

0:22:130:22:20

It's incredibly important.

0:22:200:22:21

The amount of progress that we've made just in the last two days,

0:22:210:22:25

making it go from almost entirely non-functional to playable

0:22:250:22:27

from start to finish.

0:22:270:22:28

And I don't think we would have been able to do that if it was just

0:22:280:22:32

myself and my programmer playing it in our rooms.

0:22:320:22:34

You always think that you've got everything figured until someone

0:22:340:22:36

else sits down and plays it.

0:22:360:22:39

Another example of some of the very different sorts of games on show

0:22:390:22:42

here is the reality bending work of digital fiction All The Delicate

0:22:420:22:45

Duplicates.

0:22:450:22:46

Sometimes I sit cross-legged beside her clusters of markings.

0:22:460:22:51

Like I'm praying.

0:22:510:22:54

Praying to make her stop.

0:22:540:23:00

There are lots of games that I think you could say are probably not

0:23:000:23:03

necessarily your traditional games.

0:23:040:23:05

And the festival is very much embracing that.

0:23:050:23:07

All The Delicate Duplicates is very much an interactive reading

0:23:070:23:17

experience, but it's built very much with a 3D engine, a game engine

0:23:170:23:21

in it, in order to make it an immersive experience.

0:23:210:23:23

And to open it up to gaining audiences.

0:23:230:23:25

And to be part of that is driving the conversation forward

0:23:250:23:28

and is showing us so much more what games could potentially be.

0:23:280:23:30

Games as art, games as head scratching murder mystery,

0:23:300:23:37

and games as crowd pleasing interactive installations.

0:23:370:23:38

The GameCity Festival continues to challenge

0:23:380:23:40

what we think about video games.

0:23:400:23:50

That was Marc, and that's it for this week.

0:23:530:23:55

Now, next Saturday is International Disabilities Day,

0:23:550:23:57

and next week's show is full of technology designed to help

0:23:570:24:00

people with disabilities, from 3D printed prosthetics

0:24:000:24:02

to self driving cars.

0:24:020:24:03

It's going to be brilliant.

0:24:030:24:05

Follow us on Twitter throughout the week in the meantime.

0:24:050:24:08

Thanks for watching and see you soon.

0:24:080:24:18

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