Babylon puts a doctor in the machine

Babylon app Image copyright Babylon

Imagine a doctor you could consult at any time, describing your symptoms and then getting a speedy and accurate diagnosis - all in a smartphone app.

That is what British firm Babylon is promising, and to build this perfect doctor it is using machine learning.

It is a technique which is suddenly transforming many aspects of our lives.

Babylon is announcing an investment of £50m to build what it claims will be the world's most advanced artificial intelligence healthcare platform.

Its chief executive Ali Parsa says it will put expert health advice in the hands of smartphone users around the world. "Our scientists have little doubt that our AI will soon diagnose and predict personal health better than doctors," he says.

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Tech Tent - the Second Machine Age

Rory Cellan-Jones

From driverless cars to smartphone apps offering instant translation, the evidence of rapid progress in artificial intelligence is now clear to see. On this week's Tech Tent we report on two tech giants, Facebook and Baidu, which are spending heavily on artificial intelligence research. And we meet the man who was among the first to predict just how disruptive the automation revolution was going to be.

Erik's Automation Anxiety

Image copyright Neilson Barnard
Image caption Middle-skilled routine tasks could be hit hard by automation

When a book called The Second Machine Age was published in 2014 it had a far greater impact than most academic works. But the timing of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee's book about the wave of automation sweeping through the workplace was perfect, as the world woke up to the rapid progress of computing and robotics and grew anxious about it.

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Will Google move to block adverts?

AdBlock screengrab Image copyright AdBlock
Image caption Programs and extensions such as AdBlock are popular with many web users

Google's vast wealth and huge influence is built on one thing - advertising - so it might seem bizarre for the search giant to make it less likely that users would see ads.

But the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is planning to introduce ad-blocking in its popular Chrome web browser.

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Tech tent: Will fintech flee London?

Rory Cellan-Jones

On this week's Tech Tent we look at London's drive to make sure it remains the world's leading centre of fintech - or financial technology.

We find out why it's so hard to find a wi-fi hotspot in Germany, and we visit a coding school for refugees.

Will fintech flee London?

Image caption Taavet Hinrikus, head of fintech firm, TransferWise, worries about the possible loss of talent

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Tech Tent: Web founder on fake news

Rory Cellan-Jones

The battle to curb the spread of fake news has been raging ever since last year's US election.

It's just one phenomenon that has made the early optimism about the potential of the web to improve the way we communicate look misplaced. On this week's Tech Tent podcast we hear from the web's founder about his concerns about the way the online world sometimes rewards lies above truth.

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Fake news - is Facebook moving fast enough?

Facebook logos Image copyright AFP
Image caption Facebook has dismissed claims that it helped spread fake news that swung the US election

Only days after Donald Trump won the US Presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg described the idea that fake news on Facebook had swung it for him as "crazy".

But ever since, the social network has been scrabbling to prove that it does take its role in spreading untruths across the internet seriously.

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Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee slams UK and US net plans

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Image copyright Getty Images

The web's creator has attacked any UK plans to weaken encryption and promised to battle any moves by the Trump administration to weaken net neutrality.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee was speaking to the BBC following the news that he has been given the Turing Award.

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Tech Tent: Elon Musk’s amazing week

Rory Cellan-Jones

On Tech Tent this week we focus on an extraordinary few days in the career of the tech tycoon who's been likened to the comic book superhero Iron Man.

Image copyright SPACEX
Image caption The Space X booster fires for just over two minutes before separating and returning to Earth

We also discuss Samsung's most important new device in years, and meet one of the creative superstars of the gaming world.

Musk - who dares wins

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Can Google police YouTube?

Google Mountain View Image copyright Getty Images

The controversy over ads appearing next to extremist content on YouTube has been a largely British affair - but now it's making waves at Google's Mountain View HQ.

A new blog by Google's Chief Business Officer promises more safeguards for advertisers. But I've seen for myself just how hard it seems to be for Google to police its platform.

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Google's crisis of confidence

Matt Brittin Image copyright Getty Images

Matt Brittin's appearance at a London advertising conference could not have been better timed - for the watching journalists at least.

Google's European boss took to the stage at Advertising Week Europe just as the storm over adverts appearing next to extremist videos on YouTube hit new heights.

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