What went wrong at BA?

Travel chaos at Heathrow Image copyright Getty Images

As British Airways (BA) finally starts to recover from a disastrous IT failure, an inquest is under way into what went wrong and why it has taken so long to fix it.

I've been contacted by someone who spent 30 years in corporate IT with some interesting theories.

The man - who doesn't want to be named - says airlines probably invest more in IT than any other organisations apart from banks, so this kind of thing just should not happen.

But he has three questions.

Why did a power failure have such an impact?

BA blames a power cut but in the words of my expert, it shouldn't have caused "even a flicker of the lights" in the data-centre. The UPS - the uninterruptible power supply - should have kicked in immediately.

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Tech Tent: Safer social networks and retro phones

Rory Cellan-Jones

How do social media giants cope with an ever increasing torrent of offensive material posted by their users? On this week's Tech Tent we look at the problem of moderation, after Facebook's training manual detailing how it decides what to allow and what to delete was leaked.

We also talk about the future of work as the robots advance, and we ask whether a retro phone is a sign that we are getting tired of being connected all the time.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption UK PM Theresa May urged action against online extremism when she addressed the G8 summit

The Moderation Game

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Tech Tent: France's tech ambitions

Rory Cellan-Jones

Just as Tech Tent was winding up last Friday, a message flashed on my screen about computer problems at NHS hospitals.

It rapidly became clear that one of the most damaging cyber-crimes we've seen was under way - and on this week's programme we look at what's emerged about the possible identity of the people behind the Wannacry ransomware.

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Ransomware and the NHS - the inquest begins

Accident and Emergency entrance Image copyright EPA

We now know that Friday's ransomware attack was a global cybercrime, hitting organisations ranging from the Russian Interior Ministry to the delivery firm Fedex.

But the most serious impact was here in the UK on the National Health Service. So what made our hospitals so vulnerable?

Read full article Ransomware and the NHS - the inquest begins

UK virtual reality firm Improbable raises $500m

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Media captionHerman Narula: The future of games is "very exciting"

A London-based virtual reality firm has raised $500m (£388m) in one of the biggest investments in an early stage European technology business.

Japan's Softbank is backing Improbable in a funding round that values the business at more than $1bn.

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Tech Tent - High-tech polls, robot helpers

Rory Cellan-Jones

On this week's Tech Tent we ask whether new technology can provide better ways of assessing the state of public opinion in the run-up to elections. We also meet a robot which promises to guide us around airports and we hear about a court battle between two big Silicon Valley names over self-driving car technology.

Election tech

The performance of opinion polls has been under scrutiny over the last year - and found wanting. The pollsters were confident that the Remain side would win the EU referendum and Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump to the US Presidency, and they were wrong.

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Tech Tent - Fake news and flying cars

Rory Cellan-Jones

On Tech Tent this week, we seek answers to two questions obsessing the technology world - can we stem the tide of fake news, and perhaps less seriously, how soon can I go to work in a flying car?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jimmy Wales hopes to get enough donations to hire a team of journalists

Truth and the Internet

Jimmy Wales has a mission to change the way news works. The founder of Wikipedia has launched something called Wikitribune with the aim of fixing a news landscape he describes as broken. The service will be free but will rely on regular donations to fund the professional journalists who will work alongside volunteer editors.

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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.

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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

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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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