BBC World Service

Science & Medicine

Technological and digital news from around the world.


Click – Identity Day

April 19th, 2016

Episode 84 of 152 episodes

The film Avatar suggested a future where someone who was disabled could move around in the body of a proxy, an avatar. But just how futuristic is such an idea, and if it is realisable is it desirable? Without the ability to recall the past would not any proxy just be an empty shell? Virtual reality offers the myth of presence; technology can only reward with vicarious pleasure. If your identity is tied up with memory, what happens to that idea when memories disappear, and can tech that enables life-logging at least arrest if not reverse this loss? The idea of being able to store your voice, to bank it, for people with throat cancers or other degenerative voice conditions has informed researchers into the latest voice synthesisers, but if you lost your voice what impact would a restored synthesised version have your sense of your identity. Many people walk around with their mobile phones as if they were an extension of themselves; the loss of these devices creates anxiety because memories, pictures, correspondence and contacts have been transferred to phones as if they were a portable hind brain - their timelines are disrupted; their sense of who they are is undermined. Click is joined by an expert panel in the Media Café at Broadcasting House in London, to discuss how technology is increasingly shaping our identities: Neil Harbisson, a composer who was born colour-blind and who has an electronic eye implanted in his brain that allows him to hear colours; Cathal Gurrin has been wearing a life-logging camera for the last 10 years recording his every action; Phillipa Rewaj and Rupal Patel are research Speech and Language experts who have looked into collecting people’s voices for regeneration via synthesisers once their voices are lost. (Photo caption: Click – Identity Day BBC Henry Iddon) Producer: Colin Grant

Featured Podcast