Marketplace Tech

By Marketplace

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Monday through Friday, Marketplace demystifies the digital economy in less than 10 minutes. We look past the hype and ask tough questions about an industry that’s constantly changing.

Episode Date
How the pandemic has sped up the automation of some jobs

Even before the pandemic, the economy was seeing a shift to automation as companies looked for cheaper, more efficient ways to build their products or serve more customers. Now, the pandemic has led to staffing shortages in multiple industries and has accelerated the trend, which means in the future you may be more likely to order your food with a QR code, interact with a chatbot instead of a person for customer service or use a self-operating kiosk at a business that may never go back to the old way of doing things. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Kristen Broady, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, about how the pandemic is speeding up this shift. For many businesses, it’s an economic decision, Broady says.

Jan 21, 2022
R.I.P., 3G

In order to make room for the expansion into 5G, carriers are shutting down their 3G networks. AT&T plans to discontinue its 3G network by February 22, T-Mobile by July 1st, and Verizon by the end of the year. Commercial 3G networks first started popping up in the early 2000s and were about 30 times faster than their 2G predecessors. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Joanna Stern, senior personal technology columnist at the Wall Street Journal, who wrote about the coming shutdown.

Jan 20, 2022
Microsoft moves further into the gaming market with Activision Blizzard purchase

Microsoft announced plans this week to buy game developer and publisher Activision Blizzard, known for games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch, for an all-cash deal worth almost $69 billion. Both companies are big players in the gaming market — Microsoft makes the Xbox — meaning the massive deal is likely to attract scrutiny from antitrust regulators, even as Activision Blizzard continues to face allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Dina Bass, Seattle bureau chief and technology reporter for Bloomberg News, to get a sense of Microsoft’s strategy.

Jan 19, 2022
The next steps in the 5G rollout

AT&T and Verizon are set to turn on their newest 5G technology Wednesday. Both companies purchased rights to more of the spectrum last year and have been ready to deploy it for months. But those plans have been on hold over concerns the expansion into that bandwidth could interfere with the tech on planes, specifically an aircraft’s altimeter, one of the tools that help planes land safely. To mitigate those concerns, the Federal Aviation Administration released a list of 50 airports that will have 5G buffer zones. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Joe Kane, director of broadband and spectrum policy at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

Jan 18, 2022
The FCC is poised to expand tribal broadband. It’s acutely needed. (rerun)
Jan 17, 2022
The government achieves a breakthrough in its case against Meta

A U.S. District Court handed Lina Khan, the head of the Federal Trade Commission, a win this week. The judge gave the go-ahead for the FTC to continue its antitrust suit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, alleging that the company pursued an illegal “buy-or-bury scheme” to root out competitors. The court shot down the agency’s initial complaint in June, after the judge said the FTC failed to sufficiently define the social media market and the company’s share of it. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project.

Jan 14, 2022
The gaming industry sees major revenue in going mobile

Take-Two Interactive, publisher of big franchise video games like Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K, announced its plans this week to buy Zynga, a mobile game developer known for Words With Friends, and to take you back a bit, “FarmVille.” The deal is reportedly worth $12.7 billion and demonstrates the future of gaming is more than powerful PCs. This is a topic for our “Quality Assurance” series, where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jay Peters, a news writer at The Verge covering this story.

Jan 13, 2022
How artificial intelligence could influence hospital triage

The latest surge of COVID infections has hospitals crowded, short-staffed and, in some cases, rationing care. That means sometimes hospital clinicians have to go through a triage process to prioritize who gets care first, or at all. For example, a doctor may decide that a patient suffering respiratory failure should be admitted to the intensive-care unit over someone who seems to have minor injuries from a car accident. But that distinction, especially in a crisis, might not be so clear-cut. So medical research centers like Johns Hopkins and Stanford are studying how machine learning might help. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Dr. Ron Li, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford Medicine, where he’s medical informatics director for digital health and artificial intelligence clinical integration.

Jan 12, 2022
There’s a lot of money in health tech, but what about “femtech?”

Sure, CES had the snazziest new wearables and fitness gear, but the show this year also debuted new advancements in what’s known as “femtech.” This is technology targeted at health issues affecting cisgender women, as well as some intersex and transgender people. It’s an area with historic underinvestment, but that may be changing. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Monique Mrazek, a senior global health tech industry specialist for the International Finance Corp., which is part of the World Bank Group. She asked Mrazek what femtech encompasses.

Jan 11, 2022
Missed CES this year? We’ve got you covered

The Consumer Electronics Show just wrapped in Las Vegas. This year, it was a hybrid conference due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Some attended in-person exhibits and talks, while others tuned in remotely. One of the remote attendees this year was Brian Cooley, an editor at large for CNET. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams checked in with him about what new tech is getting all the buzz, and what it’s like attending the biggest tech show on Earth from home.

Jan 10, 2022
Where do right-wing extremists go when mainstream social media bans them?

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, public pressure forced social media companies to increase moderation of misinformation and hate speech. In the process, many users and groups were banned from mainstream sites. So those users, and some of their audience, are moving to alternative social media sites and apps. Jared Holt is a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank based in Washington D.C. He says these alternative spaces have seen noticeable growth.

Jan 07, 2022
The tech legacy of tracking the Jan. 6 insurrectionists

In the weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection, law enforcement agencies and internet sleuths identified hundreds of people who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Many were later arrested or faced consequences at their jobs or in their communities. Authorities used a variety of technologies to speed up that process, which was needed because there were millions of images, messages, social media posts and bits of location data to parse. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Anjana Susarla, professor of responsible artificial intelligence and information systems at Michigan State University.


Jan 06, 2022
With Elizabeth Holmes convicted of fraud, what does it mean for future biotech startups like Theranos?

This week, a jury found Elizabeth Holmes, who created the defunct diagnostics company Theranos, guilty of defrauding investors. While running the company, she claimed Theranos had proprietary technology that could test someone for a variety of ailments using just a drop of blood. That wasn’t true. So what does the jury’s decision mean for the future of investing in biotech startups? Elizabeth Lopatto is deputy editor at The Verge and covered the trial closely for several months. She said that a major theme during the trial was how Holmes spoke with investors.

Jan 05, 2022
What kinds of privacy problems await the metaverse?

One of the tech buzzwords in this new year is metaverse. And even though lots of tech companies are promising we’ll soon have an immersive experience where you can stream your favorite show or host a virtual work meeting, there is still a way to go before we get there. And one of the issues to be sorted out first — hopefully — is how user privacy works in a world build on augmented and virtual reality. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jessica Lee, a partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb, who advises companies on user privacy.

Jan 04, 2022
2022 could see innovations in everything from biotech to synthetic meat

New technology has shaped so much of the last year, including advancements in biotech and better software helped many of us work and learn from home more efficiently. So what’s ahead for tech in 2022? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Amy Webb, a futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute. Webb says 2021 gave us a lot of signals about what’s coming next.

Jan 03, 2022
Smart cities promised urban tech utopias. So where are they? (rerun)

Early in the pandemic, Sidewalk Labs — an offshoot of Google — announced it was shutting down a big project in Toronto called Quayside. It was meant to be a testing ground for smart-city concepts, a hyperconnected neighborhood from the ground up, with things like an underground network of package-delivery robots. But even before the pandemic, it ran into the same problems that have dogged smart-city projects around the world. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Shannon Mattern, who focuses on this topic in her new book, “A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences.” Mattern said optimizing cities for connectivity often means giving up privacy.

This episode originally aired August 23, 2021.

Dec 31, 2021
Let’s talk about gardening technology. Not some fancy gadget for monitoring water or sunlight, but technology that feeds the dirt itself (rerun)

Let’s talk about gardening technology. Not some fancy gadget for monitoring water or sunlight, but technology that feeds the dirt itself. Washington, D.C.’s wastewater-treatment plant is one of the largest high-tech plants in the world. It uses a process akin to pressure cooking to turn what’s flushed down the toilet into fertilizer fit for planters at home. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams takes a tour to learn more about thermal hydrolysis tech.

This episode originally aired on July 26, 2021.

Dec 28, 2021
Companies joining the metaverse are opening doors to new worlds — and their wallets

Ah, the metaverse — that alternate reality that we’ll soon be able to escape to whenever we want. Tech companies are in a race to make the metaverse in their own images so that they can take our future dollars. Facebook recently announced it was even changing its name to Meta, to reflect its focus on the space. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Dean Takahashi, who writes about gaming for VentureBeat. Takahashi said it’s now getting clear just how seriously tech giants have been working to build the future of the metaverse.

Dec 27, 2021
Which came first, the galaxies or the stars? New space telescope may answer cosmic riddles.

Many in the science community and fans of space and science in general are awaiting the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for Christmas Day. NASA and other space agencies have been working on this mission for more than two decades. So, what can we expect from Webb? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Adam Riess, a professor of astronomy and physics at Johns Hopkins University and a winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics.

Dec 24, 2021
Cloud companies are expanding from sharing photos to medical records

Sharing medical records between doctors and hospitals can be pretty difficult. That’s because there’s no universal digital system in the United States for sharing those records. Several companies are trying to change that. The tech giant Oracle recently acquired Cerner, an electronic medical records company, for about $28.3 billion. Oracle says this move will make it easier for medical professionals to access patient information from the cloud, which could help lower health care costs and improve patient outcomes. For more on what this deal will mean for patients and the pandemic, Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Julia Adler-Milstein, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where she researches electronic health records.

Dec 23, 2021
Solar-powered cars are here, but there’s a long road to wide use

The dream of solar cars has been around for decades. In recent years, as solar technology has improved exponentially, what was once a novelty is now becoming a reality. Several automakers have plans to develop and refine solar-powered vehicles. But how does solar deliver on the promise of a completely free and clean source of transportation power? We spoke with Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Guidehouse Insights.

Dec 22, 2021
New year, new age for the gaming console

Let’s take a trip down the technology memory lane to 1972, when Magnavox released what’s considered the first gaming console, the Odyssey. And in 2022, it will be 50 years since we started turning our TVs into gaming stations. More of us than ever started gaming in the pandemic, and we wanted to take this moment to check on how the business of the Nintendos and PlayStations, the Segas and Xboxes, has changed over the years. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jana Arbanas, Deloitte’s telecom, media and entertainment sector leader. She said consoles have evolved considerably.

Dec 21, 2021
How federal funds for EV charging could change the way the U.S. fuels up

The Joe Biden administration wants Americans to fight global warming by speeding up the transition to electric vehicles, and that means we need more charging stations. Right now, there are around 100,000 chargers nationwide, and the White House says we need at least half a million. A lot of money is going into building them. The infrastructure law, signed just last month, is sending $5 billion to states to build out the charging network. But what will all this investment look like? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Sam Houston, a senior vehicles analyst for the clean transportation program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Dec 20, 2021
Is Big Tech too big to work together?

The tech industry is a powerful lobbying force here in Washington, working to shape government policy around technology regulations, trade agreements and privacy laws. And a big player in that space has been the Internet Association. The 9-year-old trade group counts Google, Amazon and Meta as members. But this week, the Internet Association announced it’s closing at the end of the year. That news is our topic for “Quality Assurance,” where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Politico’s Emily Birnbaum, who broke this story.

Dec 17, 2021
Timnit Gebru envisions a future for smart, ethical AI

Artificial intelligence can certainly be used or misused for harmful or illegal purposes, even unintentionally, when human biases are baked into its very code. So, what needs to happen to make sure AI is ethical? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Timnit Gebru, the founder and executive director of the new Distributed AI Research Institute. Gebru said one issue with current AI research is the incentives for doing it in the first place.

Dec 16, 2021
Cellphones can be banned as workplace distractions. What about using them as lifelines?

Tornados that ripped through five states over the weekend killed more than a hundred people and destroyed huge swaths of communities. An Amazon facility in southern Illinois was one of the structures hit, and at least six people there were killed. The disaster has some workers saying personal smartphones are necessary on the job. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Spencer Soper who has been reporting on this for Bloomberg.

Dec 15, 2021
Surveillance is entering the workplace — even if your workplace is your home

We’re rapidly coming up on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, working from home is mostly a plus. But your boss may still be looking over your shoulder. According to a survey, six out of 10 companies have begun monitoring their employees’ computer usage at home. Many claim it’s a way to stop time theft. Others say it’s an invasion of privacy when a job can see you or listen to you at home. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Dennis Consorte, a small business and startup consultant at, which did the survey. Consorte says there are several ways a job can monitor what their employees do.

Dec 14, 2021
Mental health pros are using video games to level up therapy

For decades, mental health professionals have been using toys and games to engage patients during psychotherapy. During the pandemic, that was a lot harder as therapy went remote. So some therapists are ditching analog games like Candy Land for world-building online games like Roblox or Minecraft. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Josué Cardona, the president of Geek Therapy, a nonprofit organization that advocates for video games being used in therapy.

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Dec 13, 2021
“Predictive policing” technology is showing up in communities across the country

Many law enforcement agencies use software that crunches crime statistics, 911 calls and other data to try to predict where crimes are likely to happen. The idea is, this can help them know where to deploy scarce resources. A recent investigation by Gizmodo and The Markup looked into one of the companies doing this, PredPol, and found that the software disproportionately targeted certain neighborhoods. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Aaron Sankin, a reporter with The Markup and one of the authors of the report.

New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Please give now.

Dec 10, 2021
Easing the chip shortage means moving manufacturing to the U.S., commerce secretary says

One of the biggest supply chain stories of the pandemic is the shortage of semiconductors of all kinds. The vast majority of chips are made outside the U.S. Some lawmakers want the White House to invoke the Defense Production Act, which could force companies to prioritize what the government says it needs to ease the shortage. In the meantime, the White House is pushing for more funding to boost domestic chip production. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with the official leading that charge: Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. She is encouraging Congress to fund the CHIPS for America Act, which provides incentives for semiconductor manufacturing and research in the United States.

New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far, with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Please give now.

Dec 09, 2021
Making the digital world more accessible means building it from the code up

There are lots of ways to make websites and apps more accessible for people with disabilities. Yet, when many people go online, features like sign-ups, check out forms and interactives simply don’t work with assistive technology. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Joe Devon, the co-founder of Diamond, a digital design company that builds accessible websites. Diamond, for the last few years, has reviewed the top 100 websites (according to Alexa) to check how accessible they are. Devon says accessibility starts with the basics.

Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Give now.

Dec 08, 2021
Big streaming hits translate into big demand for toys

It’s the holiday shopping season, as if you needed to be reminded of that little stress bomb. If you need ideas for what to get the kids in your life, you can probably figure it out based on what they like to watch. Maybe they’re into “The Mandalorian” or the “He-Man” reboot. Maybe they just want to watch the same episode of “PAW Patrol” over and over and over again. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Madeleine Buckley, who covers the industry for The Toy Book, and she says it’s true that TV has always been fodder for selling toys to kids, but with streaming platforms shifting how we watch, the toy business model keeps evolving.

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Dec 07, 2021
What will your next phone charger look like? That’s up for negotiation.

If you’ve ever switched computers brands or cellphones, chances are you needed a new charger. That’s because certain plug shapes haven’t been standardized from company to company or country to country. But sometimes companies agree to a common strategy. In fact, companies can set the standard for new technology just by being first or by being the most dominant. While American firms have been the main standard-setters in the past, Chinese businesses are picking up speed. Kimberly Adams speaks with Marketplace’s China correspondent Jennifer Pak about this. And Pak says without international standards, switching between brands or locations can be a headache.

New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Give Now.

Dec 06, 2021
YouTube makes the case for its “creative economy”

Many tech companies had a good pandemic, financially-speaking, at least. That includes YouTube, which is of course owned by Google, owned by Alphabet. YouTube ad revenue jumped 46% between 2019 and 2020, as people stuck at home turned to the platform for all sorts of reasons. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who says more people are becoming creators for the platform, as well as consumers of videos. And they’re making money in the process.

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Dec 03, 2021
YouTube CEO says its content moderation focuses on what people say, not who they are

One of the biggest debates in society right now is over online speech, and how much power tech companies should have in determining what content comes down, and what stays up, or who gets to use the platforms at all. Some complain Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are too heavy handed or biased. While others argue the platforms need to be way more aggressive. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube and asked about her strategy.

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Dec 02, 2021
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on tech regulation and transparency

Today on Capitol Hill, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is again testifying before Congress on how to hold tech companies accountable. She’s one of many voices calling for more regulation of the industry, which could come from dozens of bills being considered by Congress. That legislation could have a big impact on platforms like YouTube. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube. She says the industry is already subject to regulations, both in the United States and around the world, and that Congress should be cautious as it considers new laws.

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Dec 01, 2021
What the departure of Twitter’s Jack Dorsey means for other founders

Jack Dorsey has stepped down as the CEO of Twitter, a company he co-founded 15 years ago. Companies are often associated with their founders, and in Silicon Valley, having a smart, charismatic founder can be the difference between getting off the ground at all, or not. But in his note announcing his departure, Dorsey said it’s critical for companies to stand on their own, free of their founder’s influence. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Sarah Kunst, general partner at the venture firm Cleo Capital, about what challenges lie ahead for Dorsey’s replacement as CEO, Parag Agrawal.

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Nov 30, 2021
What’s next? The essential question in tech, this time for “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood

“Marketplace Tech’s” Molly Wood is leaving journalism after two decades, including the past four years as the host of this show. More recently, Molly has been co-host of the Marketplace podcast “Make Me Smart” and host of the new show about climate change solutions, “How We Survive.” And since Molly’s a reporter who has asked some pretty hard questions of her guests over the years, Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams asks her questions submitted by listeners.

Nov 29, 2021
Smart devices are listening to more than our words

This episode was originally published May 17, 2021.

Picture this: You’re not feeling so hot and you say to your smart speaker, “Robot, I’m hungry,” and you cough. And the device says, “Would you like a recipe for chicken soup?” And then, “By the way, would you like to order cough drops with one-hour delivery?” This is the scenario laid out in one of Amazon’s patents. And it shows how voice recognition technology could be used to learn things about us, beyond the words we say to our devices. Like whether we’re sick or depressed. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Joe Turow, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who writes about all of this in his new book “The Voice Catchers: How Marketers Listen In to Exploit Your Feelings, Your Privacy, and Your Wallet.”

Nov 26, 2021
Water infrastructure: It’s boring. Invisible. We only care about it when things go wrong.

This episode originally aired Sept. 9, 2021.

Water infrastructure — it’s boring. Invisible. We only care about it when things go wrong, and things have been going wrong. Punishing storms have caused catastrophic flooding in New York, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere. But water systems are expensive, time consuming and hard to fix. Technology may provide some relief. Marketplace’s Jed Kim talks to Paul Robinson, the executive director of RISE, a nonprofit accelerator in Norfolk, Virginia, that helps develop climate tech. Robinson says one of the companies they fund is StormSensor, which puts sensors in storm and sewer pipes.

Nov 25, 2021
How safe is your data when you shop online?

Many Americans hand over volumes of personal data to Amazon. The company knows what we buy, what we consider buying, even whom we might be buying things for. And according to a new investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and Wired, many Amazon employees have exploited access to that customer data. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Will Evans, a senior reporter at Reveal, who has been covering this.

Nov 24, 2021
When social media is a gift for new businesses in the holiday shopping season

For Ruben Trujillo, coffee is not just a beverage, it’s his passion. He spent several years working as an English teacher in South Korea, getting deep into the coffee culture there. When he returned to the U.S., he decided to start his own business, Cafe Emporos, selling selling pre-filled personalized coffee filters. Trujillo shares his story and tells how TikTok marketing really launched his business.


Nov 23, 2021
Got to fly like an eagle (by which we mean, have an insignificant carbon footprint)

The holidays often mean traveling, which frequently means flying. For many who are hyper-aware of their carbon footprints, flying can bring on a guilt trip. Commercial flights account for about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions. Now, though, there are a variety of sustainable aviation fuels designed to lower the emissions that are generated by air travel. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Evan Sherwin, a postdoctoral researcher in energy and resources engineering at Stanford University, about the kinds of sustainable jet fuels out there.

Nov 22, 2021
Telemedicine is trying to lean into the future. It’s complicated.

Many of us were online in the last two years in ways we wouldn’t have imagined pre-pandemic. Like for doctor’s appointments. The pandemic accelerated the widespread use of telemedicine platforms for both mental and physical care, in the U.S. especially. With public health states of emergencies in place, doctors could practice across state borders, increasing access for millions of patients. But now some states are letting their public health emergencies expire. So what does that mean for telehealth care providers across the country? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Brian Gormley, who covers this for The Wall Street Journal.

Nov 19, 2021
How cloud-connected dialysis advances home treatment

The pandemic has many of us relying on technology in new ways. And it prompted some innovation, including in the health care sector. For example, patients who need dialysis on a regular basis mostly go to clinics or hospitals, but during the pandemic, more kidney patients wanted to have their treatments at home. And as “Marketplace Tech’s” Jesús Alvarado explains, some new technology may make that a bit easier.

Nov 18, 2021
If batteries are the future, how can we make them better?

As you may have heard, Marketplace’s Molly Wood has been working on a new podcast called “How We Survive,” about solutions to the climate crisis. The latest episode is called “The Better Battery,” which we need to store renewable energy in our attempts to mitigate global warming. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Molly about how the batteries we have are good and getting better. But a better battery might let us use our cellphones all day without charging or drive an electric vehicle from San Francisco to Los Angeles without stopping.

Nov 17, 2021
The fight against the climate crisis comes home — to your home

Diplomats from nearly 200 countries made at deal at the United Nations COP26 climate conference to do more to limit global warming. Not enough, according to experts, but it’s something. Even without stronger global action, many are looking to individual actions to reduce emissions. For example, Google Maps now offers hints at eco-friendly driving routes, and many electric utilities are pushing consumers to install smart thermostats in their homes, with the idea that small changes by millions of consumers will make a difference for the environment, and for people’s wallets. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with John Picard, an “innovation catalyst” and sustainability expert. Picard says the tech to do this is already here.

Nov 16, 2021
As the infrastructure bill becomes law, what does it mean for broadband access?

The one trillion dollar infrastructure package goes beyond money for bridges and roads. It also includes around 65 billion dollars for a different type of infrastructure: broadband. Something that was especially vital for many in this pandemic, with those lacking access often unable to work or attend school remotely. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Christopher Mitchell, the director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He says that while that $65 billion is going into lots of different programs, there are a few big themes.

Nov 15, 2021
The tech industry says it wants regulation. What would that look like?

All this week, we’ve been talking about what it will take to update our laws and regulations to address some of the thorniest issues in tech and society. Today, Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams reports on the tech industry perspective.

Nov 12, 2021
Can the CFPB rein in Big Tech? We asked Director Rohit Chopra

The tech industry is kind of every industry at this point, including the financial industry, which is why the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is starting to pay a lot more attention to tech companies. From PayPal, to Apple Pay, to Meta’s digital currency, the agency set up to rein in big banks is now calling out Big Tech. Last month, it asked online payment processors for more information on how they are operating. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams went to the CFPB’s offices, just across the street from the White House, and asked the new director, Rohit Chopra, if he believes his agency is adequately equipped to take on these big companies.

Nov 11, 2021
Chuck Grassley on why he thinks Section 230 should be “done away with”

All this week we’re talking about what regulation of the tech industry could look like. Lawmakers are examining how companies manage online content, including whether Section 230, which shields platforms from liability for what users post, needs a closer look. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has been outspoken on the issue. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams sits down with Grassley for an interview at the U.S. Capitol.

Nov 10, 2021
Amy Klobuchar on what Congress can do to regulate Big Tech

This week we’re looking at what it will take to update the regulation of the tech sector. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has put forward several bills that would do just that. Klobuchar, who’s been working on this issue for years now, thinks we might be in something of a moment. Parts of the tech world have themselves acknowledged the need for updated rules and regulations (although maybe not exactly the ones the senator has in mind). Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams visited Klobuchar in her office on Capitol Hill to discuss her policy work and priorities.

Nov 09, 2021
Tech regulation is inconsistent and outdated. What will it take for that to change?

This week, Kimberly Adams talks with two U.S. Senators and other Washington and Silicon Valley leaders as “Marketplace Tech” examines the different ways the federal government is trying to regulate the tech industry, and what it will take to actually make it happen. In this episode, advocates discuss what future legislation could look like.

Nov 08, 2021
How the Chinese crypto-mining ban is also an environmental move

It’s been about six months since China started banned cryptocurrency mining. That’s the extremely energy-intensive process where computers run complex math problems to get rewarded with cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin. Until recently, China was the epicenter of this activity, partly because the electricity needed to run all those computers is relatively cheap there. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jennifer Pak, Marketplace’s China correspondent, to check in on where things stand after the ban.

Nov 05, 2021
What is artificial intelligence doing to human relationships?

Author Jeanette Winterson has been reading and writing about artificial intelligence and its relationship to humans for years. Her new book, a collection of essays called “12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next,” explores these themes. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Winterson, who said she wrote the book because she wanted to understand the implications that AI has for humans — the good and the bad, especially when it comes to AI and robotics. And in that space, Winterson said, a lot of the investment is going toward the good.

Nov 04, 2021
Can a magic box full of new tech help solve the climate crisis?

An invention that can pull lithium out of geothermal brine is a main character in this week’s episode of the new Marketplace podcast, “How We Survive,” hosted by regular “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood. Against the backdrop of the United Nations climate summit this week, where more than 40 world leaders have pledged to work together to bring down the cost of green technology, we’ll hear more about one of those solutions: batteries. Batteries are key to getting off fossil fuels. And a mineral called lithium is a key ingredient in those batteries. In this episode, Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Molly about what’s happening near California’s Salton Sea.


Nov 03, 2021
Thumbs up … or down on Facebook’s name change? We asked a pro.

When companies change names, sometimes they stick. Google introduced Alphabet six years ago, and it seems to have worked out. Netflix tried to introduce Qwikster a decade ago, and it definitely didn’t. Now, Facebook is taking on Meta as its new corporate name. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Anthony Shore, a linguist who founded the company Operative Words to name companies and products. He said that when it comes to a corporate rebrand, Meta … pretty much works.

Nov 02, 2021
How effective is data at predicting environmental change?

This weekend kicked off COP26 — the United Nations Climate conference in Glasgow. The country commitments made this week could determine what the world will look like in just a few decades. And those countries are turning to advanced climate models to imagine that world. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Zeke Hausfather, a data scientist and is the Director of Climate and Energy for The Breakthrough Institute, about these models.

Nov 01, 2021
Will a new name mean a fresh start for Facebook?

Facebook is rebranding. Mark Zuckerberg announced it’s now going to be called Meta. The move is meant to focus attention on the company’s efforts to build a virtual world known as the metaverse. Perhaps a welcome pivot for the company, especially in light of internal research leaked to the press that included revelations of Facebook’s negative effects on the mental health of teenagers, democracies around the world and the way people communicate with each other. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jeff Horwitz, the Wall Street Journal writer who first reported the leaks.

Oct 29, 2021
Sourcing lithium at the Salton Sea for battery power is one way to go

Your regular host Molly Wood has a new podcast, “How We Survive,” exploring solutions to the climate crisis. In the latest episode, “The Resource,” Molly visits the Salton Sea region of California, its mud volcanoes, moving geyser, and lithium-rich brine — lithium, as in the lithium needed for batteries. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams talks with Molly about how getting that brine out of the ground is really challenging.

Oct 28, 2021
When human rights abuses impact supply chains

Some major retailers are pulling some Chinese-made surveillance cameras and equipment off their shelves. That’s due to concerns the companies that make the equipment, Lorex and Ezviz, have ties to human rights abuses in China. They’re believed to be part of the vast surveillance network targeting Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group of over 12 million people in the country. This was brought to Home Depot’s attention by the publication TechCrunch, which also reported that Lowe’s and Best Buy stopped selling these products. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Samm Sacks, a cyber policy fellow at the nonprofit New America think tank and a research scholar at Yale.


Oct 27, 2021
The FCC is poised to expand tribal broadband. It’s acutely needed.

As we often say on this show, the internet is everything. But for many people, the only place to get access to the internet is the library. That’s a problem on some tribal lands, where many of the libraries are excluded from federal broadband subsidies because they don’t technically fit the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of a library. The FCC has proposed expanding its definition and will hear from tribal librarians and other stakeholders at a roundtable coming up on Wednesday. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams talks to fellow Marketplace reporter Savannah Maher, who has been covering this story.

Oct 26, 2021
NASA’s data is headed for the cloud

A lot of NASA’s work has to do with what happens here on Earth, especially as we work to track and respond to the climate crisis. And at NASA’s earth sciences division, much of of the data collected by future missions will be stored in the cloud, hosted by Amazon. That’s partly because the agency needs more, well, space. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Kevin Murphy, the chief science data officer for NASA.

Oct 25, 2021
Why 2021 is becoming a significant year for crypto

For years, cryptocurrency has been simmering at the edges of the financial system, viewed by many as kind of a fad. Lately, though, it seems like crypto is having a moment. This week, an exchange-traded fund that tracks Bitcoin futures debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. Bitcoin, a pretty volatile asset, has now been accepted, to some degree, by one of the oldest and most traditional marketplaces in the world. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Gil Luria, a technology strategist at D.A. Davidson, who says there several reasons 2021 is becoming a turning point for crypto.

Oct 22, 2021
Electrification to solve the climate crisis? Yep.

Marketplace has a new podcast called “How We Survive” about solutions to the climate crisis. The latest episode is called “Electrify Everything.” It’s about using electricity generated from renewable sources to power our homes and wean us off our fossil fuel dependence. So, how do we get everyone to adopt this century-old technology of electricity in new ways? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Molly Wood, the regular “Marketplace Tech” host and host of “How We Survive.”

Oct 21, 2021
How safe is your water from a cyberattack?

Ongoing cyber threats to local water and wastewater systems were flagged in an advisory jointly sent out by the FBI, the EPA, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) last week. It warned that systems to ensure that sewage and other biohazards stay out of our drinking water are vulnerable. The advisory pointed to several cyberattacks in the last few years, like one in Oldsmar, Florida where someone tried to hack in and dump extra chemicals in one municipal system. CISA is urging water and wastewater facilities to plan for, and get ready to block, these attacks. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Kim Zetter, a cybersecurity journalist and author.

Oct 20, 2021
What does “Squid Game’s” success mean for Netflix?

Many people spent the pandemic binge-watching TV shows and movies. And if the streaming wars were heating up before, now they are white hot. Netflix got a head start and pretty much owned the streaming space for almost a decade. Now it’s fighting to hold on to that position. And the competition is real: Disney+, HBO, Apple TV. Will “Squid Game,” the breakout hit from South Korea, reassert Netflix as the leader in the streaming competition? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Julia Alexander, a senior strategy analyst for Parrot Analytics.


Oct 19, 2021
Algorithms are often biased. What if tech firms were held responsible?

We talk a lot on this show about the unintended consequences of using technology, and who is harmed by that technology. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with a scholar who thinks about this a lot: Safiya Noble. She’s an associate professor of gender studies and African American studies at UCLA. Noble is also the author of the book “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism,” and a 2021 MacArthur fellow.

Oct 18, 2021
Automakers are so fed up, they’re just gonna make their own chips

As you have probably heard, or maybe experienced, there is a global shortage of computer chips. And carmakers, in particular, have been feeling the pinch. Without chips, they can’t make cars, which means there have been fewer cars available on the lot, and the ones that are there may not be what people want. This week, the chief operating officer of Hyundai said his company is working on a way to develop its own chips. Not many automakers do that, so it’s a topic for “Quality Assurance,” where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at the car-shopping site Edmunds.

Oct 15, 2021
To curb climate change, we need more mining?

As you’ve probably noticed, your regular host Molly Wood is off the show. She has been creating a new Marketplace podcast called “How We Survive” about tech solutions to the climate crisis. This season is all about batteries. They’re key to getting us off fossil fuels. But most batteries in the world right now need lithium, a metal that’s only obtainable through mining. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Molly Wood about her visit to a lithium mining lab.

Oct 14, 2021
Monitoring students on school laptops raises equity, privacy concerns

During the pandemic, a lot of school districts loaned laptops, tablets or other devices to students who didn’t have their own. And many of those schools installed software on the devices that can track what a student is searching for and looking at. School administrators say they need to monitor students this way so they can flag a kid who is in trouble. But do students and their parents actually know they’re being tracked and in what ways? Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Elizabeth Laird, the director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Equity in Civic Technology Project, who has recently done research on this.

Oct 13, 2021
Robots are lending a helping hand this holiday season

Last year, the holiday shopping season was kind of a disaster. With a lot more people shopping online because of the pandemic, millions of packages were delayed or delivered late. This year could be worse. There are shortages of materials, products, shipping containers and workers, and Deloitte estimates that online sales will jump by 11% to 15% this season. Retailers and shipping companies are trying out robots that can help them sort through items. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Ken Goldberg, a professor of industrial engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-founder of Ambi Robotics.

Oct 12, 2021
No chips. Fake chips. The computer chip issues are still with us.

Let’s talk about computer chips. We’ve told you that they’re in short supply — because of COVID and materials shortages and shipping problems, and because a lot more people have bought digital devices during the pandemic. Sometimes when there is low supply and high demand, lots of counterfeits appear on the market. These could be chips taken out of old electronics and resold as new. Some of the fake chips work, to a certain extent, and some don’t work at all. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Bill Cardoso, CEO of Creative Electron, a company that uses X-rays to inspect chips and see if they’re real.

Oct 11, 2021
Now what, Facebook?

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down on Monday for several hours. Then, on Tuesday, whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former product designer at the company, appeared before Congress, saying Facebook puts profit over safety and asking lawmakers to step in. CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a note on Tuesday night saying a lot of things, including the company does not put profit over safety. Let’s look ahead at how this week might change Facebook with Quality Assurance, where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Mike Isaac, a tech correspondent for The New York Times.

Oct 08, 2021
Now hear this: “How We Survive,” the podcast

In this episode of “Marketplace Tech,” host Molly Wood introduces us to her new podcast: “How We Survive.” The new show is a deep dive into technological solutions to the climate crisis and the businesses behind them.

Oct 07, 2021
The WhatsApp outage and its global economic implications

When Facebook went down for several hours this week, we got a sense of just how much people rely on the company and its apps. And not just because they’re addicted to scrolling and likes. These platforms are also used for commerce and banking, particularly WhatsApp, the messaging service. In many parts of the world, you can also use it to send money, like you would with Venmo, or to pay for a purchase. And in some countries, that’s a big deal because the banking and finance infrastructure is less developed. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Lisa Ellis, a partner with MoffettNathanson, about the effects of the outage.

Oct 06, 2021
Checking your Instagram? Habits, actually.

You ever log on to a social media platform and you don’t even know why you’re doing it? This stuff is addictive. Zamaan Qureshi is a 19-year-old student at American University and a policy adviser for a group known as the Real Facebook Oversight Board. He said that the physical act of swiping on Instagram can feel like “muscle memory.” Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra talks to Qureshi about the pressure to curate your image — always laughing and having a good time — on the platform. It’s a game a lot of us play.

Oct 05, 2021
It’s complicated: updating old government technology

The Senate held a hearing last week about the often old, outdated computer systems that our governments often use to run their programs and what it’ll take to move things forward. Those aging systems are a problem because when they break down or just can’t keep up with changing needs, it’s hard to fix them. One example: Last spring, the state of New Jersey had to recruit people who knew the 60-year-old programming language COBOL in order to keep its unemployment system from going down. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Joseph Steinberg, a cybersecurity expert who’s worked with the government and author of “Cybersecurity for Dummies.”

Oct 04, 2021
The road ahead: What about regulation for self-driving cars?

On Wednesday’s show we talked about Tesla’s full self-driving mode, which it is about to make available to more drivers. And yes, the name implies that the cars will drive themselves, but the technology isn’t there yet. A human will still have to be in control. But while the technology is advancing, there is no federal regulation of self-driving cars. And that’s created a patchwork of different rules across the country. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Jason Levine, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.

Oct 01, 2021
Tesla’s full self-driving mode is actually not fully self-driving

Tesla will soon allow more drivers to have access to “full self-driving” mode, according to tweets by CEO Elon Musk. Drivers will pay $10,000 upfront or between $100 and $200 a month to use the software. Up until now, a beta version has been available to a select group of people. And the name “full self-driving” kind of implies that the car will drive itself. But, as Tesla notes on its website, that is not the case right now — these cars will not be autonomous. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Alistair Weaver, editor-in-chief at the car-shopping site Edmunds.

Sep 30, 2021
Splashy tech events are still splashy … even online. By design.

Amazon hosted its annual hardware event Tuesday, where it announced updates to some products, like its Ring home security system, and debuted some new ones, like a home security drone. Microsoft and Apple hosted similar events recently. You know the kind of event we’re talking about, right? The kind pioneered by Steve Jobs. Big screens, fancy visuals, open bar, fancy food — maybe they’ve got an omelet station going. That’s how they used to be in person. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Ian Sherr, an editor at large at CNET, who has been to a lot of these.

Sep 29, 2021
Consider the curated life: Facebook pauses Instagram Kids rollout

Facebook just announced that it’s pausing the rollout of Instagram Kids, a version of the platform for children under 13 years old, while it works to “demonstrate the value and need for this product.” The pause comes after a Wall Street Journal story a couple of weeks ago about the company’s research on how Instagram affects teens. One finding? A third of teen girls who have body image issues say Instagram makes them worse. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Jean Twenge, author of the book “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.” She said the effects could be even worse for younger kids.

Sep 28, 2021
Tired of robocalls? The FCC is stillllll trying to stop them.

In the U.S., about 20% of calls to cellphones and 40% to landlines are robocalls — many of them scams. Tuesday is the deadline for voice service providers, including some phone companies, to show the Federal Communications Commission what steps they’re taking to stop robocalls. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Brad Reaves, a professor of computer science at North Carolina State University. Reaves said the FCC is telling these companies to be on the lookout for clear signs of fraud.

Sep 27, 2021
Hey kid, see you in the metaverse?

Next month, Epic Games will shut down Houseparty — the group video-chatting app that became popular in the pandemic — to focus instead on the metaverse. But, what is that, exactly? That is a topic for “Quality Assurance,” where we take a second look at a big tech story. While there are different visions of the metaverse to come, most digital builders and watchers believe the metaverse is essentially the next evolution of the internet, a virtual world that you’d move through with, some say, just one identity, not a bunch of separate logins or accounts. And you could do things in it like attend a virtual concert, sit in a virtual conference room or go to a virtual shopping mall. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Alexander Lee, a reporter at Digiday covering esports and gaming, about who would want this. Lee said it’s partly a generational thing.


Sep 24, 2021
New emoji are about to drop, but where do they come from anyway?

Emoji users: Your vocabulary is about to grow. The Unicode Consortium, a group that approves emoji, has added 112 new ones, including a melting smiley face, a coral reef, an X-ray and more skin tone and gender options, like a pregnant man and pregnant person. The new icons will start appearing on your phones later this year. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Jeremy Burge, chief emoji officer at Emojipedia, an encyclopedia for emoji. Burge talked about how emoji get approved and what happens when companies lobby for an emoji of one of their products.

Sep 23, 2021
Wearable technology keeps hooking people as COVID lingers

During the pandemic, especially with gyms shut down or just less appealing, people bought a lot of wearables. Those are smart devices that you wear on your body — in your ear, on your wrist or as a patch, even — that track your activity in some way. Look at sales of smartwatches. They jumped by almost 18% in 2020, according to Gartner. The research firm also forecasts that spending on wearables will grow to more than $81 billion by the end of this year. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra talked to Ramon Llamas, a research director at International Data Corp., about why wearables got so popular during the pandemic.

Sep 22, 2021
Amid massive rainfall and deadly flooding, how does tech help identify risk?

World leaders are gathering for meetings this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Among the topics they’ll discuss is the ravages of climate change. This year, climate damage across the U.S. included devastating flooding, and while some people know they face flood risk, many do not. That’s largely because the official federal flood maps are often outdated and may not account for the effects of increasingly powerful storms. We wanted to know how technology is advancing the mapping effort. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Michael Grimm, assistant administrator for risk management at FEMA, who manages flood mapping. Grimm says the agency continuously updates its tech, like lidar.

Sep 21, 2021
Patent applications reveal how tech companies may further threaten privacy for people in prison

For those in prison, privacy is already hard to come by. Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking at patent applications from some companies that provide communication services to prisons. Some of the applications they’ve seen include ideas to incorporate ads on tablets that would be given to incarcerated people and plans for systems that would identify and disable drones suspected of bringing in contraband. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Beryl Lipton, an investigative researcher with the EFF. Lipton says there are even ideas for robot guards that could deliver packages or electric shocks, depending on the situation.

Sep 20, 2021
Now we know some of what Facebook knows about how it’s hurting us

Facebook knows a lot about how it affects its users, because it’s investigated possible negative impacts. For instance, internal research showed that one of its algorithms actually encourages angrier content. Or that Instagram, which it owns, makes body image issues worse for teen girls. And even though it knows all this, it doesn’t share the information, either with Congress or its own oversight board. That’s the finding of an investigation out this week from The Wall Street Journal, called the Facebook Files. It’s a topic for “Quality Assurance.” Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Jeff Horwitz, a reporter for the Journal and an author of the series.

Sep 17, 2021
There’s still a lot to learn about buying now and paying later

There’s been a surge in the buy now, pay later space, which is exactly what it sounds like: Get something you maybe can’t quite afford and pay it off in installments. You might not even need to have your credit checked. By some counts, more than half of Americans have used it. There are concerns that this new method of payment could be confusing us about what we want versus what we need. And now Affirm, a leader in this space, is partnering with Amazon. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Max Levchin, CEO of Affirm. Levchin believes the new model of buying is necessary.


Sep 16, 2021
Facebook is taking a run at the whole cameras-in-glasses thing

You’d look so good in these Ray-Bans, and you could capture the envious stares of people who can’t believe how good you’d look. Because these glasses are built through a partnership with Facebook. They allow you to take photos and share video via cameras in the frame. It’s the latest attempt by Silicon Valley to reap bundles of money by using tech to make glasses more than glasses. Google and Snap have also attempted it. We here at “Marketplace Tech” are a camera-shy group, and the prospect of many more cameras makes us nervous. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Susan Landau, a cybersecurity and policy professor at Tufts University. Landau says there’s a reason we’d be uncomfortable.

Sep 15, 2021
Big Tech is finally seeing the dollar signs seniors represent

Apple’s streaming event from California happens today and many expect there’ll be an announcement of a new iPhone model. Speculation always abounds, because Apple is notoriously tight-lipped with these events. One thing that they have announced is a new feature in iOS that pays attention to how we walk, or our gait. The idea is that it’ll be able to tell if something’s changed about a senior citizen’s gait and that could give early warning of a fall. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Dominic Endicott, a partner and director at Northstar Ventures, which invests in “age tech.” Endicott says Apple has already introduced a feature in its watches that can tell if you’ve fallen, and it helps you call 911.

Sep 14, 2021
Looking for worms in Apple leaves a bad taste in ethical hackers’ mouths

Bug bounties. They’re an important security tool in the arsenal of many tech companies. Here’s how they work. Give ethical hackers the chance to probe your systems for weaknesses, pay them for exploits they find and fix said exploits before ne’er-do-wells find and use them. Bounty programs vary from company to company. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Reed Albergotti, a tech reporter for The Washington Post who wrote about widespread dissatisfaction with how Apple pays its bounties and the ways it limits communication about the bugs hackers find — all problems that may hurt security for Apple users.

Sep 13, 2021
Storms are getting stronger. So how do we adapt?

Friday marks the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which has already been a very active and destructive one. Marketplace’s Jed Kim continues his discussion with Paul Robinson about how tech can help us cope with flooding. Robinson’s executive director of RISE Resilience Innovations, a nonprofit tech accelerator in Norfolk, Virginia. It supports a wide range of startups that are focused on climate resilience. Some aim to train up a workforce that’s ready to do flood-resistant construction. Others try to aid our adaptability, like developing apps that predict and monitor flooding and map it in real time.

Sep 10, 2021
Flooding is getting worse. Can tech help us deal with it?

Water infrastructure — it’s boring. Invisible. We only care about it when things go wrong, and things have been going wrong. Punishing storms have caused catastrophic flooding in New York, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere. But water systems are expensive, time consuming and hard to fix. Technology may provide some relief. Marketplace’s Jed Kim talks to Paul Robinson, the executive director of RISE, a nonprofit accelerator in Norfolk, Virginia, that helps develop climate tech. Robinson says one of the companies they fund is StormSensor, which puts sensors in storm and sewer pipes

Sep 09, 2021
The business of editing genes to battle disease is bringing in record funding

When you’re sick, you can get treated with medicine or surgery. There’s a growing field, though, that looks at our own cells as treatment delivery systems. Many see it as the future of medicine, and that’s prompting a lot of investment in the field. This year, the industry is on track to raise more than $20 billion dollars, a record. That’s according to the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, an advocacy group whose members include universities, foundations and major biopharma companies like Pfizer, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson. Marketplace’s Jed Kim talks to Janet Lambert, their CEO.

Sep 08, 2021
El Salvador becomes the first to make bitcoin a national currency

Starting today, bitcoin is an official national currency in El Salvador, along with U.S. dollars. To use the cryptocurrency, Salvadorans need to download an electronic wallet. If they use the government-sanctioned wallet, they’ll get $30 worth of bitcoin to use. Stores have to accept bitcoin, provided they have internet access and can do so. They’ll still take American dollars. In the past six months, the value of a bitcoin has fluctuated by as much as $30,000, so how it’ll go is anyone’s guess. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with George Selgin, who directs the Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives at the Cato Institute.

Sep 07, 2021
The right to repair broken tech is key to farmers

This episode originally aired July 19, 2021.

The Federal Trade Commission is turning its attention to the right-to-repair movement — a pushback against manufacturers limiting who can repair the equipment they make. The agency put out a report on this in May that found “the burden of repair restrictions may fall more heavily on communities of color and lower-income communities.” One group watching this debate is farmers, as some companies that make farm equipment only allow repairs at their own dealerships. Kimberly Adams speaks to Terry Griffin, an agricultural economist with Kansas State University. He grew up on a farm in northeast Arkansas and says back then, DIY equipment repairs were just a part of life.

Sep 06, 2021
Apple and Google’s app stores have been fortresses of commerce. South Korea fired a cannonball.

When buying apps or making in-app purchases, you’re pretty much limited to either Apple or Google’s systems, and those companies are paid a commission of up to 30% on your purchase. South Korea this week passed a law that will force them to allow alternative payment systems — ending commissions when developers sell things directly. It comes as Apple and Google are under pressure from antitrust regulators around the world. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Nick Statt, a reporter at Protocol, who says South Korea’s law is a big deal for developers.

Sep 03, 2021
Covid tested our ability to teach during a crisis. As a new school year begins, how are we doing?

Schools across the country are opening their doors to students again. Many have remote options for those who need it. But a handful of states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, have largely banned remote learning, saying it’s just not effective enough. But as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, more kids may need to quarantine at home — and without remote options, they could miss weeks of school. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Michael Horn, the founder of the think tank Clayton Christensen Institute. Horn says many school districts face a lot of uncertainty.

Sep 02, 2021
OnlyFans put many of its users through an emotional wringer. Sex workers are getting fed up.

Sex workers are planning to demonstrate outside of several major banks in New York City on Wednesday. They say Bank of New York Mellon and others are discriminating against them by refusing to process payments for companies like OnlyFans. That is the social media subscription site made popular by sex workers that recently said it was going to ban adult content, then backed off amid criticism. Jed Kim speaks with his Marketplace colleague Kimberly Adams, who has been reporting on the topic. She said payment processors push decisions on what can happen online.

Sep 01, 2021
The mission to get girls coding doesn’t take a COVID break

The gender gap in tech starts pretty early. Look at computer science students: Roughly 4 out of 5 bachelor’s degrees in that field go to men. That’s why the nonprofit Girls Who Code aims to get girls interested at a young age — as early as third grade. Since the organization was founded in 2012, hundreds of thousands of girls have gone through its clubs and summer immersion programs. When COVID-19 canceled in-person classes, they moved totally online. That actually allowed Girls Who Code to grow, and enrollment went up 200%. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Tarika Barrett, who took over as CEO this year. She said they had to design their new model with the hardest-to-reach girls in mind.

Aug 31, 2021
A kid’s dream come true — video games as medicine!

It’s the age-old mantra of parents who won’t let their kids have gaming consoles — too many video games hurt your brain! But last summer, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever prescription video game. It’s called EndeavorRX, and it’s meant to help treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in kids age 8 to 12. It’s not a standalone treatment — it’ll be prescribed along with other, more traditional medication. Without insurance, it costs about $100 a month. A year later, developers are just starting to reach out to doctors and potential patients. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Ian Bogost, who directs the film and media studies program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Aug 30, 2021
The legacy of the Theranos debacle weighs especially heavy on women in biotech

The trial of Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO and founder of the blood test company Theranos, is set to begin next week. Holmes is charged with wire fraud, having allegedly defrauded investors about the accuracy of Theranos’ technology. She’s pleaded not guilty. Many other women founders — especially in biotech and health care — have been getting compared to Holmes. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Erin Griffith, a reporter who covers startups and venture capital for The New York Times. Griffith says investors often ask female entrepreneurs to prove they’re not another Theranos.

Aug 27, 2021
Admit it, you rank your friends by how much they annoy you. Now, Google’s doing it for websites.

What drives you nuts about surfing online? Maybe it’s news sites that autoplay videos or cooking pages that bury their actual recipes below expanding ads. Or maybe it’s your dad, who keeps sending you links to Hampster Dance. Well, for some of the things that make you pull your hair out while browsing, there may be hope. By the end of the month, Google will change how it ranks websites, so that ones that are harder to load are ranked lower. Will that make websites less annoying? Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks to Simon Schnieders, founder of the search engine optimization agency Blue Array.

Aug 26, 2021
Big batteries are key to the planet’s future. But what’s up with these Bolt fires?

The electric vehicle market got a little shake-up this month after Chevy recalled all of its Bolts due to the risk of battery fires. The recall comes as the EV market is getting hot … uh, no. It’s set to explo — nope! There are going to be a lot more sales in the future. Like many people, Marketplace’s Jed Kim would like to know how a lithium-ion battery goes pear-shaped. He asked Kristin Persson, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Aug 25, 2021
Everyone finally understands the importance of cybersecurity. What does that mean for cybersecurers?

There’ve been lots of big security breaches recently. Like in the recent case of T-Mobile, where about 50 million people’s personal information got exposed. And attacks on critical infrastructure, like the Colonial Pipeline hack. Remember those gas shortages along the East Coast? As hacks go up, so does the demand for help preventing and responding to them. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Lesley Carhart, an incident responder for the industrial cybersecurity company Dragos. Carhart said nowadays, people understand what she does — including her grandma.

Aug 24, 2021
Smart cities promised urban tech utopias. So where are they?

Early in the pandemic, Sidewalk Labs — an offshoot of Google — announced it was shutting down a big project in Toronto called Quayside. It was meant to be a testing ground for smart-city concepts, a hyperconnected neighborhood from the ground up, with things like an underground network of package-delivery robots. But even before the pandemic, it ran into the same problems that have dogged smart-city projects around the world. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Shannon Mattern, who focuses on this topic in her new book, “A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences.” Mattern said optimizing cities for connectivity often means giving up privacy.




Aug 23, 2021
It’s the last gasp for Internet Explorer, once the browser to rule them all

This week, some Microsoft apps, like Outlook, started their slow march to no longer working in Internet Explorer. Next year, the browser itself won’t be supported anymore, as Microsoft moves users to its Edge browser instead. It’s the end of an era for Internet Explorer, which was created back in the ’90s during the browser wars and was the focus of the big antitrust case against Microsoft. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Margaret O’Mara, a professor of history at the University of Washington. O’Mara said the first major browser was Netscape Navigator, co-developed by Marc Andreessen, who saw browsers as the future of everyday computing.

Aug 20, 2021
Digital tools have become a liability and a lifeline of last resort in Afghanistan

When the Afghan government quickly fell to the Taliban over the weekend, alerts went out with instructions to delete digital activity. Contacts, photos, music — anything that might link someone to something opposed by the Taliban. But in the absence of a coordinated evacuation effort, vulnerable Afghans are now being asked to share personal information online, sometimes to accounts they can’t confirm are legitimate. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Eileen Guo, a senior reporter covering tech policy and ethics at MIT Technology Review. Guo spent two and a half years in Kabul as founder of Impassion Afghanistan the country’s first digital media agency and she says Afghans are being asked to share details about past employment, even scans of their passports.

Aug 19, 2021
Using the power of minor internet celebrity to promote vaccines

The Biden administration is reportedly considering recommending a booster shot of the COVID vaccine. But almost a third of Americans over 12 haven’t gotten their first dose yet. Some local health departments are pioneering a new way to reach the hold-outs through micro-influencers. These aren’t the big stars of social media with millions of fans and their own product lines or whatever. Rather, these folks have smaller, local followings in specific communities. The city of San Jose, California and the Knight Foundation recently partnered with about 50 Vietnamese, Latinx and Black micro-influencers to promote vaccines. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Andy Lutzky, the city’s chief communications and marketing officer. He says San Jose’s vaccination rate rose 12 percentage points over the summer, in part because of the influencers’ work.

Aug 18, 2021
A window into the chaos and suffering in Afghanistan, through uploads

A lot of disturbing images have come out of Afghanistan. Some taken by professional media, such as people flooding a runway at the airport in Kabul, and many others taken by citizens on their phones and posted to social media. The technological ability of everyday people to document what’s happening on the ground has changed radically from when the conflict began 20 years ago. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Zeynep Tufekci, who studies the social impacts of technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She said that while citizen reporting from Afghanistan is all over the internet, some Afghan journalists and activists are trying to erase all traces of their digital histories.

Aug 17, 2021
If we’re gonna spend billions improving broadband, we kinda need to know what’s there

High-speed internet, safe to say, has become pretty essential to our lives, especially during the pandemic, and yet many Americans struggle to get it. The government has mapped internet access for years, but those maps have overestimated that access. So Congress tasked the Federal Communications Commission with making better ones. The first results came out this month: a map showing mobile coverage from four of the biggest wireless carriers. But better maps for wired broadband are still in the works. Meanwhile, Congress is poised to pass the infrastructure bill, which could allocate $65 billion to improving broadband in the places that need it most. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino interviews Nicol Turner Lee who researches technology access at the Brookings Institution. Turner Lee says this new mobile data is valuable, since about 15% of Americans — especially young and low-income ones — need it to get online.

Aug 16, 2021
Getting a clearer picture of wildfires from thousands of miles into space

The Dixie fire in Northern California has spread more than 700 square miles, making it the largest single fire in California history. There are more than 5,000 firefighters working on the ground to contain it. Increasingly, technology is aiding firefighting efforts like this one — from above. Andre Coleman, a data scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, helped create a new system that uses data from satellites to map the boundaries of a fire, multiple times a day, and predict what it will do next. He says it’s faster and more precise than traditional fire imaging.

Aug 13, 2021
A tech optimist reacts to a not-so-optimistic climate report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, issued a report this week that laid out over nearly 4,000 pages the reality that many are already living: Climate change is here, and much of that change is irreversible — rising temperatures, more and bigger wildfires, extreme droughts and flooding. And to avoid things getting worse, the report says, we’re going to need new technologies that help us capture and remove carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As part of our series “How We Survive,” we take a look at the role technology can play in a changing climate and how much money is going into it. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Jay Koh, managing director of The Lightsmith Group, which is focused on climate adaptation technology. He says there’s a climate investment boom going on.

Aug 12, 2021
Good news, parents and guardians! Social media might be getting a little safer for kids.

Google just announced a slew of new policies to make its products safer for young users. Facebook did the same just last month. Both said they will restrict targeted advertising aimed at kids and teens, though in slightly different ways. They’re also turning more protective features on by default — like setting kids’ Instagram or YouTube accounts to private, turning off autoplay and disabling location history. Google said it will get rid of “overly commercial content” from YouTube Kids. It will also remove images from its search results of users under 18, if they ask. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks to Ariel Fox Johnson, the senior counsel for global policy at Common Sense Media. She said there’s been growing concern about the ways these technologies could harm children.

Aug 11, 2021
It’s harder to schmooze a VC over Zoom, but the money’s still flowing

Venture capital investors poured more money into startups over the past year than ever before, according to financial data company PitchBook. Venture is, of course, how a lot of tech startups raise money. This finding may come as something of a surprise — investors have historically favored face-to-face meetings before handing a promising founder millions of dollars. The industry is known for being majority white and majority male and, historically, VC firms have placed a lot of value on the intangible qualities of an entrepreneur. But the move to connecting virtually means it’s not just Silicon Valley area companies that are seeing a boost in funding, it’s startups across the U.S.

Aug 10, 2021
So you have to be vaccinated to get into that hot new bar? There’s an app for that.

More and more places are starting to require vaccines for work, school or to get into concerts, bars and restaurants. That means we’re going to need a way to prove vaccination. There’s the paper card from the CDC everyone gets with their shots, but also digital vaccine passport apps. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Laurin Weissinger, who co-wrote a paper for the  Brookings Institution about vaccine verification systems. Weissinger says we’re starting to see these apps pop up in the U.S., but there’s a lot of variation.

Aug 09, 2021
Why is China targeting its own internet companies?

For months, the Chinese government has been putting pressure on big tech companies. It penalized the recently public ride-hailing company Didi for how it collected user data. It blocked two major video game streaming platforms from combining, hit e-commerce giant Alibaba with a nearly $3 billion antitrust fine and this week, a state-run newspaper called online games “spiritual opium.” But the crackdown hasn’t been targeting all tech companies equally. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Greg Ip, the chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal. He writes that the government views the tech industry in two distinct ways: the nice-to-haves and the need-to-haves.

Aug 06, 2021
Is Uber turning Postmates into a zombie app?

We learned this week that Uber saw strong demand for its food delivery service in recent months, despite restaurants reopening. Late last year, the company bought its competitor Postmates for $2.6 billion dollars. Behind the scenes, Uber has been working to merge the two businesses, transitioning drivers away from the Postmates corporate app for months, with plans to completely shut it down as soon as next week. The consumer app will stick around. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Alex Susskind, director of the Cornell Institute for Food and Beverage Management. He says even though Uber and Postmates are offering essentially the same foods from the same drivers, there’s a reason the brands are separate: consumers.

Aug 05, 2021
Twitter wants bounty hunters to help fix its image-cropping algorithm

Back in May, Twitter partially disabled an algorithm that cropped photos posted by users in ways that revealed certain biases. A company audit, and plenty of people on the internet, found the algorithm preferred white faces over Black faces, and women over men. Now, as part of the hacker conference DEF CON, which starts tomorrow, the company is offering a cash bounty to help fix the problem. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Rumman Chowdhury, director of Machine Learning Ethics, Transparency and Accountability at Twitter. Before that, she was founder and CEO of Parity, which helped other companies identify bias in their algorithms. Chowdhury says the cropping algorithm was based on data tracking where real people tended to look in photos.

Correction (Aug. 5, 2021): A previous version of this story misstated how Twitter’s algorithm was biased. The audio has been corrected.

Aug 04, 2021
Do privacy “nutrition” labels stop us from eating the burger?

About seven months ago, Apple rolled out some new features that let users see exactly how apps collect data about us and share it with advertisers. The privacy “nutrition” labels run pretty much on the honor system: It’s up to the app makers to provide the information. Now, Google is revealing how its own labels might work for Android. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Ashkan Soltani, a fellow at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology. He says we can get a sense of how effective Google’s labels might be by looking at how Apple’s have worked so far.

Aug 03, 2021
An app to track home health care aides has unintended effects

They’re called electronic visit verification apps, or EVVs. They log the hours and the movements of home health care workers paid for by Medicaid. States are just starting to roll them out as part of an Obama-era program that promised to make managing the work of home aides more efficient and reduce fraud in the system. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Virginia Eubanks, the author of “Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor.” She’s been following Arkansas’ implementation of EVVs and co-wrote a story about it for the Guardian newspaper. Eubanks said the state’s app has been glitchy, which led to missed paychecks for aides.

Aug 02, 2021
The Activision Blizzard walkout could bring a reckoning for the video game industry

On Wednesday, hundreds of employees of video game company Activision Blizzard walked out. The protest followed a lawsuit from California regulators accusing the maker of World of Warcraft and Call of Duty of unfair pay and lack of advancement for women and a “frat boy drinking culture” at the company. Management eventually apologized for its initial, dismissive response to the lawsuit and promised to investigate. Sarah Needleman covers video games and technology for The Wall Street Journal. She said men have dominated the video game industry for years, despite a roughly 50-50 split among players.

Jul 30, 2021
When it comes to electric car charging, it’s all about location, location, location

Yesterday, the show focused on how the growing market for electric vehicles is affecting the supply chain for batteries. Today, how about where to charge all those batteries? Many people have electric cars, and a lot more will by 2025. Global sales will triple by 2025, according to IHS Markit. But it’s not just about the number of cars, it’s also about the number of available chargers. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Jessika Trancik, a professor at MIT who recently co-wrote an article on charger placement for Nature Energy. Trancik says for the EV market to grow, we’re going to need more chargers in the right places, especially at home.

Jul 29, 2021
The road to an electric vehicle future is paved with lithium

The electric vehicle market, while still small, has grown rapidly this year. Of course, a global shortage of microchips could slow things down. In the long term, there’s also the issue of availability of lithium, a soft, silvery metal that’s the key component in electric car batteries. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks to Chris Berry, a strategic metals consultant and president of House Mountain Partners. He says demand for lithium is expected to triple in the next five years which is why some automakers, like GM, have taken the unusual step of making deals with lithium mines directly.

Jul 28, 2021
Why it’s so hard for biographies about women to stay on Wikipedia

When you search for someone notable on the internet, one of the first things that often pops up is a link to their Wikipedia page. But if you’re looking for a notable woman, that might not be the case. There are about 1.5 million biographies on Wikipedia. Only about 19% of them are about women. And those that do get published are much more likely to be targeted for deletion, compared to biographies of men. That’s according to research by Francesca Tripodi, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks to Tripodi about her recent paper, “Ms. Categorized: Gender, notability, and inequality on Wikipedia.”

Jul 27, 2021
How technology is changing what happens after you flush

Let’s talk about gardening technology. Not some fancy gadget for monitoring water or sunlight, but technology that feeds the dirt itself. Washington, D.C.’s wastewater-treatment plant is one of the largest high-tech plants in the world. It uses a process akin to pressure cooking to turn what’s flushed down the toilet into fertilizer fit for planters at home. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams takes a tour to learn more about thermal hydrolysis tech.

Jul 26, 2021
How important is broadband to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan?

Optimists in Washington, including President Biden, are hoping debate on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package could start as early as Monday, just before the August recess. Senate Republicans blocked a procedural vote to start that debate this week, pushing for more time to hammer out details. You’ve got the usual talk of roads and bridges, yes, but broadband is another key part of the bill, with a draft showing $65 billion devoted to expanding high-speed internet access across the country. Details are starting to emerge about what form that might take. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams interviews John Hendel, a technology reporter at Politico, who is covering the blow-by-blow.

Jul 23, 2021
Augmented reality may change how we see the world. Until then, we have Pokémon.

It’s been five years since Pokémon Go launched, sending kids and adults alike out into the streets, capturing Pokémon through their smartphones. It was one of the first massively successful augmented reality games, generating maps populated with the fantastical creatures based on actual maps. It tracks where players are in the real world to determine which Pokémon they can see. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, about the future of augmented reality. 

Jul 22, 2021
Robots are making progress on space exploration, along with billionaires

High profile trips by billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have more people thinking about the future of space tourism. There’s a long way to go before that’s common, but one destination for would-be space explorers is Mars. NASA scientists are working on robots to help explore more of the planet first. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams talks with Ali Agha, a principal investigator and research technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who’s testing a fleet of robots, including ones from Boston Dynamics called Spot by sending them into caves in Northern California.

Jul 21, 2021
New evidence that your smartphone isn’t nearly as private as you hope

Seventeen international news organizations dropped the results of a sprawling and detailed investigation over the weekend. It’s called the Pegasus Project, and it found that Israeli surveillance tech firm NSO sold its software to clients who used it to spy on human rights activists, journalists and politicians. One surveillance tool, called Pegasus, could infect people’s smartphones, sometimes just by sending a text. It could collect emails, calls, social media posts, passwords, even activate the camera or microphone. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams and Molly Wood talk about the story.

Jul 20, 2021
The right to repair broken tech is key to farmers

The Federal Trade Commission is turning its attention to the right-to-repair movement — a pushback against manufacturers limiting who can repair the equipment they make. The agency put out a report on this in May that found “the burden of repair restrictions may fall more heavily on communities of color and lower-income communities.” The FTC is set to vote on Wednesday on next steps. One group watching this debate is farmers, as some companies that make farm equipment only allow repairs at their own dealerships. Kimberly Adams speaks to Terry Griffin, an agricultural economist with Kansas State University. He grew up on a farm in northeast Arkansas and says back then, DIY equipment repairs were just a part of life.

Jul 19, 2021
In the face of mass protests, the Cuban government turned off the internet

This week in Cuba, journalists, influencers and regular citizens posted scenes online from the country’s largest anti-government protests in decades. That is, until the government restricted access to a number of social media platforms. According to the internet monitoring firm NetBlocks, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp were all disrupted. There are reports that access returned by midweek. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Isabella Alcañiz, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center at the University of Maryland, about the growing importance of internet access in Cuba.

Jul 16, 2021
The EU has led the charge on regulating Big Tech. What about disinformation?

Arguably one of the biggest problems facing the world right now is disinformation. It’s fueled everything from the spread of QAnon conspiracy theories to the Capitol Insurrection to anti-vaccination movements — all of which undermine democracy and public health. Lawmakers and researchers in the U.S. have demanded that social media platforms do more to deal with disinformation. But what about the European Union, which has aggressively regulated tech in other ways and has historically been more willing to police speech than the U.S. has? Host Molly Wood interviews Margarethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission. Vestager oversaw an EU legislative proposal, the Digital Services Act, which would require online platforms to do more to tackle things like hate speech.



Jul 15, 2021
Europe shows a new way to think about regulating tech companies

The European Union has led the charge on regulating Big Tech companies for years now. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation was the first major rule on the transfer and tracking of personal data. The EU has also given the rest of the world a new way to think about tackling the American giants: Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. Last year, the EU produced two proposals for regulation that labeled the biggest tech companies “gatekeepers” meaning they control or restrict access to other companies, apps or services. Host Molly Wood speaks with Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president of the European Commission who oversaw the proposals.

Jul 14, 2021
Big Tech dodged one tax bullet, but another one is coming

European Union leaders said Monday they will delay, for now, plans for a digital tax that would require Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google to pay taxes anywhere they do business. That’s because, this weekend, leaders from the world’s 20 biggest economies agreed to try to create a global minimum tax. Host Molly Wood speaks to Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president of the European Commission, who oversees competition and digital policy. She says the digital tax isn’t off the table, but tech will have to pay either way.

Jul 13, 2021
What does it take to get people to be kind online?

The neighborhood social media platform Nextdoor is planning to go public at a valuation of around $4.3 billion. The company says it saw astronomical growth in active users this past year. Its shares will trade under the ticker symbol “KIND” because part of the company’s mission, it says, is to cultivate kindness. At the same time, the platform has struggled to deal with hate speech and the spread of misinformation. Nextdoor says it is willing to accept a decline in user engagement if that means the platform has less racist speech. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks to Susan McGregor, a scholar with the Data Science Institute at Columbia University. McGregor says that even though people may know one another on Nextdoor, it doesn’t necessarily make them nicer.

Jul 12, 2021
What technology can and can’t do to aid first responders in Surfside

About two weeks ago, part of a 12-story condominium in Surfside, Florida, collapsed. Dozens of people were killed, and dozens more are unaccounted for. Images of cranes and giant shovels, along with lines of first responders carefully removing buckets of debris, reveal the scale of the difficult task of finding those still missing. While sniffer dogs and emergency personnel working by hand are still doing most of the work, there is a variety of technology, old and new, aiding them. First, in the attempt to rescue any survivors; now, for the recovery of victims and as part of the effort to understand why the building collapsed. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Robin Murphy, director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue.

Jul 09, 2021
Ever watch something on YouTube and wished you hadn’t? You’re not alone.

Most of what people watch on YouTube is recommended by YouTube’s algorithm. Finish one video on how to save a dying houseplant, and it might suggest more. But that system can also send users down rabbit holes that radicalize and misinform. For almost a year, the Mozilla Foundation has been tracking the viewing habits of more than 37,000 volunteers who installed a browser extension letting them identify videos they called “regrettable.” Mozilla found YouTube’s algorithm recommended 70% of those problematic videos. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks to Brandi Geurkink, senior manager of advocacy at Mozilla, who led the research effort.

Jul 08, 2021
There will be no return of the JEDI contract

If you land a contract with the Department of Defense, that’s usually big money. Unless, of course, the government changes its mind. That’s what happened to Microsoft this week when the Pentagon canceled the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud computing contract. The government controversially awarded that $10 billion contract to Microsoft in late 2019; Amazon immediately sued, saying former President Donald Trump exerted undue influence over the decision, which led to a long legal battle. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood about why the old contract no longer met the Pentagon’s needs.

Jul 07, 2021
Big social media firms commit to protecting women online, but what’s actually going to change?

More than a third of women report personal experiences with online violence. This month, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Google all signed on to new commitments to address online abuse and women’s safety on the web. The companies say they will test out new tools, including one that would give users the chance to put the brakes on a video that unexpectedly goes viral. Facebook, Twitter and Google didn’t make specific pledges about when they would be testing the new tools, but TikTok said its tests will start as early as this year.

Jul 06, 2021
There’s a new boss at the FCC … let’s … talk about the internet, shall we?

This episode originally aired May 5, 2021.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been focused on how the internet is everything. When it comes to federal policy governing the internet, the Federal Communications Commission is everything. Among other roles and responsibilities, the FCC maps out broadband access nationally and its maps are used to determine which areas receive billions of dollars in federal subsidies to help build out more infrastructure. But the data used to create those maps is flawed at best. Last year, Congress passed a law requiring the agency to correct that. Host Molly Wood speaks with the new acting chairwoman of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, about expanding access — starting with those maps.

Jul 05, 2021
How a debate over consumer privacy may influence the push to regulate Big Tech

It’s been a big week for the Federal Trade Commission. A court on Monday threw out the agency’s antitrust complaint against Facebook and told it to come back with a stronger argument. On Thursday, Lina Khan chaired her first meeting as the new head of the Federal Trade Commission and started making changes right out of the gate, expanding the agency’s antitrust powers. Khan is famous for her antitrust arguments against Amazon, but she’s also written on the role privacy concerns could play in attempting to regulate big tech firms like Facebook. Marketplace’s Kimberly Aadms speaks with Issie Lapowsky, a senior reporter for Protocol, who dug into this part of Khan’s background, especially a 2019 article she co-authored on the idea of “information fiduciaries.”

Jul 02, 2021
Not even the government knows the full extent of how government is using facial recognition

A new report from the Government Accountability Office says at least 20 federal agencies are using facial recognition technology, and not just the obvious acronyms like the FBI, TSA and ICE. Agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NASA are using the tech, too. More than half of the agencies using facial recognition don’t know what systems their employees are using or how often they use them. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams interviews Gretta Goodwin, director of the GAO’s homeland security and justice team, about the agency’s findings.

Jul 01, 2021
Nevada considers bringing back the “company town” for the tech industry

In recent years, Nevada has drawn plenty of tech companies to the state, especially to Northern Nevada, which is close to both Silicon Valley and Lake Tahoe. Lawmakers now are looking at a new way to try to lure companies to the state. As Benjamin Payne reports, it is not without controversy.

Jun 30, 2021
The founder of a new ad-free search engine bets people will pay for privacy

When you search for something online, chances are you Google it. The company handles about 90% of search traffic globally and makes money by selling ads based on the things it knows about you. But, there are competitors offering the ability to search privately, including a new one from folks who learned the trade at Google. Sridhar Ramaswamy worked in ads at Google for 15 years, and he’s the co-founder of Neeva — an ad-free, subscription-based search engine that launches Tuesday. But why would people pay $4.95 a month for something they’re used to getting for “free?” Marketplace’s Amy Scott interviews him to find out.

Jun 29, 2021
Recruiting the next generation of venture capitalists from historically Black colleges

Venture capital has been the way the world’s most promising tech companies get funded. But it’s a notoriously white industry. A survey last year by the National Venture Capital Association found that just 4% of U.S. workers in the industry are Black. HBCUvc is a nonprofit trying to change that by connecting VC firms with historically Black colleges and universities, like Morgan State. Marketplace’s Amy Scott spoke to HBUvc leadership, students and Black entrepreneurs to find out more about how the group might bring about change.

Jun 28, 2021
Congress moves closer to setting limits on Big Tech. How far will lawmakers go?

This week, after nearly 30 hours of debate, the House Judiciary Committee passed a series of antitrust bills that could weaken the power and influence of the biggest tech companies. The proposed legislation would increase merger filing fees to give regulators more money to police them, prohibit big companies from snapping up smaller competitors and even force tech giants to sell off parts of their business that create conflicts of interest. All of the measures had some bipartisan support, but there’s still a lot of disagreement even within parties about how far to go. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks to Makena Kelly, a policy reporter at The Verge, who followed the hearings.

Jun 25, 2021
Funding is pouring in to companies trying to crack self-driving tech

The self-driving software firm Embark Trucks said Wednesday it plans to go public in a deal that would raise more than $600 million and value the company at more than $5 billion. Alphabet’s Waymo just raised $2.5 billion in fresh funding as it tries to expand its self-driving taxi fleet outside of Phoenix. Chris Gerdes is a professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford and a safety adviser with Ford’s autonomous-vehicle division. Marketplace’s Amy Scott asked him where all this money is going.

Jun 24, 2021