Marketplace Tech

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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
Black Twitter has been a cultural engine. Where will that community go if the site breaks?

While Elon Musk has been celebrating a bump in users and app downloads since he took over Twitter, many longer-term users say they’re seriously considering leaving. Some are even holding mock funerals anticipating the site would break down. This week, Twitter users discovered the company is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 misinformation policy. But if Twitter actually fell apart, what would happen to the distinct spaces there, like what’s commonly referred to as “Black Twitter”? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Shamika Klassen, an information science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She co-authored a research article about Black Twitter last year.

If you’re a regular listener of “Marketplace Tech,” thank you. We’d love to hear from you. You can drop us a line anytime at We’d also appreciate it if you took the time to leave us a rating and review wherever you listen to the show. It really helps people find us, so thanks.

Dec 01, 2022
Scientists aim to 3D bioprint human tissue in space

Earlier this month, the SS Sally Ride cargo capsule made its way to the International Space Station. The spacecraft was carrying hundreds of pounds of scientific experiments. One of them involves what’s called a 3D BioFabrication Facility, which can build human tissue and organs in space that scientists can’t make on Earth. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Rich Boling, vice president at Redwire, which manufactures the equipment for these experiments. She asked him about how 3D printing works when you’re printing something alive.

If you’re a regular listener of Marketplace Tech, thank you. We’d love to hear from you. You can drop us a line anytime at We’d also appreciate it if you took the time to leave us a rating and review wherever you listen to the show. It really helps people find us, so thanks.

Nov 30, 2022
Changes at Twitter put adult content creators in limbo

Some of the country’s biggest advertisers are balking at the new Twitter under Elon Musk. A recent report from Media Matters for America found at least half of Twitter’s  100 biggest advertisers have either announced they will stop running ads on the platform or just seem to be stopping more quietly. But not all businesses can easily walk away. Take sex workers. A recent survey from the website Sex Work CEO shows that Twitter is incredibly important for adult content creators, helping them connect with fans, find new ones and promote their legal businesses. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with MelRose Michaels, the founder of Sex Work CEO. Michaels explained how adult content creators are responding to all the recent changes at Twitter.

Nov 29, 2022
For disabled shoppers, some Cyber Monday deals are out of reach

Cyber Monday has become one of the busiest — and most lucrative — online shopping days of the year. The National Retail Federation estimates that almost 64 million people will be looking for deals today. But for shoppers with disabilities, it can be a lot harder to take advantage of sales and promotions online. A significant number of the biggest retail websites are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which lay out best practices to help make sites easier to navigate by people who are, for example, blind or hearing-impaired. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Josh Basile, community relations manager at tech accessibility company accessiBe, as well as a quadriplegic who uses assistive devices to help him navigate the internet, about how accessibility issues impact him when he shops online.

Nov 28, 2022
The new tech behind LeVar Burton’s crusade for child literacy (re-air)

Actor and producer LeVar Burton is famous for many things. His iconic roles on “Star Trek” and the miniseries “Roots,” for instance. But many of us got to know him as host of the PBS show “Reading Rainbow.” His run with the show ended in the mid-2000s, but Burton is still promoting literacy for kids. He’s now the “chief reading officer” at ed-tech company Byju’s Osmo. Together, they’re launching a reading program for kids ages 5 to 7 that uses an iPad and the Osmo app’s artificial intelligence and speech recognition to help kids grasp the fundamentals of reading. That program is set to launch next month. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Burton earlier this year about the unique reading challenges facing kids today. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Nov 25, 2022
Among the goals of Artemis I: launching the lunar economy (re-air)

Earlier this month, the highly anticipated launch of the Orion spacecraft finally happened at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The lift-off of that unmanned rocket was the first of a series in the agency’s Artemis missions, which aim to eventually establish a long-term human presence on the moon’s surface begin building a lunar economy including extracting precious metals and minerals to send back to Earth. But before sending humans, the agency has to test complex rockets, heat shields and life-support systems. And speed is of the essence. The U.S. and China are in a new space race to get humans to the moon. On this Thanksgiving holiday, we’re revisiting a conversation with Peter Garretson, a Senior Fellow in Defense Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council. He spoke with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about how the stakes are different this time around.

Nov 24, 2022
AI used for hiring and recruitment can be biased. But that’s changing.

Artificial intelligence is commonly used in automated recruitment programs. It helps narrow down large pools of applicants using algorithms to match job seekers to open positions. But there are growing concerns that this technology is disproportionately excluding certain groups, like women, people of color or those who don’t have college degrees, even when they’re perfectly qualified.

Nov 23, 2022
YouTube and content creators clash over the platform’s automated copyright tool

Every minute, people upload more than 500 hours of video to YouTube — cat videos, music videos, even videos of people recording their audio podcasts. And some of those clips include content the people uploading them don’t own, like clips of music from popular songs. YouTube, and its owner, Google, have an automated technology called Content ID that regularly scans for copyrighted material — including music — and flags it for copyright holders. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke about this with Marketplace’s Peter Balonon-Rosen, who explained why the system has some musicians frustrated.

Nov 22, 2022
A tool for creating an “unbreakable” internet under oppressive, censoring regimes

It may be called the World Wide Web, but in some parts of the world, big chunks of the web are blocked or censored. One nonprofit designed an app to get around that censorship called Lantern. The organization says its user base in Iran has grown about 400% since the start of protests there two months ago and that as much as 13% of  Iranian internet capacity is running through the app. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with one of Lantern’s developers. Because of his work in countries with oppressive regimes, we’re using the pseudonym “Lucas” to protect his identity. He said Lantern is part of a strategy to create an “unbreakable” internet.

Nov 21, 2022
FTX bankruptcy points to more difficult times for crypto

The crypto industry is in trouble — just look at the drama surrounding the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange, which is looking worse every day. Add to that the huge drop in value of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and the crash of stablecoin TerraUSD earlier this year. And now regulators and investors are wondering about the next shoe to drop. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Hilary Allen, a law professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, about what’s next for the crypto sector. And Allen is not exactly optimistic about crypto’s future.

Nov 18, 2022
This lab experiments with disaster — to help create climate-resilient homes

There is no stopping natural disasters like hurricanes and fires. So one key to surviving a changing climate is making buildings more resilient. Amy Scott, host of “How We Survive,” visits a Florida lab focused on that challenge.

Nov 17, 2022
A critical update to the national broadband map is coming Friday

The Federal Communications Commission is set to release the first round of its updated national broadband map this week. It’s supposed to show more precise and detailed information on internet availability all over the country. Advocates have complained for years the old maps were full of inaccurate data, and getting those numbers right is a big deal because this new map will determine how the government spends the $42.5 billion in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Dustin Loup, program manager for the National Broadband Mapping Coalition, a digital advocacy group, about how the new map was developed, how the FCC will try to keep it updated and potential problems facing this updated version.

Nov 16, 2022
It’s been a wild ride for Twitter under Elon Musk. What’s next?

It’s been a wild ride these past two weeks with Twitter under the ownership of Elon Musk, including Musk showing up at Twitter headquarters with a sink and laying off half of the company’s global staff. Just about every day there’s a new headline about what’s happening in the company and on the platform: leadership changes, verification subscriptions rolled out and pulled back, threats to fire employees if they work remotely. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Alex Heath, a deputy editor at The Verge, who says Musk wants to change just about everything at Twitter, even if it’s messy.

Nov 15, 2022
The NLRB is keeping electronic surveillance of workers in check

The National Labor Relations Board is a federal agency tasked with making sure workers can organize to improve their working conditions, wages or form a union. But the NLRB says some employers are using technology to prevent or discourage workers from doing just that. The agency released a public memo on Oct. 31 saying it plans to protect employees from “intrusive or abusive electronic monitoring and automated management,” practices the NLRB says are increasingly happening as the technology gets better and companies seek more oversight of their workers, especially with more people working remotely. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Jennifer Abruzzo, general counsel for the agency and author of the memo, about some of the new surveillance methods that concern her.

Nov 14, 2022
Inside the high stakes of the quantum computing race

Quantum computers are considered by many to be the next big thing in technology. The promise – in theory – is they could complete extremely complex calculations very quickly by harnessing what Einstein called the “spooky” nature of quantum mechanics. So while regular computers work with bits that are either 1’s or 0’s, quantum computers use “qubits” that can store combinations of 1’s and 0’s at the same time. This week, IBM announced it has developed the largest quantum processor in the world. It’s called Osprey and IBM says it has triple the processing power of its previous versions – a potentially huge leap. Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour recently explored the multi-billion dollar race to develop quantum computers. He explained why some of the world’s biggest companies and governments are competing against each other.

Nov 11, 2022
What Silicon Valley’s boom-and-bust history tells us about its latest slowdown

The bad news just keeps coming. It started with hiring freezes, then moved to layoffs. A lot of them. Twitter, Lyft, Stripe, Salesforce and, of course, Meta are cutting thousands of jobs. It’s a turn of events that felt almost inconceivable a year ago, after a two-decade run during which the industry seemed unstoppable. But tech is notorious for booms and busts — and not just the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Margaret O’Mara, a professor of history at the University of Washington who studies the links between technology and politics, about key similarities and differences between the tech sector’s current downturn and those of the past.

Nov 10, 2022
Social media has evolved as a crucial tool during election cycles — but it can also be misused

Good luck trying to escape political news this week. Election coverage is everywhere — on the airwaves and online. And every election cycle seems to reveal more and more about the growing, pivotal and sometimes controversial role of social media. Like in the run-up to elections and, like now, during the aftermath. Campaigns can use social media to boost voter turnout and build community, but others use it to try to mislead voters. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Pinar Yildirim, a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies media, technology and information economics. She explained why the technology underlying these platforms can amplify misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Nov 09, 2022
How platform rules shape where people “live” online

People see and absorb a lot of election information — and misinformation — on the web. But we are not all getting the same information about politics and policymakers, and certainly not from the same sources. So understanding where people gather and communicate online can be crucial to understanding the political polarization in the United States, especially when some people are migrating to newer platforms that cater to specific political beliefs or content moderation rules. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Kate Klonick, a law professor at St. John’s University, who studies online communities and speech. Klonick says people decide where they “live” online these days based on the rules of the platform.

Nov 08, 2022
Voting tech for people with disabilities has expanded — but more is still needed

There are an estimated 38 million disabled eligible voters in the U.S., but many of them face unique obstacles when trying to cast their ballots. Federal and state laws require polling stations provide in-person accommodations, like machines with larger screen displays or text-to-speech interfaces inside voter booths. But individual polling places don’t always make it easy, says Mark Lindeman, Policy and Strategy Director with the nonpartisan organization Verified Voting.

Nov 07, 2022
A new machine learning model could help public health officials get ahead of the next crisis

Diagnosing and containing a disease outbreak, or the health effects of a disruptive event like a natural disaster, can be a huge task. A study out Friday from New York University suggests that a new machine learning model could improve health officials’ ability to respond to future pandemics and other public health crises. The research was done in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Daniel Neill, a computer science professor at NYU and the director of its Machine Learning for Good Laboratory, which released the study. He explains how this machine learning model works.

Nov 04, 2022
How will Netflix’s new ad-supported tier shake up the streaming landscape?

Starting today, Netflix users in the U.S. will have the option to sign up for a cheaper subscription. But, of course, there’s a catch. If you want to pay $6.99 a month, rather than $9.99 a month or more, your TV and movie binge sessions will be interrupted by ads, which runs counter to the original premise of Netflix and many other streaming services. But now, that’s changing. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Brandon Katz, an entertainment industry strategist at Parrot Analytics, who says Netflix needed to make a move like this.

Nov 03, 2022
Tech to help older people is a young and growing field

The U.S. is experiencing a massive demographic shift as the baby boom becomes the senior boom. According to the Census Bureau, more than 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older in 2030. The tech industry is catching on. Big companies and small startups are increasingly developing products with older users in mind. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Keren Etkin, a gerontologist and creator of the blog The Gerontechnologist, where she writes and podcasts about the latest in age tech. Etkin said the idea that older people don’t “get” technology is just a tired stereotype.

Nov 02, 2022
Deepfake videos on TikTok can be fun. They can also be malicious.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok have banned deepfakes, which are realistic but fabricated or manipulated representations, often of public figures. Yet a TikTok video in which a fake Tom Cruise serenades the real Paris Hilton went viral. That video is one of dozens from the account @DeepTomCruise. The account has racked up almost 4 million followers with its digital simulations of the famous actor singing, golfing and, of course, laughing in a slightly too intense way. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Anjana Susarla, professor of responsible artificial intelligence at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business. She said we can thank TikTok’s algorithm for keeping deepfakes alive.

Nov 01, 2022
Under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter faces content moderation challenges

It’s an uncertain Monday at Twitter because Elon Musk has taken over and started shaking things up. Last week, according to Bloomberg, he reassured employees that he did not plan to discard three-quarters of the staff, as he reportedly told investors earlier. But the self-described free speech absolutist has made no secret of his desire to make some personnel cuts, particularly around content moderation. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Sarah Roberts, a professor and director of the Center for Critical Internet Inquiry at the University of California, Los Angeles, who also worked previously on Twitter’s health research team. She said that while content moderation is often framed as a political issue, it’s much more than that.

Warning: This interview references abusive online material involving children.

Oct 31, 2022
Tech earnings this week were a bit … gloomy

We’ve seen layoffs, hiring freezes and now some cold, hard numbers that show the tide is turning in the tech industry. After booming during the pandemic, big companies like Microsoft, Alphabet and Meta may now be feeling the pinch of a tighter economy. At least that’s the signal from a series of disappointing earnings reports this week. Apple was the exception, boasting record revenues, but sales of its new iPhone 14 were slower than expected. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research. And he says companies that rely on advertising are taking the biggest hit.

Oct 28, 2022
Cryptocurrency has a trust problem

It’s a world of big promises, big personalities and, lately, big failures that can seem inscrutable and often ridiculous. But cryptocurrency has moved into finance, tech, even sports arenas. And according to Bloomberg Businessweek, it demands to be understood. This week the magazine has dedicated an entire issue to what it calls “The Crypto Story: Where it came from, what it all means, and why it still matters.” Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Bloomberg opinion columnist Matt Levine, who wrote the article. He says crypto and the blockchain technology behind it started as a reaction to traditional banking, which, of course, relies on trust in institutions.

Oct 27, 2022
Candidates turn to TikTok to woo young voters

TikTok, with its quirky dances, is sometimes thought of as a Gen Z platform. Yet if you use the app, you’ve probably come across videos from distinctly older political candidates. Since 2020, the number of users on TikTok has increased by about 40%. And candidates have taken note. They post TikToks to reach younger audiences, make themselves seem likable and encourage people to vote.

Oct 26, 2022
Voting security still depends on low-tech paper trails

Since the 2020 election, there’s been a lot of attention on, misinformation about and lawsuits over the technology many jurisdictions use in voting. It’s rare for a voting system in the U.S. to be “paperless.” Typically, these systems use a combination of high-tech and low-tech, like a voting machine that prints out a paper ballot with your electronic choices. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently discussed the shift away from paperless systems with Lawrence Norden, senior director of the Elections and Government Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit law and policy institute.

Oct 25, 2022
High-tech farming helps automate the job — except when the equipment gets hacked

Tractors, combines and other farm equipment have become computers on wheels. They are both bluetooth-enabled and connected to the internet which, as Dina Temple-Raston of the “Click Here” podcast explains, makes them incredibly vulnerable to hackers.

Oct 24, 2022
Some formerly redlined neighborhoods get the worst deal on internet, The Markup reports

At the beginning of the pandemic, we did a lot of reporting on how the internet is everything, and how your access to it — or lack thereof — can shape how you learn, how you work and whether you can get ahead in this economy. But a recent investigation from The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom, suggests we’re still pretty far away from equitable access. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Leon Yin, an investigative data journalist at The Markup and one of the authors of “Dollars to Megabits: You May Be Paying 400 Times as Much as Your Neighbor for Internet Service.”

Oct 21, 2022
Election misinformation in Spanish is circulating on YouTube

Of the estimated 62 million Hispanic or Latinx people living in the U.S. today, about 41 million of them are Spanish speakers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And as we get closer to Election Day, misinformation campaigns targeting this group are ramping up. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Brennan Suen, deputy director of external affairs at Media Matters for America, where he researches social media accountability efforts. He and his team recently looked at dozens of YouTube videos that he says are spreading misinformation about elections.

Oct 20, 2022
Can your workplace store your fingerprint or facial scan data?

They have our Social Security numbers and probably our Amazon shopping lists. But should employers be collecting data on, say, our fingerprints, voices or retinas? After all, these things are unique physical identifiers. And if they were somehow stolen in a data breach, they’re not easily changed like a password. A legal case in Illinois provided one of the first tests to a state law that protects this type of data — the Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. Last week 45,000 truck drivers won their suit against BNSF Railway for collecting their fingerprints without consent. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino recently spoke with Alan Butler, executive director and president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit research organization. He said Illinois is at the forefront of a growing movement to regulate biometric data.

Oct 19, 2022
Why the Internet of Things needs a cybersecurity label

In a world where so many of our tools and gadgets — security cameras, watches, refrigerators — are connected to the internet, shoring up cybersecurity is a collective effort. That’s why the Biden administration is proposing a labeling system for consumer products, sort of like a nutrition label. But instead of calories and fat, the label would tell you how secure that smart device is. This week the White House is gathering representatives from the cybersecurity sector, consumer product groups and manufacturers to get input on how to design such a label. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Jean Camp, a professor of informatics at Indiana University about why providing consumers this type of information is increasingly important as the Internet of Things continues to expand.

Oct 18, 2022
What the era of “doorbell surveillance” means for delivery drivers

They seem to be everywhere now. Smart doorbells like Amazon’s Ring are catching porch pirates in the act and revealing nocturnal animal hijinks. But they’re also constantly monitoring delivery drivers who essentially work on our doorsteps. A new report from the nonprofit research group Data & Society explores how this “doorbell surveillance” is affecting delivery drivers. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Aiha Nguyen, program director for Data & Society’s Labor Futures Initiative, on how the proliferation of these cameras is influencing delivery jobs that are increasingly being done by gig workers with few protections.

Oct 17, 2022
How the gig economy could change as the nature of work evolves

Platform- or app-based gig work has seen its share of ups and downs in recent years, and this week brought a new twist. The U.S. Department of Labor proposed a rule that would push companies to classify many gig workers as employees — with all the rights and benefits that entails. Platforms like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have pushed to keep workers independent contractors, saying it’s essential to their business models. So where could the gig economy go from here? Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Arun Sundararajan, a business professor at New York University, who explained that gig work is now part of the fabric of our economy and how it should change to meet modern demands.

Oct 14, 2022
Controlling a video game with your mind isn’t just science fiction

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but now it’s just science. Brain-computer interfaces are making it possible for people and other sentient creatures to control technology with their brains. Last year, Neuralink, the brain device company owned by Elon Musk, claimed it had trained a monkey to play the video game Pong using this technology. Now there are a number of private companies and academic researchers trying to improve this technology for broader use. AE Studio, a software development firm, works in this space. “Marketplace Tech” producer Daniel Shin recently visited its offices in Venice Beach, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, to test out a fun experiment playing a video game with just his brain.

Oct 13, 2022
How political campaigns gather online data about voters

They say all politics is local, and targeted advertising makes it hyper-local. Campaigns have increasingly used troves of personal online data about voters to narrowly tailor political messages — sometimes in malicious ways. For example, providing false information about how to vote based on neighborhood, race or ethnicity. But this kind of microtargeting is getting trickier. Twitter and TikTok have banned political ads completely. And Facebook has added new limits on how and when political ads appear. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Samantha Lai, a research analyst at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. Lai says the way social media platforms allow campaigns to microtarget users has evolved.

Oct 12, 2022
Silicon Valley faces tough realities in this economic landscape

Layoffs. Hiring freezes. Falling valuations. The headlines coming out of the onetime land of the unicorns have been pretty unromantic lately. It’s a dramatic turn for an industry that has been all about growth. Over the last two decades, and especially the first couple of years of the pandemic, tech exploded as more of the world moved online. But that seems to be changing. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Kari Paul, a tech reporter for The Guardian, who recently wrote about whether Big Tech is past its prime. Paul said that with the economy in flux, the tech industry is not immune.

Oct 11, 2022
How to ensure fairness in machine learning models for diagnosing illness

Physicians and medical experts are starting to incorporate algorithms and machine learning in many parts of the health care system, including experimental models to analyze images from X-rays and brain scans. The goal is to use computers to improve detection and diagnosis of patients’ ailments. Such models are trained to identify tumors, skin lesions and more, using databases full of reference scans or images. But there are also potential biases within the data that could result in skewed diagnoses from these machine learning models. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke to María Agustina Ricci, a biomedical engineer who is pursuing a Ph.D. at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires in Argentina. She has studied how the disparities between low-income and developed countries could worsen, or create, these biases.

Oct 10, 2022
Are platforms liable for user content? Supreme Court may reset the rules.

Much of the social media ecosystem — love it or hate it — has been made possible by a federal law from 1996 called the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 of that law shields online publishers like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from liability for much of the content posted on their platforms. This week, the Supreme Court announced it will hear challenges to that law. One of the cases, Reynaldo Gonzalez v. Google LLC, questions whether Section 230 protects platforms that use algorithms to recommended content to users. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. He said there are a few ways the decision could go.

Oct 07, 2022
With Elon Musk’s deal back on, what’s ahead for Twitter?

It’s a drama fit for a social media platform that loves drama. First Elon Musk was joining the board, then buying the company, then backing out, then getting sued. Now, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX appears to be back in, reviving his original offer to buy Twitter for $44 billion. It’s not clear yet what will happen to the court case over this whole deal, but for now it seems that Musk will be taking control of the social media platform after all. So, what might he do with it? And why the change of heart? Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Kurt Wagner, a tech reporter for Bloomberg News who’s been following the saga.

Oct 06, 2022
Meet the ITU, the tech agency that helps the world communicate

Since 1865 a special agency, now part of the United Nations, has had a major influence on global communication standards. The International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, ensures tech from the telegraph to the internet plays nicely across international borders. Last week, ITU member states elected a new secretary-general, Doreen Bogdan-Martin. She’s an American and has worked with the agency for decades. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Mallory Knodel, chief technology officer at the Center for Democracy and Technology about the ITU’s history.

Oct 05, 2022
The CHIPS Act could relieve some semiconductor chokepoints — but how quickly?

Semiconductor chips are part of the technology we use every day — electric toothbrushes, mobile phones, computers. And there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them in new vehicles. But since the COVID-19 pandemic began, chips have been in short supply, causing, for example, some automakers to pause production lines. Some big tech firms predict the shortage will last into next year and perhaps beyond. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Chris Miller, author of the new book “Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology.” He explains why this shortage happened.

Oct 04, 2022
In an age of rising costs, tech is helping make farming an exact science

Technology is one way farmers are managing labor shortages, and the rising costs of seed and fertilizer.  “Precision ag,” as it’s known, is being used to get the most out of limited resources. Emil Moffatt of WABE reports from a family farm in central Georgia.

Oct 03, 2022
For blind people, technology can offer a way to perceive images through touch

For almost 200 years, the Braille system has turned the written word into raised bumps that blind people can read. But what about images? A device called an embosser pricks and crimps 3D dots and lines on paper to produce a tactile image, allowing people to perceive pictures through touch. Chancey Fleet is a technologist at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in New York City. She’s Blind and teaches low-vision and blind patrons to print their own images.

Sep 30, 2022
This book explains how understanding math helps you understand the universe

Mathematics can be a subject that’s a bit unrelatable for some. Perhaps you recall sitting in a math class at some point wondering, “When am I ever going to use quadratic equations?” But a new book wants us to reconsider math as something that gives us fundamental building blocks for not just the technology we use every day, but also the natural world around us. That book is called “The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math.” Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with author Manil Suri about his book and what motivated him to write it for the mathematically uninterested.

Sep 29, 2022
Social media users flock to unfiltered BeReal app for authenticity

The No. 1 social networking app on Apple’s U.S. app store right now is called BeReal, as in being your real self online. No filters, no carefully staged shots. The concept, and the format, are so popular, TikTok launched its own version — both on its home app and as a standalone — called TikTok Now. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Erica Bailey, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University Business School, who studies authenticity and marketing. On BeReal, Bailey said, you can only post once a day and only when you receive an alert, which can come at ANY time.

Sep 28, 2022
Why NASA’s first planetary defense mission sent a spacecraft crashing into an asteroid

Last night NASA completed a first-of-its-kind mission to steer a spacecraft into an asteroid. The asteroid was not hurtling toward Earth, threatening to wipe out civilization, and the goal was not to blast it to smithereens, “Armageddon” style, but rather to give it enough of a bump to slightly change course. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, took aim at a small asteroid called Dimorphos, which is about 11 school buses wide. It’s orbiting a bigger asteroid called Didymos, about 7 million miles from Earth. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Nancy Chabot, DART mission coordination lead at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, about the mission.

Sep 27, 2022
Cory Doctorow: Tech companies squeeze artists for profit in “chokepoint capitalism” 

Painters, musicians, writers — artists in virtually every medium — often struggle to make enough revenue to create their art because there are so many layers between them and the people who buy their work. We’re talking gallery commissions, record label contracts, even bookstore overhead costs. Increasingly, tech companies add another layer. And many argue that’s bad for the arts. Activist-journalist Cory Doctorow and law professor Rebecca Giblin addressed these issues in their book, “Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We’ll Win Them Back.” It will be out Tuesday. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Doctorow about what chokepoint capitalism entails.

Sep 26, 2022
How Texas’ social media law could affect online speech

A Texas law banning social media companies from applying certain content moderation policies was recently upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 2021 law prohibits platforms from banning or restricting content based on the “viewpoints” of users. Now, tech companies will have to appeal to the Supreme Court if they want to avoid legal risk in the state. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke about this case on the show back in May, when the Supreme Court put the implementation of the law on hold while the case ran its course. Issie Lapowsky, chief correspondent at Protocol, helped Adams back then and joins her again for an update. She says tech companies are in a tough spot.

Sep 23, 2022
Puerto Rico’s power grid fails again. What innovations could help?

When Hurricane Fiona recently hit Puerto Rico, the storm brought wind, water and major flooding to the island. Local authorities are still assessing the damage, but so far we know that some people died, others lost their homes and just about everyone lost electricity. Unfortunately, we’ve been here before. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, billions of federal dollars went to Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Julio López Varona, co-chief of campaigns at the advocacy group Center for Popular Democracy, about whether that technology investment did anything.

Sep 22, 2022
How memes became a problematic influence on American politics

The word “meme” might bring to mind a viral picture of a weird-looking cat with silly text, a tweet or video showing up everywhere online. But some political memes can be downright dangerous, according to a new book — “Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America.” Its authors argue that memes have inspired cultural battles over the last decade both on- and offline. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Emily Dreyfuss, a senior editor at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center and one of the book’s co-authors, about how far-right or extremist groups use memes as weaponized tools in their attempts to influence American politics.

Sep 21, 2022
After Roe, what happens when the rules for online speech are different in each state?

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade back in June, many states have been working on new laws related to digital privacy and access — or restricting what kind of information can be shared online. This trend highlights the increasing disparity between states in terms of what’s legal online and what might be in the future. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Matt Perault, director of the Center on Technology Policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a consultant on technology policy issues. He wrote an essay for Wired on what might happen when the rules for what you can say and do online are different from state to state. Perault says this kind of digital fragmentation is a relatively new concept in the U.S., but some people already know what it’s like.

Sep 20, 2022
Big Tech battles antitrust cases at home and abroad

A European Union court had bad news for Google last week, upholding an earlier ruling against the web search giant. It accused the company of engaging in anti-competitive behavior. That ruling also upholds much of the record fine the EU imposed on the company, equivalent to more than $4 billion. And in California, Amazon was hit with yet another lawsuit last week focused on the company’s price-setting power. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, about how the Google case in Europe might affect things here in the U.S.

Sep 19, 2022
Incubator members say an experiment to create community went very wrong

This week, Vox released an investigation into Launch House, a “professional social club” for tech founders, which among other activities, hosts members at a luxury property in Beverly Hills. But Vox reports that Launch House was, at times, more like a frat house with members alleging excessive partying and sexual assault. Launch House disputes some of these allegations. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Vox senior correspondent Rebecca Jennings, who reported the story.

Sep 16, 2022
Apple and Starlink compete to turn your smartphone into a satellite phone

When far away from cellphone towers, people in remote locations or in emergencies rely on satellite phones, devices that connect to satellites in orbit to send messages or make calls. Last week, Apple announced a feature for its newest iPhones that will allow some users to send emergency texts through a satellite connection. Elon Musk’s Starlink also has a plan to turn your cellphone into a sat phone. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Tim Farrar, president of consulting firm Telecom, Media and Finance Associates, about why big tech and telecom companies are getting into satellite communications and how much consumer demand there is for sat phones.

Sep 15, 2022
Why the First Amendment also protects code

The First Amendment serves as a check on government intervention into our public expression through, for example, spoken or visually signed speech, writing, protesting and coding languages like JavaScript, HTML, Python and Perl. Computer code as free speech is a relatively new legal concept but has a complicated history. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with technology lawyer Kendra Albert, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, about the history of code as protected expression.

Sep 14, 2022
California’s grid withstood the heat wave with texts, batteries and conservation

Last week, Californians were hit with a scorching heat wave, and as households blasted their air conditioners in the afternoons to keep cool, it placed extreme stress on the state’s power grid. So, for the first time, Californians received an emergency text alert asking citizens to conserve electricity to avoid blackouts. And it worked. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Severin Borenstein, who researches energy markets at University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Sep 13, 2022
Signal’s new president on the messaging app’s long-term sustainability

There have been a lot of conversations here on “Marketplace Tech” about digital privacy. More folks are paying attention to things like encryption and the security of their messaging apps. Signal consistently ranks as one of the more popular choices for privacy advocates, and the app is increasingly being used by people beyond the cybersecurity crowd. Signal’s staff is small compared to that of messaging apps like Telegram, WhatsApp or iMessage — which comes pre-installed in iPhones — but it’s growing. Former Google researcher and digital privacy advocate Meredith Whittaker just signed on as Signal’s new president and today is her first day on the job. She’s been on Signal’s board since 2020 and says she plans to continue the company’s focus on encryption. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Whittaker about the future of the company, how she’d like to grow Signal without monetizing its users’ data and digital privacy issues at large.

Sep 12, 2022
Ethereum’s “merge” could help clean crypto’s dirty energy reputation

Cryptocurrency mining is basically verification that transactions on the blockchain are legitimate. One method to do that is “proof of work.” But that takes a lot of electricity. So soon, blockchain platform ethereum will shift to a different method: “proof of stake.” Instead of multiple miners expending energy at the same time, one “validator” wins a lottery to verify the transaction. “Marketplace’s” Kimberly Adams speaks with Alex de Vries, founder of Digiconomist, about what the shift means.

Sep 09, 2022
Who gets a kidney transplant? The algorithm that decides could be a model

Organ donations and who gets those organs can be a morally fraught process. And that organ transplant network in the United States has been criticized for its outdated technology that has led to some deadly mistakes. But one part of that system could potentially serve as a model of success, according to David G. Robinson, author of the new book “Voices in the Code: A Story About People, Their Values, and the Algorithm They Made.” Since 1987, kidney recipients have been chosen by an algorithm. And Robinson says it could be an ethical “model” for other algorithms and potentially artificial intelligence. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Robinson about how this algorithm works and how a long process of input from nonexperts and people directly affected by kidney transplant decisions shaped it into what it is today.

Sep 08, 2022
From farm to fork, thanks to … AI and robots?

Much of the western United States dealt with scorching temperatures over the past week, with some parts of California reaching more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. That state is in a multiyear drought, and some residents are allowed to water their gardens and lawns only one day per week. Texas, Nevada and New Mexico are also experiencing severe droughts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So, farmers have to be especially careful about how they use precious resources like water. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jill McCluskey, a professor of sustainability at Washington State University’s School of Economic Sciences, about how smart tech in agriculture can help.

Sep 07, 2022
The FTC gets serious about data privacy with new lawsuit

The Federal Trade Commission is suing data analytics firm Kochava, alleging the company sold sensitive geolocation data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices. The FTC argues that the data could reveal users’ visits to sensitive places, like abortion providers or addiction recovery centers. It’s the latest step in FTC Chair Lina Khan’s mission to increase government oversight of companies that traffic in consumer data. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Megan Gray, founder and CEO of GrayMatters Law & Policy to discuss the significance of this case.

Sep 06, 2022
The ABCs of AI, algorithms and machine learning (re-air)

Advanced computer programs influence, and can even dictate, meaningful parts of our lives. Think of streaming services, credit scores, facial recognition software. As this technology becomes more sophisticated and more pervasive, it’s important to understand the basic terminology. On this Labor Day, we’re revisiting an episode in which we explore the terms “algorithm,” “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence,” which are often used interchangeably. There is some overlap, but they’re not the same things. We decided to call up a few experts to help us get a firm grasp on these concepts.

Sep 05, 2022
California’s online privacy bill for kids would force tech companies to redesign services

California’s Legislature passed the Age-Appropriate Design Code Act this week. The bill would add website design and age verification requirements for apps and sites likely to be used by kids under the age of 18. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jen King, a privacy and data policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

Sep 02, 2022
Among the goals of Artemis I: launching the lunar economy

This week, NASA postponed a highly anticipated rocket launch after discovering an issue with one of the engines. It delayed a key stage of the space agency’s Artemis missions, which aim to eventually establish a long-term human presence on the moon’s surface and begin building a lunar economy. Part of that is extracting precious metals and minerals to bring back to Earth. NASA hopes to get the Artemis 1 rocket off the ground in the coming days, and speed is of the essence. The U.S. and China are in a new space race to get humans to the moon. “Marketplace’s” Kimberly Adams speaks with Peter Garretson, a senior fellow in defense studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.

Sep 01, 2022
Now, software can replicate your boss’s voice and tell you what to do

If you’re listening to or have already listened to the beginning of this episode, you probably noticed that the voice introducing Kimberly Adams sounded a bit off, right? That’s because it’s an audio “deepfake,” and it was created by Yisroel Mirsky at the Offensive AI Research Lab through a process called voice cloning. It uses software to study a short sample of someone’s voice and create a deepfake, which in this case took only 15 seconds to generate, according to Mirsky. It’s far from a perfect replica, but it turns out that scammers recently started to use deepfake audio for phone scams and in some cases have even succeeded. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Kyle Alspach, a cybersecurity reporter with Protocol, about how the tech behind audio deepfakes works and how they’re being used in phone scams.

Aug 31, 2022
“Deprinting” technology could cut carbon emissions in the pulp and paper industry

The pulp and paper industry is ranked the fourth-biggest contributor to global warming among manufacturing sectors in the United States. That’s not just because it destroys a large number of trees that would otherwise be capturing huge amounts of carbon. The whole cycle of felling trees, transporting them and using coal- and gas-fired processes to turn them into pulp is highly polluting. Marketplace’s European correspondent, Stephen Beard, has the story of the “deprinter” device that seeks to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions.

Aug 30, 2022
Thought you unsubscribed? Digital tactics that deceive consumers are often designed to be sneaky.

Online shopping can be full of pop-ups and distractions, as well as some traps and misdirection. If you can find the Unsubscribe or Cancel button, even that tool might not release you completely. And that’s intentional. “Marketplace’s” Kimberly Adams speaks with Harry Brignull, a user-experience specialist based in the United Kingdom. He calls these design strategies “dark patterns,” and he’s been documenting them for over a decade.

Aug 29, 2022
Big Tech is still struggling to earn the public’s trust

Bashing Big Tech has become something of a rare, unifying pastime in these divided times. But more nuanced views, in our world of thumbs up and crying emoji, can be harder to pin down. Researchers from the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University want to shed more light on the attitudes of Americans more broadly and how they view our biggest tech firms. The Center worked with YouGov on its latest poll, which found there’s plenty of distrust. But in the words of a Facebook relationship status — it’s complicated. Marketplace Tech received exclusive, advance access to the center’s latest poll results. Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Taylor Barkley, technology and innovation director at CGO to discuss which companies people trust or distrust and the various distinctions behind those trust issues.

Aug 26, 2022
In one state, a video gaming app for kids’ well-being is now covered by Medicaid

As much as parents worry about children and screen time, there’s a growing market of video game-based apps designed to help kids work through their feelings. Now the Medicaid program in Wisconsin will cover the cost of at least one of those apps. We talked to a family in the state who tried it out.

Aug 25, 2022
Why a blood screening program for newborns is at the center of a genetic data controversy

Throughout the U.S., usually right after a baby is born, a doctor or nurse takes a pinprick of blood from the newborn — often from its cute, little feet — to screen for diseases or genetic defects. These blood tests are mandatory and create a health and genetic database. But who gets access to that genetic information, and for what purpose, is at the center of several legal fights. In New Jersey, the Office of the Public Defender recently sued the state testing program after police allegedly used a newborn’s blood sample to help them obtain a warrant for the father’s DNA. “Marketplace Tech’s” Kimberly Adams spoke with reporter Nikita Biryukov at the New Jersey Monitor, who broke the story.

Aug 24, 2022
The new tech behind LeVar Burton’s crusade for child literacy

Actor and producer LeVar Burton is famous for many things, like his iconic roles in “Star Trek” and “Roots” and as host of the PBS show “Reading Rainbow.” His run with the show ended in the mid-2000s, but he is still promoting literacy for kids as the “chief reading officer” at ed-tech company Byju’s Osmo. Together, they’re launching a reading program for kids ages 5 to 7 that uses an iPad and the Osmo app’s artificial intelligence and speech recognition. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams asked Burton about the unique reading challenges facing kids today.

Aug 23, 2022
A giraffe doing yoga? AI model transforms words into visualizations.

Sometimes, innovative ideas can be hard to visualize when you don’t have an image in front of you. Now, there’s a machine-learning program to help. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams explores the artificial intelligence model DALL-E 2 and the images it renders using text prompts.

Aug 22, 2022
More users want encryption, but the transition can be complicated for messaging apps

End-to-end encryption is a way to keep messages private. It’s sometimes used by apps, which basically turn those messages into unintelligible chunks of data as soon as a user hits “Send.” The idea is that no one, except sender and recipient, can access that message. Not hackers, not third parties, not even the app platform itself. And you need special “keys” stored on an individual device to decrypt it. But many messaging platforms don’t have this kind of encryption, and some provide it only as an option. Kimberly Adams of “Marketplace Tech” spoke with Matthew Green, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, about why more apps don’t have end-to-end encryption by default.

Aug 19, 2022
AC helps us cool down. But it also heats up our planet.

A report out this week warns extreme heat waves, like the ones many parts of the world have experienced this summer, are likely to worsen over the next three decades. Climate research nonprofit First Street Foundation says by 2023, more than 8 million Americans could experience heat above 125 degrees Fahrenheit. In 30 years, more than 107 million people across the country will deal with those sweltering temperatures. And most of them will probably want air conditioning. But traditional AC units create more carbon emissions, which create more global warming. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Ankit Kalanki, a manager at Third Derivative, a climate tech accelerator. He says there are companies working on updating the technology that keeps us cool.

Aug 18, 2022
Biden’s new climate law could help more homeowners install heat pumps

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. Among other things, it allocates about $370 billion for climate-friendly technology and programs. This includes tax rebates and credits to incentivize Americans to replace their old air conditioners or furnaces with heat pumps, which can be used for both cooling and heating homes and are more energy-efficient than traditional systems. But making the switch can be costly for households. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Alexander Gard-Murray, a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University’s Climate Solutions Lab.

Aug 17, 2022
The debate over political bias in the tech sector has reached your spam folder

Following backlash from Republican leaders, the Federal Election Commission is giving the OK to a pilot program from Google that would allow authorized political committees or campaigns to bypass Gmail’s spam filters and go directly into a user’s inbox. Google came up with the program after the GOP accused the company of disproportionately shunting Republican campaign emails to spam, citing a recent study from North Carolina State University. “Marketplace Tech’s” Kimberly Adams spoke with Ashley Gold, a tech and policy reporter for Axios, about the details of that study, the pilot program and more.

Aug 16, 2022
Cities, theme parks adopt new weapons detection technology to curb gun violence

Weapons detection screening systems are becoming more and more common. These systems use touchless sensors to screen for objects that look like weapons in people’s pockets or backpacks, then they feed that information back to a computer system where security guards can view it. In Detroit, city leaders hope the technology can be used to prevent gun violence. As WDET’s Eli Newman reports, that means bringing security checkpoints to public spaces.

Aug 15, 2022
Would you pay $5,000 for a Bruce Springsteen concert ticket? The algorithm thinks you might.

Bruce Springsteen fans were appalled last month, when Ticketmaster sold some seats for his upcoming concert tour for as much as $5,000. The average price was actually around $262, according to Ticketmaster. But for a certain subset of tickets, when demand spiked, so did the prices. Ticketmaster uses “dynamic pricing algorithms,” which calculate the price of a seat based on real-time demand. Among other things, it’s an attempt to edge out ticket scalpers. There’s been backlash against this before. Ride-hailing apps like Uber use this kind of algorithm too; it’s called surge pricing. And it has kicked in during emergencies like a terrorist attack and a mass shooting — prices went through the roof as people were trying to flee. “Marketplace Tech’s” Marielle Segarra spoke with Vivek Farias, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, about the concept behind dynamic pricing and how to potentially avoid letting an algorithm create situations like this.

Aug 12, 2022
Women don’t wear bikinis to battle, and other things the gaming industry is learning

Grand Theft Auto will be getting a female protagonist, according to a report from Bloomberg. At the time of this writing, Rockstar Games, which makes Grand Theft Auto, has not confirmed this and didn’t respond to Marketplace’s request for comment. But it would be a notable change — there are far fewer playable female characters than male ones in video games. And for a long time, women have been typecast as damsels in distress, like Princess Peach from Super Mario, or as sex objects depicted with little clothing and exaggerated proportions, like Lara Croft from the 1990s Tomb Raider games. She’s an archaeologist who explores old ruins in teeny, tiny shorts and a tank top. Research suggests those trends have changed in recent years — there are more playable female characters who are more nuanced and interesting.

Aug 11, 2022
How machine learning is unfolding the mysteries of proteins

Understanding proteins — like the spike protein of the coronavirus — is superimportant for the study of diseases and the development of drugs and vaccines. So there’s a lot of excitement about the AlphaFold Protein Structure Database, built by the artificial intelligence lab DeepMind with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Researchers there have used machine learning to predict and map more than 200 million protein structures from all kinds of organisms. Meghan McCarty-Carino of “Marketplace Tech” spoke with Matthew Higgins, professor of molecular parasitology at the University of Oxford. He studies malaria parasites for a potential vaccine, and he said the database has sped up that work.

Aug 10, 2022
Across two continents, surgeons used virtual reality to prepare to separate conjoined twins

In Rio de Janeiro, surgeons separated 3-year-old conjoined twins Arthur and Bernardo Lima in June. When the twins were born, they were attached at the head, their brains intertwined. Separating them would require dozens of complicated surgeries. To prepare, the twins’ doctors in Rio used 3D printed models of the kids’ brains and they practiced the surgeries in virtual reality, using goggles and controllers while connected to another medical team in London that had done this before. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Noor ul Owase Jeelani, a pediatric neurosurgeon at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. His team led the VR training, and then he flew to Brazil to be one of the lead surgeons on the case.

Aug 09, 2022
Why does the crypto industry keep getting hacked?

Last week saw multiple major cryptocurrency hacks, one affecting wallets mostly linked to solana coins. Another hit Nomad, a blockchain bridge where users exchange assets on different blockchains. The losses totaled about $200 million. And these are just the latest hacks. So far this year, there’s been more than $1 billion stolen. So, why is this industry such a target? Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Josephine Wolff, associate professor of cybersecurity policy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Aug 08, 2022
The outdated tech behind the organ transplant network

Dozens of people have died and hundreds have been sickened due to mistakes in the organ transplant system, according to a Senate investigation released this week. It  came after a review by the U.S. Digital Service found the network that matches patients and organs is gravely outdated. That program has been run for more than three decades by one nonprofit: the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Joseph Menn, who has been reporting on the problem for The Washington Post.

Aug 05, 2022
Could net neutrality make a comeback?

House and Senate Democrats introduced a bill last week that aims to bring back net neutrality. The Barack Obama administration originally put the rules in place to prohibit internet providers from selectively favoring, blocking or slowing content on the internet. The Donald Trump administration rolled those rules back, arguing that the Federal Communications Commission didn’t have the power to enforce them. The new bill faces long odds, but if passed it would, once more, give the FCC oversight of internet service providers, or ISPs. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Ryan Singel, an open internet fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. He said the legislation does this by changing how internet service is categorized.

Aug 04, 2022
Climate tech could see big funding boost if Senate bill goes through

Climate and energy projects could see $370 billion in fresh funding thanks to a bill proposed by Senate Democrats. It’s called the Inflation Reduction Act, and it would also revise the tax code and reduce drug prices. In a surprise turn, it appears to have been developed with the support of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, potentially paving the way for the bill to pass. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Jay Koh, managing director at the Lightsmith Group, a private-equity firm that invests in climate technology. He’s read the lengthy bill and says it would be a game changer for climate tech. It would inject four times more funding than the last big federal infusion in the 2009 stimulus bill.

Aug 03, 2022
Behind the camera (and inside the industry) of license plate readers

If you’re listening to this while driving, there’s a chance you’ve passed an automated license plate reader, or ALPR. Those are cameras mounted on police vehicles or streetlights that scan license plates and feed that information into databases. But with more surveillance comes larger questions about who should be using this technology and for what purpose. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Rachel Levinson-Waldman, managing director of the Liberty & National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice.


Aug 02, 2022
Apple seeks more control of vehicle software with CarPlay’s new features

Apple has big ambitions for your car. The company recently unveiled the latest version of its automotive software, called Apple CarPlay. It’s what allows you to connect your phone with your car so you can hear route directions on the stereo and see your maps and music on the screen. The new version will let Apple’s operating system take over your entire dashboard, including the gas gauge and speedometer. Marketplace’s Matt Levin explains why this is a big deal for Apple and for carmakers.

Aug 01, 2022
Meta faces a new setback in its metaverse plans from the FTC
Jul 29, 2022
North Korea’s quest for crypto raises alarms for Western businesses
Jul 28, 2022
Commerce Secretary Raimondo on why we need to produce chips in the U.S.

The Senate voted this week to advance legislation that’s supposed to help the United States compete with China on computer chip manufacturing.The bill would give American companies more than $50 billion in federal subsidies to incentivize them to make semiconductors in the U.S. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, an advocate of the bill, who says national security is one reason to make semiconductors a domestic product.

Jul 27, 2022
El Salvador citizens mostly avoid bitcoin, despite government adoption

In September, El Salvador recognized the cryptocurrency bitcoin as legal tender. The program, spearheaded by President Nayib Bukele, means that government institutions and businesses can recognize it as a lawful payment method. Since then, the value of bitcoin has dropped by more than half. So how is this nation’s bet impacting Salvadorans today? Marketplace’s Andy Uhler speaks with Jacob Silverman, a freelance journalist who’s been covering the crypto space. He traveled to El Salvador with his reporting partner, actor Ben McKenzie, and spoke about their feature story, recently published in The Intercept.

Jul 26, 2022
Kids spend the summer in STEM camp

Summer vacation season is here, and between days at the pool and family trips, some kids are staying busy programming robots. STEM summer camps are an increasingly popular way to keep young brains active when children are out of school, and maybe cultivate the next generation of tech leaders. WBEZ’s Susie An visits a Code Ninjas camp in Illinois to share more about the program.

Jul 25, 2022
Facebook wants to grow its creator economy

Facebook is reallocating resources from its News tab product and its newsletter platform, Bulletin, to focus more on its creator economy, according to The Wall Street Journal. Its News products rely on paid content from professional journalists and publishers. That’s different from, say, news articles people sometimes see on their feed — not on the actual News tab — which are usually shared by friends. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Keach Hagey, author of that Wall Street Journal article.

Jul 22, 2022
Lawsuit against Internet Archive tackles digital lending and copyright

Sharing copyright music, movies and books online can be legally precarious, and there are restrictions on how they can be lent. A big court case about these issues is happening now. Four major publishers are suing the Internet Archive, a website repository that also loans digital books. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Aram Sinnreich, a professor at American University’s School of Communication, about this lawsuit and what it means for controlled digital lending.


Jul 21, 2022
The ABCs of AI, algorithms and machine learning

Advanced computer programs influence, and can even dictate, meaningful parts of our lives. Think of credit scores or facial recognition software. And as this technology becomes more sophisticated and more pervasive, it’s important to understand the basic terminology. People often use “algorithms,” “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” interchangeably, and there is some overlap, but they’re not the same things. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams has discussions with several experts to get some basic definitions.

Jul 20, 2022
The phone number to the national mental health crisis hotline gets a makeover

Before this past weekend, if you wanted to call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, you had to dial a 1-800 number. But that phone number just got way shorter. Now it’s 988 — though the old one still works. Calls to the lifeline are routed to local counseling centers, generally in the caller’s community. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra spoke with Tim Jansen, chief executive officer at Community Crisis Services in Maryland, one of the centers that answer 988 calls. He said Vibrant Emotional Health — the company that administers the lifeline — and the federal Department of Health and Human Services worked together to secure the number. But it took a few years.

Jul 19, 2022
How a new implant could treat pain without opioids

At some point or another, we all experience physical pain. We push through it or turn to medicine, from aspirin to opioids. New research published in the journal Science highlights a more mechanical alternative: a biodegradable implant that cools down a nerve to block pain signals. It looks like a small, clear rubber band with tiny channels snaking through it. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with John Rogers, a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University who led the research and design of the device. He explained how the technology works and the challenges involved in managing chronic as well as acute pain.


Jul 18, 2022
Uber Files show how the platform pressed politicians as it entered European markets

This week, a consortium of news organizations published a series of articles on what they’re calling the Uber Files: more than 120,000 documents, texts and emails initially leaked to The Guardian newspaper. The files show how, between 2013 and 2017, Uber lobbied aggressively to enter and dominate otherwise tightly regulated taxi markets. It’s the subject of “Quality Assurance,” where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Ben King, a senior journalist for BBC News covering economics, who has been following the rollout of these documents.

Jul 15, 2022
Expanding innovation, shrinking cost in energy storage

Finland installed the world’s first functional sand battery this month. It heats up the sand, which can retain that heat for months at a time, according to the developers. This stored heat is energy that can be tapped later. All over the world, electric grid operators are looking to store more renewable energy from wind and solar and turning to big batteries, sometimes acres of them. Here in the U.S., more than 90% of this storage relies on lithium-ion batteries, according to the government, thanks to their efficiency and relatively low cost. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Jason Burwen, vice president of energy storage for the American Clean Power Association, an industry group. She asked him what other kinds of battery innovations are getting him excited.

Jul 14, 2022
“Is this real?” The first images from the James Webb Space Telescope stun astronomers.

Scientists and space enthusiasts the world over rekindled their sense of wonder this week as NASA unveiled the first full-color images from the James Webb Space Telescope. The pictures give us exceptional new details of stars, galaxies and nebulas across space and across time. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke to Nobel laureate Adam Riess, a professor of astronomy and physics at Johns Hopkins University. She asked him exactly what it is we’re seeing in the first image NASA put out.

Jul 13, 2022
Congress could codify privacy rights with a bipartisan bill

It’s crunch time on Capitol Hill. Congress’ August recess starts in just a few weeks, so lawmakers are hoping to finish up some work before they skip town. One item of business with increased urgency for many is codifying privacy rights. Last week, President Biden signed an executive order on the issue, and some lawmakers in Congress hope they can do more to protect privacy in the coming months with the American Data Privacy and Protection Act. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Cristiano Lima, a reporter at The Washington Post.

Jul 12, 2022
Gaming your finances to get the perfect credit score

In this final segment in our series “The Score:” Credit scores are vital to modern personal finances, and some people try all sorts of strategies to try to beat the algorithm.

Jul 11, 2022
How one credit scoring company is thinking about financial inclusion

All this week, we’ve been looking at the data and algorithms behind credit scores. While many lenders will use FICO scores, the company does have one major competitor, VantageScore. It was founded by the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) in 2006. The company, which is independently managed, says its scoring model is more inclusive and predictive of credit risk than traditional models. “Marketplace Tech” host Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Silvio Tavares, president and CEO of VantageScore, about what he and his team consider when they’re designing their algorithms. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Jul 08, 2022
The use of alternative data — like on-time rental payments — could help borrowers boost credit scores

In our latest episode in our series “The Score” we look at how alternate data (like timely utility payments) could factor in to the credit scoring system.

Jul 07, 2022
We all have a credit score. Or do we?

We’ve been focusing on the three-digit number that is your credit score. It can be from the 300s and up to 850. And it’s used to determine whether someone is worthy of being granted a loan, a credit card, even a mortgage. What happens when you don’t have access to basic banking? You may not have a credit score at all. And it’s not always easy to establish one. “Marketplace Tech” producer Jesús Alvarado has more on that.

Jul 06, 2022
The history of credit score algorithms and how they became the lender standard

Credit risk assessment is largely a job for credit score algorithms, mass market models and systems that are relatively new in terms of the modern credit industry’s lifespan. Before computers and data science were fully adopted by the credit sector, lending decisions were made by credit managers employed by banks or department stores, who then collected information about each individual borrower. “Marketplace Tech” producer Daniel Shin takes a brief look at the history of credit score algorithms and how the industry eventually adopted those systems as the metric for risk assessment.

Jul 05, 2022
What happens to IVF in a post-Roe vs. Wade era? (rerun)

This episode originally aired May 24, 2022.

On this holiday, we’re rebroadcasting a show from May, before the Supreme Court had officially overturned Roe versus Wade, about how the court’s eventual opinion could affect the future of in vitro fertilization (IVF). That’s when eggs are lab fertilized and then embryos are implanted in a patient, or frozen for later use, donated, or disposed of. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Dr. Eve Feinberg, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University.


Jul 04, 2022
Credit scores and the bias behind them

In the third installment of our series “The Score,” we look at the bias that can be embedded in the credit-score algorithms that shape our financial lives.

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Jul 01, 2022
The data problem with credit score algorithms

Credit scores are these three digit snapshots — usually a number between 300 and 850 — that represent a borrower’s risk of default. They’re calculated by algorithms that use a borrower’s credit data, like the history of their credit payments, the amount of debt they owe, how long they’ve owned credit cards and more. Much of that data is collected and maintained by the three big credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It’s a system that scores millions of Americans. But critics say the system doesn’t serve consumers who prioritize paying for things in cash or don’t have enough credit accounts. In this episode, “Marketplace Tech” producer Daniel Shin explores how not having enough credit data to feed the algorithm can hurt a consumer’s chances of getting a loan or a mortgage.

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Jun 30, 2022
Credit scores can shape your financial life. So can the algorithms behind them.

In the first installment of our series “The Score,” we look at the credit-score algorithms that influence so much of our financial lives.

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Jun 29, 2022
Tech companies silent on role of consumer data in enforcing state abortion bans

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed abortion rights throughout the country. Since the draft of the opinion was leaked in early May, businesses have had time to prepare for the formal ruling. And while many tech companies have publicly discussed their strategies for supporting employees, they’ve been a lot more cagey about what the change in the law will mean for users and their data. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Vittoria Elliott, a reporter for Wired who covers tech platforms and power.

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Jun 28, 2022
With Roe overturned, tech companies will have to weigh big data questions

The U.S. Supreme Court has now overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that guaranteed a constitutional right to have abortion. So now, states will determine whether people have those reproductive rights. About 26 states will likely ban or nearly ban abortion, given laws on the books or in the works. When the draft opinion of this Supreme Court decision was leaked in early May, we reported about the privacy concerns around some period-tracking apps and other online activity. Now that the official opinion is out, how will tech firms move forward in a post-Roe world? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams posed that question to Rebecca Wexler, a law professor at University of California, Berkeley, and co-director of Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. She says big and small tech companies will need to have a response to the future of users’ data.

Jun 27, 2022
Algorithms can be biased. Could auditors lend a hand?

This week, the Department of Justice settled a lawsuit with Meta, Facebook’s parent company, over the use of algorithms the government said were discriminatory. Meta said it will change its targeted ad toolAnd subject it to what’s called “algorithmic auditing.” Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Sasha Costanza-Chock, a researcher with the Algorithmic Justice League. She says audits can be done within companies, by contractors, or by outside parties like researchers and journalists.

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Jun 24, 2022
How the crash of a “stablecoin” led to the loss of savings for thousands of people

Sell-offs in the market for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum continued this week. The rout followed another shock in May, when the value of terraUSD, a popular “stablecoin,” crashed. Stablecoins are supposed to have stable value tied to the U.S. dollar, which is why crypto traders use them to move money around this volatile market. But when terraUSD crashed, it wasn’t just traders who were hurt. Thousands of small investors were caught up in the meltdown, including people who put their money in Stablegains — a now-defunct crypto savings account company that promised returns of up to 15%. Marketplace’s Matt Levin recently spoke to some of those people. He told Meghan McCarty Carino they’re not the typical crypto investors you might think of and explained why they put their money into crypto in the first place.

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Jun 23, 2022
In the race for self-driving vehicles, semitrucks are pulling ahead of passenger cars

Of the futuristic technology we see in movies and television, few have the appeal — and the sense of being tantalizingly close — as self-driving or autonomous vehicles. Today, we have cars and trucks with some autonomous or driver-assist features, but they aren’t quite the promise of the driverless cars we see in science fiction. The conversations about this mostly revolve around passenger cars navigating in cities, which still depend on a person who can take the wheel in case the computers crash and the technology fails. But perhaps we are a bit closer to that futuristic scenario when it comes to self-driving semitrucks. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Christopher Mims, a tech reporter at The Wall Street Journal. He recently wrote about the specialized technology behind autonomous big rigs.

Jun 22, 2022
French company hopes its low-tech, easily assembled EV will revolutionize carmaking

The French carmaker Renault had a surprise success in the early 2000s, when a low-cost car it designed for developing countries, the Logan, was a hit with low-income people in France. That car is still a strong brand for Renault almost two decades later. And the company boasts that a new Logan costs as much as a used car from other manufacturers. Now, a former Renault designer is developing a new car, the Gazelle, that’s even more radical: an electric vehicle that’s not just low-cost to produce and purchase, but it’s also pretty easy to assemble. In the Bordeaux region of of France, John Laurenson took a ride in this low-tech car.

Jun 21, 2022
Reggie Fils-Aimé believes the best video game innovations are carried by one simple thing — a good game (rerun)

This episode originally aired on May 3, 2022. Video games are more technologically sophisticated than ever these days — virtual reality headsets, augmented reality integration and some of the most powerful and realistic graphics yet. At the end of the day, a good, innovative video game needs one important element. According to industry veteran Reggie Fils-Aimé, former president of Nintendo of America, it’s simply to make the game good and fun. Fils-Aimé retired in 2019 but reflects on these ideas and his history of disrupting the gaming sector in his new autobiography, “Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo.”

Jun 20, 2022
How FTC Chair Lina Khan wants to modernize the watchdog agency

One of the big players in the push to update tech industry regulations is the Federal Trade Commission, whose job is to protect consumers and promote competition in the economy. It’s been just over a year since Lina Khan took over as chair of the agency and about a month since the confirmation of a third Democrat, Alvaro Bedoya, to the five-member commission, which broke a prolonged deadlock at the agency. That means Khan has a fresh chance to advance her agenda. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Khan at her office and asked her about taking on Big Tech in the courts.

Jun 17, 2022
For high school STEM students, biotech competition offers a shot at the limelight

This week, 14 high school students presented their research projects at the Bio International Convention in San Diego. Some focused on medical technology, others on environmental solutions. One student presented a new volatile compound made from beer that he says will benefit honeybee colonies. The students competed for cash prizes of up to $7,500. “Marketplace Tech’s” Amanda Peacher followed one 16-year-old winner who traveled from Pennsylvania to showcase his project.

Jun 16, 2022
A new digital tool that can help people in abusive relationships

Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 16, includes a new feature, Safety Check. It’s a resource aimed at giving people in abusive relationships better ability to control — or regain control of — their privacy and communications. Many criticized Apple after the rollout of its AirTag technology last year, warning it was being used to aid abusers in tracking and stalking their targets. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Erica Olsen, director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. She explains how Apple’s Safety Check works.

Jun 15, 2022
Researchers use artificial intelligence to identify long COVID cases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 23 million Americans have been affected by long COVID. That term describes a wide variety of conditions, from brain fog and chronic fatigue to neurological problems and blood clots, that persist for months or even years after infection. But clear answers about exactly how often this happens, who’s most at risk and why, are still elusive. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Emily Pfaff of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who uses artificial intelligence to analyze electronic health records, looking for patterns that might better identify the syndrome and treat patients.

Jun 14, 2022
Russia’s tech workers leave the country, but the stain of the war follows

The Russian Association for Electronic Communications, a tech trade association, reported in March that as many as 70,000 tech workers had fled Russia since late February. The organization’s economists expect that number to more than double by summer. They’re headed to places like Turkey, Poland and other parts of Europe, as well as Central European countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Some are even coming to the United States. But Russians who are fleeing may not be welcomed with open arms in other countries, even if they disagree with the war. Dina Temple-Raston, the host of the podcast “Click Here,” tells us the stories of two tech workers who got out of Russia.

Jun 13, 2022
How technology shows up in the Jan. 6 committee hearings

Last night, the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol started showing the evidence it has been gathering about who knew what and when. To build that case and tell the story, members are relying on video footage, social media communication and text messages. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Alex Howard, director of The Digital Democracy Project. He says a major focus is the role social media and virtual communication played before, during and after the attack.

Jun 10, 2022
How to make it in the tech industry when you don’t quite fit in

In many ways, tech culture is startup culture, and launching your own startup can be particularly difficult when you’re from a group that’s been historically underrepresented in the sector. Kathryn Finney is the founder and CEO of Genius Guild, which builds and invests in companies led by Black founders. She’s also the author of a new book that’s coming out this week, “Build the Damn Thing: How to Start a Successful Business If You’re Not a Rich White Guy.Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Finney about her experiences and why the term “startup” is synonymous with tech.

Jun 09, 2022
Should an algorithm play a role in child welfare decisions?

The deployment of algorithms and artificial intelligence can have unintended consequences. Back in April, the Associated Press released an investigation into an algorithm used by one Pennsylvania county to help decide which families to investigate for child neglect and abuse. Researchers found that, if not for the intervention of social workers, the algorithm would have exacerbated racial disparities. Since that report, Oregon stopped using a similar tool. Sally Ho, an investigative correspondent with the Associated Press, co-authored the report. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Ho about how the algorithm in Pennsylvania worked.

Jun 08, 2022
When will we start having our meetings in the metaverse?

Tech companies make a lot of promises about the metaverse, specifically about how we’ll watch movies, hold work meetings, buy virtual real estate and more in these immersive online spaces. Meta — formerly Facebook — and others are investing heavily to create their own territory in the metaverse, which, we’d like to remind you, still doesn’t exist in a complete form. But companies are developing proto-metaverse platforms, and our own Kai Ryssdal, host of “Marketplace” and co-host of “Make Me Smart,” explored one of the more business-oriented spaces, fashioned by a company called Engage. He was guided by Michigan State University professor Rabindra “Robby” Ratan. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Kai about his experience.

Jun 07, 2022
Turning to drones and other instruments to hunt hurricanes

Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, predict yet another season of “above-normal” hurricane activity. To track and predict these storms, scientists rely on data from satellites, radar and planes. This year, on top of that technology, staff at NOAA will also be using a fleet of autonomous vehicles in the air and at sea to reveal new data about what happens during the worst of a storm. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jason Dunion, NOAA’s hurricane field program director.


Jun 06, 2022
Sheryl Sandberg’s legacy and what her departure from Meta means

This week, Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced she will leave the company after 14 years in leadership. Sandberg joined Facebook, Meta’s parent, in the early years of the company, and she’s credited with helping to build it into the behemoth it is today by converting consumer data into ad revenue. So, what does her exit mean for Meta and its trajectory? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams discussed that topic with Cecilia Kang, a tech policy reporter for The New York Times and co-author of the book “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination.”

Jun 03, 2022
Activision Blizzard employees vote to form a union

Workers at game developer Activision Blizzard have voted to unionize. That’s the company behind games like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush, and which has faced lawsuits and federal investigation for accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment. The new union, The Game Workers Alliance, comprises fewer than two dozen employees in one division of Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision. But it’s the first union at a major company in the $180 billion gaming industry and could be a sign of things to come. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra has the story.

Jun 02, 2022
Scientists have made another step toward creating a quantum network

Scientists are working toward building the next evolution of computers: quantum computers. And recently, a team of researchers in the Netherlands made another step toward that future after they successfully sent quantum data to three locations in a network. That development could lead to the creation of a quantum internet, an essential part of any future attempt to build quantum computing networks. Cade Metz, a technology correspondent for The New York Times, wrote about this recent development. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Metz about quantum computing, what makes the concept different from the computers of today, and why this latest development with quantum networks involves “teleportation.”

Jun 01, 2022
A shortage of helium is causing delays in scientific research

There’s at least one natural resource out there that’s completely finite on Earth: helium. And once we use it up, it’s gone for good. The lighter-than-air gas is in especially short supply right now, thanks to the closure of a major domestic processing facility and disruptions at a couple of plants overseas. That’s not just a problem for birthday balloons — a number of industries compete for the limited supply of helium: health care, manufacturing, the tech sector and scientific research. But those researchers are often at the back of the helium line.

May 31, 2022
When algorithms make the choices for us (rerun)

When looking for new music, it’s easy to let a streaming service’s algorithm recommend songs similar to music you already like. Those types of algorithms are the focus of new book from NBC News tech Correspondent Jacob Ward. In today’s show, Ward argues that those algorithms may have us in a feedback loop that dulls our critical thinking.

May 30, 2022
Improving the database behind gun sale background checks could help prevent mass shootings

Amid the grief in response to the mass shootings in Texas, New York and California, there’s an ongoing search for solutions, especially ones that can push through the political deadlock over gun control reform. One potential solution has to do with the data and technology used in background checks — specifically, in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Cassandra Crifasi, professor and deputy director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions speaks with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about how that database only works well if the information going into it is accurate and timely.

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May 27, 2022
Should social media companies have First Amendment protections?

The question of who is allowed to use platforms like Twitter or Facebook — and who decides what users can say on those platforms — is increasingly becoming a legal issue. A Texas court decision handed down earlier this month gave the go-ahead to a law that gives users the right to sue social media platforms for removing content based on “viewpoint.” This week, however, another court found parts of a similar social media law in Florida unconstitutional. Issie Lapowsky, Protocol’s chief correspondent, joins Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams to discuss the latest.

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May 26, 2022
“Good faith” hackers get a break from the government

Last week, the Department of Justice announced it would no longer prosecute hackers doing “good faith” cybersecurity research like testing or investigating a system to help correct a security flaw or vulnerability. It’s a change in how the DOJ enforces the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act following a ruling last year by the Supreme Court in Van Buren v. United States that limited the scope of the CFAA. Riana Pfefferkorn, a research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory, spoke with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about how this is part of an ongoing policy shift for the Justice Department over the last few years.

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May 25, 2022
What could happen to IVF in a post-Roe vs. Wade era?

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, many are wondering what that will mean for in vitro fertilization, or IVF. That is when eggs are fertilized in a lab and then embryos are implanted in a patient, frozen for later use, donated or disposed of. If Roe is overturned, states could decide those embryos have “personhood” status, thus subjecting IVF to new restrictions. Dr. Eve Feinberg, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, told Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams that giving embryos personhood status conflicts with modern medicine.

May 24, 2022
How medical technology is changing the conversation about fetal viability

Advances in medical technology have pushed the boundaries of fetal viability, a term for the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb. When the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, doctors could support babies delivered as early as about 28 weeks. Now, it’s 22 weeks. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Dr. Rachel Fleishman, who works in a neonatal intensive care unit at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. She wrote an essay for NBC about viability, and what it’s like caring for very premature infants.

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May 23, 2022
The business behind electrifying classic cars

Thinking of buying an electric vehicle? Well, be prepared to wait in line. Demand for electric cars is so hot, companies like Volkswagen are sold out for the rest of the year. But, some see opportunity in another sector of the market: converting classic cars into electric vehicles. Marketplace’s Andy Uhler reports on companies doing just that.

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May 20, 2022
The government would like to talk to you about UFOs

This week, Congress held a public hearing on a topic that hasn’t been discussed openly in a congressional hearing in decades: unidentified flying objects. Yes, UFOs, or as the Pentagon is calling them, unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs. The hearing follows a report from the director of national intelligence released in June that said there were over 140 recorded sightings of UAPs that the military, like the name implies, could not identify. Chris Impey, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, has been following these developments. He explained the significance of the hearing and the report to Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams.

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May 19, 2022
What should come next in the effort to crack down on online extremism?

The 18-year-old man accused of the racist rampage at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, Saturday followed a pattern becoming disturbing familiar for such attacks: online radicalization. The suspect allegedly wrote and posted a 180-page document before the mass shooting, citing various racist and anti-Semitic memes and conspiracy theories from websites such as 4chan. Federal officials are paying attention to this growing threat. President Joe Biden’s latest budget allocates $33 million for the FBI to investigate domestic terrorism. Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, spoke with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about how the Justice Department has shifted efforts to address online extremism in the United States. He noted that it still has progress to make.

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May 18, 2022
The not-so-stable stablecoin economy

Last week, we got a stark reminder of the volatility of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin plummeted to its lowest value in 16 months. This time, the source of the cascade of selling came from an unexpected quarter. The market crashed after investors fled a type of crypto called stablecoins, whose worth is pegged to a traditional currency, like the U.S. dollar. Last week, that kinda fell apart. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Emily Nicolle, a crypto blogger for Bloomberg, about how stablecoins work.

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May 17, 2022
Thanks for the memories, iPod

Apple says it will stop making its iconic iPod this year, after a more than two-decade run. When it first came out, the iPod was a sleek alternative to bulky CD or cassette players. And the “touch circle” feature below the two-toned screen felt like a revolution. Over the years, the iPod got even smaller: no screen, just a clip and some buttons on the cute, little iPod Shuffle. By the time the last iPod Touch model came out three years ago, the iPod looked more like the other innovation it inspired, the iPhone. It got us thinking about how the device changed mobile tech. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Patrick McCray, who teaches about the history of technology and science at University of California, Santa Barbara. He says it was the iPod’s size that was groundbreaking.

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May 16, 2022
Google shows off its newest gadgets, including revamps of older ideas

Google hosted its annual developers conference this week, which it calls Google I/O. And for the first time since the start of the pandemic, attendees had the option to show up in person. The company announced software updates, new devices and, of course, details of improvements to the Android operating system, which runs on most of the world’s mobile phones. The event sets the tone for the other big tech conferences throughout the year. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Ian Sherr, an editor at large for CNET. He attended the conference virtually and said one of Google’s biggest reveals was a new wearable device.

May 13, 2022
App privacy protections require more than new policies

With the expected Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade on its way, some consumers are rethinking how much of their health data they want to share with mobile apps. Multiple types of apps and programs, even internet searches, generate data like location tracking — data that could be used to implicate people seeking abortions. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jessica Lee, a partner with the law firm Loeb & Loeb who helps companies craft their privacy policies.

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May 12, 2022
Clearview AI settlement limits company’s sale of facial recognition tools
May 11, 2022
Will the future of AI repeat past injustices?

Artificial intelligence has changed our world in major ways: autonomous vehicles, speech-recognition technology and algorithms that change what we see and hear on social media platforms. But the technology and data fueling AI is often powered by low-paid workers, particularly in the Global South. Some academics describes this as AI colonialism, suggesting that AI development is repeating exploitative colonial history. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with journalist Karen Hao, who recently published a series about AI colonialism in MIT Technology Review.

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May 10, 2022
Trading your password for your cellphone

Using passwords as a way to prove your identity online, though ubiquitous, has several downsides. People forget them and, if they aren’t strong enough, passwords can be guessed by criminals. Last week, Apple, Google and Microsoft announced plans to work together on a “passwordless” authentication system for their various browsers, services and devices. The cross-platform collaboration is expected to start rolling out over the next year. The companies say they will support Fast Identity Online (FIDO) protocols across their most commonly used products. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Kim Zetter, cybersecurity journalist and author, about this collaboration.

May 09, 2022
Why the forthcoming abortion ruling has many worried about digital privacy

As supporters and opponents of abortion rights continue to parse the leaked draft ruling obtained by Politico this week, one of the many questions that have come up is what the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and stricter anti-abortion laws, would mean for our lives online. Technology plays a major role in connecting people with reproductive health services, but if those now-legal options become illegal in a post-Roe environment, will those online interactions remain private? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Evan Greer, director at the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future.

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May 06, 2022