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
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
Social media slow to take down anti-Muslim content, new research suggests

Social media companies say they are working hard to prevent hate speech from being posted on their platforms, and remove it when it is. But that’s an ongoing challenge as they operate in numerous countries with many languages and social contexts. A new report from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate reveals anti-Muslim hate speech and misinformation still proliferate online. Imran Ahmed is the founder and CEO of the group. He spoke with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about the CCDH’s latest research and why social media platforms are still struggling to moderate this kind of content.

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May 05, 2022
Why Russia just can’t quit YouTube

A major part of Russia’s war strategy is the control of messages spread online, both in occupied areas of Ukraine and within Russia itself. Platforms like Facebook have been banned and labeled “extremist” by Russian authorities. Some sites, like YouTube, remain partially available. At the same time, the Kremlin is trying to push Russian users to a domestic video platform, “RuTube.” It’s part of a strategy to convince citizens and content creators to abandon Western social media sites. Although RuTube and YouTube were developed around the same time, the Russian video service hasn’t had YouTube’s success. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Emerson Brooking, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

May 04, 2022
Reggie Fils-Aimé believes the best video game innovations are carried by one simple thing — a good game

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 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.” Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with him about where the innovation is happening in gaming right now. He says you just need to look at who’s creating those fun interactions.

May 03, 2022
How will Musk’s plans for Twitter hold up against Europe’s new tech regulations?

The European Union is pushing to regulate big, global technology firms. In their latest move, EU negotiators agreed to a broad set of legislation called the Digital Services Act, which aims to, among a long list of other items, require social media companies to make their algorithms more transparent and limit the spread of disinformation on their platforms. While the language in the DSA still needs to be finalized, it seems clear that platforms like Twitter — regardless of who owns it — will need to adapt to those rules. Eric Heinze is a professor of law and humanities at Queen Mary University of London. He spoke with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about how strict these EU rules will be and what they mean for Elon Musk’s vision for Twitter.

May 02, 2022
Apple rolls out a DIY program to repair your iPhone

This week, Apple rolled out its Self-Service Repair Store. Consumers and independent shops can now order spare parts and rent company-authorized tools to fix certain iPhones. This comes after President Joe Biden issued an executive order in July promoting consumers’ “right to repair” their own electronics. Congress is considering new laws to make it easier for people to fix their stuff. That’s the topic today for our recurring segment, “Quality Assurance,” where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Nathan Proctor, who directs the Right to Repair Campaign for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Apr 29, 2022
How might Twitter deal with misinformation under Elon Musk?

Twitter users and investors have been trying to guess what’s ahead for the social media platform since the company agreed to a $44 billion buyout from Tesla and SpaceX CEO — and Twitter superuser — Elon Musk. Musk has praised Twitter as an important platform for public discourse and says he plans to make it better by cracking down on bot accounts, increasing transparency around its algorithms and making it a more free speech-friendly space. But what happens when that free speech happens to be false speech? Emily Dreyfuss, a journalist and senior editor at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, spoke to Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams about how the change of ownership, which is subject to regulatory approval, could affect Twitter’s attempts to crack down on misinformation.

Apr 28, 2022
Could deep-learning algorithms help us prepare for the Big One?

Contrary to what you might have seen in the Rock’s movie “San Andreas,” we still can’t predict earthquakes. But there have been recent advances in seismology assisted by artificial intelligence. Researchers at Stanford used a deep-learning algorithm to detect more earthquakes in cities by filtering out the normal noise and vibrations of urban life. And a group at Penn State used machine learning to analyze simulated fault movements in the lab and look for indicators that could help predict an impending quake. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Egill Hauksson, a research professor of geophysics at Caltech, who said these tools can give us a fuller understanding of earthquake patterns.

Apr 27, 2022
Elon Musk bought Twitter. Now what?

Twitter officially accepted a buyout offer from Elon Musk on Monday valued at $44 billion. Musk is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the richest person in the world and has been described as something of a memelord on Twitter. He’s praised the platform as a bastion of free speech but he has some ideas to make it … more free: more transparency about the algorithm, maybe an edit button and less content moderation. What he’s not after, he’s said, is making money. Then he’s in the right place, says Amy Webb, a futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute.

Apr 26, 2022
The future tech worker pipeline might not be through college

There are two long-standing trends in the tech industry that have intensified over the last couple years: there are more jobs than workers to fill them, and there’s a need to diversify this workforce. More and more companies are rolling back degree requirements that were part of many job descriptions. Today, we’ll hear how that dynamic has given new opportunities to people like Stanley Omotuyole, who left Nigeria a couple of years ago, giving up a degree program in laboratory science to join his dad in Seattle.

Apr 25, 2022
An old cybersecurity law gets an update (sort of)

Scraping data from public websites is legal. That’s the upshot of a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week. LinkedIn had taken a case against data analytics company hiQ, arguing it was illegal for hiQ to “scrape” users’ profile data to analyze employee turnover rates under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Tiffany Li, a technology attorney and professor of law at the University of New Hampshire, joins our host Meghan McCarty Carino to talk about how the CFAA fits into today’s world.

Apr 22, 2022
NASA satellites reveal groundwater levels beneath the surface

Keeping tabs on groundwater is more important than ever. Most of the western United States is suffering the most extreme drought in 12 centuries, and climate change only promises to make things worse. Underground aquifers can provide lifelines for farmers and cities, but pumping them dry causes the earth to sag, which is called subsidence. This can create sinkholes and destroy infrastructure. But groundwater is hard to monitor; it’s sometimes located thousands of feet below the surface. That’s where satellites come in. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Kyra Kim, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where they’ve created a model to track groundwater levels using two satellite systems.

Apr 21, 2022
Preventing online abuse against women requires more than a “block” button

The internet can be a scary place for women, from mansplaining and unwanted advances to coordinated harassment campaigns, doxxing and physical threats. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Nina Jankowicz, author of a new book about this, “How to Be a Woman Online: Surviving Abuse and Harassment, and How to Fight Back,” which comes out Thursday. Jankowicz says women are bearing most of the burden of fighting online trolls.

Apr 20, 2022
What does it take to be an effective mental health app?

Accessing mental health care has long been difficult  and the pandemic has further increased the strain. And there are thousands of mental health apps — about 20,000 and counting — designed to tackle the problem. They range from mood trackers, guided mindfulness exercises and apps with chatbots that teach coping skills. Spending on them has grown quickly since 2019 and is predicted to reach about $500 million this year, according to a report from Deloitte. But not all these apps are backed by science. Stephen Schueller is a professor at UC Irvine and the executive director of One Mind PsyberGuide, which provides expert ratings for hundreds of wellness apps. He talked to host Meghan McCarty Carino about how the apps are rated.

Apr 19, 2022
Will Netflix’s video game gamble pay off?

Netflix will give investors a glimpse of its growth Tuesday with the release of its quarterly earnings report. It’s been hard to sustain the pace of 2020, when the world was stuck at home on the couch. But now the company is chasing a new market: video games. And it’s a big one. Mobile gaming generated an estimated $90 billion in 2021. Over the last year, Netflix has bought up small, independent gaming studios— it acquired a third one last month. The company now offers multiple titles free to subscribers, including a card game, bowling, an upcoming first-person shooter and two based on its popular show “Stranger Things.” Leveraging a company’s intellectual property for games is nothing new, but how well can Netflix play this game? Michael Pachter is a research analyst with Wedbush Securities. He told “Marketplace Tech’s” Meghan McCarty Carino that Netflix’s catalog of hit shows might not lend itself to this strategy.

Apr 18, 2022
Etsy transaction fee spikes and vendors strike

Thousands of vendors on Etsy are staging a strike this week after the company announced it would hike transaction fees for sellers by 30%. It’s the latest in a series of changes that Etsy says will help it compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon by improving customer service, attracting more buyers and strengthening the brand by policing listings for mass-produced items, something sellers have been asking for. It’s a topic for Quality Assurance, where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Samantha Close, a professor of communication at DePaul University.

Apr 15, 2022
Digital currencies are popping up everywhere, and that means competition

We’ve got bitcoin, dogecoin, litecoin. Every day a new coin. These are known as cryptocurrencies, unregulated digital coins that live outside the banking system in blockchain technology. Recently, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it was exploring the possibility of a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. It would be issued, regulated and backed by the government, just like paper dollars. Some countries are already experimenting with this, like the Bahamas, Nigeria, Sweden and China. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Eswar Prasad, professor at Cornell University. He’s the author of a recent piece in MIT Technology Review: “Money is about to enter a new era of competition.” And he explains what it would look like for all these currencies to coexist.

Apr 14, 2022
App stores are — slightly — relaxing control over payment systems

Google and Apple have been slow to relinquish the hefty commissions they charge on app payments. Developers have been pushing for alternatives to the payment systems run by those tech giants, hoping they could save some money. In South Korea, Google is now required to let app makers use alternative payment systems, but the tech company will still take almost the same commission. For instance, in cases in which Google takes 30% of revenue, it will charge developers that use other systems 26%. Here in the U.S., Spotify recently reached an agreement with Google to charge subscribers through a non-Google system a smaller fee than usual, but there’s no word yet on how much smaller. So will these changes actually spur competition, as intended? Meghan McCarty Carino of “Marketplace Tech” put that question to Eric Seufert, an independent analyst with the website Mobile Dev Memo. He said such small tweaks might not be worth very much.

Apr 13, 2022
The doctor will see you now … in the metaverse?

The metaverse is coming — so we’re told — though it’s hard to know exactly what that means. There are companies using virtual reality to recreate office life down to the conference rooms, for some reason. And, of course, VR is big for gaming and other diversions. But VR is also increasingly being used in health care, especially as more services go remote. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Brennan Spiegel, the director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He said about 200 hospitals in the U.S. are using virtual reality tools to not only help train doctors, but also to help manage patients’ pain from surgery, irritable bowel syndrome or cancer. And recently, this technology’s applications have expanded from treating patients to diagnosing conditions like glaucoma.

Apr 12, 2022
Online shopping comes to federal food assistance programs, but it’s complicated

The pandemic sent grocery shoppers online like never before, and federal food assistance programs are trying to keep up. The main food stamp program, known as SNAP, rolled out online shopping pre-pandemic, and it’s now available in almost every state. That hasn’t been the case for WIC, a similar program that gives credit to moms and kids for healthy foods, like milk, fruits and vegetables. The USDA started a pilot program late last year for WIC online shopping in a handful of states. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association, which provides education and advocacy. He said it will be years before the program expands nationwide, but it’s important that it does.

Apr 11, 2022
Software in some Google Play apps opened paths for extracting user data

Security researchers revealed this week that dozens of apps in the Google Play Store had secretly gathered data on tens of millions of users and sent it to a company linked to a U.S. defense contractor. Developers of Muslim prayer apps, QR code scanners and international weather apps were paid by a company called Measurement Systems to insert code that gave Measurement access to user data, without the developers fully knowing. Google says it has since banned these apps. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Byron Tau, who covered this for The Wall Street Journal.

Apr 08, 2022
Will Amazon’s first union have something to say about surveillance tech?

It’s going to be a minute before the contours of an actual collective bargaining agreement come into focus for workers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, who voted to unionize Friday. Amazon says it’s evaluating options to contest the election. But the union drive has put workplace conditions in the spotlight, including how the company uses technology to monitor its warehouse employees. Lisa Kresge, a researcher at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, said there’s a long history of unions negotiating management’s use of tech in the workplace, and Amazon warehouses use plenty of it.

Apr 07, 2022
The vast emptiness of space is filling up with junk

Folded among the big-ticket programs in President Joe Biden’s latest budget proposal is a small sliver — $88 million — to study and track space junk. That includes everything from defunct satellites to the debris caused from explosions in space. The president wants the Office of Space Commerce to ramp up its ability to track this stuff in real time. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Moriba Jah, chief scientist and co-founder of the space debris tracking company Privateer. Jah says scientists are currently tracking about 50,000 pieces of space debris, down to the size of a cellphone, and that there’s much, much more out there.

Apr 06, 2022
One small step for astronaut gloves, one giant leap for the space economy

Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced Monday that they’ve partnered up with NASA to bring artificial intelligence to the International Space Station. The AI will be used to check astronaut gloves for damage. These gloves help maintain pressure and protect astronauts working at the station from extreme temperatures; a damaged glove is a big deal. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Stephen Kitay, senior director of Azure Space at Microsoft, who says this space tech is just the beginning.

Apr 05, 2022
President Biden says we need more batteries, and we should make them here

President Joe Biden is pushing for more green energy storage to get us out of the gasoline crisis. He’s encouraging the American special minerals industry to increase production. Biden wants more lithium, nickel, cobalt and other metals to come from  the U.S. to fuel more domestic manufacturing of batteries that power electric vehicles. More electric vehicles mean less demand for gas, which means less reliance on oil from other countries, particularly important when gas prices are high, like they are now. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Leah Stokes, who teaches energy and environmental politics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She explained the old-school law Biden is turning to to address this modern problem.

Apr 04, 2022
Tech competition heats up at the checkout

Supermarkets are increasingly becoming testing grounds for some of the latest technology. At Walmart’s subsidiary, Sam’s Club, customers can use an app to scan and pay for items while in the grocery aisle. Last month, Walmart sued BJ’s Wholesale Club, alleging the company infringed on patents for its Scan and Go technology. As checkout tech gets more advanced, it’s getting more competitive. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Don Apgar, merchant practice director at Mercator Advisory Group, about innovations in the space.

Apr 01, 2022
Artificial intelligence expands its terrain as legislation and ethics rules try to catch up

Private investment in artificial intelligence more than doubled last year, according to Stanford University’s AI Index Report. The research tracks and visualizes data about this tech, including business investment, software costs and research trends. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Jack Clark, co-chair of Stanford’s AI Index, who explains why we’re seeing more of this technology now.

Mar 31, 2022
The patent history behind GIFs, and the fight to make them free of fees

Steve Wilhite, inventor of the graphics interchange format, also known as GIF, died this month at the age of 74. Animated or not, GIFs may now be a common, free feature of the internet, but the tech that powered Wilhite’s format was patented by the technology company Unisys. For a few contentious years during the internet’s youthful era, Unisys wanted to charge fees for all the sparkly GIFs we were sharing. This fight — over who controls how information moves around the web and who gets paid in the process — continues to this day. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with Jason Eppink, an artist and a former curator at the Museum of the Moving Image, who gave her a GIF history lesson.

Mar 30, 2022
Europe wants all messaging apps to work together

European Union lawmakers recently unveiled the Digital Markets Act, which aims to limit the power of “gatekeepers” — companies so big and popular that they shape entire industries — like the tech companies behind messaging apps. One rule would require that apps be “interoperable” with one another, so a startup, for instance, could let its users send messages to people using Apple’s iMessage or Meta’s WhatsApp seamlessly. Companies that don’t comply would face steep penalties — up to 20% of their global revenue. Alex Heath covers tech and internet platforms at The Verge. He laid out some of the pros and cons of the proposal.

Mar 29, 2022
The budding relationship between cryptocurrency and oil

We’re wrapping up our series on cryptocurrency mining, the energy-intensive computing process that does all of the accounting for most cryptocurrencies. Marketplace’s Andy Uhler previously reported on how crypto miners were drawn to the small Texas town of Rockdale because of its robust electric power infrastructure that hasn’t seen much use in recent years. Elsewhere in Texas, oil and gas companies are starting to get involved in crypto mining.


Mar 28, 2022
NFTs in video games? Skeptics push back at developers conference

Video game developers, programmers and artists are gathering in San Francisco this week for the first in-person Game Developers Conference since 2019. One topic getting a lot of attention is non-fungible tokens — digital certificates showing ownership of digital assets like a picture or video. It’s a topic for Quality Assurance, where we take a closer look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Stephen Totilo, who covers gaming for Axios and is attending the conference.

Mar 25, 2022
Cybersecurity professionals face burnout

This week, President Biden warned businesses to be wary of potential cyberattacks from Russia, recommending companies increase their cybersecurity defenses. That means more work and higher stakes for the technicians maintaining those defenses. There are hundreds of thousands of vacancies in the cybersecurity sector right now, meaning those already working often end up taking on more duties, burning out and leaving the field. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Lesley Carhart, an incident responder for the industrial cybersecurity company Dragos. Warning: This interview touches on substance use disorder and suicide.

Mar 24, 2022
Limited internet access linked to higher COVID death rates

Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, allowing some of us to work remotely or order all manner of things for delivery. But there’s not much research so far on the connection between internet access and health. A new paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association looks at how COVID mortality rates varied based on factors like race, socioeconomic status — and internet access. Researchers found that counties with less access could expect more COVID deaths; for every extra percentage point of homes without internet, another 2 to 6 people per 100,000 would die. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Qinyun Lin, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science, who was the paper’s lead author.

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Mar 23, 2022
What does it mean to “destroy” an algorithm?

The Federal Trade Commission recently reached a settlement with WW International, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers. The FTC and Department of Justice accused WW of illegally collecting data from children as young as 8 without their parents’ permission through a weight loss app called Kurbo. That data included details such as what the kids ate and their exercise habits. In addition to fining WW $1.5 million, the FTC ordered the company to “destroy any algorithms derived from the data.” Kate Kaye is a staff writer covering artificial intelligence and data for the website Protocol. She explained what it actually means to “destroy” an algorithm.

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Mar 22, 2022
The crypto rush hits Texas

Lately, we’ve been exploring cryptocurrency mining, the energy-intensive — and potentially quite lucrative – computing process that produces currencies like bitcoin. Up until last summer, China led the world in crypto mining — thanks in part to its hydroelectric infrastructure. Then the Chinese government cracked down on crypto and many mining companies moved to wherever they could find cheap power, like Kazakhstan, Iran, and … Texas. The U.S. now leads the world in crypto mining. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with reporter colleague Andy Uhler, who recently visited the small town of Rockdale, Texas, which attracted the attention of Chinese crypto miners, even before the ban.

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Mar 21, 2022
Online sports betting grows as more states make it legal

It’s March Madness, and while millions of fans will enjoy watching the games, a decent chunk of them will also be betting on the games. Dozens of states have legalized online sports betting in recent years, with apps like FanDuel and DraftKings fighting for the eyes and dollars of new gamblers. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with John Holden, an assistant professor in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, about the growth of this industry.

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Mar 18, 2022
Consumer privacy is being decided state by state

Federal regulation on tech privacy has yet to be fully fleshed out by Congress, so for now, state legislatures are taking a crack at it. California, Colorado and Virginia all have their own privacy laws, and Utah could be joining them. The state’s legislature has signed off on a new bill, and it’s just awaiting the governor’s signature. But consumer advocates say that this presents a patchwork of protections. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Margaret McGill, a tech reporter for Axios, about the Utah bill.

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Mar 17, 2022
Transgender Americans face obstacles changing their digital identities

How your information shows up on a credit report can affect your ability to rent a home, get a mortgage or take out a loan. So you want to make sure that information is accurate, especially after a name change. But that can be a particular challenge for transgender and nonbinary people who change their name to better align it with their identity. Last month, the Consumer Data Industry Association issued recommendations for how those consumers can update their credit reports, but a group of 145 organizations says the industry needs to do more. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Spencer Watson, president of the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement and Research, which was one of those groups.

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Mar 16, 2022
The complications of adding background checks to dating apps

Last week, Tinder rolled out a new feature that will allow users to pay $2.50 to check if matches have certain types of criminal records associated with a sex offender registry, arrests or convictions for “violent or harmful behavior.” The company partnered with public record aggregator Garbo to help users make more informed choices about who they interact with online. But some experts are concerned that use of this specific data may not be the best way to improve user safety. Sarah Lageson, an associate professor at Rutgers University-Newark School of Criminal Justice shared her concerns with Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams.

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Mar 15, 2022
There’s (crypto) gold in the hills of New York

Cryptocurrency miners have been flocking to upstate New York for several years, lured by inexpensive electricity, of which crypto mining requires lot. This move has brought a potential influx of jobs and economic activity but also has environmental impacts. As we hear, the industry is getting a mixed reception from locals.

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Mar 14, 2022
Digital archivists race to preserve Ukrainian heritage

War shatters lives, families, homes and infrastructure. And as Russia continues its war in Ukraine, the cultural heritage of Ukraine is also at risk. Some Ukrainian museum websites have gone offline as the servers hosting them lose connections or are destroyed in attacks. Now, to prevent that information and cultural memory from disappearing entirely, nearly 1,000 archivists, programmers and librarians have volunteered to record and archive these sites.

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Mar 11, 2022
Epic Games’ acquisition of Bandcamp worries independent musicians

Last week, multinational video game developer Epic Games acquired Bandcamp. The relatively small music platform allows artists to sell music and merchandise directly to fans, with a higher percent of the profits supporting musicians there than other platforms. And though both companies say the tech consolidation is aimed at supporting growth, it has some musicians anxious about the future.

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Mar 10, 2022
Could crypto and DeFi set us up for another financial crisis?

Cryptocurrencies are part of the world of decentralized finance, or DeFi. Part of the draw — and risks — of this ecosystem is just how unregulated it is. A new paper by law professor Hilary J. Allen suggests that some services and products within DeFi pose similar risks to “shadow banking” services, like subprime mortgages and credit default swaps, that set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis. Today, we’ll chat with Allen about her thoughts on why DeFi is the newest iteration of shadow banking.

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Mar 09, 2022
As the threat of Russian cyberattacks grows, security professionals are in short supply

Analysts and experts around the world have been on high alert as the war in Ukraine continues, concerned about potential Russian cyberattacks. Though cyberattacks have played a minor role so far, security experts have warned that those attacks could intensify — including against targets in the U.S.  And though the federal government and many companies have beefed up cybersecurity efforts in recent years, there’s still a big worker shortage in the sector.

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Mar 08, 2022
How does bitcoin mining work?

More than one-third of global bitcoin is mined in the United States, and the process consumes a ton of electricity. In the coming weeks, we’ll examine the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies. But first, back to the basics: What is bitcoin mining? And why is it so energy-intensive?

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Mar 07, 2022
The “tricky balance” of tackling water scarcity and carbon emissions

Desalination is the process by which salty ocean water is made drinkable. Though it’s seen as a potential solution to address water shortages in arid parts of the world, it also produces a lot of carbon emissions. So what role might desalination play in addressing the climate crisis if it could also worsen it?

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Mar 04, 2022
Ukraine turns to crypto donations to fund its defense against Russia

Ukraine has solicited an unusual form of donation to pay the costs of war: cryptocurrency. So far, the country has amassed more than $42 million in crypto donations. We hear from Marketplace’s Savannah Maher and delve into the benefits and complications of such contributions.

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Mar 03, 2022
As war rages in Ukraine, a battle rages against Russian disinformation

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last week, social media users have been sharing images and stories of the war. Mixed in with the feed are coordinated disinformation and propaganda campaigns. Wednesday we’re joined by Courtney Radsch, a fellow at UCLA’s Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, to discuss content moderation policies that platforms are creating “on the fly yet again.”

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Mar 02, 2022
A closer look at China’s new algorithm regulations

Tuesday, China’s government will start enforcing regulations on companies that use algorithms to do things like control search results, recommend videos or set prices. It’s part of China’s broader efforts to crack down on its tech sector. Among other things, these new rules would prohibit companies from using someone’s personal information to show them a different price for a product than someone else.

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Mar 01, 2022
TurboTax maker Intuit faces mass arbitration

The IRS offers some taxpayers the option to file their taxes online for free using commercial software. But this year, fewer companies will be participating. Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, is out, and it has been in a fight with many of its customers since a 2019 ProPublica investigation found that the company allegedly misled consumers into paying for supposedly free services. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Justin Elliott, one of the reporters who broke the story, He says TurboTax has tried to shield itself from traditional class-action suits.

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Feb 28, 2022
Before Russia’s land invasion of Ukraine came the cyberattacks

Before attacks on cities across Ukraine, cybersecurity experts say Russia disrupted or took offline Ukrainian government websites and other critical infrastructure. On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia for the land invasion. While these new sanctions are significant, they also come with a risk that Russia will retaliate with cyberattacks against the U.S.

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Feb 25, 2022
Eyeing a post-pandemic world, delivery apps aim to deliver more than just dinner

Many people signed up for delivery apps for the first time during the pandemic. As COVID-19 case numbers dip, those platforms are still going strong. To stay relevant, apps like DoorDash and UberEats are aiming to emerge as one-stop delivery platforms for restaurant orders, groceries, alcohol, you name it. The strategy seems to be working, at least for now.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone, that’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. You can use this link to donate now.

Feb 24, 2022
The FCC aims to expand competition for internet service in apartment buildings

The Federal Communications Commission decided last week to provide renters and condo dwellers with more options for internet service. Though it’s a pro-consumer move, it’s difficult to enforce, and, overall, competition among providers is pretty sparse. Still, it’s a small step toward recognizing high-speed internet as a utility, like water and gas.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone. That’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. You can use this link to donate now.

Feb 23, 2022
Tech is speeding up the search for ships — and stories — from the trans-Atlantic slave trade

Marine archaeologists and a small army of scuba divers are working to uncover the stories behind sunken ships from the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams talks with Justin Dunnavant, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and one of those divers, about how advances in technology are improving our ability to examine those ships and understand the history they represent.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone. That’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. You can use this link to donate now.

Feb 22, 2022
R.I.P. 3G (rerun)

Today, we’re re-airing an episode from Jan. 20.

Mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks to open up more bandwidth for expanded 5G networks. On Feb. 22, AT&T will be the first carrier to end its 3G services. T-Mobile will shut down its network by July 1 and Verizon by the end of the year. Commercial 3G networks first started popping up in the early 2000s and were about 30 times faster than their 2G predecessors, opening the door for new technology — remember Palm Pilots and BlackBerrys? — and creating infrastructure for many of the apps we use today. Joanna Stern, who’s covered the coming shutdown for The Wall Street Journal, joins us to discuss.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone. That’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. You can use this link to donate now.

Feb 21, 2022
When algorithms make the choices for us

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 have us in a feedback loop that may dull our critical thinking.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone. That’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. You can use this link to donate now.

Feb 18, 2022
European data privacy rulings put pressure on American tech companies

Recent court rulings in France and Austria are part of a larger push in the European Union to manage how American companies use European residents’ data. Back in July 2020, European courts severed a data privacy pact between the U.S. and the EU, saying the agreement didn’t provide enough protections from surveillance. Now, the pressure is on for companies and negotiators.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone. That’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. You can use this link to donate now.

Feb 17, 2022
Who’s allowed to fix your car when your car is basically a computer?

Massachusetts is the only state with an active right-to-repair law, ensuring third-party vendors and independent car repair shops can access materials and data they need to fix some modern tech. Today we’re joined by Aaron Perzanowski, a Case Western Reserve University law professor, to hear about existing and proposed legislation aimed at giving car owners greater control of their own data.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone. That’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. You can use this link to donate now.

Feb 16, 2022
The complications of trying to engineer life

Futurist Amy Webb is known for her predictions about the next big thing in technology and for early warnings about some of the economic and ethical considerations that go along with those advancements. Webb recently co-authored a book with geneticist Andrew Hessel called “The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology.” In it, she explores the role “synthetic biology” will play in shaping our world. It already has, in some ways, like in bringing us the mRNA vaccines we’re using to fight COVID. But in the not-so-distant future, Webb said, it will play an even bigger role in our health, what we eat and even how we have kids.

Marketplace is for public good, not for profit. We count on you, our listeners, to help cover the cost of the tech and business reporting you rely on. We’re going to remain free and accessible to everyone. That’s part of our mission. But if you’re in a position to donate, we’re counting on you. Click this link to donate now. Thank you.

Feb 15, 2022
Heartbreakers, dream fakers, money takers: Romance scams are rising

During the pandemic, many people reached out for human connection online, leading to a boom in romance scams and “catfishing,” which is when someone fakes their identity or appearance online. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams discussed the situation with Richard Gargan of the background check company BeenVerified, who wrote a report about the scale of the problem and how romance scammers operate.

Feb 14, 2022
Envisioning the future, and the tech it will take to get us there

The Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industries Building in Washington, D.C, is helping visitors explore how technology can, and should, shape the world of tomorrow. Marketplace producer Sasha Fernandez takes a tour of the “Futures” exhibition.

Feb 11, 2022
States push forward with broadband projects

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law President Joe Biden signed in November included $65 billion to get high-speed internet to more people. Much of that funding is expected to be channeled into rural and low-income communities. Now, exactly how all those billions will be distributed is still being worked out. But in the meantime, many states aren’t waiting. They are boosting broadband access using another pot of cash, tapping into pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act — a law that included about $360 billion for broadband investments and support. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Anna Read, senior officer with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Broadband Access Initiative, about this tactic.

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Feb 10, 2022
Streaming services continue to dominate Oscar nominations

The Academy Awards used to be the battleground between major Hollywood studios. It’s now increasingly a fight between streaming services. Netflix nabbed 27 Oscar nominations on Tuesday, the most of any studio. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Julia Alexander, a senior strategy analyst for Parrot Analytics. She says nominations for companies like Netflix and Amazon are a sure sign of the times.


Feb 09, 2022
About-face: IRS to stop using to identify taxpayers

The IRS announced on Monday it’s dropping a plan to require taxpayers to sign up for and use facial recognition software. The plan had been to require people to use a service provided by a third-party company,, to verify their identities to access documents or make payments online. It was already being rolled out for people who created new online accounts this year, and was going to kick in for existing accounts by this summer. The decision comes after backlash from advocates and lawmakers over privacy concerns. Tonya Riley, a privacy and cybersecurity reporter at CyberScoop, joins Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams to discuss.


Feb 08, 2022
How does copyright law affect the sale and distribution of NFTs?

Nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, are basically digital certificates of ownership, a virtual claim that an image or gif or even a song belongs to you. And while some artists are happy to jump into this new space, others have been surprised — or furious — to find that strangers beat them to owning and selling NFTs of their work. Just last week, several musical artists publicly complained after the website HitPiece temporarily listed NFTs for their songs or albums without the artists’ permission. But does selling someone else’s art as an NFT break the law? Aram Sinnreich is a professor and chair of the communication studies division at American University. He said this gets into a gray area, at least when it comes to existing copyright law.

Feb 07, 2022
Amazon workers in Alabama to vote again on unionization

On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board starts sending unionization ballots to more than 6,000 workers at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Organizers say they want a union so they can negotiate safer working conditions and dispute terminations. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Marketplace senior reporter Meghan McCarty Carino, who covers workplace culture. She said it’s significant that these workers are getting a redo after their union vote last year, which failed.

Feb 04, 2022
Cybersecurity concerns, both internal and external, run high at Beijing Olympics

The Beijing Winter Olympics officially start Friday, although preliminary events have already happened. In addition to the normal concerns about security and logistics, this year’s Games come with tight COVID-19 protocols and, according to cybersecurity experts, additional risks for attacks on the technology people are using. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams spoke with China correspondent Jennifer Pak about how the government is preparing for security threats. She said contractors hired to manage the threats have identified some particularly high-risk targets.

Feb 03, 2022
The Fed explores a digital dollar

There are many different types of virtual money these days, among them cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin, which are largely unregulated. Now more and more governments around the world are getting on board with the concept of their own official, regulated digital-only currencies. These are called central bank digital currencies, and the Federal Reserve recently took the first step in exploring the possibility of an American CBDC. It issued a 40-page paper outlining the potential benefits of, and concerns surrounding, a government-backed digital dollar. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Yaya Fanusie, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.


Feb 02, 2022
The submarine infrastructure linking the world’s communication networks

This week, a repair team is set to help restore Tonga’s internet, after a volcanic eruption and tsunami last month severed the country’s primary communication connection to the rest of the world: a submarine cable, one of many that crisscross the floors of oceans and seas around the planet. In fact, if you’re listening to this outside of the U.S., this episode has itself traveled along a cable, or multiple cables, at the bottom of the ocean to make its way to you. To unpack this technology, we’re joined by Alan Mauldin, a research director for market research and consulting firm TeleGeography.

Feb 01, 2022
Sex traffickers are increasingly turning to social media for victim recruitment

January was National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel someone into labor or commercial sex. Contrary to how it’s often portrayed on TV, most traffickers aren’t strangers; they know their victims. More and more, the recruitment and exploitation of those victims is happening online. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Alyssa Currier Wheeler, associate legal counsel at the Human Trafficking Institute, about the growth of recruitment on social media.

Jan 31, 2022
How Google tracks you online may be changing

It’s been a particularly busy week for Google. Three state attorneys general, plus one from Washington, D.C., sued the tech giant, alleging it misled consumers about when they were being tracked. Google also announced this week it’s going to change the way it collects user data for advertising purposes. What’s been happening with the company this week is our focus for “Quality Assurance,” where we take a deeper look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Patience Haggin, who covers digital advertising and privacy for The Wall Street Journal.

Jan 28, 2022
Teachers reevaluate remote learning amid the omicron wave

There was a point last fall when school districts across the country were poised to finally fully return to in-person instruction. But as omicron cases surged among students and school staff, many of those plans had to change. Some districts decided to remain open, and, in others, teachers are bouncing between in-person and virtual instruction. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams has a story featuring several of these teachers. For some, virtual classes are an easier lift now compared to the start of the pandemic, but even as they struggled, some teachers have realized unexpected benefits of remote learning.

Jan 27, 2022
As the NFT market grows, so does the potential for scams

NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are a bit of a tech fad at the moment, with plenty of different opinions about whether they are here to stay. But for now, they are continuing their push into the mainstream. NFTs are digital assets, like JPEGs or tweets, that can be bought and sold on a marketplace. They’re a way to make something that traditionally could just be copied and shared online, rare — and therefore, to some, valuable. And as transaction prices for these items climbs, so does the risk of scams. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Corin Faife, a senior reporter at The Verge, who’s been following this trend.


Jan 26, 2022
As pandemic moratoriums end, an eviction crisis is looming. Can tech tools help?

The last of the pandemic eviction moratoriums are winding down. New York’s ended on Jan. 15, and New Mexico’s is the only state-wide moratorium still in place. Various forms of rental assistance and other tenant protections are still available. Nevertheless, housing advocates say landlords have filed for hundreds of thousands of evictions since March of 2020. And many of those tenants can’t afford a lawyer to advise or defend them. As Stephanie Siek reports, some new tech solutions are available to help tenants fight eviction.


Jan 25, 2022
A “vehicle for antitrust change” picks up steam

The latest effort to reign in Big Tech cleared a procedural step in the Senate last week, moving one step closer to a floor vote. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would prevent big tech firms from giving preference to their own products and services. According to some lawmakers, that unfairly stifles competition. Though the bill has bipartisan support, bipartisan concern over the details means it’s getting hit with requests for changes on questions like privacy and who exactly it applies to. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Will Rinehart, a senior research fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, about the bill’s significance.

Jan 24, 2022
How the pandemic has sped up the automation of some jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 13, 2022
How artificial intelligence could influence hospital triage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This episode originally aired August 23, 2021.

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

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

This episode originally aired on July 26, 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dec 02, 2021