Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

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Subscribers: 1486
Reviews: 6

 Mar 7, 2019

 Feb 4, 2019

 Jan 17, 2019
love this podcast. so informative and entertaining.

Joel Henderson
 Oct 3, 2018

Tom Pachelli
 Aug 12, 2018
An engaging & informative podcast with timely topics. Kai and Molly are a fantastic pair. The writing and production are as good, or better, than anything else out there.


Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, “Make Me Smart with Kai & Molly” is a weekly podcast about the economy, technology and culture. In a time when the world is moving faster than ever, this podcast is where we unpack complex topics, together. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Episode Date
What’s in a face?

San Francisco banned government agencies from using facial recognition last month, citing civil liberty concerns. It’s a baby step in regulating technology that could make some aspects of life safer and more convenient, but comes with a host of unintended consequences for surveillance, profiling, discrimination and so on. But the recognition tech is already out there, in your face and accumulating data being used by the federal government and tech giants like Amazon. Today, BuzzFeed senior tech reporter Ryan Mac tells us what we should be keeping our eyes on. Plus, New York Times food writer Alison Roman shares a lesson learned about writing a cookbook.

Don’t forget to support “Make Me Smart” today and get our exclusive Marketplace swag at a discount this week only!

Jun 18, 2019
The internet as we know it rests on 26 words from 1996

You might not know what Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act says, but it affects your life every day. This short passage of the law says online platforms are not legally liable for what people say or do in the spaces they run. Trillions of dollars in company valuation and the sharing of content as we know it rests on the rule. But in the era of deep fakes, election meddling and radicalization by algorithm, is it time to revisit Section 230? If you got rid of it, what kind of rules would replace it? And what platforms would even be left? We asked Jeff Kosseff, a professor of cybersecurity law at the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of “The 26 Words that Created the Internet.”

Jun 11, 2019
Your crash course on the Indian economy

India is the largest democracy in the world, a major American ally and something of a counterpoint to a rising China. The country’s 900 million eligible voters just reelected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s facing an economic slowdown and the loss of special trade status with the United States. Anu Anand, host of the Marketplace Morning Report from the BBC World Service, is here to talk us through it. She’s spent years reporting in and out of India and just got back from covering the election. Plus: Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood learn all about thermoception.

Jun 04, 2019
Huawei and the tech cold war

Huawei hasn’t been a household name in the U.S. But that’s changing as the Trump administration proceeds with its ban on American companies doing business with the Chinese tech giant. Industry allegations of Huawei spying and theft date back more than a decade. If relations remain chilly, China could start making more of its own software and components, erecting an “iron curtain” in tech that could be a big part of a total rewiring of the global economy that harkens back to…the Cold War. Steven Overly covers tech policy for Politico, and joins us.

May 28, 2019
Antitrust the process

Remember when we had Tim Wu on the show to talk about Big Tech parallels to the monopoly-controlled Gilded Age, and what that future might bring? Well, six months later the future has arrived. Kind of. The Supreme Court ruled this month that a huge antitrust lawsuit against Apple and its app store could move forward, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wrote a massive New York Times op-ed calling for the company to be broken up. And the conversation among legal thinkers is changing. Here to guide us through it is Vanderbilt law professor Rebecca Haw Allensworth. Plus, get smart about the chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio in different Reese’s products.

May 21, 2019
How to survive climate change

It’s time to shift our approach to climate change. The truth is, it may very well be too late to avoid the worst consequences of our warming planet — lost ecosystems, millions of plants and animals going extinct, scarce water and more extreme weather. It may be time to focus more on technology that will help us adapt. That’s the focus of “How We Survive,” the new series from Molly’s other show, “Marketplace Tech.” Here to talk with us about climate adaptation and how it’ll impact the economy and society is Solomon Hsiang, University of California, Berkeley, public policy professor and Stanford visiting scholar.

Subscribe to “Marketplace Tech” to hear more from “How We Survive” and check out Vox to get even smarter about Ramadan.

May 14, 2019
What. The. Fed.

The Federal Reserve’s got quite the puzzle on its hands. We’re dealing with one of the longest job growth streaks in modern history. And yet, the economy isn’t working as expected. Interest rates and inflation are simply not behaving according to standard economic models. And it’s the Fed’s job to figure out what’s going on in the name of keeping things stable and growing. New York Times’ senior economics correspondent Neil Irwin returns to break things down for us. Plus, we hear from the ‘Iolani High School economics team (good luck at the finals!) on their favorite Fed chairs. And artist and author Jenny Odell answers the Make Me Smart question.

Some links from this week’s episode: Molly Wood’s news fix on UFOs, Kai Ryssdal’s latest on the trade war, how Crispr could help fight climate change and Molly’s secret weapon for today’s economics-focused episode.

May 07, 2019
CRISPR for beginners

You might remember the story from last fall: A scientist in China claimed to use the gene editing tool CRISPR to make twin babies resistant to HIV. That specific type of eye-popping genetic experimenting is illegal in the United States, but make no mistake, we are in the middle of a gene-editing gold rush. Big Pharma, agriculture and manufacturing are all clamoring to get in the game. Today we hear from a listener who’s already using the tool in his work, then turn to Wired staff writer Megan Molteni to give us the long view on how CRISPR could affect all of us. Plus, a little “Avengers” talk.

Some links from this week’s episode: Molly’s news fix on Facebook and elections, Kai’s news fix on the Fed and that Politico piece on health care pay we mentioned.

Apr 30, 2019
What does “Medicare for all” actually look like?

“Medicare for all” was a fringe idea just a couple years ago, but it’s moved front and center in the political conversation ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Democratic candidates are getting asked about Medicare for all or announcing plans to implement it, and health care stocks are sliding at the suggestion of it. Now, we’re still a long way off from this kind of seismic change to the way Americans get their health care, but in the meantime, Vox senior editor Sarah Kliff is here to talk us through what Medicare for all is, exactly, and how it might change the economy.

Apr 23, 2019
The future of work is anchor jobs and side hustles

We’re headed for the biggest year of IPOs since the ’90s dot-com boom. Lyft just went public, valued at $26 billion, with Postmates and Uber set to follow. Vested employees will become overnight millionaires, but what about the millions of independent contractors who deliver the food and drive the passengers? Lyft relies on its 1.4 million freelance drivers who earn, on average, $17.50 per hour with no benefits or organizing power. What’s that mean for the U.S. workforce? We get smart on the gig economy with Kristin Sharp, executive director of the Shift Commission at New America, a nonpartisan think tank. She leads a project on the future of work.

Here’s a link to Molly Wood’s news fix on living with a foldable phone. By the way, our fundraising drive for Make Me Smart ends this Thursday! Because we’re all in this together, right now you can get a Make Me Smart sticker with a donation in any amount. Don’t wait, donate today!

This week’s episode is brought to you by Triplebyte and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Apr 17, 2019
The Explainathon strikes back

It’s our the fifth Explainathon, the semi-biannual challenge when Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood try to answer as many of your questions as possible. This one has everything: Privacy regulation! Social Security! 5G! The college admissions scandal! The dark web! We tackle it all.

Plus, we have some very exciting news for fans of public media and merch: When you donate $5 a month or $60 to Marketplace, you can get an exclusive Make Me Smart notebook! Hurry, this offer’s only good until April 10.

Apr 09, 2019
Why your tax refund might be lower this year

Taxes are due in less than two weeks, and some of us have extra stress around that … because things are different this year. It’s the first time most people are feeling the 2017 tax overhaul, the biggest change in the tax code for three decades. It raised the standard deduction and gave most folks a small tax cut. Refunds are generally lower, which is technically good news, but might feel like bad news for people who rely on that spring windfall. Taxes are the beat for Marketplace reporter Marielle Segarra, and she gets us smart this week. (She still files her returns by snail mail!)

Here are links to the articles in Vox and The Guardian we talked about this week, and don’t forget you can watch this and other episodes of Make Me Smart on our YouTube channel.

Today’s show is sponsored by PanoptoWasabi Hot Cloud Storage and Cort.

Apr 02, 2019
How do drug epidemics end?

Opioid overdoses are killing about 50,000 Americans a year, more than car accidents and guns. Marketplace’s documentary podcast, The Uncertain Hour, is digging into drug epidemics in its latest season: why people buy and sell drugs, how law enforcement tries to stop them and how an epidemic eventually ends. Reporter and producer Caitlin Esch spoke with Kai and Molly about going back to Wise County, Virginia, a sort of ground zero of the current opioid epidemic, and about how the stories told by some of her sources speak to wider issues in the crisis. Just a note: there is one swear word in this episode, around 8 minutes in.

You can subscribe to The Uncertain Hour here, and don’t forget you can watch this and other episodes of Make Me Smart on our YouTube channel.

Today’s show is sponsored by Panopto, Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage, Alliance for Lifetime Income  and Mailchimp

Mar 26, 2019
The Great British Break-Off

The United Kingdom voted for Brexit almost three years ago, but there’s still no deal in place to politically and economically untangle itself from Europe. The official deadline is next week. Maybe you’ve heard a bit about how messy this process has been, but you’d be forgiven for finding it hard to follow and harder to care. Brexit truly does have huge implications on both sides of the pond, so this week Ros Atkins, host of BBC’s “Outside Source,” is here to help us sort it all out.

Here’s a link to Molly’s “Marketplace Tech” podcast about online radicalization and Rep. Devin Nunes’ lawsuit against Twitter. Today’s show is sponsored by PanoptoWasabi Hot Cloud Storage and “The Good Fight” on CBS All Access.

Mar 19, 2019
A year after Cambridge Analytica, what have we learned?

Do you use social media? Or does social media use you? That’s a question we all had to confront last year when it came out that Cambridge Analytica had harvested personal information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts, using the data to target political ads in the 2016 election. What’s changed a year after the biggest leak in Facebook’s history? Here to help us sort through the data mining we live with and what comes next is Shoshana Zuboff. She’s a professor emerita at Harvard Business School and the author of the book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.”

This episode is sponsored by Mailchimp, Molekule, Panopto and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Mar 12, 2019
Quantum computing for normals

We’re taking a break from politics and the culture wars to get into some weird science: quantum computing. It’s not super easy to explain, but going quantum allows computers to operate by a totally different set of rules that could change some major things, like national security and medical breakthroughs. President Donald Trump recently signed the National Quantum Initiative Act, calling for a $1.2 billion investment in quantum computing. What’s that mean for Big Tech, the economy or the regular consumer? UC Berkeley’s Steven Weber breaks it down.

Links from today’s show: Both studies about who’s really paying tariffs and The New York Times Magazine story about mondegreens.

This episode was brought to you by Mailchimp, Care/of, Indeed and “The Good Fight” on CBS.

Mar 05, 2019
The 2020 election will be all about socialism

No mainline American politician would touch socialism a decade ago. Now, a Gallup poll shows young people are more positive about that term than they are about capitalism. President Donald Trump will likely make socialism a villain in his 2020 campaign, while democratic socialists have gained a popular figurehead in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in addition to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who plans another presidential run. This week, we zoom out to discuss the many faces of socialism and how they might show up in the election. Joining us is Sam Sanders, host of NPR’s podcast “It’s Been a Minute.” He spent much of 2015 and 2016 embedded in the Bernie Sanders campaign.

This episode is brought to you by Mailchimp and Here’s a link to the teacher pay study Molly Wood mentioned and the study on millennials and climate change.

Feb 26, 2019
What’s the deal with the Green New Deal?

The Senate is set to bring the Green New Deal to a vote as early as this week. Crafted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, it’s an ambitious plan to de-carbonize the American economy while adding new jobs in infrastructure and alternative energy. Environmental reporter and podcaster Amy Westervelt tells us what’s in the Green New Deal and how it’s faring in the climate of Washington, D.C. Plus, an important clarification on some Toto lyrics.

Don’t forget to check out this behind-the-scenes look at how we got our theme music, plus video of our conversation with Wesley Morris. It’s all on our YouTube channel.

This episode is brought to you by the Alliance For Lifetime Income and

Feb 20, 2019
The Oscars are a mess

Between controversy over best picture nominees, changes to which awards are handed out during commercials and ever-plummeting ratings, this year’s Academy Awards are a hostless mess. That’s to say nothing of Hollywood’s ongoing problems with representation and harassment. And what about the Grammys? New York Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris helps us sort through the awards noise and see if there are lessons to learn. Plus: It’s our 100th episode! We have cake in the studio and surprise treat for all of you!

Feb 12, 2019
When memes are moneymakers

Folks, it’s time to talk about memes. It’s time to talk about the Dancing Baby and Bird Box Challenge and, yes, The Egg. If none of that makes sense to you, don’t worry. We get you up to speed on memes before we ask the money question: Where is the profit when they go viral? And who owns memes, since they’re often based on copyrighted material? Matt Schimkowitz sets us straight. He’s senior editor at Know Your Meme, a site devoted to cataloging and canonizing all the weird, wonderful internet memes you love and hate. Plus, more of your thoughts on assumptions about college. And in our Make Me Smart question: A medical diagnosis helps one listener understand his experience of the world.

This week’s show is brought to you by TripleByte, and the The University of Utah David Eccles School of Business.

Feb 05, 2019
Can we shut down the shutdowns?

The federal government might be reopened, but many Americans are still reeling. And, of course, it could close again in a few weeks. At 35 days, this was the longest shutdown in history, and we’re still learning how the effects will ripple across the economy, politics and society. We get smart about how the shutdown is affecting one college administrator and then zoom out to the big question: How did closing the government even become a thing you can do, much less a bargaining chip for Congress and the White House? Joining us to explain is Roy Meyers, a political science professor at the University of Maryland. Plus, your super-smart insights on everything from how class and culture impact our thinking about higher education to a lifetime of delusional spelling.

This episode is brought to you by Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage, MailChimp and Triple Byte.

Jan 29, 2019
Think before you major

Picture this: After years of hard work, the world is your oyster. You’re about to graduate with an advanced degree into a prestigious field. Then, you’re out to lunch and you see a restaurant manager position that pays just as much as your hopeful starting salary, but without the student debt attached. One of our listeners was in that position recently. And he’s not alone: Americans face $1.3+ trillion in student debt, and less assurance the job market’s going to provide salaries to cover it. We put this soul searching to Maura Reynolds, a senior editor at Politico, who’s just out with new findings on the skills-education-employment pipeline.

This week’s show is brought to you by Wasabi cloud storageTriple Byte and Mailchimp.

Jan 22, 2019
Do it for the ‘gram

Something’s been nagging at us all holiday break. With each fresh revelation about Facebook, new thoughts arise about whether or not to participate on the platform, and whether that really makes a difference or not. But quitting Instagram, which is, of course, owned by Facebook, feels quite a bit harder. We’re attached! Our listeners tell us they’ve got the same cognitive dissonance going on. So we brought on Taylor Lorenz, who reports on social media for The Atlantic, to help us unpack it.

This episode is brought to you by Mailchimp and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Jan 15, 2019
Back to design school

In this new year, maybe you’ve resolved to improve yourself, or you might return to projects and problems left hanging in 2018. One approach to try: design thinking. We talked with Sarah Stein Greenberg, who runs the design program at Stanford University, about the fundamentals, promises and limits of a design-centered approach to just about everything. Plus, a look into the process of object and interior designer Jonathan Adler.

This interview originally aired July 10. New episodes return Jan. 15.

This episode is brought to you by MailChimp and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Jan 08, 2019
The problem with platforms

We spent a lot of 2018 talking about free speech online and what responsibility social media platforms bear for the information or ideas shared on them. We’ll probably spend 2019 talking about it a lot, too. For now, let’s think back to the summer, when conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars brand were getting booted off virtually every big social network and hosting service. We called up Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St. John’s School of Law, to make us smart on the issues in play.

This interview originally aired Aug. 14. New episodes return Jan. 15. And don’t forget, there’s still time to donate to our year-end pledge drive!

This episode is sponsored by Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Dec 31, 2018
Adam ruins our Christmas

This Christmas Eve, we’re regifting one of our favorite interviews from the past year. Adam Conover’s TruTV show, “Adam Ruins Everything,” is back for a new season. His mission is kind of like ours: Challenging assumptions and questioning everything in a bid to make us all smarter. Doesn’t that sound useful over the holidays?

This interview originally aired April 17. New episodes return Jan. 15. And don’t forget, there’s still time to donate to our year-end pledge drive!

This episode is sponsored by the Amazon Web Services, Mailchimp and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Dec 24, 2018
Dusting off our crystal ball for 2019

It’s our last new episode of 2018, which means it’s time to check in on the predictions we made this time last year. Were we right or wrong? And what’s coming next? Some of our favorite guests are back to help out, like activist Ai-Jen Poo, comedian Adam Conover and librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. And, of course, we’ll hear from you and what you’re seeing in the mists for 2019.

We’ll be replaying some of our favorite interviews during a holiday break, back with new episodes Jan. 15. And don’t forget, there’s still time to donate to our year-end pledge drive. Thanks so much for spending this year with us, and we’ll see you in 2019!

This episode is sponsored by the Aspen Institute, Navy Federal Credit Union and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Dec 18, 2018
Bottomless fixations

Longtime listeners will know Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood are limited to one newsy Fixation Fix a week by their band of strict podcast producers (hi). But this week, in the spirit of the season, we’re giving them a chance to go wild. Open all the tabs you want, hosts! We’ll make you a little smarter about corporate proxy warfare, the way you talk and how sex on the internet is over. And dear listeners, we’ll get into some of your fixations, too.

Links from this episode, in the order they appear: The New York Times’ dialect quizFacebook and FOSTA, the case for tech CEO self-care, the cult of silence at Google, the Bottomless Pinocchio and the book Kai and Molly are reading right now.

This episode is sponsored by Amazon Web Services, Mailchimp, the Aspen Institute and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.

Finally, if you love Make Me Smart, don’t forget to support Marketplace during our pledge drive!


Dec 11, 2018
Rep. Joe Kennedy is all about moral capitalism, and that sounds familiar

Is capitalism working for enough people? We’ve been wrestling with that question since way back in episode two. Molly Wood and Kai Ryssdal have taken it to economists, business leaders and experts of all political stripes. Now, moral capitalism (or conscious … sustainable … whatever-you-like-to-call-it capitalism) is getting a ideological boost from Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts. A speech he gave on moral capitalism got way more attention than he expected, and he’s urging Democrats pick up the platform as they take control of the House next year. But it’s one thing to give a speech, quite another to put it into practice. We get Kennedy’s take on why the idea feels timely to him and what it might look like as policy. Plus, we hear your thoughts on real estate after our last episode on housing.

If you want to hear us talking about moral capitalism more, check out episodes 2.5, 38, 39, 41 and 61. And don’t forget to join our Facebook group for more Make Me Smart all week long!

This episode is brought to you by Wasabi cloud storage, the All Turtles podcast, Amazon Web Services and Navy Federal Credit Union.

Dec 04, 2018
The affordability crisis of house and home

Housing is the biggest driver of wealth and debt for most families in America. It’s inextricably linked with the health of the economy, so as the market shows signs of cooling off, this week we’re getting smart about it. We get a sort of “House Hunters” story from a listener who shows how her family is hitting stumbling blocks as they try to move. And how much is the economy linked to housing? Marketplace housing correspondent Amy Scott comes on to answer our questions and yours.

Don’t forget to join our Facebook group for more Make Me Smart all week long!

This episode is brought to you by PayPalMailchimpAmazon Web Services and Navy Federal Credit Union.

Nov 27, 2018