Marketplace Tech with Molly Wood

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Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood helps listeners understand the business behind the technology that's rewiring our lives. From how tech is changing the nature of work to the unknowns of venture capital to the economics of outer space, this weekday show breaks ideas, telling the stories of modern life through our digital economy. Marketplace Tech is part of the Marketplace portfolio of public radio programs broadcasting nationwide, which additionally includes Marketplace, Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Weekend. Listen every weekday on-air or online anytime at From American Public Media. Twitter: @MarketplaceTech

Episode Date
What does it mean to be "employed" in the gig economy?
This week the European Parliament passed a law establishing basic rights for workers in the gig economy. It could apply to some 3 million people, everyone from Uber drivers to couriers for the United Kingdom's Deliveroo. The law requires companies to pay when work is canceled last minute or for mandatory training. It also bans "exclusivity clauses," which prevent freelancers from "gigging" for other companies. It's supposed to make working short-term gigs a little more stable. Marketplace’s Amy Scott talked with Joe Miller, a business and tech reporter with the BBC who's been following this law. Today's show is sponsored by Clickshare and Ultimate Software.
Apr 19, 2019
Big Tech is prepping for California's tough new privacy law
Last year, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, which requires companies to be more careful in the way they handle consumer data. It doesn't go into effect until next year, and it's still a work in progress. Host Molly Wood checked in with Jessica Lee, a partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb advising clients on data privacy regulations. She said some companies are plowing ahead while others are trying to remake things in their favor. Today's show is sponsored by the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage and Logi Analytics.
Apr 18, 2019
Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: cybersecurity is national security
In a new book, Janet Napolitano, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, says it is "impossible to overstate the urgency of improving our country's cybersecurity." She says we're vulnerable all over the place, from critical infrastructure like utilities and 911 dispatch systems to our elections and our personal data. Host Molly Wood spoke with Napolitano about her new book "How Safe Are We? Homeland Security Since 9/11." Today's show is sponsored by Oregon State University and Acquia.
Apr 17, 2019
Is video conferencing worth all the trouble?
Today, most video conference calls are full of pauses, delays, garbled audio and unusable interfaces. Last year a Gallup Poll found that 70% of employees around the world work remotely at least once a week, and more globalization means more remote offices and bureaus. Video conferencing company Zoom goes public on Thursday, promising to make customers happier with their meetings. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked to Nick Barber, an analyst at Forrester Research, about the current state of video conferencing. Today's show is sponsored by Clickshare and the University of Florida Warrington College of Business.
Apr 16, 2019
Tesla is moving ahead on driverless tech while others are slowing down
Tesla announced late last week that all its cars will now come with its semi-autonomous driving technology, called Autopilot, as a standard option. And Tesla is pushing hard toward fully self-driving cars. It will hold an autonomy investor day April 22 to tell shareholders how it plans to get there. But other companies are pulling back. Host Molly Wood talked with Jack Stewart, Marketplace’s transportation reporter. He said next week is about Tesla staking its self-driving claim. Today's show is sponsored by Panopto and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Apr 15, 2019
Your smart speaker may capture your voice-activated fails
Are you ever really alone when talking to your smart speaker? It turns out there might just be someone on the other side listening to you as part of the platforms' quality assurance measures. So says Anthonio Pettit, who's worked on Microsoft's Cortana, Samsung’s Bixby and Amazon's Echo. He recently sat down with Joshua McNichols of KUOW’s "Prime(d)" podcast to talk about the work of quality assurance engineers for smart speakers and the many things they hear. McNichols shares some of Pettit's interview and chats with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about the range of audio Amazon collects. Today's show is sponsored by Panopto and the University of San Francisco.
Apr 12, 2019
Your side hustle may not look so great come tax time
Depending on which research you read, somewhere between 30% and 35% of American workers are part of the gig economy, many of them working through digital apps. Or as tax professionals put it, they're self-employed. That means they're responsible for their own taxes. Come Monday, when tax filings are due, some of these independent contractors are in for a rude awakening. Host Molly Wood talked with Amy Wall, a tax preparer based in Tucson, about taxes and the digital economy. Today's show is sponsored by Clickshare and the University of Florida Warrington College of Business.
Apr 11, 2019
Who knew a space agency could go viral?
NASA communicates directly with the public more than ever. Veronica McGregor directs news and social media at the agency's Jet Propulsion Lab. Host Molly Wood visited JPL to talk about how social media fits into NASA's public mission. And she got the backstory on one of McGregor's first big viral successes, the 2008 Twitter account for the Phoenix lander on Mars. Today's show is sponsored by Oregon State University, Acquia and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.
Apr 10, 2019
You might put things online to make them permanent, but internet archives can disappear
Here's a list of things that exited the internet in just the past few weeks: The social network Google Plus shut down, taking all its archives with it. That included the profile pages of Google's founders, removing access to insights about the company's history and decisions. Facebook said it "mistakenly" deleted posts by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but also changed how it archives corporate announcements and blog posts in a way that makes them harder to find. MySpace accidentally lost 12 years of posts from its users, including their estimated 50 million original songs. Host Molly Wood talked with Jason Scott of the Internet Archive about what's at risk when sites disappear. Today's show is sponsored by Clickshare and the University of Florida Warrington College of Business.
Apr 09, 2019
Now that states can make sports betting legal, venture capital wants in
Without naming basketball tournament names, it's safe to say there's a lot of sports betting happening today. In the future it's going to be a lot more… legal. A Supreme Court decision last spring opened the doors for betting on sports in all states, not just Nevada. Now every state can make its own betting rules, and a handful have legalized it already. At least 20 states are considering new legislation, which is likely to lead to a lot more online gambling. And venture capitalists can smell opportunity. Host Molly Wood talked with Paul Kedrosky, one of the VCs betting big. Kedrosky, who works with SK Ventures, says he expects online sports betting to evolve into a new investment ecosystem. Today's show is sponsored by Ultimate Software and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.
Apr 08, 2019
Social media, elections and fake news: India edition
India holds its national elections next week. As voters get ready to head to the polls, they're being targeted with false and misleading information. The platform of choice? WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Facebook that allows users to send encrypted messages to other individuals, groups of people, and forward messages they've received. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, 64 percent of Indians reported they've encountered fake news. Marketplace Tech host Tracey Samuelson caught up with BBC's Kinjal Pandya-Wagh to talk about the role of WhatsApp in India's election. Pandya-Wagh said misinformation has influenced life in India, despite efforts by the Indian government to regulate fake news. Today's show is sponsored by Panopto and the Portfolio Group.
Apr 05, 2019
Homework is much harder when you can't get online at home
Homework is a big part of any child's education. Today, that means getting online to watch a video the teacher assigned, do research or fill out forms and worksheets. But Pew Research says almost a quarter of students from low-income families often struggle to finish their homework because they lack a dependable computer or internet connection. It's what experts refer to as "the homework gap." As part of Marketplace Tech's Evenly Distributed series, we turned to New Orleans, a city where nearly 40 percent of children live in poverty. Jess Clark is an education reporter at New Orleans Public Radio. She shares one student's experience. Today's show is sponsored by Acquia, Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Apr 04, 2019
Creators build audiences online, but an algorithm can wipe it out in an instant
People who try to build a career as creators on YouTube may put all their creativity and time and identity into the platform. On the other end of the screen, an algorithm can take away their ability to make money by what's called demonetizing videos, or just giving them a lower priority in its recommendation engine. One year ago today, a YouTube creator shot three people at the company's San Bruno, California, headquarters before killing herself. A police investigation concluded that when YouTube demonetized her channel, it took away a "critical part of who she was." Host Molly Wood talked with Katherine Lo, a visiting researcher at the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Lo said the relationship can feel very one sided. Today's show is sponsored by Oregon State University and Ultimate Software.
Apr 03, 2019
The FTC has no chief technologist as it weighs big tech investigations
The Federal Trade Commission is the agency that can fine or prosecute tech companies over unfair or anti-competitive consumer practices. The current FTC Chair Joseph Simons has said he will set up a task force to address tech issues. But there is one empty chair at the agency: the chief technologist, who is supposed to give advice on tech and policy. The role has existed since 2010, but it's been empty for about a year, and some critics are worried. Neil Chilson had the job last. He's now a research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. Host Molly Wood asked him if he thought the FTC is missing some important tech expertise. Today's show is sponsored by Oregon State University and Panopto.
Apr 02, 2019
What role does government play in innovation?
You can think of innovation as a ladder of sorts. It might start with imitation and then progress to adaptation, like tweaking a foreign idea to develop it for a local market. Finally, hopefully, you reach invention, perhaps even big, industry-changing ones. But the steps needed to climb that ladder, in any given country, can be elusive and murky. There's only so much governments can do, says Regina Abrami, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Marketplace’s Tracey Samuelson talked to her about China's efforts at state-sponsored innovation. Today's show is sponsored by Kronos, the University of Florida Warrington College of Business and EquityZen.
Apr 01, 2019
Lyft IPO makes it the ridesharing star, at least for today
The ride-hailing platform Lyft goes public today ahead of Uber, which is expected to list in the coming weeks. Drivers from both companies went on strike in Southern California earlier this week to protest changes in how their pay is calculated. Lyft's reliance on drivers is a risk factor it mentioned in its paperwork to go public. Others include new regulations or the possibility it will never be profitable. For every dollar of revenue the company brings in, it winds up 40 cents in the red. Still, Lyft has been able to pick up more riders in the last couple of years, thanks in part to big public stumbles by Uber, which prompted some users to look for alternatives. Marketplace's Tracey Samuelson asked Faiz Siddiqui, a tech reporter covering transit for the Washington Post, where Lyft goes from here. Today's show is sponsored by Oregon State University and Panopto.
Mar 29, 2019
Rocky past in tow, Fisker promises a new electric SUV
Hot on the heels of Tesla's Model Y announcement came the news that carmaker Fisker Inc. also wants to make an electric SUV at about the same price of $40,000. But it would take a whole lot going right for the Fisker SUV announcement to mark any kind of real turnaround. Marketplace's Jed Kim talked with Chelsea Sexton, an electric vehicle industry adviser and advocate, about the company's rocky history. Today's show is sponsored by the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, Brother Printers and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.
Mar 28, 2019
Norway sees a future in giant subterranean data centers
If you're a tech company that wants to look good, you want to locate your energy-intensive data centers in places with lots of cheap renewable energy. That's why Norway is making a big push to get companies to build data centers there. Marketplace’s Jed Kim talks with Katie Prescott, a BBC journalist who reported on this from Norway. Today's show is sponsored by Evident, WordPress and Panopto.
Mar 27, 2019
Tech is helping house cleaners get benefits
Some might consider domestic employees the original gig workers. There are a lot of similarities, like intermittent income and no real safety net. It's a problem that affects millions of workers like nannies, caregivers and house cleaners, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance is working on solutions. The group's innovation arm, NDWA Labs, is bringing financial tech to domestic workers. Its new platform, called Alia, directs digital payments toward benefits for house cleaners. Marketplace's Leila Goldstein talked with one cleaner who uses it. Today's show is sponsored by the University of Florida Warrington College of Business and Brother Printers.  
Mar 26, 2019
You can tidy up your digital life, too
Since digital storage space is so cheap, it's easy to keep amassing files. But that can take a toll on our work and our well-being. Marketplace's Jed Kim talks to Deb Lee, a digital productivity coach who helps people weed out the virtual messes they've gotten themselves into. Today's show is sponsored by Lenovo for Small Business, Ultimate Software and WellFrame.
Mar 25, 2019
Just what is Apple going to unveil Monday?
On Monday, Apple is holding a special event tagged with the line "It's showtime!" That's led to wide speculation the company will finally reveal its streaming service. But it may not be the Apple-takes-on-Netflix battle some were hoping for. Marketplace’s Jed Kim talked with Brian Wieser, who leads business intelligence for advertising firm GroupM. He says if you were paying attention to Apple's reported budget for original content, around $1 billion, you could've guessed its latest play isn't becoming a giant entertainment studio. Today's show is sponsored by Evident, Brother Printers and EquityZen.
Mar 22, 2019
What if social media treated extremist content like junk mail?
What can the biggest social media platforms in the world do to radicalization online? Host Molly Wood talked with Dipayan Ghosh, who used to work on global privacy and public policy issues at Facebook. Now he's a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School. He says, yes, it's hard for big platforms to minimize that content. But he says it's also not that hard. Today's show is sponsored by Evident, EquityZen and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.
Mar 21, 2019
How internet 'echo chambers' lead to faster radicalization
Host Molly Wood talks with Fathali Moghaddam, a professor of psychology at Georgetown University, about how a troll becomes a terrorist. He says radicalization isn't new, but the internet can make it faster and easier. Today's show is sponsored by Pitney Bowes and EquityZen.
Mar 20, 2019
More extremists are getting radicalized online. Whose responsibility is that?
The man accused of killing at least 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week seems to be, in many ways, the ultimate example of online radicalization. Researchers and social media experts have warned for years that there is a playbook for turning trolls into terrorists. Host Molly Wood talked with Becca Lewis, a research affiliate at the nonprofit institute Data & Society, who studies extremism online. Today's show is sponsored by WellFrame and Brother Printers.
Mar 19, 2019
If Tesla makes a less fancy SUV... can it make it faster?
Elon Musk has unveiled Tesla's newest vehicle, the Model Y, essentially an SUV version of the Model 3. Marketplace's Jed Kim talks with Jack Stewart, Marketplace's transportation reporter, who was at the unveiling. Stewart says the Y is really similar to the 3. Today's show is sponsored by Lenovo for Small Business, Kronos and EquityZen.
Mar 18, 2019
After deadly crashes, added scrutiny for Boeing 737 software
The fatal crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8s within the past six months have prompted a global grounding of the aircraft and questions about design. Demand for Boeing aircraft has put pressure on the Chicago-based aviation giant to churn out about 50 planes a month. How does the demand to deliver so many planes impact the design process and flight software development? Marketplace's Jed Kim talked with Alwyn Scott, manufacturing and technology correspondent at Reuters. He's been covering aviation for years and says making new planes entails a lot of oversight. Today's show is sponsored by Pitney Bowes and Panopto. Correction (March 15, 2019): Previous versions of this episode misidentified the location of Boeing's headquarters. It has been corrected.  
Mar 15, 2019
Friend or Foe? Facebook and the rise and fall of Oculus
Back in 2014, the virtual reality company Oculus was poised to revolutionize VR for gaming. The Oculus Rift headset was for gamers, by gamers. End of story. But then Facebook bought the company for about $2 billion. Facebook had a much bigger vision for virtual reality as the future of engagement: people hanging out in VR like they did on the news feed, having a good time and watching ads for hours. In 2019, that vision is still just a vision. In fact, the Oculus true believers never forgave the company. Host Molly Wood talks with Blake Harris, author of "The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality." Today's show is sponsored by WellFrame, Oregon State University and EquityZen.
Mar 14, 2019
Oculus was supposed to bring virtual reality to the masses. What happened?
Virtual reality is the technology that keeps on promising. Over the last decade, the promise kept seeming so much closer. Facebook even dropped $2 billion on the VR technology company Oculus in 2014. Blake Harris is the author of "The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality." Host Molly Wood talked with Harris about how Oculus and most virtual reality tech has kind of stalled. Today's show is sponsored by Pitney Bowes and EquityZen.
Mar 13, 2019
A Baltimore teen learns 3D printing through after-school technology workshops
Training for tech jobs isn’t happening across all demographics. Today, women and people of color are entering tech fields at lower rates than in the 1990s. But N’Dera Muhammad, a 16-year-old in Baltimore, was determined to learn some 3D printing skills. After trying to teach herself to code, she found hands-on help at the Digital Harbor Foundation. Today's show is sponsored by Lenovo for Small Business, Ultimate Software and Brother Printers.
Mar 12, 2019
The World Wide Web turns 30. How do we keep the magic alive?
Thirty years ago this month, computer scientist and engineer Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for how to link lots of information across lots of computers. That proposal for a global network of information that made the world a better place eventually became the World Wide Web. But these days, the vision is looking a little ragged. Some believe the web is even on the verge of splintering into multiple internets, depending on where or how you get online. Host Molly Wood talked with Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who studies emerging technology and society. Today's show is sponsored by Kronos, Oregon State University and Panopto.
Mar 11, 2019