Marketplace Tech

By Marketplace

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 Aug 16, 2018

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Hosted by Molly Wood, “Marketplace Tech” demystifies the digital economy. The daily show uncovers how tech influences our lives in unexpected ways and provides context for listeners who care about the impact of tech, business and the digital world.

Episode Date
Before driverless cars come driverless office park shuttles?

There’s no one way forward for autonomous car technology. Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car company, is still testing fully autonomous cars as taxis in the Phoenix area. Tesla is putting semi-autonomous features into its own cars for consumers to buy. And some companies, like Boston-based Optimus Ride, are thinking the immediate future may be a little more contained.

Aug 20, 2019
How fake Twitter accounts spread misinformation and distort conversation

It’s easy to create a fake account on social media. Facebook admitted that billions of accounts on its platforms could be fake. Last year alone, Twitter suspended more than 70 million bots and fake accounts, but they keep appearing. The more bots there are, the more they can manipulate the online conversation.

Aug 19, 2019
Wired gets the tea on three years of struggle at Google

Google, as a company, has a long history of internal disagreement and activism. But in recent years that internal culture, where employees are encouraged to argue with executives, with each other and to protest decisions and policies they don’t like has become an external culture, too. Employees have visibly protested Google over politics, hiring, how the company deals with sexual harassment and business decisions; for example, whether the company should do business in China or make deals with the Pentagon.

Aug 16, 2019
Robots help humans save water as climate change makes every drop count

As the effects of climate change grow, the market for technology to monitor and adapt to those impacts grows as well. In this installment of our series “How We Survive,” reporter Daniel Ackerman explores the use of robots in service of a problem that’s going to be more important as climate change increases drought and water scarcity. Pipes that carry drinking water in the United States are not doing so great. Many are over a century old, and on average, 1 in every 6 gallons of water leaks before it reaches anyone’s tap. A robotics startup has new technology for detecting leaks to help utilities fix them.

Aug 15, 2019
How networking can lead to more diversity in tech

There’s been more attention lately on who’s part of the tech boom and who’s not. At Facebook, Google and Apple about three in four technical employees are men — the coders, engineers and developers. African Americans make up a tiny share of that workforce — just 1.5% at Facebook, 2.8% at Google and 6% at Apple, according to these companies.

Aug 14, 2019
The CES tech conference aims to improve its reputation with women

We’re months away from the next CES, the huge tech trade show that draws almost 200,000 people to Las Vegas every January. In 2020, for the first time, sex tech startups will be officially included at the conference and booth babes will not.

Aug 13, 2019
Money doesn’t exist in the “Star Trek” universe. So how’s that work?

A lot of science fiction shows present a darkly dystopian view of the future, where humans battle for limited resources and are starkly divided between the haves and have-nots. But some views of the future are far more utopian and techno optimistic. In “Star Trek,” members of the federation live in a post-money society: Everyone has the basics, nobody must work, and ordering what you need is as easy as telling a replicator “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”

Aug 12, 2019
Are new electric vehicle models real competition for Tesla?

Tesla still swings wildly between profits and losses from quarter to quarter. But sales of its more affordable Model 3 sedan are strong. It was Western Europe’s biggest selling battery car in the first half of 2019. In the U.S., it’s outselling luxury gas-powered competition from BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus. For the past few years, journalists who cover transportation have been wondering: Is this the time that electric cars finally become a major part of the market?

Aug 09, 2019
On the fence: Are gig workers contractors, employees or other?

Uber and Lyft report earnings this week, and the biggest long-term threat to profits for both of their businesses is drivers. Currently, of course, drivers aren’t classified as employees with benefits, overtime or workplace protections. They’re technically independent contractors with none of that.

Aug 08, 2019
Cloud over Pentagon plan to move all data to one network

The Department of Defense is looking for a company that can turn its patchwork quilt of cloud networks into one giant cloud. There’s a big contract on the line — $10 billion. Amazon was the front-runner until last week when President Donald Trump intervened and asked the DOD to investigate whether the process was unfair.

Aug 07, 2019
When online forums become terrorist networks, how do we deal with them?

The online forum 8chan was mostly offline yesterday. It was booted from several big web platforms after the weekend’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. The Walmart rampage was at least the third mass shooting this year to be announced in advance on 8chan, which has become a haven for far-right extremists.

Aug 06, 2019
As climate change brings more fires, how do we keep the air clean?

The effects of last year’s Camp Fire stretched far beyond the Northern California town it destroyed. The smoke traveled hundreds of miles, exposing millions to toxins and pollutants. As climate change extends wildfire season, keeping indoor air clean and healthy will be all the more important. That’s the focus of this installment of “How We Survive,” our series on tech and adapting to the changing climate.

Aug 05, 2019
We know tech is designed to be addictive, but should there be a law against it?

This week, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, introduced a bill that would ban features that are supposed to keep us using tech for longer periods of time — like endless scrolling, autoplay videos and techniques like the Snapstreak in Snapchat. Host Molly Wood spoke with Adam Alter, who wrote the 2018 book “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” He said before we ban the features, we need to know the harm.

Aug 02, 2019
SoftBank’s Vision Fund remade the tech industry. What will the sequel bring?

The Japanese conglomerate SoftBank shook the tech and investment landscape over the last two years with its $100-billion Vision Fund. This week, SoftBank announced Vision Fund 2, which aims to raise $108 billion. Previously, a good-sized venture fund was less than a quarter of that amount — maybe $200 million tops. This fund could have a huge impact on the direction of future technology. It’s focused on artificial intelligence and data analysis, and of course, it’s making waves in venture capital all over again.

Aug 01, 2019
To get broadband to every American, you need to know the rules in all 50 states

The digital economy depends heavily on access to the internet, and that is still not a solved problem here in the United States. Over 30% of Americans don’t have access to broadband internet — defined by the Federal Communications Commission as 25 megabits per second or higher — according to research released Tuesday by The NPD Group. The Pew Charitable Trusts wants to figure out why. Today, the organization’s Broadband Research Initiative is launching a new tool that lets anyone browse through broadband policies and funding in any state in the U.S.

Jul 31, 2019
Creators have more ways to make a living than just YouTube

There are a lot of different ways to have a career on YouTube that go beyond cat videos or comedy. Kati Morton found that out when she started uploading videos about mental health. She’s a licensed therapist and had a private practice. But over the past eight years, she’s shifted almost entirely away from it to bring her expertise to the masses via YouTube. Her channel has about 1,200 educational videos on mental health.

Jul 30, 2019
The Trump administration wants access to encrypted messages

Law enforcement officials generally aren’t fans of what’s called end-to-end encryption — messages that can only be read by the sender and the recipient. They call it “going dark” and argue that encrypted communications make it harder to investigate or uncover crimes. Host Molly Wood spoke with Moxie Marlinspike, founder and CEO of the private chat app Signal Messenger, about what a ban on encryption — or giving law enforcement a back door to messages — might mean.

Jul 29, 2019
U.S. regulators are getting serious about Big Tech. Or are they?

This week, the Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion, ordered changes to the company’s board and handed down some data security requirements that Mark Zuckerberg personally must monitor and confirm. The FTC is also investigating Facebook for potential antitrust violations, and the Department of Justice is probing tech companies for anti-competitive behavior.

Jul 26, 2019
How do private companies get research projects into space?

A new resupply mission is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Friday. But these days, missions to the ISS are as much about business as they are about science. Seventy percent of the cargo in this week’s rocket is private-sector research projects — as in companies sending products to the space station for testing in microgravity.

Jul 25, 2019
Celebrating the wisdom that comes with age, in a youth-obsessed industry

The tech industry has well-known diversity issues around gender and race. Its lesser known, but age is the industry’s huge blind spot. In fact, 40 is the top age curve at a lot of tech companies. Google just settled more than 200 claims of age discrimination, and the complaint is becoming much more common.

Jul 24, 2019
Payment apps are all fun and easy, until you get burned by a typo

PayPal reports quarterly earnings tomorrow. We’ll get an update on Venmo, the popular peer-to-peer payments app that PayPal owns. But as services like Venmo, Square Cash and Zelle have gotten more popular, there have been some growing pains. Fraud and scams, for sure, but also a lot of accidental payments; for example, typing in the wrong email address. When that happens, as people have sadly discovered, the money is gone.

Jul 23, 2019
The design legacy of Apple’s Jony Ive is iconic, but eco-problematic

Apple is known for beautiful, expensive products that get replaced often, either for status or because the battery is dying. When longtime designer Jony Ive left Apple last month to form his own design company, a lot of people reflected on his time at Apple: his influence on creating products that were hard to repair, prioritizing thinness and beauty over reliability, and whether, as Apple gears up to announce new iPhones this fall, that might change now that Ive is gone. (7/22/2019)

Jul 22, 2019
The U.S. is talking, and the EU is regulating. Is any of it slowing down Big Tech?

This Friday’s “Quality Assurance” segment takes a deeper look at the different approaches the United States and European Union are taking to regulate Big Tech.

Jul 19, 2019
Nature: the next big thing in climate adaptation technology?

To many, the term infrastructure conjures roads, pipes and walls—pretty much the antithesis of nature. But some scientists and engineers want to reverse that impression by harnessing nature as infrastructure. The idea that plants and soil can prevent flooding and purify water is gaining traction in an era of rising seas and severe storms.

Jul 18, 2019
A tailored ride-hail service with special needs in mind

It seems like Uber and Lyft are everywhere these days. And for many people, it’s great because those services make it easier — and often cheaper — to get where you need to go. But they don’t work for everyone.

Jul 17, 2019
If you love Amazon Prime Day, you probably don’t work in a fulfillment center

It’s Amazon’s fifth annual Prime Day. Or days? It’s 48 hours this time. Customers are expected to spend more than $5 billion, which means millions of orders processed in giant warehouses, which Amazon calls fulfillment centers. This work is increasingly automated, but there are more than 100,000 human workers in its North American centers because humans are more economical for some things, especially if they must work unceasingly. (7/16/2019)

Jul 16, 2019
Electric vehicles are getting noisier, for safety’s sake

One of the strangest things to get used to about electric vehicles is how eerily quiet they are. It makes you realize how much we associate engine noise with driving. That lack of sound can be problematic — even deadly. Think about the visually impaired, or anyone oblivious to vehicles because they’re staring at their smartphones.

Jul 15, 2019
YouTubers, influencers and big business converge at VidCon 2019

The masses have flocked on Anaheim, California, for VidCon, where industry executives and fans get to interact with their favorite influencers. And, of course, take selfies with a giant rainbow slide and Barbie’s glittering Dream House. Marketplace’s Jed Kim also spoke with Taylor Lorenz, who covers internet culture for The Atlantic. She said Instagram and TikTok are gaining ground on YouTube among creators.

Jul 12, 2019
Margaret O’Mara’s book “The Code” brings hidden Silicon Valley history to light

Marketplace’s Jed Kim continues his conversation with Margaret O’Mara, whose book “The Code” is out this week. Think of it as a biography of Silicon Valley — all the circumstances over more than half a century that made it what it is today.

Jul 11, 2019
We love stories about Silicon Valley success, but what is its history?

We’re fascinated with tales of visionary entrepreneurs, trillion-dollar companies, the American tech success story. Foreign leaders are keen to understand and replicate the innovation juggernaut that is Silicon Valley. But little has been written about the entirety of it — the economic ecosystem of Silicon Valley and how it evolved. Margaret O’Mara’s new book, “The Code,” offers a more comprehensive look at the American tech industry dating back to the 1940s.

Jul 10, 2019