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.
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There’s a federal regulation requiring “quiet vehicles” — meaning hybrid and electric cars — to emit synthetic sounds. That’s because without noisy combustion engines, EVs produce no sound of their own at speeds under about 18 mph, which would make them dangerous to other road users, particularly visually impaired pedestrians. So those sounds are added on. We wanted to know why these cars sound the way they do, so we asked Danielle Venne. She’s the executive creative director at Made Music Studio and helped design the sound made by Nissan’s Leaf.
For a lot of people, lessons about investing and personal finance are learned the hard way. Now, Marketplace has a new show on YouTube called “Financially Inclined” that aims to teach young people about money in a less painful fashion. It's made in collaboration with Next Gen Personal Finance, a financial literacy non-profit, and hosted by Yanely Espinal, who says digital tools like computer games can help get inexperienced investors engaged.
The internet is where so much of what happens in our world gets archived. But where does the internet get archived? There are projects around the world, like the Internet Archive, to try to preserve some content online. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Kayla Harris, a professor and director of the Marian Library at the University of Dayton, about whether current archiving work is enough.
Next year's election is still 18 months away, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about security. Voting systems are a little different wherever you go and the tech has changed over the years — from paper ballots to electronic ones to something in between. Most jurisdictions in the U.S. now use hand-marked paper ballots, or paper ballots marked with an electronic interface, and counted with optical scanners or by hand, should the need arise. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Pam Smith, president and CEO of Verified Voting, who said that’s the gold standard for security. That nonpartisan organization recently published its recommendations for 2024.
The language models behind artificial intelligence chatbots aren’t just great at generating term papers, Fake Drake raps and get-rich-quick schemes. This technology could be transformative in the world of augmentative and alternative communication. AAC refers to all the ways people communicate besides talking. It’s typically used by people who — due to a medical issue or disability — experience difficulty with speech. Sam Sennott, an assistant professor of special education at Portland State University in Oregon, has spent much of his career researching the field. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Sennott about what he calls an exciting time for AAC.
Bitcoin believers gathered in Miami for what organizers say is the world’s biggest annual bitcoin convention, though it was quite a bit smaller than last year. It drew less than half of the 35,000 attendees who went in 2022. Of course, a lot has happened in the crypto world since then. A little disaster called FTX, a crypto-friendly bank failure or two. Not to mention the price of bitcoin has taken a dive, from around $40,000 during last year’s event to about $26,000 this time around. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with senior reporter Matt Levin, who was there to take the pulse.
The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a win to Big Tech on Thursday, when it avoided weighing in on the limits of a key piece of tech law called Section 230. It’s a segment of the Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for their users’ content. In recent years, it’s become a target for both legal challenges and political attacks. Add to the mix artificial intelligence, which is raising new questions. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to former Congressman Chris Cox, who co-authored the law along with Sen. Ron Wyden back in 1996. Overall, he said, the law has held up after 27 years.
Artists worry AI will take away jobs. But for those who never went to fashion school, does it provide opportunities? Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Nima Abbasi, partner at Maison Meta, about how the first AI fashion week allowed creatives without formal training to go head to head with experienced designers.
Autonomous vehicles are here, and they’re causing some problems. Reports over the past year show driverless cars occasionally getting glitchy in cities like San Francisco and Phoenix. Andrew Hawkins, transportation editor for The Verge, says driverless cars are in a confusing moment. Most of the time, they work remarkably well, until suddenly, they don’t. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to Hawkins about the state of autonomous vehicles today and an industry beset by technological and financial problems.
Passwords are an enormous security risk for Americans, so big tech companies are looking at passkeys as a tentative solution for password breaches and lost phones. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Chester Wisniewski, a security expert as Sophos, about the risks and benefits of passkeys.
Google is bringing artificial intelligence to … like, everything. Last week, the company announced updates to its Bard chatbot and integrations into search, productivity tools, health care services and more. But plenty of people are calling for more caution with this technology, from the thousands of tech and science experts who signed an open letter calling for a pause in AI development to renowned former Google employee Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist whom many consider the “godfather” of AI. Hinton recently left the company. Though he said Google “has acted very responsibly” when it comes to AI, he sought the freedom to “talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google.” Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino asked James Manyika, Google’s senior VP of technology and society, about how the company is balancing concerns about the risk AI poses with its plans for developing the technology.
Google revealed a slew of new products this week at its annual developer conference, I/O. But it was artificial intelligence that stole the show, from new search integrations and updates to its Bard chatbot to an automatic translation dubbing service. Google is clearly going big on AI as it tries to fend off competition from Microsoft and OpenAI. It’s part of a strategy to be simultaneously bold and responsible, says James Manyika, Google’s senior vice president of technology and society. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Manyika about what that “bold” and “responsible” stance means in practice.
Sure, technology that supposedly reads human emotion has been on the scene for a while, along with concerns about its use. But now it looks like Apple may be getting in on the game. The tech titan is reportedly developing AI-powered mood tracking for Apple Watches. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Daniel Kraft, a physician-scientist and founder of Digital.Health. He says wearable emotion recognition devices could achieve something that's been difficult to provide in mental health care: real-time response.
Disruptive technology is at the heart of the contentious negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and studios, networks and streaming services. Last week, those negotiations failed and the screenwriters went on strike. The WGA has pushed for guardrails on the use of new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, which are trained on vast amounts of human-made creative work and could, some fear, end up replacing it. It’s a concern that is popping up more and more across a number of different industries as the implications of this technology come into focus. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Virginia Doellgast, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, who said the union’s efforts to contain the harm of AI echo past labor struggles with new technology.
The popularity of ChatGPT has exploded since the artificial intelligence chatbot was released to the public last fall. In just a matter of months, it’s gained more than 100 million users. It can write haikus, pass law school admissions tests and help you plan your dinner, but can it make you money in the stock market? It’s a prospect a lot of people are intrigued by, according to a new survey from The Motley Fool. The investment advice platform polled 2,000 Americans about their interest in using ChatGPT for picking stocks. Asit Sharma, a senior analyst with The Motley Fool, says the practice is already widespread. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino recently spoke with Sharma about the survey and his analysis of the results.
It’s getting harder to believe your eyes and ears on the internet. Artificial intelligence tools can generate convincing images, videos and voices. Chatbots can spit out confident misinformation. And Twitter users for $8 a month can basically impersonate anyone they’d like on the site. The specter of an internet full of fakes has a lot of people worried about an epistemic apocalypse: a total breakdown of our ability to perceive truth and reality. It’s something Joshua Habgood-Coote, a research fellow at the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science at the University of Leeds in England, has written about. He talked to Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino about it.
First, there was fake Drake. Now, counterfeit Kanye and bogus Bad Bunnys are all over the internet. It seems that artificial intelligence-generated music has arrived. Some examples are obvious forgeries, like Barack Obama performing “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen.” Others, like the fake Drake song, “Heart on my Sleeve,” that went viral last month are pretty convincing. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Dan Runcie, founder of the media research firm Trapital, about AI’s latest hit and how far this technology has come.
Many Americans have range anxiety when they contemplate buying an electric vehicle. But is the solution bigger car batteries or better charging and transit infrastructure? Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Thea Riofrancos, political science professor at Providence College, about how EV batteries impact the environment and what else can be done to create a no-emissions future.
Summer internship season is right around the corner. While it’s never been easy to get one of the coveted spots at big-name Silicon Valley firms, this year there’s an added wrinkle: The tech industry is reeling from mass layoffs. Many human resources departments and recruiting budgets have been slashed, which could put up even more barriers for candidates from underrepresented groups, said Ruthe Farmer, founder and CEO of the Last Mile Education Fund, which helps low-income students get through college and get on track for a career in tech. That’s challenging even in the best of times, she told Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino.
Mexico is in the middle of a tech boom as U.S. companies look across the border for hires after mass layoffs. Tijuana is right at the center, with a growing market for tech workers and engineers to be hired stateside.
Artificial intelligence is booming. Tools like ChatGPT are getting more capable at an impressive rate as companies race to plug them into new areas of the economy. But the burgeoning demand for AI computing power faces a big constraint: the graphics processing units, or GPUs, needed to train and deploy these models. These specialized, costly GPUs are almost entirely made by one company — Nvidia — at one manufacturer in Taiwan, according to Chris Miller, a professor of history at Tufts University and author of “Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology.”
Facial-recognition software is leading to wrongful arrests, but the secrecy around the use of the technology makes it hard to know just how often it happens. So far, there are at least five known cases in which police use of facial-recognition algorithms have led to mistaken-identity arrests in the United States. All five were Black men. Nate Freed Wessler is part of the team representing one of those men in a case against the Detroit Police Department. He’s also a deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology project. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Wessler about facial-recognition technology and why it leads to these outcomes.
When a chatbot spouts misinformation or defames someone, what tools do lawmakers and regulators have to rein it in? Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Elizabeth Renieris of Oxford University’s Institute for AI Ethics. Renieris said our existing legal frameworks are capable of doing the job.
It’s the new Googling yourself — querying your name with an artificial intelligence chatbot and seeing what it spits out. Many large language models like ChatGPT and Bard are trained on vast amounts of data from the internet, so they’ve encoded text about individuals, especially public-facing ones. But, as we know, they don’t always stick to the facts, and that’s particularly troubling when it comes to your good name on the internet. That’s why engineer Silver Keskküla founded the website Have I Been Encoded. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to Keskküla about why he created the site.
Before ChatGPT took the world by storm, wowing users with its prose-writing prowess, most people knew chatbots as those annoying website pop-ups that offered basic and not always useful customer support. Even before chatbots could pass the Law School Admission Test, customer service was moving toward greater automation, often in an effort to cut costs. Human agents are an expensive and finite resource, causing those long, Muzak-filled waits and limiting service hours. So will the current artificial intelligence boom push humans even further out of the customer support game? Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Christina McAllister, a senior analyst at Forrester who works on customer service research and strategy. She says: “Not so fast.”
Making data-driven decisions has, seemingly, never been easier. We’ve got pulse surveys, performance analytics, reviews, anecdotes on social media — all just a click away. And yet … all these inputs aren’t really helping us make better decisions. That’s according to a new study from the software company Oracle, which surveyed workers and business leaders around the world. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a data scientist and author who partnered with Oracle for the study.
Snapchat made its name with silly augmented-reality filters, or lenses, as it calls them. In recent years, it’s expanded into shopping, enabling users to try on clothing, jewelry and makeup in the app. The company, now called Snap, has started selling this technology to other businesses. Snap announced this week that it’s pushing AR tools into the real world, bringing AR mirrors to some Men’s Wearhouse and Nike stores in the U.S. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino went to the company’s headquarters in Santa Monica, California, to try the tech out, and spoke with Carolina Arguelles Navas, Snap’s head of AR product strategy, and Brian Cavanaugh, director of project management and business development at Fishermen Labs.
Between mining for rare minerals, cooling data centers, and running computers for millions of hours, the climate impact of artificial intelligence is big and getting bigger. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Sasha Luccioni, the climate lead for the AI company Hugging Face, about the process of training an earlier version of ChatGPT, which emitted roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as a gas-powered car driving over one million miles.
“Prompt engineering” for artificial intelligence is a new career field that’s rapidly gaining interest. In some cases, salaries are reaching $350,000. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to Anton Korinek, economics and AI professor at the University of Virginia, about who will need these workers and how this role is likely to evolve.
Ah, Tax Day — a time when our relationship with the United States government can get a little strained, in part because the U.S. system for filing taxes can feel pretty antiquated. But now the Internal Revenue Service has a plan to improve that, thanks to an additional $80 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act that the agency will receive over the next decade. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with ProPublica reporter Paul Kiel about what those IRS technology improvements might look like. Kiel said some of the most effective tech upgrades would be relatively easy to implement.
Back in 2020, California voters approved a measure called Proposition 22 that allows Uber, Lyft and the like to classify their drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. That means the companies can sidestep laws that would otherwise require them to deliver all sorts of job-related benefits. It's been a bumpy legal ride, but so far Prop. 22 is prevailing in state courts. Sooo, what’s next for gig workers? “Marketplace Tech” features KQED reporter Rachael Myrow’s update on the situation.
New York City is gearing up to start enforcing a first-of-its-kind law that requires employers that use artificial intelligence tools in making hiring decisions to have those systems audited for bias. Since the law passed in 2021, the use of AI in hiring has only increased, Vikram Bhargava told Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino. He’s an assistant professor of strategic management and public policy at George Washington University.
By now a lot of us are familiar with chatbot “hallucinations” — the tendency of artificial intelligence language models to make stuff up. And lately we’ve been seeing reports of these tools getting creative with bibliography. For instance, last week The Washington Post reported on the case of a law professor whose name showed up in a list of legal scholars accused of sexual harassment. The list was generated by ChatGPT as part of a research project, and the chatbot cited as its source a March 2018 Washington Post article that doesn’t exist. People have taken to calling these fantasy references “hallucitations.” Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino recently spoke with Bethany Edmunds, a teaching professor at Northeastern University, about why this is happening. Edmunds says this kind of result is to be expected.
There’s a lot of excitement about how artificial intelligence is transforming health care, from diagnosing diseases to creating personalized treatment plans. But just because AI can do something, doesn’t always mean it can do it better than a human, according to Meredith Broussard, a journalism professor at New York University and author of the book “More Than a Glitch,” released last month. Yesterday we featured part one of our discussion with Broussard, about how AI can magnify social harms. Today we continue that conversation, this time about what it means to entrust machines with our health. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Broussard about how trust in machines is part of a broader tendency she calls technochauvinism.
Artificial intelligence is practically all anyone in the tech world can talk about these days, as many of the biggest names in the industry compete for dominance with ever more powerful AI. But recently, some experts called for a timeout in development efforts to evaluate the harms these tools could cause. Meredith Broussard, a journalism professor at New York University, says you don’t have to look far to identify some of those harms. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to Broussard about her latest book, “More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech,” which was released last month.
Professional video gaming — otherwise known as esports — has grown into a billion-dollar industry in recent years. Esports tournaments now draw crowds of tens of thousands to watch players compete at games like Valorant and League of Legends, while top esports athletes earn millions of dollars. But for too long, like so many facets of the gaming world, this industry has been dominated by men. A 2019 report showed that just 5% of professional esports players were women, a statistic that seemingly hasn’t changed much in years.
We’ve been talking this week about the call to slow down artificial intelligence development. There are those who say we need time to mitigate its potential harms and those who think this discourse overhypes the technology. Others, like Will Rinehart, a senior fellow at Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity, argue that a pause now could do more harm than good. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to Rinehart about the potential damage he feels could be caused by a temporary halt to the work.
The French Parliament has taken up a measure that would give courts the power to ban parents from posting photos of their kids online. This comes as a poll just published in France shows that for thousands of parents, sharing their lives with their children on social media has become a serious, sometimes even large, source of income. In Paris, John Laurenson reports on the rise of the parent influencers.
Last week, more than 1,000 scientists and tech leaders, including Elon Musk, signed an open letter calling for a pause in the race to develop more powerful artificial intelligence models. The letter channeled a certain dread that it seems many are feeling about this fast-changing technology. It also became a lighting rod for criticism from both AI boosters and skeptics. Gary Marcus is a signatory of that letter. He’s a professor emeritus of cognitive science at New York University and co-author of the book “Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust.” Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Marcus about his reasons for signing the letter.
New Jersey is using player data to look for signs of addiction. Gamblers will get a notification or pop-up video to warn them when the time or money they’re spending on a gambling site suddenly rises. The state’s division of gaming enforcement is working with site operators to provide addiction resources.
Last week, more than 1,000 experts in science and technology signed an open letter to labs developing advanced artificial intelligence, asking them to pause the “out of control race” to train ever more powerful systems. The letter warns that these “non-human minds” might eventually outsmart us, risking the “loss of control of our civilization.” But such framing misses the mark, according to Emily M. Bender, a computational linguist at the University of Washington who is skeptical of “AI hype.” Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Bender about what she sees as the real dangers in these models, starting with the way they use language itself.
We’re so used to it by now — people sharing every little detail of their lives online. And when it comes to content about parenting, it’s basically a whole industry. You can find “momfluencers” and family channels for any style of parenting or worldview you can think of, to the point that there’s now a generation of kids who have grown up in the social media eye. And, as you might imagine. not all of them are thrilled about it. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to Fortesa Latifi, features reporter for Teen Vogue, who recently dove into this culture and its effects on the children involved.