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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Digital.com, which did the survey. Consorte says there are several ways a job can monitor what their employees do.
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. New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Please give now.
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. New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Please give now.
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. New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far, with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Please give now.
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. Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Give now.
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. New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Give Now
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. New Investors Week: Your first donation to Marketplace goes TWICE as far with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Investors Challenge Fund! Give Now.
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. Join Marketplace's mission to make everyone smarter about the economy – Make your year-end gift today!
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. Join Marketplace's mission to make everyone smarter about the economy – Make your year-end gift today!
Today on Capitol Hill, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is again testifying before Congress on how to hold tech companies accountable. She’s one of many voices calling for more regulation of the industry, which could come from dozens of bills being considered by Congress. That legislation could have a big impact on platforms like YouTube. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recently spoke with Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube. She says the industry is already subject to regulations, both in the United States and around the world, and that Congress should be cautious as it considers new laws. Join Marketplace's mission to make everyone smarter about the economy. Make your year-end gift today!
Jack Dorsey has stepped down as the CEO of Twitter, a company he co-founded 15 years ago. Companies are often associated with their founders, and in Silicon Valley, having a smart, charismatic founder can be the difference between getting off the ground at all, or not. But in his note announcing his departure, Dorsey said it’s critical for companies to stand on their own, free of their founder’s influence. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Sarah Kunst, general partner at the venture firm Cleo Capital, about what challenges lie ahead for Dorsey’s replacement as CEO, Parag Agrawal. Giving Tuesday challenge: Give now to help us reach $100k in donations and unlock another $100k from the Investors Challenge Fund.
“Marketplace Tech’s” Molly Wood is leaving journalism after two decades, including the past four years as the host of this show. More recently, Molly has been co-host of the Marketplace podcast “Make Me Smart” and host of the new show about climate change solutions, “How We Survive.” And since Molly’s a reporter who has asked some pretty hard questions of her guests over the years, Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams asks her questions submitted by listeners.
This episode was originally published May 17, 2021. Picture this: You're not feeling so hot and you say to your smart speaker, “Robot, I'm hungry,” and you cough. And the device says, “Would you like a recipe for chicken soup?” And then, “By the way, would you like to order cough drops with one-hour delivery?” This is the scenario laid out in one of Amazon's patents. And it shows how voice recognition technology could be used to learn things about us, beyond the words we say to our devices. Like whether we’re sick or depressed. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Joe Turow, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who writes about all of this in his new book “The Voice Catchers: How Marketers Listen In to Exploit Your Feelings, Your Privacy, and Your Wallet.”
This episode originally aired Sept. 9, 2021. Water infrastructure — it’s boring. Invisible. We only care about it when things go wrong, and things have been going wrong. Punishing storms have caused catastrophic flooding in New York, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere. But water systems are expensive, time consuming and hard to fix. Technology may provide some relief. Marketplace’s Jed Kim talks to Paul Robinson, the executive director of RISE, a nonprofit accelerator in Norfolk, Virginia, that helps develop climate tech. Robinson says one of the companies they fund is StormSensor, which puts sensors in storm and sewer pipes.
Many Americans hand over volumes of personal data to Amazon. The company knows what we buy, what we consider buying, even whom we might be buying things for. And according to a new investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and Wired, many Amazon employees have exploited access to that customer data. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Will Evans, a senior reporter at Reveal, who has been covering this.
For Ruben Trujillo, coffee is not just a beverage, it's his passion. He spent several years working as an English teacher in South Korea, getting deep into the coffee culture there. When he returned to the U.S., he decided to start his own business, Cafe Emporos, selling selling pre-filled personalized coffee filters. Trujillo shares his story and tells how TikTok marketing really launched his business.
The holidays often mean traveling, which frequently means flying. For many who are hyper-aware of their carbon footprints, flying can bring on a guilt trip. Commercial flights account for about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions. Now, though, there are a variety of sustainable aviation fuels designed to lower the emissions that are generated by air travel. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Evan Sherwin, a postdoctoral researcher in energy and resources engineering at Stanford University, about the kinds of sustainable jet fuels out there.
Many of us were online in the last two years in ways we wouldn’t have imagined pre-pandemic. Like for doctor’s appointments. The pandemic accelerated the widespread use of telemedicine platforms for both mental and physical care, in the U.S. especially. With public health states of emergencies in place, doctors could practice across state borders, increasing access for millions of patients. But now some states are letting their public health emergencies expire. So what does that mean for telehealth care providers across the country? Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Brian Gormley, who covers this for The Wall Street Journal.
The pandemic has many of us relying on technology in new ways. And it prompted some innovation, including in the health care sector. For example, patients who need dialysis on a regular basis mostly go to clinics or hospitals, but during the pandemic, more kidney patients wanted to have their treatments at home. And as “Marketplace Tech's” Jesús Alvarado explains, some new technology may make that a bit easier.
As you may have heard, Marketplace’s Molly Wood has been working on a new podcast called “How We Survive,” about solutions to the climate crisis. The latest episode is called “The Better Battery,” which we need to store renewable energy in our attempts to mitigate global warming. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Molly about how the batteries we have are good and getting better. But a better battery might let us use our cellphones all day without charging or drive an electric vehicle from San Francisco to Los Angeles without stopping.
Diplomats from nearly 200 countries made at deal at the United Nations COP26 climate conference to do more to limit global warming. Not enough, according to experts, but it’s something. Even without stronger global action, many are looking to individual actions to reduce emissions. For example, Google Maps now offers hints at eco-friendly driving routes, and many electric utilities are pushing consumers to install smart thermostats in their homes, with the idea that small changes by millions of consumers will make a difference for the environment, and for people’s wallets. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with John Picard, an “innovation catalyst” and sustainability expert. Picard says the tech to do this is already here.
The one trillion dollar infrastructure package goes beyond money for bridges and roads. It also includes around 65 billion dollars for a different type of infrastructure: broadband. Something that was especially vital for many in this pandemic, with those lacking access often unable to work or attend school remotely. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Christopher Mitchell, the director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He says that while that $65 billion is going into lots of different programs, there are a few big themes.
All this week, we've been talking about what it will take to update our laws and regulations to address some of the thorniest issues in tech and society. Today, Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams reports on the tech industry perspective.
The tech industry is kind of every industry at this point, including the financial industry, which is why the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is starting to pay a lot more attention to tech companies. From PayPal, to Apple Pay, to Meta’s digital currency, the agency set up to rein in big banks is now calling out Big Tech. Last month, it asked online payment processors for more information on how they are operating. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams went to the CFPB’s offices, just across the street from the White House, and asked the new director, Rohit Chopra, if he believes his agency is adequately equipped to take on these big companies.
All this week we’re talking about what regulation of the tech industry could look like. Lawmakers are examining how companies manage online content, including whether Section 230, which shields platforms from liability for what users post, needs a closer look. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has been outspoken on the issue. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams sits down with Grassley for an interview at the U.S. Capitol.