Marketplace Tech-logo

Marketplace Tech

American Public Media

Marketplace Tech is a daily radio segment and podcast produced by Marketplace from American Public Media exploring the world of technology and the Internet.

Marketplace Tech is a daily radio segment and podcast produced by Marketplace from American Public Media exploring the world of technology and the Internet.
More Information


Los Angeles, CA


Marketplace Tech is a daily radio segment and podcast produced by Marketplace from American Public Media exploring the world of technology and the Internet.




261 South Figueroa Street #200 Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 621-3500


Free speech on the internet is: A) complicated B) complicated C) complicated D) all of the above

It has been quite the week for speech online. Twitter introduced new guidelines on how to deal with world leaders on its platform after Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris called on the platform to ban President Donald Trump. On this segment of “Quality Assurance,” Molly Wood takes a deep dive on platforms and regulating speech. She spoke with Daphne Keller, who is at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.


Tesla’s new parked-car trick: Press a button on your phone, the car comes to you. Or close. Maybe.

Tesla’s latest over-the-air software update for its cars is perfect fodder for online viral videos. It added a feature the company calls “smart summon.” Owners use an app on their phone to summon their cars from about 200 feet away, and have it drive to them all by itself with nobody inside — just hold down a button. Ars Technica’s Timothy Lee, who watched 100 videos Tesla owners have uploaded using the smart summon feature, said the results seem to vary.


The U.S. is still exporting sensitive tech to China despite a White House clampdown

U.S. companies export tens of billions of dollars in sensitive technology every year — AI computer chips, drones or encryption software. They have to apply for licences to do it, and those approvals have dropped in recent years, while rejections have risen. Matt Drange, an investigative reporter at The Information, sifted through the data to see what it can tell us about tech trade.


Some ways to keep the power on in California’s fire season

PG&E cut power to more than 700,000 people and businesses last week in Northern California cities as a way to prevent fires from sparking in dry, windy weather. But is a chaotic blackout the best solution? Marketplace’s Ben Bradford tells host Amy Scott that there are alternatives that could prevent this kind of disruption in the future.


Can an app make the call on baseball umpires?

With the World Series just around the corner, we’re hearing a lot about players’ stats. But another issue is when an umpire gets a call wrong. Major League Baseball is trying to make those instances less frequent. Over the summer, robot umpires helped officiate a minor league game. The goal is not only to improve accuracy of the calls, but to speed up the game and get more butts in the seats. But Boston University finance professor Mark Williams thinks there’s a way to use an app to make...


Do fake images need to look convincing to be convincing?

Christye Sisson, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, is working with the Department of Defense to help build a sophisticated tool that can identify fake images. She and her students act like the bad guys — doing painstaking work to develop the most convincing fake images they can. They’ve learned a lot about what it takes to fool people, including that maybe they don’t need to work so hard, at least on social media.


Amazon wants the public to know its warehouses are fun enough for the Girl Scouts

Amazon warehouses are key to the company’s operations. Items arrive, get sorted and are packaged and shipped off. But they don’t have a reputation for being great places to work. For example, last year, there were those reports about employees urinating in bottles at a U.K. warehouse to avoid taking bathroom breaks. Now Amazon is offering more public tours of its warehouses. The company says it wants to be transparent about how it operates and to inspire kids. We tagged along with a bunch of...


Does encryption help with privacy, or does it violate public safety?

Law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr, wrote an open letter to Facebook last week asking it to hold off on plans to expand end-to-end encryption in Facebook Messenger. That kicked off a heated debate about privacy and public safety.


The best way to counter hate speech online might be to have a bot call it out

Researchers at Intel and University of California, Santa Barbara, are proposing a new idea to use AI to identify hate speech and then create an automated response to those messages, like pointing out that the words used could be offensive or warning people that they are violating terms of service.


YouTube isn’t fun for parents trying to shield their kids from scary stuff

There is a lot of appropriate content on YouTube for kids, and there’s a whole lot that is not appropriate for anyone. But kids are wily, and they will find ways to watch. Jed Kim spoke with Common Sense Media Editor-in-Chief Jill Murphy, who says a whole lot of families are struggling with this.


When tech unicorns stumble, prices go up for everyone

This might be the week that the tech valuation bubble finally popped. WeWork, valued at $47 billion, pulled its IPO, partly over corporate governance concerns, but also because it just isn’t making money. So why did people think these venture-backed companies were worth so much? We dig into this with Alex Wilhelm, editor in chief at Crunchbase News. (10/4/2019)


Did Amazon just kick electric vehicle production into a higher gear?

Electric vehicle maker Rivian hasn’t produced a commercial vehicle yet. Now it’s tasked with making 100,000 delivery trucks for Amazon. What could this mean for the electric vehicle market overall?


Gun owners want smart guns on the market but don’t want to buy them

For decades, gun manufacturers have tried to figure out how to create a smart gun — one that could only be fired by the gun’s owner and could be activated by a fingerprint or a radio signal sent from the weapon to a wristband. Why haven’t they been successful in selling one? Wood spoke with Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, and asked her what the barriers are.


Buying property is emotional. Tech can help people understand their home’s climate risk.

Lots of homes are dealing with an increased risk of flooding due to climate change, and lots of homeowners are still relying on the federal government’s FEMA maps, which were intended to be used by the insurance industry, not consumers. But tech companies are working to collect and distribute climate data in an understandable way. Coastal Risk Consulting is a Florida-based startup that crunches global climate data down to the individual property level.


Building a better algorithm to predict flood risk in the age of climate change

Residents of Charleston, South Carolina, hunkered down earlier this month as Hurricane Dorian struck the East Coast. They came out largely unscathed. But it was just the latest flooding threat in this low-lying coastal city. It’s the kind of place that could benefit from better flood maps made possible by new tools to process climate change data.


The WeWork IPO really didn’t work. Yet. Who is that affecting?

For WeWork it’s been a couple of weeks for the co-working unicorn — its valuation has dropped by tens of billions of dollars. WeWork delayed its move to go public. Its public IPO filings made people’s hair curl with stories of its CEO self-dealing and sketchy corporate governance. Earlier this week, that CEO, Adam Neumann, resigned but still leads the board.


An app that pays you for your data? Yes, actually.

More is an app that lets you connect all your various online accounts. It scoops all the data on you and puts it in one encrypted location that you can control. Then, with your permission, a new company called UBDI pays you to share some of that data with companies or researchers.


Twitter hires social scientists to help figure out our conversation problem

Twitter commissioned a two-year study to help it create metrics for what is a healthy conversation and what isn’t. Host Molly Wood spoke with Rebekah Tromble, who teaches media and politics at George Washington University and is one of the research leads on this project. The team is looking at four categories: mutual engagement, diversity of perspective, incivility and intolerance.


Some iPhones are now made with recycled rare earth minerals. Will that change the rest of the industry?

New smartphones come out like clockwork every year, and most people buy new phones every two years. But that upgrade cycle is terrible for Earth. Smartphones are energy intensive to manufacture and involve mining dozens of different rare earth minerals. Very few parts of the phone can be recycled because extracting those metals is also difficult and energy intensive. But last week, Apple announced it’s cracked part of that nut. It found a supplier of recycled rare earth materials, and now...


Gov. Gavin Newsom on California climate change and tech’s role in fighting it

For our climate tech series “How We Survive,” host Molly Wood spoke with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. She asked him if he saw the tech industry as having a role in helping communities adapt and preventing more disasters.