Marketplace Tech®

with Ben Johnson

About the Program

Hosted by Ben Johnson, this daily "journal of the Digital Age" airs during broadcasts of Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Edition.

Official program website

Latest Show
02/20/17: Not exactly IKEA furniture
While many might be thinking about the next big thing in software, one Brooklyn facility is focused on hardware. We'll talk about the history and future of New Lab, a building that has several companies sharing its space to build new products. Joining us on today's show: David Belt, its cofounder; Sean Petterson, the cofounder of Strong Arm, which makes exoskeletons for industrial workers; and Jessica Banks from Rock Paper Robot, a kinetic furniture company (think levitating tables).  (02/19/2017)

02/17/17: Shocking the brain for a better performance
One of the latest innovations to give athletes an edge? Neuropriming, the practice of putting electrodes on your head to shock your brain so that you can get a boost in mental abilities. Proday's Sarah Kunst stopped by to discuss how powerful the priming is and whether it could become mainstream one day. Next, we'll look at Facebook's recent decision to jump into the job recruiting game, and then play this week's "Silicon Tally" with Cadie Thompson, senior transportation editor for Business Insider.  (02/17/2017)

02/16/17: Russia's tech world
We're looking at why chipmaker Intel is dropping its financial support for the International Science and Engineering Fair; the use of tech in Russia over the years; and a new website that allows people to anonymously reach out to reporters about Trump. (02/16/2017)

02/15/17: The return of unlimited data
Some carriers, like Verizon, are starting to bring back unlimited data plans. Why the return, and why did they go away in the first place? CNET's Lindsey Turrentine breaks it down for us. Afterwards, Business Insider's Kif Leswing explains the turmoil happening at Magic Leap — an augmented reality company that's been promising wearable tech that can project images onto the real world. Finally, we'll look at the most popular (and possibly surprising) city on Tinder during Valentine's Day last year. Any guesses? (02/15/2017)

02/14/17: Celebrating Hackentine's Day
The House recently passed legislation that would update the Stored Communications Act, a measure that dictates how law enforcement can gain access to electronic communications stored remotely. Northeastern professor Andrea Matwyshyn joins us to explain some of the problems with the law. Next, we'll look at the intersection of fashion and tech with a new customized dress from Google and H&M based on your personal data. And finally, we'll talk about one nonprofit's event to help women who want to learn more about coding: Hackentine's Day.  (02/14/2017)

02/13/17: Ford's plan to launch an autonomous vehicle by 2021
Ford is investing $1 billion in the startup Argo AI so that it can get an autonomous vehicle on the road by 2021. Ford CEO Mark Fields joined us to talk about why they're making the investment, instead of just working with what they have in-house. Afterwards, we'll look at what Samsung will have to do to gain back consumer trust following its fire-catching battery controversy. (02/13/2017)

02/10/17: When a billion-dollar company moves too fast
Zenefits, a health insurance broker, is laying off 45 percent of its staff. Buzzfeed's William Alden stopped by to explain the problems plaguing the startup, once valued at over $4.5 billion. Next, we'll play this week's "Silicon Tally" with Spencer Soper, an ecommerce reporter for Bloomberg News. Plus: A few days ago, we asked you to send us sounds from where you live and whether you think they should raise or lower your property value. We'll hear what one Colorado resident had to say. (02/10/2017)

02/09/17: The rise of fake news in France
Turns out elections in France also have to deal with issues over fake news. Mark Deen, deputy bureau chief in Bloomberg's Paris bureau, joins us to talk about how Google and Facebook are trying to stop the spread of these stories. Next, we'll discuss how computer vision works, and then look at what smartwatches have in common with the Austin Powers movies.  (02/09/2017)

02/08/17: The Brooklyn-Berlin connection
Ajit Pai has made some fast moves in just his first two weeks as FCC chairman. CNET Editor in Chief Lindsey Turrentine breaks down how they'll affect you, the user. Afterwards, we'll look at the growing partnership between two tech-forward communities — Brooklyn, New York and Berlin, Germany. And finally, we'll discuss YouTube's decision to roll out mobile live video streaming,  (02/08/2017)

02/07/17: How to figure out if that conversation went well
You've likely heard of the big companies — like Facebook and Netflix — that are pushing back against the president's immigration ban. But Trump's new policy is affecting startups, too. The CEO of FundersClub, a company that brings together investors and startups, joined us to talk about how tech workers are reacting to his order. Next, we'll take a look at a system from MIT researchers that can teach an algorithm to recognize whether a conversation was successful. Finally, we'll look at Vizio's $2.2 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission over installing software on millions of TVs without consumers' consent. (02/07/2017)

02/06/17: How do you arrest an algorithm?
To stoke conversations about privacy and data, Mozilla of Firefox fame has partnered with a nonprofit to create an exhibition called "The Glass Room." We'll tour the exhibit, which includes a scale model of Mark Zuckerberg's $40 million real estate in Palo Alto; bound books filled with millions of pilfered LinkedIn user passwords; and a pair of fake Yeezys purchased by an online bot. Afterwards, we'll chat with Saron Yitbarek — the founder of the programming community CodeNewbie — about what we get in exchange for giving up our personal data. (02/06/2017)

02/03/17: The staying power of video games
With the Super Bowl kicking off this Sunday, we'll look at the ways that companies have capitalized off of the event. Next, we'll chat with Asi Burak, a gamemaker and the co-author of the book "Power Play," about the educational value of video games. Finally, we'll play this week's "Silicon Tally" with Marketplace's Jennie Josephson, the producer of our newest podcast, "Make Me Smart with Kai & Molly."  (02/03/2017)

02/02/17: Empowerment through data
Is Facebook moving backwards? Instead of focusing on just mobile, the company's video products may soon show up on your television screen. We'll look at why Facebook is employing this strategy. Afterwards, the former chief scientist of Amazon, Andreas Weigend, will join us to talk about the importance of knowing our data rights.  (02/02/2017)

02/01/17: 78 million iPhones and 78 billion dollars
Apple released a pretty positive earnings report yesterday, which revealed the company sold millions of iPhones and raked in billions. Is this report a sign of growth for Apple, or just an anomaly? Next, we'll look at Snapchat's ambitions to go public, and then explore an NYU project called "Sounds of New York City," which wants to identify all of the sounds in the area.  (02/01/2017)

01/31/17: Silicon Valley responds to Trump's ban
Because the tech world hires a lot of overseas talent, Silicon Valley has been largely critical of Trump's immigration ban. Politico reporter Tony Romm joined us to talk about the how the ban is specifically affecting companies in this sector and the measures that some companies are taking to protect workers. Next, we'll look at Ford Motor's attempt to change its brand from a car company to a future "mobility" company. At the Manhattan transportation center today, the first new FordHub will open. Inside, there will be a rolling ball sculpture, a wall covered in matchbox-sized cars, and a futuristic travel game. (01/31/2017)

01/30/17: Indefinite detention
Our tech future may include more communication with voice recognition software, rather than looking directly at the web. We'll explore how companies can make money from these types of interactions. Next, we'll look at a new virtual reality film called "Indefinite," which looks at the experience of immigrant detention in the U.K. Finally, we'll take a glimpse at a possible Apple product: a vaporizer.  (01/30/2017)

01/27/17: Should the FCC be involved in mergers?
Amid news that Verizon and Charter could be planning a merger, telecom analyst Angelo Zino takes a look at what this deal would mean to consumers. Afterwards, we'll discuss whether the Federal Communications Commission should be involved in business moves like these. Harold Furchtgott Roth, an FCC commissioner from 1997 to 2001, gives his take. Finally, we'll play this week's "Silicon Tally" with Wayne Cotter, an engineer turned comedian.    (01/27/2017)

01/26/17: How the tech sector is shaping the U.S. economy
As Trump calls for the return of manufacturing in the U.S., Los Angeles is looking to technology as a promising sector for job growth. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti joined us to talk about why he wants to make LA a tech hub and how he'll try to ensure that it's a diverse one. Afterwards, we'll look at how viable it is to work for ridesharing companies. Uber recently agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it misled drivers about how much they could expect to earn on the job.  (01/26/2017)

01/25/17: What the Trans-Pacific Partnership has to do with Hollywood
As AT&T prepares to announce fourth-quarter earnings later today, we'll revisit the company's proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner and look at what it means for consumers. Next, we'll talk about the Trans-Pacific Partnership's connection to the television and film industry. Hollywood had rallied behind beefed-up copyright protections included in the TPP, a deal that Trump withdrew from on Monday. (01/25/2017)

01/24/17: Intimate images in the digital age
Walls and fences aren't the only things dividing the U.S. and Mexico. Marketplace's Kimberly Adams — reporting from Nogales, Mexico —  examines the low-and high-tech barriers that exist between the two countries. Afterwards, we'll look at the conversation surrounding private photos in the digital age. Dozens of states now have laws that make it a crime to publicly disclose someone's intimate image without his or her consent. (01/24/2017)

01/23/17: Tom Wheeler's exit interview
During his time as head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler pushed for internet providers to deliver information at equal speeds. But companies have pushed back against this idea of net neutrality. Wheeler joined us to talk about the telecom industry, his successor, and his plans for the future. Afterwards, we'll hear from Harvard professor Susan Crawford about what telecom policy might look like under President Trump.  (01/23/2017)

01/20/17: The hefty fees for drone use
New gadgets mean new rules. With Trump's inauguration taking place today, D.C. wants to make it clear that drones and selfie sticks are not allowed in the capitol. We'll take look at what attendees WILL be able to bring with them. As for those of us who live elsewhere in the country, we'll also share the ways you can watch the event online. Afterwards, software engineer Tracey Chou will join us to play this week's Silicon Tally.  (01/20/2017)

01/19/17: The history of Mars
Thousands are heading to Washington for Trump's inauguration — many of them to protest the event. Rally, a tech platform that connects riders with transportation to big events, is getting a lot of business right now thanks to anti-Trump activists. Co-founder Siheun Song explains how the service works. Next, we'll step outside of the planet to look at evidence from Mars rover Curiosity about possible mud cracks on the planet, which could tell us something about the possible history of life there.  (01/19/2017)

S02-7: Technology Crossing Borders
The gadget that saved a refugee in the middle of the Aegean Sea, how an agent uses technology to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico, and how a journalist in exile broadcasts the news with WhatsApp. Listen, decode, and decide: Can technology crossing borders save us? (12/27/2016)

S02-6: Encryption
How encryption hides all around us, how it was used in 18th century Paris to separate merchants from their money and the difference between your brain and your fingertip. Listen, decode, and decide: Can encryption save us? Stay updated on all things Codebreaker. (12/21/2016)

S02-5: World Building
A proposal to bioengineer shorter humans with cat eyes, a decades-old idea for a totally new kind of power, a battery made from trash and Bill Nye the Science Guy tries to get us in gear. Listen, decode, and decide: Can world-building save us? Stay updated on all things Codebreaker. (12/14/2016)

S02-4: Watching
A small city known for its Amish population and surveillance cameras, an old lady in Northern Ireland who watches video feeds in Brazil and getting footage from the fin of a shark. Listen, decode, and decide: Can watching save us? Stay updated on all things Codebreaker. (12/07/2016)

S02-3: The Augmented Self
The man who collected too much data, cyborgs who want to make their body-hardware mainstream, robots that rebuild your hairline and a conversation with Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge aka LeVar Burton. Listen, decode, and decide: Can the augmented self save us? Stay updated on all things Codebreaker. (11/30/2016)

S02-2: Alternate Reality
A therapist who creates virtual reality experiences for people with dangerous disorders, a grandmother who uses a headset to escape her surroundings and Ernest Cline on virtual reality in fact and fiction. Listen, decode, and decide: Can alternate realities save us? Stay updated on all things Codebreaker. (11/23/2016)

S02-1: Recognition
A toddler who saved her mother's life with Siri, a man whose mysterious ailment opened up a world of voice recognition technology and a dating service that wants to scan the faces of all your exes. Listen, decode, and decide: Can recognition software save us?Stay updated on all things Codebreaker. (11/16/2016)

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