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
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.  (01/22/2017)

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)

01/18/17: How your binge-watching can affect the environment
Think the rise of digital means a reduced ecological footprint? Turns out streaming the latest hit show might be bad for the environment, according to a new Greenpeace report. Quartz's Ashley Rodriguez explains how exactly the streaming industry uses energy. Afterwards, we'll look at news that online grocery stores will soon be allowed to accept food stamps, and then talk about the possibility of bendable phones. (01/18/2017)

01/17/17: It began with a BlackBerry
When Obama was first sworn in, some were worried about allowing him to keep his BlackBerry. Eight years later, he's cemented his status as a pretty tech-forward president. As his second term ends, we'll look back at the role of technology in his administration. Next, we'll chat with Gray Space co-founder Matthew Hoffman about the influence of virtual reality on the architecture industry.  (01/17/2017)

01/16/17: Trump TV
The Internet Archive has launched a library of Trump's television appearances — the first of its kind for an incoming president. We'll hear from one of the archive's managing editors, Nancy Watzman, about why they created the collection and what they hope it's used for. Afterwards, we'll take a tour of of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a new playing venue for the Atlanta Falcons that's set to open later this year.   (01/16/2017)

01/13/17: Using Fitbit to detect health issues
With the expectation of big domestic growth, Amazon plans to create 100,000 full-time positions in the U.S. over the next year and a half. We'll look at where the retailer expects to see growth and where its thousands of new employees are likely to be working. Next, we'll talk about a new study that says fitness trackers can be used for the early detection of health problems, and then cap off the show with our weekly numbers game, "Silicon Tally." This week's opponent: Alex Davies, the transportation editor at  (01/13/2017)

01/12/16: Meet the real-life R2-D2
During his first press conference as president-elect, Trump said he's requesting a "major report" from intelligence agencies on Russia and hacking. Computer science professor Matthew Green stopped by to talk about whether the U.S. needs to improve its defenses against cyber threats. Next, we'll check out the startup Knightscope, a company that makes egg-shaped security robots that protect against crime. (01/12/2017)

01/11/17: Rise of the minivan
The Detroit Auto show has revved up, and there's an unlikely star at the center of it all: the minivan. CNET's Tim Stevens joined us to talk about how the vehicle can be a playground for all kinds of tech. Next, we'll talk about a division at Yahoo, where some assets will be separated and placed under a new brand name: "Altaba." Finally, we'll look at Norway's decision to phase out its FM radio network.   (01/11/2017)

01/10/17: Friend or foe?
Confirmation hearings for Trump's cabinet picks are beginning — and the tech world is watching. As Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions goes in front of the Judiciary Committee today, Silicon Valley will see whether he could be an ally or opponent. Politico's Tony Romm breaks down why Sessions is relevant to their interests. Plus: a conversation with Flatiron's VP of career services about the coding academy's plan to award new scholarships to women.  (01/10/2017)

01/09/17: The winner of this year's Consumer Electronics Show
Uber's releasing a trove of data from its cars in three cities, with plans to provide average trip times in the countries where it operates. We'll look at how that data could help with city planning. Also on the show: a conversation with the Federal Trade Commission's chairwoman, Edith Ramirez, about cross-device tracking, and Marketplace's Molly Wood on her experience at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. (01/09/2017)

01/06/17: The women at the center of 'Hidden Figures'
"Hidden Figures," a film about three African-American women fighting for workplace equality as NASA mathematicians in the '60s, opens in theaters across the country today. We spoke to the screenwriter, Allison Schroeder, about the film's importance and her family history with NASA. Next, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Dan Moren, co-host of the tech podcast "The Rebound," and then hear some New Year's tech resolutions from our listeners and staffers. (01/06/2017)

01/05/17: A robot-driven future
From robots that show emotion to ones with personalities that evolve over time, machines are on full display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. But are they actually ready for prime time? Next, we'll look at a tax holiday proposal from Trump for big tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple. Finally, we'll hear the latest round of New Year's tech resolutions from our very own Marketplace staff.   (01/05/2017)

01/04/17: The year of voice assistants
The Consumer Electronics Show is officially underway in Las Vegas. One trending topic this year: Artificial intelligence, and how voice assistants will be used in other devices. Next, we'll look at a new French rule that requires companies with over 50 employees to allow their workers to check out of work email after hours. Finally, the latest round of New Year's tech resolutions from our staffers. (01/04/2017)

01/03/17: A preview of this year's Consumer Electronics Show
Around 150,000 people are expected to arrive in Las Vegas this week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Joanna Stern, a personal tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal, is here to tell us what we should expect. We'll also look at a device from the Israel Institute of Technology that could fundamentally change preventative health care. Plus, as part of a week-long series, we'll hear from Marketplace staffers about their New Year's tech resolutions.  (01/03/2017)

01/02/17: Our New Year's (tech) resolutions
The value of Bitcoin is nearing $1,000. Coming off an excellent year, the digital currency could go big in 2017. Plus: one tech company with big plans in the upcoming year: Airbnb, which is expected to go public. The homeshare startup, valued at $40 billion, does business all over the globe. But its business model also has big challenges. We'll explore the company's responsibilities vs. those of more traditional brands. And, to end our first show of the new year, we'll look at some 2017 tech resolutions from our staffers. (01/02/2017)

12/30/16: Data at the crime scene
Data analysis has become increasingly common in criminal cases. We'll explore the intersection of tech and law enforcement, and also look at the Obama administration's decision to issue sanctions against Russia for reportedly interfering with the presidential election. And to cap off the week, we're playing Silicon Tally with Marketplace's Marielle Segarra.  (12/30/2016)

12/29/16: Spending $7 billion to understand you
The internet service giant Alibaba is reportedly going to drop $7 billion on "content" over the next three years — what exactly is the company trying to create? Turns out it might just be funneling that money into "customer understanding." And in the next three *days*, lots of people will be preparing for and ringing in the new year. A new device called Coravin wants to help you celebrate by removing wine from the bottle, without removing the cork. Finally: as part of our Codebreaker podcast, we'll look at how refugees have been using technology to cross borders. (12/29/2016)

12/28/16: What the Amazon Echo might reveal about this murder case
Smart speakers are listening. The Information has a new story out about how police have issued a warrant for Amazon Echo data in a murder case. One of the article's co-writers, Tom Dotan, joined us to talk about the data that Amazon collects and keeps on Echo users. We'll also look at the use of technology at a refugee camp in Jordan and examine the effects of Brexit on London's tech scene. (12/28/2016)

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)

12/27/16: Should artificial intelligence have rights?
Today is all about exploring technology that's almost human. We'll look at the effectiveness of using robot babies to deter teenage pregnancy, and chat with "Westworld's" creators, Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan, about artificial intelligence's role in society and some of the show's inspirations. (12/27/2016)

12/26/16: Tech etiquette
When it comes to using any high-tech gifts you received over the holidays, it's not just about knowing how to use them, but the polite way to use them. All those new drones, wearables and devices related to virtual reality come with rules. We'll find out how to make sure we're good tech users and not irritating ones. And as the holidays end, we'll explore how transportation might change in 2017 — autonomous cars and trucks are becoming increasingly common.  (12/26/2016)

12/23/16: An exodus at Twitter
Trouble may be brewing at Twitter. Both the company's chief technology officer and VP of product have revealed they're leaving the company. We explore what an exodus like this means for the company. Plus: Uber's announcement that it's moving its self-driving car tests to Arizona, and a conversation with Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, about how encryption can protect activists — especially those in the Black Lives Matter movement. (12/23/2016)

12/22/16: A chance to relive your memories
There's a lot of buzz surrounding Snapchat Spectacles, a set of eyewear that'll let you record events throughout the day and play them back. We'll check in with some consumers about why they're planning to buy a pair, and look at whether the product will thrive or go the way of Google Glass. (12/22/2016)

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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