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
01/23/2018: How a short shutdown has lasting effects on science research
This government shutdown was only three days long, but the budget impasse is not over. Agencies that are reliant on the government for funding are still left wondering how much money they have to spend — and when it’ll be available. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about the loss to innovation with Nicol Turner-Lee, a fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution.   (01/23/2018)

01/22/18: Should you invest in something that calls itself Ripple?
There are LOTS of cryptocurrencies. Yes, bitcoin, but also: Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, IOTA, Dash, TRON and Bitcoin Cash. What’s a new investor to do? Read Reddit threads, of course. And starting this week, there are now official financial ratings of the coins, as well. Weiss Ratings is going to assign letter ratings to cryptocurrencies, though, because of their volatile nature, the grades could change daily. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Martin Weiss, who’s behind the ratings.  (01/22/2018)

01/19/18: The healthy race to measure health
There are lots of startups as well as established tech companies, like Apple and Google, that are interested in measuring our waists and monitoring our blood pressure. But as the Food and Drug Administration loosens regulations in the digital health space, who’s looking out for the consumers? On our segment Quality Assurance — a second look at the week’s tech news — Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about the regulation of health tech with CNBC's Christina Farr. (01/19/2018)

01/18/2018: Could it be good business to get people to stop using your devices?
Two major Apple investors are asking the company to make sure its devices aren't harming kids. They want Apple to do more research into smartphone addiction. Could exploring this somehow be good business for Apple? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Megan Moreno, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin.   (01/18/2018)

01/17/2018: What Facebook could learn from the Reformation
What does Martin Luther have to do with Facebook? According to one historian, they both prove that networks have great power and can do a lot of harm. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Niall Ferguson, whose new book is called "The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook." (01/17/2018)

01/16/2018: The taxman is coming for your bitcoin
The bitcoin gold rush involves a lot of money, and where there's lots of money, there is also the taxman. The IRS has started to take a keen interest in cryptocurrency over the past several months, and it's not just bitcoin millionaires who should be taking notice. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Amy Wall, a licensed tax preparer based in Tucson, Arizona, who specializes in the tax implications of virtual currency. (01/16/2018)

01/15/2018: Should posting revenge porn be a federal crime?
Revenge porn is the non-consensual sharing of nude photos or videos. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have revenge porn laws, according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. And now Congress is considering a bill that would make revenge porn a federal crime. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Danielle Citron, an adviser on the bill and a law professor at the University of Maryland. (01/15/2018)

01/12/2018: Why we should all do the boring work of patching our computers
The twin security flaws called Spectre and Meltdown let hackers take advantage of almost any device with a chip in it and steal data, passwords, keystrokes — pretty much all the things you want to keep private. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with independent security reporter Brian Krebs, who says that on the scale of one to 10 in terms of how worried he is, this is about an eight. He also says we should patch our computers. We get into the nitty gritty of the hack for our segment Quality Assurance, a second look at the news.  (01/12/2018)

01/11/2018: The battle to bring back net neutrality
The controversy over net neutrality hasn't died down a bit. In December, the Federal Communications Commission overturned rules that prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or charging more to access content online. The ruling drew the ire of internet users and small business owners arguing that net neutrality protects consumers and internet startups. Since then, states are considering their own laws, and this week, some 44 senators, including Republican Susan Collins of Maine, said they'll support a bill that would overturn the FCC's ruling. (01/11/2018)

01/10/2018: Would you pay to do a Google search?
GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It’s a new privacy regulation that will affect people who live in the European Union beginning in May. It affects any company that serves residents of the EU, and it could make it harder for companies to access their data. So any company that relies on data as a form of currency may have to figure out another revenue stream. Does this mean that European residents might have to pay for Google searches? And could this trickle over to the United States? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about it with Jessica Lee, a partner with the law firm Loeb & Loeb, who’s advising clients on the upcoming regulation.   (01/10/2018)

01/09/2018: Why driverless cars need more practice in the snow
It’s hard for humans to drive in bad weather, and it’s hard for self-driving cars to drive in it, too.  Many of the cars started their lives in sunny California and haven't experienced much of the world. So automakers are sending them out into more snowy climes. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about it with Chris Gerdes, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford.   (01/09/2018)

01/08/2018: How China is creating false demand for electric cars
The hottest electric car market in the world right now is China. Chinese consumers bought more than double the number of electric cars as the U.S. did in 2016. The Chinese government has said it wants 11 percent of all cars sold there to be electric by 2020. How could this change the global electric vehicle market? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about this with Marketplace's China correspondent, Jennifer Pak. (01/08/2018)

01/05/2018: How does a tech accelerator work?
In the world of startups, getting venture capital funding isn't exactly easy. It's sort of a business of who-knows-whom. And getting in front of investors can be key. Enter the accelerator. These are for-profit business incubators that invest in groups of startups, give them advice and mentoring, and connect them with other investors. One of the biggest tech accelerators is Y Combinator. It has funded companies including Airbnb, Instacart and Dropbox. Marketplace Tech host Amy Scott talks with Michael Seibel, who leads Y Combinator's accelerator program. (01/05/2018)

01/04/2018: Why are we going back to the moon?
The Trump administration is asking NASA to send astronauts back to the moon. This would be the first American lunar mission since 1972. The administration says that traveling to the moon will build a foundation for trips to Mars and beyond. But they’ll need to establish funding for it first. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about the initiative with Kimberly Adams, who follows space for Marketplace.  (01/04/2018)

01/03/2018: The virtual amusement park
Disney has just opened a virtual reality ride called "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire," at Disney World. Riders go on a mission to recover intelligence that's essential to the Rebellion's future. And virtual reality might also be the future of amusement parks — in part because it can be cheaper. A typical headset costs about $400 to buy, as opposed to a big moving platform and screen, which can cost millions to install. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about the economics of the virtual amusement park with Elbert Perez, co-founder of Doghead Simulations, a virtual reality software company. (01/03/2018)

01/02/2018: Where's the hard data on diversity in tech? (Replay)
This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year. Companies are required to file equal employment opportunity reports with the government. But few make that information public. Reporters at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX looked into how diversity stacks up in Silicon Valley. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with reporter Will Evans about why hard data on diversity in tech remains a bit of a mystery. (01/02/2018)

01/01/2018: Could Facebook Messenger be all things to all people? (Replay)
This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year. Think about all the apps you use in a day: Amazon, Facebook, Gmail, maybe Lyft or Uber. In China, some of those apps are banned. But it’s possible to use one app — WeChat — to do lots of things, like sending messages and ordering taxis. Facebook Messenger is trying to take on the same role in the U.S. Jennifer Pak, Marketplace's China correspondent, gives us the lowdown on WeChat and talks about why there's no equivalent in the U.S. ... yet.  (01/01/2018)

12/29/2017: Why welding might be a required skill on the moon (Replay)
This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year. As we get closer to sending humans to Mars, there’s been more talk about the technology and money it will take to colonize the planet. But science fiction writers have been pondering this for some time. Andy Weir is author of “The Martian,” which showed us how to survive on Mars. His new book, called “Artemis,” is about a colony on the moon. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with Weir about the real research that went into his science fiction. (12/29/2017)

12/28/2017: A computer science "genius" on why we haven't fixed cybersecurity (Replay)
This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year. From data breaches to global cyberwarfare, it’s clear cybersecurity isn’t really working. And not even a newly minted MacArthur fellow can tell us why. What he can tell us: advice like creating long, complicated passwords might not make a big difference in the end. Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood talks with Stefan Savage about what we can do to make cybersecurity better.   (12/28/2017)

12/27/2017: Our love-hate relationship with Big Tech (Replay)
This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year. Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple are four of tech’s most powerful brands. But have they become too powerful? And is regulation the only way to stop them? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, about how these companies grew to global dominance and our love-hate relationship with them. (12/27/2017)

12/26/2017: Giving minority entrepreneurs a chance (Replay)
This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year. There’s a group of venture capital firms that want to change the world for the better and make money. This is called impact investing. One of the firms working in this space is Impact America Fund, which invests in companies with diverse missions — for instance, a startup that helps African-American stylists sell their own hair extensions. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Impact America Fund founder Kesha Cash about the sometimes complex collision of money and mission in venture capital. (12/26/2017)

12/25/2017: Turning the data about where you drive into cash (Replay)
This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year. Americans spend 293 hours driving each year, according to AAA. That’s more than 12 days worth of data on where we go, what we listen to, and where we stop for lunch. Make no mistake, our cars are “watching” us. John Ellis, a former global technologist with Ford and author of a new book called “The Zero Dollar Car,” imagines that we’ll be able to trade in that data for cars one day. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with Ellis about the value of car data. (12/25/2017)

Special episode: The holidays of the future
The holidays are a time of year where lots of things are the same as they always have been. The turkey. The songs. Maybe even the jokes people make. But as technology advances, the way we create those things changes. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood thinks ahead to the holidays in the year 2030. She looks at the food — will we have smart ovens ... and even smart toilets that calculate whether we’re making healthy choices? And using artificial intelligence, could we create holograms of deceased relatives to join us around the dinner table?  (And even if we could, should we?) This special episode of Marketplace Tech helps us walk the line between the ease that technology offers and the pleasures of holiday work ... and encourages us to dream about the tech that’s yet to come.  (12/22/2017)

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? (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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