Marketplace Tech

Monday through Friday, Marketplace demystifies the digital economy in less than 10 minutes. We look past the hype and ask tough questions about an industry that’s constantly changing.

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Last Episode : May 26, 2023 6:22am

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Learn how to invest — using computer games

For a lot of people, lessons about investing and personal finance are learned the hard way. Now, Marketplace has a new show on YouTube called “Financially Inclined” that aims to teach young people about money in a less painful fashion. It’s made in collaboration with Next Gen Personal Finance, a financial literacy non-profit, and hosted by Yanely Espinal, who says digital tools like computer games can help get inexperienced investors engaged.

Published Friday
The challenges of archiving the internet

The internet is where so much of what happens in our world gets archived. But where does the internet get archived? There are projects around the world, like the Internet Archive, to try to preserve some content online. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Kayla Harris, a professor and director of the Marian Library at the University of Dayton, about whether current archiving work is enough.

Published Thursday
Paper ballots can ensure a secure, resilient election next year

Next year’s election is still 18 months away, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about security. Voting systems are a little different wherever you go and the tech has changed over the years — from paper ballots to electronic ones to something in between. Most jurisdictions in the U.S. now use hand-marked paper ballots, or paper ballots marked with an electronic interface, and counted with optical scanners or by hand, should the need arise. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Pam Smith, president and CEO of Verified Voting, who said that’s the gold standard for security. That nonpartisan organization recently published its recommendations for 2024.

Published Wednesday
How AI is helping people speak

The language models behind artificial intelligence chatbots aren’t just great at generating term papers, Fake Drake raps and get-rich-quick schemes. This technology could be transformative in the world of augmentative and alternative communication. AAC refers to all the ways people communicate besides talking. It’s typically used by people who — due to a medical issue or disability — experience difficulty with speech. Sam Sennott, an assistant professor of special education at Portland State University in Oregon, has spent much of his career researching the field. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Sennott about what he calls an exciting time for AAC.

Published Tuesday
The “crypto winter” didn’t keep bitcoiners away from its annual conference

Bitcoin believers gathered in Miami for what organizers say is the world’s biggest annual bitcoin convention, though it was quite a bit smaller than last year. It drew less than half of the 35,000 attendees who went in 2022. Of course, a lot has happened in the crypto world since then. A little disaster called FTX, a crypto-friendly bank failure or two. Not to mention the price of bitcoin has taken a dive, from around $40,000 during last year’s event to about $26,000 this time around. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with senior reporter Matt Levin, who was there to take the pulse.

Published Monday
Section 230 co-author says the law doesn’t protect AI chatbots

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a win to Big Tech on Thursday, when it avoided weighing in on the limits of a key piece of tech law called Section 230. It’s a segment of the Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for their users’ content. In recent years, it’s become a target for both legal challenges and political attacks. Add to the mix artificial intelligence, which is raising new questions. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to former Congressman Chris Cox, who co-authored the law along with Sen. Ron Wyden back in 1996. Overall, he said, the law has held up after 27 years.

Published 05/19
Creatives compete in first AI fashion week. How will it impact the industry?

Artists worry AI will take away jobs. But for those who never went to fashion school, does it provide opportunities? Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Nima Abbasi, partner at Maison Meta, about how the first AI fashion week allowed creatives without formal training to go head to head with experienced designers.

Published 05/18
Autonomous vehicles: They’re not there yet

Autonomous vehicles are here, and they’re causing some problems. Reports over the past year show driverless cars occasionally getting glitchy in cities like San Francisco and Phoenix. Andrew Hawkins, transportation editor for The Verge, says driverless cars are in a confusing moment. Most of the time, they work remarkably well, until suddenly, they don’t. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke to Hawkins about the state of autonomous vehicles today and an industry beset by technological and financial problems.

Published 05/17
Passkeys versus passwords: Will we soon use biometrics for all logins?

Passwords are an enormous security risk for Americans, so big tech companies are looking at passkeys as a tentative solution for password breaches and lost phones. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Chester Wisniewski, a security expert as Sophos, about the risks and benefits of passkeys.

Published 05/16
A search for the right balance in building out AI

Google is bringing artificial intelligence to … like, everything. Last week, the company announced updates to its Bard chatbot and integrations into search, productivity tools, health care services and more. But plenty of people are calling for more caution with this technology, from the thousands of tech and science experts who signed an open letter calling for a pause in AI development to renowned former Google employee Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist whom many consider the “godfather” of AI. Hinton recently left the company. Though he said Google “has acted very responsibly” when it comes to AI, he sought the freedom to “talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google.” Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino asked James Manyika, Google’s senior VP of technology and society, about how the company is balancing concerns about the risk AI poses with its plans for developing the technology.

Published 05/15
Google’s “bold and responsible” approach to AI

Google revealed a slew of new products this week at its annual developer conference, I/O. But it was artificial intelligence that stole the show, from new search integrations and updates to its Bard chatbot to an automatic translation dubbing service. Google is clearly going big on AI as it tries to fend off competition from Microsoft and OpenAI. It’s part of a strategy to be simultaneously bold and responsible, says James Manyika, Google’s senior vice president of technology and society. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Manyika about what that “bold” and “responsible” stance means in practice.

Published 05/12
AI promises it can know one’s mental state, but that comes with a lot of data tracking

Sure, technology that supposedly reads human emotion has been on the scene for a while, along with concerns about its use. But now it looks like Apple may be getting in on the game. The tech titan is reportedly developing AI-powered mood tracking for Apple Watches. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Daniel Kraft, a physician-scientist and founder of Digital.Health. He says wearable emotion recognition devices could achieve something that’s been difficult to provide in mental health care: real-time response.

Published 05/11
Labor unions’ fight against AI is nothing new

Disruptive technology is at the heart of the contentious negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and studios, networks and streaming services. Last week, those negotiations failed and the screenwriters went on strike. The WGA has pushed for guardrails on the use of new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, which are trained on vast amounts of human-made creative work and could, some fear, end up replacing it. It’s a concern that is popping up more and more across a number of different industries as the implications of this technology come into focus. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Virginia Doellgast, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, who said the union’s efforts to contain the harm of AI echo past labor struggles with new technology.

Published 05/10
How people are using AI for stock market picks

The popularity of ChatGPT has exploded since the artificial intelligence chatbot was released to the public last fall. In just a matter of months, it’s gained more than 100 million users. It can write haikus, pass law school admissions tests and help you plan your dinner, but can it make you money in the stock market? It’s a prospect a lot of people are intrigued by, according to a new survey from The Motley Fool. The investment advice platform polled 2,000 Americans about their interest in using ChatGPT for picking stocks. Asit Sharma, a senior analyst with The Motley Fool, says the practice is already widespread. Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino recently spoke with Sharma about the survey and his analysis of the results.

Published 05/09
Should we worry about deepfakes and an “epistemic apocalypse”?

It’s getting harder to believe your eyes and ears on the internet. Artificial intelligence tools can generate convincing images, videos and voices. Chatbots can spit out confident misinformation. And Twitter users for $8 a month can basically impersonate anyone they’d like on the site. The specter of an internet full of fakes has a lot of people worried about an epistemic apocalypse: a total breakdown of our ability to perceive truth and reality. It’s something Joshua Habgood-Coote, a research fellow at the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science at the University of Leeds in England, has written about. He talked to Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino about it.

Published 05/08