Rank #1: Stitch Fix is betting you’ll buy clothes its way
Fashion has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak began because what we’re wearing has changed a lot. One company that knows exactly how much is Stitch Fix. It learns your style through a mix of online quizzes and algorithms, and hires stylists who choose clothes specifically for you. You get a box of personalized items — one at a time or as a subscription — and you keep what you want and send back the rest. Behind the scenes, the company’s tech predicts what you and people like you might like, so it’s always updating inventory and its in-house brands. But what happens to a clothing company, even a super techie one, in a pandemic? Molly Wood speaks with Katrina Lake, the founder and CEO of Stitch Fix.
Oct 20 2020
Rank #2: There’s not enough internet for remote learning to go around
This fall, we’ve been talking every Monday about education and technology during this pandemic, including how access to high-speed internet and devices is just not cutting it across the country. There’s new data on this in our latest Marketplace-Edison Research Poll. Thirty percent of parents or guardians with kids learning online and making less than $50,000 say their internet access is inadequate for online school. Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports from rural Virginia on the broadband gap.
Oct 19 2020
Rank #3: 5G is finally here — kind of
Neither elections nor Supreme Court hearings nor social media controversies can stop the autumn announcement of new iPhones. And now, those new iPhones can connect to 5G networks. And you may be asking yourself at this point: What even is the deal with 5G? A survey out this month says nearly half of iPhone users in America believe their devices already connect to 5G — but they don’t. Or they might connect to AT&T’s not-really-5G called 5GE. Molly Wood speaks with Shara Tibken, a senior reporter for CNET.
Oct 16 2020
Rank #4: Should robots have a gender or ethnicity? One roboticist says no
In the past seven months or so, we as a society have spent a lot more time at home. Some of us in the company of family, maybe some pets or maybe with some robots. Our computers, smartphones, smart devices and even Roombas are taking on new significance in our lives as we are forced to stay away from other people. These robots, and our relationships with them, are the subject of a new audiobook by Ayanna Howard, a roboticist at Georgia Tech. The book is called “Sex, Race, and Robots: How to Be Human in the Age of AI.” Amy Scott speaks with Howard about the danger of gendered digital assistants.
Oct 15 2020
Rank #5: Baltimore students grapple with distance learning
Like other districts around the country, the city of Baltimore is weighing whether and how to return to school in person. Right now, most public school students there are attending classes virtually. Half of those students come from low-income families, and about 15% have disabilities, which adds to the challenge of teaching and engaging students remotely. Amy Scott speaks with Sonja Santelises, the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, about how the district has used technology during the pandemic.
Oct 14 2020
Rank #6: Is LinkedIn ready for Black LinkedIn?
LinkedIn has a reputation for being all business, but that has been changing recently, especially in the last four months. Workers who are at home and trying to navigate racial upheaval in America are turning to LinkedIn to talk about race and activism, especially as it relates to work. Black workers say it’s great that these conversations are happening on the Microsoft-owned platform because so many executives and company decision-makers are on LinkedIn. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood speaks with Ashanti Martin who wrote about this for The New York Times.
Oct 13 2020
Rank #7: Automated test grading has moved way past Scantron bubble sheets
Every Monday this fall, we’re talking about technology and education, because many students, caregivers and teachers are getting a crash course in ed tech. Even before the pandemic, one way technology has been creeping into students’ lives is through grading. And we’re not just talking about those multiple choice bubble sheets that’ve been around for decades. The Educational Testing Service, which creates statewide assessments for K-12 students, along with higher ed tests like the GRE, has been using artificial intelligence to grade essays since 1999. But can AI really tell good writing from bad? Amy Scott speaks with Andreas Oranje, vice president of assessment and learning technology development for ETS.
Oct 12 2020
Rank #8: Facebook expands its ban of QAnon on its platforms
Facebook announced this week it was taking down any pages or groups tied to the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon. Previously, the company had only removed content that encouraged violence. The outright ban is a big deal because, generally, Facebook has resisted policing any content on its platforms. So, will it work to slow the spread of baseless theories about a Satanic cult of pedophiles running the world? Amy Scott speaks with Travis View, who is the host of “The QAnon Anonymous” podcast and has been reporting on the group.
Oct 09 2020
Rank #9: Google and Oracle’s Supreme Court fight could affect the whole industry
The technology we use every day is built using thousands of lines of code — some of it written decades ago. Now, the Supreme Court is deciding when that code is free for others to use and when it is not. Back when Google was creating Android, the company decided to make it work with the popular programming language Java so it would be easier to make Android apps. But to do that, Google used Java code that is now owned by Oracle. Oracle sued, and several trials later, it’s in the Supreme Court’s hands. Amy Scott speaks with Mark Lemley, a law professor at Stanford University, where he teaches copyright and internet law.
Oct 08 2020
Rank #10: Amazon automation could be making some warehouse jobs more dangerous
Since Amazon first introduced robots into its warehouses six years ago, the company has seen staggering growth. And demand has only intensified during the pandemic as more people do their shopping online. But a new investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting finds that growth may be coming at a heavy price to workers. Injuries are on the rise, especially in facilities where robots are used. Amy Scott speaks with Will Evans, a reporter for Reveal who led the investigation.
Oct 07 2020