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Marketplace Tech

Monday through Friday, Marketplace’s Molly Wood demystifies the digital economy in less than 10 minutes. Reporting from Oakland, California, she looks past the hype and ask tough questions about an industry that’s constantly changing.

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Automakers are so fed up, they’re just gonna make their own chips

As you have probably heard, or maybe experienced, there is a global shortage of computer chips. And carmakers, in particular, have been feeling the pinch. Without chips, they can’t make cars, which means there have been fewer cars available on the lot, and the ones that are there may not be what people want. This week, the chief operating officer of Hyundai said his company is working on a way to develop its own chips. Not many automakers do that, so it’s a topic for “Quality Assurance,” where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at the car-shopping site Edmunds.

7mins

15 Oct 2021

Rank #1

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To curb climate change, we need more mining?

As you’ve probably noticed, your regular host Molly Wood is off the show. She has been creating a new Marketplace podcast called “How We Survive” about tech solutions to the climate crisis. This season is all about batteries. They’re key to getting us off fossil fuels. But most batteries in the world right now need lithium, a metal that’s only obtainable through mining. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Molly Wood about her visit to a lithium mining lab.

6mins

14 Oct 2021

Rank #2

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Monitoring students on school laptops raises equity, privacy concerns

During the pandemic, a lot of school districts loaned laptops, tablets or other devices to students who didn’t have their own. And many of those schools installed software on the devices that can track what a student is searching for and looking at. School administrators say they need to monitor students this way so they can flag a kid who is in trouble. But do students and their parents actually know they’re being tracked and in what ways? Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Elizabeth Laird, the director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Equity in Civic Technology Project, who has recently done research on this.

8mins

13 Oct 2021

Rank #3

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Robots are lending a helping hand this holiday season

Last year, the holiday shopping season was kind of a disaster. With a lot more people shopping online because of the pandemic, millions of packages were delayed or delivered late. This year could be worse. There are shortages of materials, products, shipping containers and workers, and Deloitte estimates that online sales will jump by 11% to 15% this season. Retailers and shipping companies are trying out robots that can help them sort through items. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Ken Goldberg, a professor of industrial engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-founder of Ambi Robotics.

5mins

12 Oct 2021

Rank #4

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No chips. Fake chips. The computer chip issues are still with us.

Let’s talk about computer chips. We’ve told you that they’re in short supply — because of COVID and materials shortages and shipping problems, and because a lot more people have bought digital devices during the pandemic. Sometimes when there is low supply and high demand, lots of counterfeits appear on the market. These could be chips taken out of old electronics and resold as new. Some of the fake chips work, to a certain extent, and some don’t work at all. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Bill Cardoso, CEO of Creative Electron, a company that uses X-rays to inspect chips and see if they’re real.

7mins

11 Oct 2021

Rank #5

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Now what, Facebook?

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down on Monday for several hours. Then, on Tuesday, whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former product designer at the company, appeared before Congress, saying Facebook puts profit over safety and asking lawmakers to step in. CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a note on Tuesday night saying a lot of things, including the company does not put profit over safety. Let’s look ahead at how this week might change Facebook with Quality Assurance, where we take a second look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Mike Isaac, a tech correspondent for The New York Times.

8mins

8 Oct 2021

Rank #6

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Now hear this: “How We Survive,” the podcast

In this episode of “Marketplace Tech,” host Molly Wood introduces us to her new podcast: “How We Survive.” The new show is a deep dive into technological solutions to the climate crisis and the businesses behind them.

5mins

7 Oct 2021

Rank #7

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The WhatsApp outage and its global economic implications

When Facebook went down for several hours this week, we got a sense of just how much people rely on the company and its apps. And not just because they’re addicted to scrolling and likes. These platforms are also used for commerce and banking, particularly WhatsApp, the messaging service. In many parts of the world, you can also use it to send money, like you would with Venmo, or to pay for a purchase. And in some countries, that’s a big deal because the banking and finance infrastructure is less developed. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Lisa Ellis, a partner with MoffettNathanson, about the effects of the outage.

7mins

6 Oct 2021

Rank #8

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Checking your Instagram? Habits, actually.

You ever log on to a social media platform and you don’t even know why you’re doing it? This stuff is addictive. Zamaan Qureshi is a 19-year-old student at American University and a policy adviser for a group known as the Real Facebook Oversight Board. He said that the physical act of swiping on Instagram can feel like “muscle memory.” Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra talks to Qureshi about the pressure to curate your image — always laughing and having a good time — on the platform. It’s a game a lot of us play.

7mins

5 Oct 2021

Rank #9

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It’s complicated: updating old government technology

The Senate held a hearing last week about the often old, outdated computer systems that our governments often use to run their programs and what it’ll take to move things forward. Those aging systems are a problem because when they break down or just can’t keep up with changing needs, it’s hard to fix them. One example: Last spring, the state of New Jersey had to recruit people who knew the 60-year-old programming language COBOL in order to keep its unemployment system from going down. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Joseph Steinberg, a cybersecurity expert who’s worked with the government and author of “Cybersecurity for Dummies.”

5mins

4 Oct 2021

Rank #10