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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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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.




When cellphones fail, landlines are still a lifeline

AT&T is asking California regulators to be relieved of its obligation to provide basic landline phone service to anyone who wants it. “No customer will be left without voice or 911 service,” AT&T says, but Californians weighing in are, by and large, skeptical. Regina Costa, telecom policy director at the Utility Reform Network, an advocacy group, told Marketplace’s Lily Jamali that having a “carrier of last resort” matters.


Want to quit your smartphone?

Once a week, many of us get that dreaded screen-time report courtesy of our smartphones. But a recent study found keeping track of our average usage doesn’t actually help us control our screen time all that much. Caught in the loop of screen-time shame like so many of us are, New York Times tech reporter Kashmir Hill decided to actually do something about it. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali spoke with Hill about her experience breaking up with her iPhone and replacing it with a flip phone, T9 texting and all, because she’d finally had enough.


Would you trust a cancer screening by artificial intelligence?

As consumers, we’ve all been subjected to the “upsell,” or pressure to pay a little more for a product that’s slightly better. It’s one thing if you’re buying, say, a car or a piece of clothing. The ethical questions get a lot more complicated in health care. Some providers have started integrating artificial intelligence in diagnostic procedures, including screenings for breast cancer. The tools may be available for an additional cost, and questions about their accuracy have been raised. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali spoke with Meredith Broussard, a journalism professor at New York University, about integrating AI into mammograms and her personal experience grappling with the tech.


Vibrating suits offer a new way to experience music

We often think of music as a mostly auditory experience, but it’s also a physical one, especially for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Daniel Belquer — a Philadelphia-based technologist, composer and “chief vibrational officer” of Music: Not Impossible — has been studying the relationship between sound and sensation, and how that connection can make music more accessible. “Marketplace Tech” spoke with Belquer about how his vibrating technology is helping people experience music in new ways.


A $7 trillion chips moonshot, AI-fueled cyberattacks, and Disney’s bet on gaming

On the show today, Microsoft says groups affiliated with the governments of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are using AI tools to improve their cyberattacks. Also, Disney is investing $1.5 billion in Epic Games. Can we expect a “Frozen” / Fortnite crossover? We’re not sure yet, but what we can expect is regulatory scrutiny. But first, in Silicon Valley, where software normally gets all the glory, OpenAI’s Sam Altman is reportedly planning a big move into hardware by raising up to $7 trillion for a new AI chips project. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali is joined by Paresh Dave, senior writer at Wired, for his take on this week’s tech news.


How a comprehensive federal privacy law could protect kids online

On our show last week, we had Sen. Amy Klobuchar share her take on the recent Senate hearing with tech executives. You remember the one, with the execs, including Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, doing their best to stall in response to searing questions about how to keep kids safe online. Klobuchar told us that hearing may have actually moved the needle on that issue. She stressed to us that such events educate the public and help lawmakers get on-the-record pledges of support for specific bills from tech CEOs. In the absence of federal rules, a patchwork of state laws has filled the void. How’s that going? Nicol Turner Lee, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, gave Marketplace’s Lily Jamali the rundown.


Dating apps can get pretty intimate with your data

Cuffing season is that time of year when singles hunker down with someone to keep them warm — temporarily. And Valentine’s Day more or less marks the end of it. So people are about to start flocking back to their dating apps. Adrianus Warmenhoven, cybersecurity expert at NordVPN, told Marketplace’s Lily Jamali that a lot of those apps are eager to vacuum up their personal data.


In spite of plummeting valuation, 23andMe still aims to pivot into biotech

23andMe has seen its valuation plummet from $6 billion to close to zero, with the Nasdaq threatening to delist the company’s stock. Still, company leaders have high hopes for medical research and a pivot to biotech. Rolfe Winkler has been writing about what happened for The Wall Street Journal, and discussed the company’s financial woes and future roadmap with Marketplace’s Lily Jamali.


For Uvalde families, social media is a tool to share grief and energize advocacy

On May 24, it will be two years since 19 children and two teachers were killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Photojournalist Tamir Kalifa has spent much of the last year and a half documenting the lives of the victims’ families and friends in the wake of the tragedy. Last week he was awarded the American Mosaic Journalism Prize for that work. He told Marketplace’s Lily Jamali about how social media is helping the community deal with its grief and bolstering its push for gun control.


FCC cracks down on AI robocall scams, Meta tightens oversight of AI content and Sen. Klobuchar discusses Section 230 reform



What does it take to protect children online?

A week later and we’re still thinking about the hearing that saw half a dozen tech CEOs testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on keeping kids safe online. It left us wondering: Why do lawmakers hold these hearings then fail again and again to pass federal laws to keep Big Tech in check? One thing was clear: The importance of keeping kids safe online is one of the few things that a lot of Democratic and Republican senators agree on. Take for example the SHIELD Act, a bill co-sponsored by members of both parties. One of those members is Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She told Marketplace’s Lily Jamali it’s hard to get bills like that through Congress given how much influence tech companies wield in Washington.


The Department of Energy will track energy used in crypto mining

The business of minting cryptocurrencies here in the United States is growing bigger by the day. In January 2020, just 3.4% of the world’s bitcoin mining took place here. That figure ballooned to almost 38% in just two years. As we’ve talked about on this show, mining bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies burns through a lot of electric power. The Energy Information Administration has been interested in tracking this activity, sifting through articles in the media and company reports. But the federal agency has decided to start collecting information from cryptocurrency miners themselves about where they operate and how much energy they use. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali asked Mark Morey, senior adviser for electricity analysis at the EIA, about the project.


Pumped-storage hydropower could help renewable energy flow

Back in the 1970s, the Tennessee Valley Authority built what remains one of the largest energy storage facilities in the world: a pumped-storage hydropower plant. A pump takes water from the Tennessee River, shoots it up a giant shaft and holds it there until electric power needs peak during the day. At that point, the water is allowed to drain back down, spinning turbines that can generate enough power for a million homes. It’s almost like a gravity-powered battery as big as a cathedral … buried deep inside a mountain. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali spoke with Robert Kunzig, a freelance journalist who recently wrote about this in depth for the publication Science. He says pumped-storage hydro is attracting a lot of interest, thanks in part to generous tax credits from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.


Apple’s Vision Pro is finally here. What took so long?

Last Friday, Apple’s long-awaited contribution to the virtual reality headset market finally hit stores across the U.S. Apple CEO Tim Cook promised the new technology would be nothing short of revolutionary when he unveiled it last summer. But let’s not forget the fate of the Google Glass, the glasses with a built-in display and camera first released by Google in 2013 and formally ended a decade later. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali spoke to Lance Ulanoff, U.S. editor-in-chief of TechRadar, for his take on the Vision Pro. Ulanoff said Apple’s new headset just might catch on, thanks to what Apple calls “spatial computing.”


Tech CEOs grilled by Congress, Microsoft still leads in AI, and Neuralink touts its human brain implant

Companies vying for AI dominance have told us their stories, but this week they showed us their numbers, and there is a clear front-runner. Plus, a court struck down Elon Musk’s $56 billion pay package, but it’s the announcement that his startup Neuralink did its first human brain implant that has us really scratching our heads. First, though, a look back at Wednesday’s Senate hearing that put tech execs, politicians and families affected by online child sex abuse in a room together on Capitol Hill. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali is joined by Anita Ramaswamy, columnist for Reuters Breakingviews, for her take on these stories.


What the “grief tech” industry says about how we navigate loss

The universe of industries that make money off dying in this country is extensive, and tech entrepreneurs have managed to insert themselves into various corners of it. That’s all according to culture journalist Mihika Agarwal, who’s been reporting on the grief tech industry — including ghost bots, the chatbots that are supposed to help us process grief. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali spoke to Agarwal about her reporting.


The many battles in the lithium and critical minerals revolution

In 2021, the Biden administration put out a report about gaps in the supply chain for electric vehicles. It estimated global demand for lithium and graphite would grow by more than 4,000% by 2040 if the world were to achieve the climate goals laid out in the Paris accords. These materials, along with copper, nickel and others, are critical to green technologies. And there is a global fight over their supply, one that Reuters correspondent Ernest Scheyder documents in his new book, “The War Below: Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power Our Lives.” He told Marketplace’s Lily Jamali about why lithium, in particular, is in such high demand and the challenges of bringing it to market.


More people are buying EVs, but there aren’t enough mechanics to fix them

By 2030, there are expected to be up to 11 million hybrid or electric vehicles in the United Kingdom, according to the Local Government Association. But there are currently only around 45,000 mechanics who are qualified to fix and service them. Unless more people sign up to be EV mechanics, drivers in the U.K. might find themselves with an electric car they can’t get fixed or afford to insure. We’ll hear more from BBC reporter Frey Lindsay.


Why carbon capture isn’t a magic bullet solution to the climate crisis

In rural North Dakota, an old, coal-fired power plant is being retrofitted to capture emissions before they enter the atmosphere and store them underground. $890 million from the 2022 bipartisan infrastructure law will go towards that and two similar projects in California and Texas. Critics take issue with spending taxpayer money to kick the tires on “carbon capture and storage” technology. Among those critics are Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former minister of environment and climate change. She’s now CEO of Climate and Nature Solutions, an advisory firm, and chairs the UN’s expert group on net-zero commitments.


Layoffs continue, Silicon Valley renews romance with Middle East money and why Netflix is retiring its no-ads basic tier

On the show today, Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds have parked a whole lot of money in Silicon Valley. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, for one, spent more than $31 billion on 49 venture deals, up 33% in 2023. Why does the tech industry find it so hard to break up with Middle East money? Plus, Netflix changes up its business model — again. We look at why the streaming giant sees even more ads in its future. But first, job cuts continue across the tech landscape. Even TikTok, with its $225 billion valuation and 150 million active users in the U.S. alone, is letting people go. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali is joined by Natasha Mascarenhas, reporter at The Information, for her take on these stories.