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Technology

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel with All Tech Considered.

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Throughout history, being on the receiving end of anything involving cavitation, a miniscule underwater implosion, has been bad news. Millions of years before humans discovered cavitation — and promptly began avoiding it, given its tendency to chew up machinery — the phenomenon has provided the shockwave and awe behind a punch so ridiculously violent that it's made the mantis shrimp a honey badger-esque Internet mascot.

Lyft is unveiling a new education program for drivers, offering access to discounted GED and college courses online. The move is an interesting experiment in the gig economy, where a growing class of workers receive zero benefits from a boss and yet competition for their time is fierce.

Many Lyft drivers see their work for the company as a stopgap measure, a flexible way to make money while they try to build a career.

On their first day of trading, bitcoin futures surged past $18,000, adding to a streak for the digital currency that began the year at just $1,000 and has nearly tripled in value over the past month alone.

Reuters reports that bitcoin futures, traded through the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), saw January contracts, which opened at $15,460 in New York on Sunday evening, leap to a high of $17,170 during Asian hours.

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Republicans call their tax bill the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. But critics say maybe it should have been named the Tax Cut and Robots Act.

That's because it doesn't create new tax incentives that specifically encourage companies to hire workers and create jobs, some employers and economists say. But it does expand incentives for companies to buy robots and machines that replace workers.

Republicans say that lowering taxes will boost the economy and spur job creation. But critics say that the tax legislation would create an imbalance favoring machines over workers.

Airlines including American, Delta and Alaska have announced restrictions on so-called smart luggage because the lithium-ion batteries found in many of these suitcases pose a fire risk.

These kinds of bags have proliferated in recent years, including motorized suitcases you can ride and one pitched as an autonomous "robot companion" that follows you around.

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Jessica Ladd was sexually assaulted while at Pomona College, just as one in five college women are. She says she found the reporting process, "more traumatic than the assault" itself. She felt "like I didn't have control. A lack of agency. I wasn't believed, and ended up regretting reporting."

Jim Beam Presents The Smart Decanter

Dec 6, 2017

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene. I bring you the perfect drinking buddy.

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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As man) Hey, JIM, what's the weather today?

Former President Barack Obama's tweet this summer in response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., was the most-liked among those on Twitter's most-retweeted list for 2017.

Ask The FCC

Dec 5, 2017

From late night TV to your Twitter feed, the Federal Communications Commission’s vote on net neutrality is a hot topic.

The FCC has been reversing and revising a number of regulations, bringing a new level of attention to a federal body that’s usually not the subject of so much public debate.

Gen Z is the generation that follows millennials. The oldest members are now going into college, they have tons of buying power, and marketers are trying to figure how to sell to them. Youth Radio's Rhea Park reports on how fashion trends reach Gen Z.

I used to be addicted to an Internet phenomenon called haul videos. It sounds kind of weird. But I'll watch someone sitting in their room, trying on clothes and talking about how they fit.

How A Virtual Friendship Turned IRL

Dec 5, 2017

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now a story about people using coding to find a way through political polarization. This is in Brazil, where civic hackathons have become popular. Reporter Catherine Osborn went to a hackathon in Rio de Janeiro.

The First Text Message Celebrates 25 Years

Dec 4, 2017

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The students entering college are not millennials. The next generation, Generation Z, has arrived. The oldest in the group are in their early 20s.

Not only have they never known a world without the Internet, some have had smartphones since middle school.

And for this group, memes, animated GIFs and emojis are second nature, says Geoff Nunberg, a linguist who does features on language on NPR's Fresh Air.

The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Dec 4, 2017

During a major soil catastrophe — the Dust Bowl — President Franklin Roosevelt told state governors, “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

Still, we treat our soil like dirt. By growing food and storing carbon dioxide and water, the loam and peat that coats the earth sustains us all. In return, we till it, treat it with chemicals and generally walk all over it.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro says his country will create a cryptocurrency system called the "petro," backed by oil reserves and other natural resources, in his latest attempt to cope with an abysmal national economy and multiple rounds of U.S. sanctions.

Unveiling the petro plan on his weekly national TV program Sundays with Maduro, the president said the cryptocurrency (in Spanish, criptomoneda) could help Venezuela evade international sanctions.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The light coming from screens, like the one on your smartphone, is known as blue light, and it can interfere with sleep. So some people use apps to filter out some of that blue light. NPR's Jon Hamilton had some questions, so he rang up some scientists.

There's more than cars at an auto show.

Auto shows are not only a place for consumers but for vendors, executives, reporters, activists, investors and consumers. They are more like conventions. With 10,000 parts on a car, that means a lot of vendors.

This week, the president of the United States passed along malicious messages from a racist, ultranationalist fringe group directly to almost 44 million people. Those 44 million follow him on Twitter and may have now retweeted those anti-Muslim messages to millions more.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Tucked away in the House and Senate tax bills is a big break for companies that have stockpiled money overseas. The hope is that bringing that cash back to the U.S. will lead to more jobs here. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

Planet Money Goes To Space

Dec 1, 2017

Space is easier to get to than ever and it will change life on earth. Private companies are pouring billions of dollars into tiny satellites, new rockets, and gathering information on earth from above. To see how it all works, we are getting in on the action ourselves.

We adopt an adorable satellite, go rocket shopping, and try to figure out how to turn our little piece of the new space race into a profit.

Episode 1: We're Going To Space

The power grid in South Australia now includes a huge Tesla battery tied to a wind farm, allowing the system to supply electricity around the clock. The battery was installed well before Tesla CEO Elon Musk's 100-day guarantee lapsed — and just in time for the start of summer.

"This is history in the making," South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said of the battery system, which sits next to wind turbines at the Horndale Power Reserve.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A coming wave of job automation could force between 400 million and 800 million people worldwide out of a job in the next 13 years, according to a new study.

A report released this week from the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company forecasts scenarios in which 3 percent to 14 percent of workers around the world — in 75 million to 375 million jobs — will have to acquire new skills and switch occupations by 2030.

Remember the story about the Twitter employee who (briefly) managed to delete President Trump's account?

At the time, we speculated that it might be "an act of civil disobedience, or maybe just a 'take this job and shove it' moment." But apparently the 11-minute outage of @realDonaldTrump was just a mistake.

Donald Trump's campaign was frenzied and frantic, people at the top have said — descriptions that could be highly consequential for the White House and to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

For former campaign officials who've come into the administration, the descriptions of their work last year are meant not only to strengthen their denials regarding collusion with the Russian government in attacking the election, but also to emphasize how much of a miracle it was they made it through.

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