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Technology

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Is Big Tech Getting Too Big?

Jun 22, 2017

Uber founder Travis Kalanick just resigned as CEO after a controversial run, but he leaves behind a very powerful company — one worth an estimated $70 billion.

In May 2015, then-President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that created a new kind of public emergency notification — the Blue Alert.

It's similar to the well-known Amber Alert for abducted children, but is meant to help catch people who credibly threaten or actually harm law enforcement officials.

If you're standing in the blazing sun struggling to read this on your cellphone, there may be some relief in sight.

And you'll have a moth to thank.

The reason you have to find shade to read your phone is the way the light reflects off the screen. The reflection reduces contrast, washing out images.

Social media companies are under pressure to block terrorist activity on their sites, and Facebook recently detailed new measures, including using artificial intelligence, to tackle the problem.

The measures are designed to identify terrorist content like recruitment and propaganda as early as possible in an effort to keep people safe, says Monika Bickert, the company's director of global policy management.

If you think of a company as a sports team — let's say, basketball — then Uber is at a point where the players are still on the court, but the coaches and general manager are gone, the arena is filled with jeers and the owner's hair is on fire.

What's Washington Got To Hide?

Jun 21, 2017

For all the talk of a new era of transparency, it seems like more and more of the U.S. government’s business is taking place behind closed doors.

That’s cause for concern on both sides of the aisle.

Intel says it will bring virtual reality, drones and 360-degree to future Olympics, after signing a deal to become a worldwide Olympic partner through 2024. The company says it will bring its technical prowess to the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Intel "will accelerate the adoption of technology for the future of sports on the world's largest athletic stage," CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement about the company's plan.

The video is mesmerizing, if a bit noisy: Moving in a figure-eight pattern, elementary school students hop over a jump rope with perfect timing, setting a new Guinness World Record with an incredible 225 skips in one minute.

Updated at 1:56 p.m. ET

If two nearly simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election revealed anything, it's that U.S. officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it.

In his prepared remarks, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the Russian government, "at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our Nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple."

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Resigns

Jun 21, 2017

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Uber Co-Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns Under Pressure As CEO

Jun 21, 2017

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

The chief of Uber has resigned. Travis Kalanick, under pressure from his top investors, announced his departure Tuesday night. The move, which comes as a surprise to employees, plunges one of the largest private companies on Earth into an even bigger leadership vacuum.

A week ago, Kalanick said he was stepping away from his position as CEO temporarily, taking a leave of absence to mourn his mother, who recently died in a boating accident, and to work on his leadership, to grow into "Travis 2.0."

Jorge Santiago Aguirre is a lawyer at the Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, a major human rights group in Mexico City, so he was curious when he got this text message in April 2016:

"Mr. Jorge this is Juan Magarino," it read in Spanish. "Please help with my brother Heriberto a teacher who has been kidnapped by police it's a crime."

Then, there was a hyperlink.

He says the text didn't feel like random spamming.

"It was related to information that was personal to us," he says.

This amazing kid got to enjoy 19 awesome years on this Planet. What he left behind is wondtacular.

See why we have an absolutely ridiculous standard of beauty in just 37 seconds.

A boy makes anti-Muslim comments in front of an American soldier. The soldier's reply: priceless.

You know it well. The Upworthy headline. That model of building curiosity by keeping the true topic of a story hidden until you click.

The Florida elections vendor that was targeted in Russian cyberattacks last year has denied a recent report based on a leaked National Security Agency document that the company's computer system was compromised.

There is a certain kind of look I get when I tell people how much I love video games.

It lies somewhere between "You're not serious" and "Oh my God, you are serious." And by "people" giving me these looks, I mean adults of a certain age and outlook. Of course, given that I'm a 54-year-old tenured professor, these "people" are pretty much everyone I know (including my now adult children).

So today, I want to speak to all of you "look-givers" and attempt to explain why you, too, should become a gamer.

Basically, it comes down to robot dinosaurs.

There's a good chance something you've bought online has been in the hands of a "picker" first. These are the workers in warehouses who pick, pack and ship all those things we're ordering.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

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Amazon said today it's buying the supermarket Whole Foods in a deal valued at nearly $14 billion. This is by far the largest acquisition Amazon has ever made. It also means big changes are ahead for the grocery business. NPR's Alina Selyukh reports.

There's a provocative interview with the philosopher Daniel Dennett in Living on Earth.

The topic is Dennett's latest book — From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds — and his idea that Charles Darwin and Alan Turing can be credited, in a way, with the same discovery: that you don't need comprehension to achieve competence.

Updated at 9:20 a.m. ET on June 19

Amazon is buying Whole Foods, in a merger that values Whole Foods stock at $42 a share — a premium over the price of around $33 at the close of trading on Thursday. The Internet retailer says it's buying the brick-and-mortar fixture in a deal that is valued at $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods, which opened its first store in Austin, Texas, back in 1980, now has 465 stores in North America and the U.K.

Japanese toilets have come a long way from the early 20th century, when many people in Japan still used "squatters," which were built into the floor.

Western toilets became popular after World War II. And today, signature Japanese toilets offer the world's most futuristic and automated technology when nature calls.

Investing In Bitcoin: A Wise Choice?

Jun 16, 2017

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Uber is a mess — the "bad boy" ethos shattered, a nervous breakdown in its place. This week, the CEO announced he is taking a sudden leave of absence. A former U.S. attorney general released a brutal audit of the startup's culture. It's a terrifying moment for many investors who want that $70 billion unicorn to make them rich or richer — not implode.

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

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It is a good time for the spoken word. There's a whole lot out there - from radio to podcasts to audio books. Turns out there are lots of choices out there for young audiophiles too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOW IN THE WORLD")

Do you ever feel like social media apps are a waste of time? A new app called Binky sets out to prove that point.

Open Binky and you'll find an infinite list of random stuff: Llamas. Hot sauce. Joan of Arc. Much like Twitter, Binky displays posts on a timeline. Unlike Twitter, nothing you do matters.

See an image you like? Swipe right! See an image that makes you sad? Swipe left! Do you relate to that photo of Amelia Earhart on a deep spiritual level and feel that you must, must share it? Re-bink that! Do it!

As new reports emerge about Russian-backed attempts to hack state and local election systems, U.S. officials are increasingly worried about how vulnerable American elections really are. While the officials say they see no evidence that any votes were tampered with, no one knows for sure.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 3:12 p.m. ET

The first sentence of Yahoo's Wikipedia page now reads, "Yahoo! Inc. was an American multinational technology company."

Yahoo's Internet properties officially became Verizon's properties Tuesday, as the telecom giant finalized its $4.5 billion acquisition.

Drones could soon be dropping off packages at customers' doors. But researchers in Sweden have drones in mind for a different, potentially lifesaving delivery: automated external defibrillators.

Using drones to carry AEDs to people who are in cardiac arrest could reduce the time between when patients go into cardiac arrest and when they receive the first shock from an AED, the researchers say.

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