Technology & Digital Life

All Tech Considered
4:43 pm
Wed June 3, 2015

Infiltrating 'The Dark Net,' Where Criminals, Trolls And Extremists Reign


Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 9:25 am

There's a side to the Internet most people have never visited. Tor Hidden Services, or the Tor Network, is an encrypted, hidden network of about 50,000 websites that can't be accessed with a traditional browser like Chrome or Firefox. Its users include criminals, trolls and extremists.

Author Jamie Bartlett, who chronicles the secret corners of the Internet in his book The Dark Net, likens it to the "Wild West."

Read more
NPR Story
5:03 am
Wed June 3, 2015

Experts Debate: Will Computers Edge People Out Of Entire Careers?

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 7:59 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

All Tech Considered
3:47 am
Wed June 3, 2015

A Taxi App Aims To Build Trust Where Crime Is High

Traffic stands still in Nairobi. People in Kenya's capital don't like getting into cabs driven by strangers. They prefer to call drivers they know or who their friends recommend.
Goran Tomasevic Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 7:59 am

It's a problem in a taxi economy if people don't like getting into cabs that are driven by strangers. A cab driver is a stranger almost by definition. But in the high-crime city of Nairobi, Kenya, people prefer to call up drivers they know or who their friends recommend.

An American named Jason Eisen spent years in Nairobi as a consultant until he had his big idea. He built an app that doesn't just tell you which taxis are close by, like Uber does. It also assigns the driver a trust score, by scouring riders' contacts and social media.

Read more
All Tech Considered
8:33 pm
Tue June 2, 2015

Coming Soon: More Ads On Instagram, And A 'Buy' Feature On Pinterest

Pinterest will soon allow users to buy products they find directly through the app. The company says users have been asking for that feature for a while.

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 10:27 am

Both social apps have the announcements in posts to their respective blogs. Instagram says its new ad strategy will bring "new formats, increased relevance, and broader [ad] availability." Pinterest is more direct; the title of its post is "Coming soon: Buyable Pins!" Here's a breakdown.


Read more
The Two-Way
4:09 pm
Tue June 2, 2015

Senate Approves USA Freedom Act, Obama Signs It, After Amendments Fail

Kentucky Sen. and Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul has said the USA Freedom Act doesn't go far enough in reforming U.S. surveillance programs.
Andrew Harnik AP

Originally published on Tue June 2, 2015 9:48 pm

The Senate has approved the USA Freedom Act, which will alter the way U.S. agencies conduct surveillance and gather data. A final vote on the bill came late Tuesday afternoon, after amendments to the bill failed.

Update at 9:30 p.m. ET: Obama's Signature

Following an expedited enrollment process, President Obama signed the bill into law late Tuesday.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:12 pm
Tue June 2, 2015

Was Recent IRS Data Breach Preventable?

Originally published on Tue June 2, 2015 4:33 pm

A government watchdog says the Internal Revenue Service ignored many of its recommendations to improve computer security. But IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a Senate panel Tuesday that a data breach reported last month involving the accounts of 104,000 taxpayers is an example of "a perfectly good security mechanism ... being overtaken by events."

Read more
13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:33 am
Tue June 2, 2015

When Robots Run


Originally published on Tue June 2, 2015 2:57 pm

They are coming. It's just a matter of time — and the time is likely shorter than most of us imagine.

I'm talking about robots.

Read more
The Record
11:02 am
Tue June 2, 2015

Would You Like To Hear A Song, Dave?

Over time, Aether's Cone speaker uses an algorithm to learn the taste of its owner, and offers time- and location-specific recommendations.
Photo illustration Photos via NASA and courtesy of Aether

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 3:44 pm

Late one Saturday morning last December, after a couple months using my Aether Cone, the "thinking" speaker played David Bowie's "Changes." I pressed the soft button in the center of the sleek, chrome-plated player, and out came the swaggering piano and sharp blast of sax. "Oh yeah," cooed Bowie. "That'll do just fine," I thought, walking away from the wireless speaker sitting on the desk in my bedroom in order to do a few chores.

Read more
6:23 am
Tue June 2, 2015

The Quantified Student: An App That Predicts GPA

Scientists have developed an app that tracks how much time students spend sleeping, working out, studying or partying.
Sally Anscombe Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 9:49 am

It sees you when you're sleeping ... it knows when you're awake ... it knows if you've been hitting the books, so be good for goodness' sake!

No, it's not Santa Claus. It's the digital Jiminy Cricket each of us carries in our pocket, otherwise known as a smartphone.

In a small experiment, researchers at Dartmouth College have shown that data automatically collected by an Android app can guess how students are spending their time — predicting their end-of-term grades with scary accuracy.

Read more
All Tech Considered
5:14 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Getting 'Physical' And Emotional In Virtual Reality

Robert Gordon and Amy Jones try a virtual reality experiment with NPR's Aarti Shahani.
Courtesy of AltspaceVR

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 10:46 pm

If you think about virtual reality, you probably think of it as the place where gamers don an Oculus headset and go shoot up enemies in 3-D or travel space. Virtual reality is not a place people go to just hang out and socialize. Now, Silicon Valley is trying to change that.

NPR invited a few couples to meet up in a new virtual world. And it turns out things can get real — in a bad way. Feelings can get hurt.

Virtual Reality Feels Physical

Read more