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technology

Flickr Photo/MicrosoftPDC (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8NHryn

Bill Radke talks to the former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer about the results of his data initiative that takes numbers provided by the U.S. government to track everything from demographic shifts to the financial stability of the country. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Flickr Photo/Alessio Jacona (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/EixX1V

"Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?"

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemed taken aback by the question, but eventually stammered out a "No." That delivery was in marked contrast to the smooth admission that his data had been exposed to Cambridge Analytica, along with that of 87 million other Americans. Zuckerberg is the head of the world's most successful tech company - why does he seem to think about privacy differently if it's online?

In the wake of school shootings like Sandy Hook and Parkland, everyone from school officials and parents to first responders and politicians have looked for ways to protect children from gunfire. Now sensor technology originally made for missiles is being put to the test.

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a joint Senate Committee on Wednesday, he led off with a mea culpa. Just a few paragraphs into his opening statement, he took personal responsibility for the disinformation:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Flickr Photo/Alessio Jacona (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/Du4kZU

In the wake of revelations that the data of 87 million users was exposed to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress under oath.

A notoriously awkward public speaker, Zuckerberg’s primary battle may be to “stay on script while keeping his armpits dry,” writes Slate senior technology editor Will Oremus. He joined Marcie Sillman to discuss what we can expect from this week’s hearings, and what Facebook might be afraid of.

Todd Bishop and KUOW's Bill Radke geek out over nausea-free virtual reality in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

You walk briskly into an airport. You're running late. You need to know your departure gate. But that board! That big board with all the flight information that's not your flight. You have to squint and scan while the security line gets longer and longer. Well what if that board only displayed your flight information? And that guy standing behind you? He looks at the board and only sees his flight information.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, turning his back on the camera as we might wish to turn our backs on his network.
Flickr Photo/Alessio Jacona (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/Du4fYm

#DeleteFacebook is trending right now… on Twitter. And that’s part of the problem, says Abby Ohlheiser. She reports on digital culture for the Washington Post, and says that while we wish we could kick our social network habits, the reality is much more complicated than it seems.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

Personal information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the United States — may have been "improperly shared" with Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm used by the Trump campaign that has recently come under fire.

Dan Shefet is an unlikely tech revolutionary. He's not a young math geek who builds driverless cars, nor does he promise to make a tech product for the masses. His crusade is different. The 63-year-old year old Shefet has staged an astonishingly effective campaign in Europe to thwart the torrent of fake news and damaging personal attacks that course through the Internet by taking on the tech giants.

Updated at 3:40 a.m. ET on Wednesday

A woman with an apparent grudge against YouTube for what she claimed was censoring and de-monetizing her videos, opened fire at the video-sharing service's San Bruno, Calif., headquarters, wounding several people before fatally shooting herself, according to police.

Standard Oil depicted as an octopus, parodying its status as a monopoly.
Public Domain

In 1890, the Sherman Act was passed. Its purpose was to preserve a competitive marketplace against potential consumer abuses.

But the law isn't supposed to punish "innocent monopoly," or monopoly achieved by merit alone. So the question is: how innocent is Amazon’s monopoly? 

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

As predicted, China's Tiangong-1 space lab fell from the sky on Sunday evening.

The city bus-sized craft, which almost entirely burned up as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, broke into small pieces as it plummeted over the South Pacific Ocean. The derelict spacecraft has been slowly falling out of its original orbit for several years.

Facebook phone
Flickr Photo/Stock Catalog (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/23qV3ca

Have you deleted your Facebook yet? Last week alarm bells were ringing as we learned about the data Facebook has on us and what they can do with it.

We found out that a British marketing company used Facebook data to build personality profiles of its users. This marketing firm, Cambridge Analytica, would sell that personality profile to politicians like Donald Trump promising that this information could win votes.

But was that ever true? Can Facebook data swing elections? Bill Radke talks with Antonio Garcia Martinez, who helped Facebook figure out how user data can point ads at you.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner displays a pen from the signing ceremony of Washington State's Equal Pay Opportunity Act.
KUOW Photo/Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong

Starbucks claims to have solved the thorny problem of pay equity. At least in their current workforce. At least in the US. And this isn’t a final announcement, just a milestone in an ongoing endeavor…

The #DeleteFacebook movement is putting its money where its mouth is. Since the company's recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook's stock has plunged 18 percent — decimating about $80 billion from the company's total market value, according to a couple of analyses.

China's Tiangong-1 space station may fall from the sky on April 1.

That is not an April Fools' joke. It's a real possibility.

The European Space Agency has narrowed its window for re-entry of the long-abandoned orbiting lab — the current estimate is that it will plunge from orbit in a fiery ball of flame sometime between March 31 to April 2.

But that window is considered "highly variable" and no one is sure yet where exactly it will come down.

The Facebook scandal over misuse of user information has reached a Canadian data analytics company. And a whistleblower says he believes the firm, which has ties to the Trump presidential campaign, may have swayed the U.K.'s 2016 Brexit vote.

Which world would you rather be flying in? (The Astrovision one, clearly.)
Astrovision promotional materials

"When this movie's over, the audience will be halfway across the country."

This is not because they'll have fled the scene. Instead, it's an introduction to Astrovision, American Airlines' 1960s answer to other airlines' dominant single screen. It allowed individual film choice and a view of the skies - with consequences that ranged from the dangerous to the absurd. 

The Democratic attorneys general of Washington and Oregon joined 35 of their colleagues Monday in sending a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The letter demands answers to several questions about Facebook’s privacy policies.

Rachel Ralph works long hours at an accounting firm in Oakland, Calif., and coordinates much of her life via the apps on her phone.

So when she first heard several months ago that she could order her usual brand of birth control pills via an app and have them delivered to her doorstep in a day or two, it seemed perfect. She was working 12-hour days.

"Food was delivered; dinner was often delivered," Ralph says. "Anything I could get sent to my house with little effort — the better."

Sunita Williams wasn't the kind of kid who wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. She wanted to be a veterinarian. But she managed to achieve the former kid's dream job, anyway.

Will private rockets destroy the ozone layer?

Mar 23, 2018
Space-X's Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017.
AP Photo/Matt Hartman

Private space companies like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's Space-X are sending rockets into the upper atmosphere.

Does more activity in space mean more pollution for Earth? That's a concern of listener Laurie McQuaig of Seattle.

She asked us to investigate the issue, so reporter Katherine Banwell took the question to local science and tech expert. Alan Boyle. He says there's no need for concern at the moment — yet.

When President Trump phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election Wednesday, Trump made no mention of one of the latest irritants between Russia and the West — his administration's announcement that Russia successfully hacked the U.S. power grid.

A group of people jog across Lenora Street, on Thursday, October 5, 2017, in front of Amazon's biodomes, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks to Bloomberg's Emily Chang, author of the book "Brotopia: Breaking Up The Boy's Club Of Silicon Valley," and Kristi Coulter, former Amazon employee and writer of the upcoming book "Nothing Good Can Come From This," about how the sometimes misogynistic and aggressive work culture in places like Silicon Valley shuts women out of the booming tech industry. 

Computer technology keyboard
Flickr Photo/Anonymous Account (CC BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1Zj35Hj

Let's travel to the future for a moment and step inside a fish and chips joint for some lunch. Inside - the manager is planning a new promotional campaign. She's thinking of who's coming in, and what they want to eat. And she's doing it using Big Data.

NPR Survey: Still On Facebook, But Worried

Mar 21, 2018

Facebook has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of revelations that election data company Cambridge Analytica accessed the private Facebook data of 50 million users. The social media giant is facing questions from U.S. and British regulators, and withering criticism in the press.

But the scandal is grounded in everyday America — after all, it was the millions of women, men, parents, grandparents, friends and old acquaintances on the site who had their data accessed.

A view from unit 204, Spyglass Hill apartments
Sound West Group

There’s a new way to get rental housing – by bidding against other people on an app. The person who offers to pay the most gets the spot.

Seattle City Council wants none of this. In a setback for tech entrepreneurs trying to disrupt the rental housing market, the Council issued a one-year moratorium on these kinds of rent auction apps.

Online auction apps like Rentberry and Biddwell serve as a sort eBay for rental housing — how much the rent will ultimately cost isn’t known until the deal closes.

A Sony Walkman, belonging to a fictional character named Alex, holds a cassette mix tape.
GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser

Let this segment take you back — WAY back.

We’re in your high school computer class. It's the 1980s: Walkmans in backpacks, satin jackets in lockers, Apple IIe computers running BASIC. Where is this nostalgic wonderland, you ask? 

There aren't very many scientists who achieved rock star status. Stephen Hawking, who has died at the age of 76, family members told British media early Wednesday, was definitely a contender.

Late at night, in the gathered shadows of your bedroom, you may have heard it. Or, perhaps you heard it over breakfast with your family in the kitchen, the sound rising unbidden from over your shoulder in a corner of the room you had thought — and now, desperately wish — to be empty.

Laughter. Quick, inhuman laughter.

At least, that's what Amazon Echo owners say they've been hearing lately. In recent weeks, many of them have hit social media saying their smart speakers have been laughing spontaneously, unprompted by commands.

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