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If Then

Slate

If Then: is a show about technology, society, and power. Each week, Slate‘s April Glaser and Will Oremus take you on a lively tour of the tech news that actually matters, from fake news in your Facebook feed to the algorithms that want your job to the Uber drivers who want a job with benefits. With news-making interviews of key tech-industry figures, fascinating academics, and top tech journalists, they explore not only how the technology that’s shaping our world works, but the ideas, ideologies, incentives, and biases that underlie it. And guess what: They don’t always agree.

If Then: is a show about technology, society, and power. Each week, Slate‘s April Glaser and Will Oremus take you on a lively tour of the tech news that actually matters, from fake news in your Facebook feed to the algorithms that want your job to the Uber drivers who want a job with benefits. With news-making interviews of key tech-industry figures, fascinating academics, and top tech journalists, they explore not only how the technology that’s shaping our world works, but the ideas, ideologies, incentives, and biases that underlie it. And guess what: They don’t always agree.
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United States

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Slate

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If Then: is a show about technology, society, and power. Each week, Slate‘s April Glaser and Will Oremus take you on a lively tour of the tech news that actually matters, from fake news in your Facebook feed to the algorithms that want your job to the Uber drivers who want a job with benefits. With news-making interviews of key tech-industry figures, fascinating academics, and top tech journalists, they explore not only how the technology that’s shaping our world works, but the ideas, ideologies, incentives, and biases that underlie it. And guess what: They don’t always agree.

Language:

English


Episodes

Breaking Away From Google

9/18/2019
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Host Aaron Mak discusses with journalist Nithin Coca his attempt to abstain from using any Google products in his daily life. They discuss why he did it, the useful alternatives he found for specific apps, the quirks of using different tools abroad, and the surprising benefits he found in starting over. They also speculate on whether or not a normal consumer could sustainably do the same thing, and what that means for the state of the industry. After the interview, host Aaron Mak joins...

Duration:00:41:49

The Case For The Vape

9/11/2019
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Host Shannon Palus discusses how today’s vaping panic is connected to the rise of the cigarette with Jacob Grier, author of the new book The Rediscovery of Tobacco: Smoking, Vaping, and the Creative Destruction of the Cigarette. Grier argues for a nuanced view of tobacco and nicotine’s place in America, and just how much parents should worry if their teen comes home with a Juul. They’ll also discuss why Sweden’s solution for tobacco risk reduction serves as an enviable model. After the...

Duration:00:36:06

Inside Uber

9/4/2019
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New York Times technology reporter Mike Issac discusses his new book Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber, which traces Uber’s rapid rise and fall under co-founder Travis Kalanick. He and host Aaron Mak talk about Uber’s fraught relationship with the media, how public perception of the company enabled one of its competitors to stave off extinction, the necessary paranoia required to investigate the company, and how Kalanick’s particular style of leadership helped transform transportation around...

Duration:00:36:22

Cosmetic Gene Editing Gone Awry

8/28/2019
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Host Shannon Palus explores a future in which high school girls stay atop the social hierarchy by editing their genes, giving themselves purple eyes, and glittery skin. That’s what fiction author E. Lily Yu imagines 2060 is like in her short story, Zero In Babel, which was published on Slate as part of the Future Tense Fiction Series. Shannon and producer Cameron Drews read and excerpt of the story, and then Shannon speaks to Yu about her creative process. After the interview Aaron Mak...

Duration:00:39:19

When Your DNA is Public Information

8/21/2019
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Aaron Mak learns about how law enforcement is using public genealogy websites to crack cold cases. His guest is Nila Bala, Associate Director of Criminal Justice Policy at the R Street Institute, which is a think tank whose mission is to find solutions to complex policy problems. Bala is also a former public defender. She says while it’s great that criminals are being brought to justice, there should be more rules in place to limit false positives and prevent privacy violations. After the...

Duration:00:37:18

The Allure of Smart Guns

8/14/2019
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In this episode Shannon Palus learns about personalized guns, sometimes referred to as “smart” guns. Her guest is Cassandra Crifasi, Deputy Director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy & Research. More specifically, Crifasi is an epidemiologist focused on policies, procedures, and practices that prevent injury. She says personalized firearms are great for keeping kids and thieves away from guns, but they do nothing to prevent homicides and suicides by gun owners themselves. After...

Duration:00:35:13

China’s Cyber War Against Hong Kong

8/7/2019
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In this episode Aaron Mak learns about all the ways China is using cyber warfare to disrupt the efforts of protesters in Hong Kong. His guest is Nick Frisch, a fellow at Yale’s Information Society Project and a scholar of media and technology in the Chinese speaking world. Frisch was recently in Hong Kong as a fellow at the Journalism and Media Studies Center at Hong Kong University. After the interview, Shannon Palus joins the show for this week’s edition of Don’t Close My Tabs.

Duration:00:31:34

Chemists Spill the Science of Skincare

7/31/2019
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In this episode Shannon Palus talks to Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu, co-founders of Chemist Confessions. Their goal is to help us all cut through the marketing buzzwords of the skincare industry, and understand some of the actual chemistry behind the products we use. After the interview, Aaron Mak joins the show for this week’s edition of Don’t Close My Tabs.

Duration:00:34:17

Why Facebook Can’t Just Create a Currency

7/24/2019
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In this episode Aaron Mak looks into Facebook’s plan to create a global cryptocurrency called Libra. For an expert opinion, he turns to Chris Brummer, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center and the host of the podcast Fintech Beat. Brummer testified before the U.S. House of Representatives last week to explain why Facebook is jumping the gun with its proposal. After the interview, Shannon Palus joins the show for this week’s edition of Don’t Close My Tabs. Slate Plus...

Duration:00:35:05

Prime Day Comes but Once a Year

7/17/2019
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In this episode, Shannon Palus talks about the journalistic ethics of Amazon affiliate links with Jacqui Cheng, former Editor-in-Chief of Wirecutter and current Editor-in-Chief of Music at WQXR in New York. As Cheng explains, it’s possible for news organizations to make money from Amazon links without turning into a shill for a giant company. After the interview, Shannon talks to Aaron Mak for this week’s edition of Don’t Close My tabs.

Duration:00:27:54

ICE’s Reckless Use of Facial Recognition Tech

7/10/2019
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In this episode, Aaron Mak talks about federal law enforcement's use of facial recognition technology with Jake Laperruque. He’s Senior Counsel at The Constitution Project, which is part of the Project on Government Oversight. According to The Washington Post, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and FBI officials have been partnering with state DMVs to scan through millions of drivers license photos. Jake explains the civil liberties implications of the practice and suggests...

Duration:00:32:55

Healthcare via Video Chat

7/3/2019
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In this episode, Shannon Palus explores the growing telehealth industry, where doctors and patients connect via video chat or sometimes just a secure message system. To figure out the benefits and potential drawbacks of telehealth, Shannon talks to Roy Schoenberg, president and CEO of American Well, one of the first big players in the space. Then Shannon talks to Slate writer Aaron Mak in this week’s edition of Don’t Close My Tabs.

Duration:00:36:55

When Tech Journalism Took A Critical Turn

6/26/2019
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In this episode, April Glaser catches up with her former co-host Will Oremus. Then the two of them are joined by Future Tense editor Torie Bosch and New York Times opinion writer Farhad Manjoo to discuss why tech journalism has become far more critical in recent years. Plus, April and Will discuss futuristic science fiction scenarios on this week’s edition of Don’t Close My Tabs.

Duration:00:44:17

When a Scooter Makes More Sense Than a Car

6/19/2019
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In this episode, guest host Henry Grabar looks at how Zillow is trying to disrupt the real estate business—and why it might work in some cities but not others. Then Horace Dediu answers Henry’s questions about bikes, scooters, and other miniature contraptions that might replace the automobile in cities.

Duration:00:33:46

How Driverless Cars Will Actually Work

6/13/2019
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In this episode April Glaser talks to Chris Urmson, CEO of Aurora, a company that builds the technology for self-driving cars. Urmson offers a timeline for when we might see autonomous vehicles on the road and lists the different hurdles the industry still needs to overcome. According to Urmson, driverless cars shouldn’t require a lot of extra infrastructure or government funding. Instead, they should work within our existing system.

Duration:00:26:28

Re-Up: Senator Mark Warner

6/5/2019
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In this episode, April Glaser revisits an interview with Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who released a policy paper proposing possible regulations for U.S. social media and technology companies. In the interview, April and her former co-host Will Oremus talk to Senator Warner about what worries him most about the largely unregulated tech industry, which can’t seem to keep our data private and stop muddying our elections. They also ask him what he...

Duration:00:26:29

Luxury Bunkers for the End of the World

5/29/2019
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In this episode April Glaser is joined by Max Read, an editor and writer at New York Magazine who writes the column Life in Pixels. First, April and Max talk to Patri Friedman, founder of the Seasteading Institute, which he started in 2008 with seed funding from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Seasteading is the process of forming new societies on the open ocean, and it’s getting a lot of attention from Silicon Valley. Then Robert Vicino joins the show to talk about his company, Vivos,...

Duration:00:41:26

Why It’s So Hard to Live in California

5/22/2019
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In this episode April Glaser is joined by co-host Kim-Mai Cutler, a partner at Initialized Capital, an early-stage venture firm. She’s also a former full-time journalist at TechCrunch. First, April and Kim-Mai discuss the lack of affordable housing in California and the political battles that are hindering progress. Then they talk about the upcoming wildfire season with Faith Kearns from the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lizzie Johnson from the...

Duration:00:46:46

Designing a Better Facebook

5/15/2019
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In this episode, April Glaser is joined by guest co-host Max Read, an editor at New York magazine who covers technology and the internet. First, April and Max talk about Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes’ apostasy. Last week, Hughes wrote a long op-ed in the New York Times about why he thinks the company that made him so wealthy should be broken up. Then Katherine Lo joins the hosts to discuss how Facebook’s redesign will change how we communicate on the platform. These days she leads the...

Duration:00:34:57

Cyberspace Didn’t Stay Free

5/8/2019
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In this episode April Glaser is joined once again by guest co-host Meredith Broussard, a data journalism professor at NYU and author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. First, historian Mar Hicks joins the show to talk about the tech industry’s long-time aversion to organized labor and how that’s clashing with recent worker actions at major tech companies like Google and Uber. Then Alexis Madrigal joins the hosts to talk about his recent piece in the...

Duration:00:42:20