Topic: Technology

Current Event January 22, 2021

Debate: Is Big Tech Too Big?

Technology politics

Following the attack on the U.S. Capitol, big tech companies have taken action. Facebook and Twitter shut down the social media accounts of thousands of people involved in the attack, including President Trump, who has been impeached for inciting insurrection. Some say big tech companies have grown too powerful, and should not be able to restrict speech or business transactions. Others point out that private companies have the right to make and enforce their own rules for participation on their sites. Listen to learn more about the power of online giants and then debate: Is big tech too big?

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Current Event January 21, 2021

Teen Develops Diabetes Management App

Technology Health

A teen diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes created an app to help himself and others manage the disease. Thirteen-year-old Drew Mendelow felt overwhelmed by all the data he had to keep track of as a diabetes patient, like food intake and blood sugar levels. He designed an app to help him, and he’s sharing it with as many other patients as he can. Listen to hear how a teen entrepreneur took action to manage his illness and help others, and learn why one medical professional thinks his efforts will make a positive difference.

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Current Event January 8, 2021

Debate: Will Deepfakes Change How People View Media?

Politics Technology Media

A deepfake is a piece of audio or video that has been manipulated to represent something that never actually happened. Created using advanced technology, deepfakes often look and sound so real that it is easy to be fooled by them. Many people worry that deepfakes will cause damage by spreading false information so widely that the truth will be lost. Some are concerned that deepfakes will erode people’s trust in the media, causing them to dismiss truth as fiction. Listen to learn more about media manipulation and then debate: Will deepfakes change how people view media?

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Current Event December 4, 2020

Debate: Should Broadband Access Be a Universal Right?

Technology Education Native Americans

Americans living in rural areas often have little or no access to high-speed internet, also called broadband. Broadband is used for many everyday activities and essential tasks, including remote learning. Some argue that access to broadband is a basic need, and the government should supply it to every American household, just as it provides access to electricity and clean water. Ensuring that broadband reaches the remotest corners of the country would require a major investment of time, effort, and money, competing with other funding priorities. Listen to people from rural areas describe the challenges of remote learning without broadband, and then debate: Should broadband access be a universal right?

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Current Event November 25, 2020

Rescue Jet Suit

Technology Transportation

When mountain hikers get in trouble, it can take time for first responders to reach them. With jet suits, however, paramedics can fly to the rescue, arriving in just seconds and potentially saving lives. People wearing jet suits have a jet engine and turbines strapped to their bodies that lift them into the air. Listen to hear the inventor of jet suits describe how it feels to fly, and learn how one company tested the new technology to see how well it worked.

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Current Event November 1, 2020

Weird News: Monkey Selfies

Technology Animals

Listen to hear about a monkey who took selfies on a stolen phone.

Vocabulary: mischievous, culprit

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Current Event October 19, 2020

The Rise of Private Militias

Technology Violence U.S. Constitution

The actions of armed anti-government groups, often calling themselves “militias,” are gaining attention in the U.S. One such group was recently accused of plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan. Militant groups sometimes claim the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which calls for “a well-regulated militia,” protects their right to exist. But are private militias really legal? Listen to learn whether armed anti-government groups can operate legally in the U.S. and how social media platforms help them thrive.

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Current Event October 13, 2020

Disinformation Campaigns Foreign and Domestic

Politics Technology

Russia is trying to meddle in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, just as it did in 2016, through disinformation campaigns on social media. This year, experts say it is easier because foreign actors need only repeat falsehoods being circulated by Americans, including the current administration, which has questioned the integrity of the U.S. election process without supporting evidence. This has the effect of eroding voter confidence in democratic institutions and processes and encouraging actual interference with those processes. Listen to learn which tactics foreign adversaries are using to influence the 2020 election and how American national security experts and technology companies are trying to combat them.

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Current Event October 9, 2020

Debate: Should TikTok Be Banned in the U.S.?

Technology Culture International

A judge recently blocked President Trump’s order to ban all U.S. downloads of the video sharing app TikTok, which is currently owned by a Chinese company. Trump views the app as a national security threat, saying that the data it collects from American users may be accessible to the Chinese government. Defenders of the app say no evidence exists that the Chinese government could access American TikTok data, which is housed in the U.S. Listen to learn more about the controversy surrounding TikTok and then debate: Should TikTok be banned in the U.S.?

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Current Event October 4, 2020

Weird News: World's Oldest Gamer

Technology Media

Listen to hear about a 90-year-old gamer who broke a Guinness World Record.

Vocabulary: veteran, longevity

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Current Event September 18, 2020

Debate: Should Texts Include Punctuation?

Technology Language

Text messaging is changing the way people are using punctuation to express themselves. Some feel that periods at the end of texts can indicate seriousness or even anger. Others believe that writing sentences without periods is an insult to their teachers. Not everyone uses punctuation in the same way, and a period at the end of a text can easily be misinterpreted. Listen to hear a variety of reactions to texts ending with periods then debate: Should texts include punctuation?

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Science

Artificial Intelligence

Technology AI

What is artificial intelligence? How does it differ from other computer programs? Currently, artificial intelligence is being used to help people in many ways, such as detecting when and where earthquakes will occur before they happen, determining how to slow down the spread of disease, and outlining the best way to get relief to people after a disaster. However, artificial intelligence is a developing field with ever-expanding applications. Listen to hear more about what artificial intelligence is, how it has developed over time, and how it can be used to help people.

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Current Event July 19, 2020

Weird News: Space Chess

Technology Culture International

Listen to hear about two astronauts in space playing chess with an expert on Earth.

Vocabulary: versus, draw, anniversary

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Current Event June 28, 2020

Weird News: Bull Causes Power Outage

Technology Animals

Listen to hear about how a bull caused a Scottish town to lose power.

Vocabulary: culprit, suspect, oblivious

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Current Event June 21, 2020

Weird News: Robot Dog Enforces Social Distancing

Technology Animals

Listen to hear about how a robot dog in a Singapore park reminds people to practice social distancing.

Vocabulary: instruct, patrol, enforce

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Current Event May 17, 2020

Weird News: Robotic Baseball Fans

Technology Sports

Listen to hear about why one baseball team is using robots to fill stadiums this season.

Vocabulary: robotic, mannequin

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Current Event May 13, 2020

Discovering Neanderthal String

Technology Human Origins

A recent discovery indicates that our prehistoric relatives may have been smarter than previously thought. A team of paleo-anthropologists, scientists who study the origins of early humans and their relatives, found a bit of string on a prehistoric tool. This artifact offers evidence that Neanderthals had developed an important technology for survival. Listen to learn how Neanderthals made string and why the find is changing views of their intelligence.

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Current Event May 8, 2020

Debate: Should Surveillance Technology Be Used for Contact Tracing?

Technology Health Law International

Governments around the world are using surveillance technology to help keep citizens safe from the spread of the coronavirus. Collecting cell phone location data can help officials implement some of the most effective tools for containing the virus, including contact tracing. In some countries, however, the government’s use of personal data to track people’s movements is raising privacy concerns. Listen to learn how three different countries are tracking personal data to fight the pandemic and then debate: Should surveillance technology be used for contact tracing?

This audio story was recorded in late April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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