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Amazon and Marketplace Team Up to Make People Smart

Lindsay

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Today, Marketplace launched its first Amazon Alexa skill, Make Me Smart from Marketplace,™ to deliver unique, on-demand voice content exclusively for Alexa users with new content every weekday.

With an Amazon Echo nearby, once the skill is enabled, listeners can ask “Alexa, make me smart!” to hear Marketplace’s Make Me Smart podcast hosts Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood explain what you need to know about the economy, pop culture, tech and current events – from inflation rates, to how 5G works, why we have a 40-hour work week, and even what happened to the $1,000 bill.

Deborah Clark, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Marketplace, shared a statement about the collaboration in a press release.

“Thirty years’ expertise and sophistication in the audio industry has positioned Marketplace to deliver cross platform content on innovative platforms, that reaches new audiences outside of our 14.8 million loyal public radio fans. The launch of this skill is a testament to how Marketplace has evolved from a suite of public radio broadcast shows to a multiplatform enterprise, focused on using our unique voice and storytelling approach to raise the economic intelligence of the country.”

Listeners can also submit specific questions to Kai and Molly by saying, “Alexa, tell Make Me Smart I have an idea,” or by saying “I have an idea” while using the skill. Marketplace will review submissions for the chance to be included in daily content.

Sitara Nieves, Executive Director of On Demand at Marketplace, echoed Clark’s excitement.

“We wanted to take advantage of the unique benefits of this platform rather than simply repurpose content we’re already airing elsewhere. The skill features smart, timely information and explains why it matters for every member of our economy each day.”

To try Make Me Smart from Marketplace™ on your Amazon Echo, once it’s enabled, simply ask, “Alexa, make me smart” to hear what you need to know – and why it matters.

 

Do you have an Amazon Echo? What do you use to listen to podcasts? Tell us in the comments!

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Uber to Roll Out New Safety Features

Lindsay

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Uber is doing more to keep riders [and their public image] safe.

The ride-sharing company has announced they will now send an alert to remind consumers to verify the vehicle and driver information before riding. After booking a ride, riders will receive an alert notification from the app asking them to verify the car make, model, and license plate number. The alert will also remind them to verify the driver’s name and appearance matches the driver name and picture listed in the app. Uber will also begin posting safety reminders within the app as well.

“In the app, when you’ve ordered your Uber and it’s on the way, you will get more persistent, more frequent push notifications to your phone that remind you to check your ride.” – Tony West, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer

This news comes on the heels of building public backlash about the company’s current safety measures. Three riders have filed a lawsuit against Uber for negligence after individuals posing as fake drivers raped their passengers, and a 2018 CNN investigation found “at least 103 Uber drivers in the United States had been accessed of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the previous four years.”

Earlier this month, Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina, was murdered after entering a vehicle she mistook for her Uber. Josephson’s family has launched WhatsMyName.org, a website that educates riders on safety precautions, and a subsequent #WhatsMyName hashtag on social media. Representatives have also introduced the “Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act” bill in the South Carolina Legislature. The bill would require all transportation network companies (TNC) to “possess and display certain illuminated signage at all times when the TNC driver is active.”

 

 

Uber filed their IPO, set to be the largest in history with a potential $100 billion evaluation, earlier this month.

 

Are you a fan of ride-sharing companies? Do you think this controversy will affect Uber’s IPO? Tell us in the comments!

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XPRIZE Awards $1 Million ‘Moonshot Award’ to Team SpaceIL

Chris

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XPRIZE announced it will recognize SpaceIL’s achievement with a $1 million Moonshot Award for its successful entry into lunar orbit and for its attempt to land on the lunar surface – both of which are “firsts” for a privately-funded entity, marking a new era in space exploration.

SpaceIL’s robotic lander, Beresheet, Hebrew for “Genesis,” came very close to touching down on the Moon yesterday, but ultimately failed to soft-land during its final descent. As it prepared for landing, Beresheet experienced a main engine failure and lost communication with mission control in Tel Aviv, suggesting the lander crashed into the surface.

“SpaceIL’s mission not only touched the Moon, it touched the lives and hearts of an entire world that was watching,” said Peter H. Diamandis, executive chairman and founder of XPRIZE. “The legacy SpaceIL will have on the future of the space industry is significant. This team’s ability to build a lunar lander for $100 million and less than 50 engineers is remarkable, a leap forward towards affordable and accessible space exploration. Congratulations to Morris Kahn, their primary benefactor, and the entire SpaceIL team for all their accomplishments — we are so proud.”

SpaceIL was founded in 2011 by Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub, in order to compete in the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE. In 2015, SpaceIL became the first team to announce a launch contract, and they launched for the Moon on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on February 21, 2019.

“As a testament to the team’s passion and persistence, we are presenting this $1 Million Moonshot Award to the SpaceIL team at our annual Visioneering Summit in October 2019, with the hope that they will use these funds as seed money towards their education outreach or Beresheet 2.0, a second attempt to fulfill the mission,” said Anousheh Ansari, chief executive officer of XPRIZE. “We are so proud and humbled to have served as the catalyst for this mission, not just to further private space exploration, but to increase access to education, career opportunities, and role models in this field, something that is very much in line with the values of the XPRIZE Foundation.”

The Moonshot Award, inspired by SpaceIL, was created to recognize an XPRIZE team achieving a “moonshot” technological feat outside the parameters or timeframe of an XPRIZE competition, with the funds coming directly from the XPRIZE Foundation. Future Moonshot Awards will be considered in other domains, recognizing both literal and figurative moonshots.

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