Bias of Facial Recognition, the App Store, & What is a Contested Convention?

Apr 1, 2016

Facial recognition software is now everywhere - in airports, stores, on our gadgets and on social media. The goal is improving security and improving public safety, but along with our growing dependency on biometrics comes a problem: not all faces are treated equally. Today, the inherent bias of facial recognition software.

Plus, are we at the end of the app bubble? We'll hear why, less than ten years after the app store launched, small and medium sized developers are getting squeezed out. 

Listen to the full show. 

The Bias of Facial Recognition

There is little doubt that facial recognition software is going to play a large role in the technological landscape of the future. It's already in use by law enforcement, by social media platforms, and in personal gadgets like digital cameras. 

Increasingly, facial recognition and other biometrics are also being considered as replacements for the increasingly outmoded written password.  But this software, thus far, has had some very disconcerting side effects, and not everybody is getting recognized equally.

Rose Eveleth is host of the podcast Flash Forward, and a contributor to Vice, where she wrote about the inherent bias of facial recognition software

Life Cycles in the App Store

Remember when the App Store came online in 2008?  Back then, a smart phone was a blank slate - and the app store was a strange new world of easy-to-download possibilities. There were practical apps for getting the news or finding movie times at your local theater - there were novelty ones, like the virtual koi pond app, or that one turned your phone into a lightsaber. 

It was a brand new marketplace - where any developer with a good idea and a knack for writing code could carve out a niche and make it big. But all that is changing. Casey Newton is the Silicon Valley editor at The Verge. He recently wrote about how app fatigue and a crowded marketplace for developers are shrinking opportunities and profits on the app store.

Related: Life and Death in the App Store

What is a Contested Convention?

 As the wins stack up for Donald Trump, so does the possibility of a contested - or brokered - convention. Fellow GOP candidate John Kasich welcomes it, asking, "...can you think of anything cooler than a convention where we're going to learn about how America works?"

It turns out that many Americans can think of much cooler things...because not many of us know what a brokered convention is.  Political scientist Seth Masket, joins us to explain. He's an associate professor at the University of Denver.

From Frogs to Wands of Destiny

Walk into any pharmacy or drug store today, and you'll find products on the shelves that, one-hundred years ago, people could only dream of. This story is from the podcast Mother and was produced by Anne Noyes Saini and Amy Gastelum. It explains the strange origin of a simple product that often produces anxiety - but is nevertheless something we now take for granted and is part of the STEM Story Project - distributed by PRX and made possible with funds from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org.     

Why Coke is Buying Into Designer Milk

Got milk? How about filtered, high-protein, low-sugar, lactose-free milk? With soda sales sliding downward, beverage colossus Coca-Cola is betting that designer milk could become a billion-dollar brand.  Bloomberg news reporters Shruti Singh and Jennifer Kaplan looked into Coke's new venture. Shruti Singh joins us to tell us more about it.

Related: Coke Thinks Designer Milk Could Be a Billion-Dollar Brand