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Tech Week: The New U.S. CTO, Silk Road 2.0, Amazon Echoes Siri

Megan Smith (left) is the new U.S. chief technology officer. We profiled her on <em>Morning Edition</em> this week.
Ariel Zambelich
Megan Smith (left) is the new U.S. chief technology officer. We profiled her on Morning Edition this week.

Happy weekend, folks. Here's our weekly roundup of the headlines in tech, from NPR and beyond.


Ms. Smith Goes To Washington: In our profile of the new U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, she talks about unconscious bias, how she fell in love with science and how being in tech over the past few decades as changed her.

Amazon Introduces Echo: The e-commerce giant's answer to Siri is Echo, a contextually aware virtual personal assistant that looks like a cylindrical speaker that you place in your home. You say "Alexa" before asking it a question about your schedule, instructing her to play music or to search something on the Web. (And the "Alexa" promotion has already inspired a parody...)

Talk To The Animals: Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a dog harness, equipped with speakers and vibrating motors, that could be used in search and rescue or to improve dog training.

The Big Conversation

Silk Road 2.0 Goes Down: The original Silk Road went down after the FBI captured "Dread Pirate Roberts," a.k.a. Ross Ulbricht, who officials believe is the mastermind behind it and is currently in jail awaiting trial. The FBI seized the latest Silk Road this week, and according to Ars Technica, had been selling $8 million worth of drugs each month. Arrests in connection with underground online markets extended to 16 European countries.

No To Net Neutrality Hybrid: Demonstrators in two dozen American cities rallied against a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission that could allow Internet service providers to charge for paid "fast lanes" to their consumers. In Philadelphia, our member station WHYY reports about 30 protesters showed up at Comcast headquarters, with one sign reading "The lions are at the door."


The Awl: Sympathy for the Nerd

What does it mean to be a nerd, really? A touching piece on the breadth of nerds, and of human alienation.

Quartz: This Week's Top New iPhone App Is Helping Kids Cheat On Math Homework

I'm torn between thinking, "Yikes, this is terribly dishonest" and "Why wasn't this around when I was a kid?" You point your phone camera at an equation, the PhotoMath app solves the problem for you and gives you the step-by-step process on how to solve it.

The Washington Post: The controversial GPS device that helped police catch an alleged abductor

A GPS device planted in the suspect's car by the dealership that sold him the vehicle helped police find the man and his alleged victim, a woman whose abduction in Philadelphia was caught on surveillance video. The dealership had installed the GPS device because of his poor credit.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.