279 episodes

WIRED’s Gadget Lab podcast breaks down which gadgets, apps, and services you need to know about, and which ones you can move to the virtual trash bin. Learn how today’s tech shapes our lives—plus get your hosts’ personal recommendations at the end of each episode.

Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News from WIRED WIRED

    • Technology
    • 4.5 • 2 Ratings

WIRED’s Gadget Lab podcast breaks down which gadgets, apps, and services you need to know about, and which ones you can move to the virtual trash bin. Learn how today’s tech shapes our lives—plus get your hosts’ personal recommendations at the end of each episode.

    The Blurred Reality of Human-Washing

    The Blurred Reality of Human-Washing

    Voice assistants have become a constant presence in our lives. Maybe you talk to Alexa or Gemini or Siri to ask a question or to perform a task. Maybe you have to do a little back and forth with a voice bot whenever you call your pharmacy, or when you book a service appointment at your car dealership. You may even get frustrated and start pleading with the robot on the other end of the line to connect you with a real human.That’s the catch, though: These voice bots are starting to sound a lot more like actual humans, with emotions in their voice, little ticks and giggles in between phrases, and the occasional flirty aside. Today’s voice-powered chatbots are blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not, which prompts a complicated ethical question: Can you trust a bot that insists it’s actually human?This week, Lauren Goode tells us about her recent news story on a bot that was easily tricked into lying and saying it was a human. And WIRED senior writer Paresh Dave tells us how AI watchdogs and government regulators are trying to prevent natural-sounding chatbots from misrepresenting themselves.Show Notes:Read more about the Bland AI chatbot, which lied and said it was human. Read Will Kight’s story about researchers’ warnings of the manipulative power of emotionally expressive chatbots.Recommendations:Lauren recommends The Bee Sting by Paul Murray. (Again.) Paresh recommends subscribing to your great local journalism newsletter or Substack to stay informed on important local issues. Mike recommends Winter Journal, a memoir by Paul Auster.Paresh Dave can be found on social media @peard33. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

    • 26 min
    Semaglutide for the People

    Semaglutide for the People

    Ozempic has been hailed as a miracle drug. It is the most well known of the GLP-1 medications, a class of drugs that can help regulate appetite, digestion, and blood sugar—and help those suffering from obesity or diabetes lose weight. Naturally, these drugs are very much in demand. But now there is a shortage of Ozempic and other GLP-1s, which has led to a swell of clones that purport to offer the same benefits and the same key ingredient, semaglutide, at lower prices. These clone drugs are easy to procure from telehealth providers, even if a buyer needs to lie about themselves a little bit to buy them.In this brave new weight-loss world, we're still coming to grips with how these drugs fit into our society. Part of that journey is the continued study about how GLP-1 drugs work—much of how they affect us is still unknown—and the continued debate about how much we should regulate and control their use.This week on Gadget Lab, we talk with WIRED writers Kate Knibbs and Emily Mullin about how GLP-1 medications like Ozempic work and what happens when they don’t. We also talk about the current drug shortage and how that may get resolved.Show Notes:Read Kate’s story about buying cloned Ozempic online. Read Emily’s story about how Ozempic doesn’t work for everyone. Read all the stories in WIRED’s The Age of Ozempic series.Recommendations:Emily recommends staying cool this summer however you can. Kate recommends the HBO series John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti. Mike recommends buying a used 35-mm film camera and shooting some rolls to flex your creativity.Kate Knibbs can be found on social media @Knibbs. Emily Mullin is @emilylmullin. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

    • 28 min
    Thinking About Buying a Hybrid Car? Listen Up

    Thinking About Buying a Hybrid Car? Listen Up

    Back in March, the US Environmental Protection Agency finalized a long in the works rule requiring automakers here to dramatically increase the number of battery-powered vehicles they’re putting on the roads. The government has mandated that by 2032, more than half of new cars sold must be electric. There are some caveats, namely that plug-in hybrid cars will fulfill the federal requirements for what a “battery-powered” vehicle is. This has led to a flood of hybrid cars hitting the market. This week, we talk about what this means for people who are considering buying a new car now, or in the next few years. We explain the differences between plug-in hybrids, full hybrids, and electrics, and we tell you what your options are if you live in an apartment without a convenient place to plug in your car while it’s parked. We are joined this week by WIRED staff writer Aarian Marshall, who breaks down the facts, shatters the myths, and turns us all into hybrid car experts.This episode originally aired on April 2, 2024. Read the transcript.Show Notes:Read Aarian’s story about the new US emissions rules. Also read her story about automakers struggling to hit their US sales targets for electric cars.Recommendations:Aarian recommends going to one of those baseball games where you also bring your dog. (They let you run the bases!) Mike recommends The New York Trilogy by novelist Paul Auster, who died this week at 77. Lauren recommends The Lights, the newest book of poetry and prose by Ben Lerner.Aarian Marshall can be found on social media @aarianmarshall. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

    • 30 min
    The Rise and Fall of Juul

    The Rise and Fall of Juul

    Even if you’ve never taken a puff from a vape in your life, you know about Juul. At the company’s peak in 2018, its e-cigarette was one of the most recognizable consumer devices on the planet, and Juul Labs was worth $38 billion. Just a few short years later, after being squeezed by government regulators and prohibition-minded anti-tobacco advocates, Juul’s valuation plummeted and its market share vaporized.The story of Juul—and its thousands of imitators—is outlined in Backfired: The Vaping Wars, a new nine-part podcast from Prologue Projects. The show traces the history of e-cigarettes, nicotine vaporizers, and synthetic nicotine by following the paths of Juul and its thousands of competitors as the vape companies gain public acceptance, fight for market share, and butt heads with government agencies. It’s a fascinating ride filled with new reporting, so even if you’ve read and listened to everything about Juul and vaping, you’ll hear some shocking new information in this series.This week on Gadget Lab, we talk with Backfired’s hosts, Arielle Pardes and Leon Neyfakh. Show Notes:Backfired is an Audible original, so go to audible.com/backfired to listen. Also check out Louise Matsakis’ story about the next generation of cheap, illegal vapes coming from China.Recommendations:Arielle recommends Timeshifter’s Jet Lag App. Leon recommends the Yoto Player for getting kids into podcasts. Lauren recommends The Bee Sting, by Paul Murray. Mike recommends Subpar Pool, a game by Holedown creator Martin Jonasson.Arielle Pardes can be found on social media @pardesoteric. Leon Neyfakh is @leoncrawl. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

    • 39 min
    Good Search Borrows, Great Search … Steals?

    Good Search Borrows, Great Search … Steals?

    Web crawling—the act of indexing information across the internet—has been around for decades. It has primarily been used by search engines like Google and nonprofits like Internet Archive and Common Crawl to catalog the contents of the open internet and make it searchable. Until recently, the practice of web crawling has rarely been seen as controversial, as websites depended on the process as a way for people to find their content. But now crawling tech has been subsumed by the great AI-ening of everything, and is being used by companies like Google and Perplexity AI to absorb whole articles that are fed into their summarizing machines.This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior writer Kate Knibbs joins the show to talk about web crawling and the controversy over Common Crawl. Then we talk with Forbes’ chief content officer and editor Randall Lane about how Perplexity.AI repurposed a Forbes article and presented it as its own story, without first asking permission or properly citing the source.Show Notes:Read Kate’s story about how publishers are going after Common Crawl over AI training data. Read Randall’s story about how Preplexity.AI copied the work of two Forbes reporters.Recommendations:Randall recommends his new horse racing league, the National Thoroughbred League. Kate recommends the book Victim by Andrew Boryga. Lauren recommends the show Hacks on Max.Randall Lane can be found on social media @RandallLane. Kate Knibbs is @Knibbs. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

    • 32 min
    Thinking Different About Apple AI

    Thinking Different About Apple AI

    This week, Apple executives used the keynote address of the company’s annual developers conference to debut all of the artificial intelligence capabilities that are coming to iPhones, iPads, and Macs. The team showed off how generative tools will help users write emails, clean up iPhone photos, illustrate presentations, and make custom emoji characters. Adding AI to everything is par for the course in 2024, as all of the big tech companies have been loading up their software with similar generative features. But Apple is late to this particular party. The company has been perceived as being “behind” in generative AI, since OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, and a whole bunch of startups have already made massive inroads. But is Apple really behind? And what makes Apple’s AI—cheekily named Apple Intelligence—different?This week, we welcome WIRED senior writer Will Knight back onto the show to talk about Apple Intelligence, the new Siri, and how Apple is trying to differentiate itself in the AI race.Show Notes:Read Will’s new story about Apple Intelligence’s launch, and his news analysis piece on how Apple will need to make sure its AI doesn’t disappoint, annoy, or offend iPhone users. Read Boone Ashworth’s roundup of everything Apple announced at WWDC. Lauren tells us why Apple’s AI play is also its best shot at getting you to upgrade your iPhone. Julian Chokkattu has a comprehensive overview of all the AI features coming to iOS. Read all of our WWDC coverage.Recommendations:Will recommends the AutoGen multi-agent conversational framework. Mike recommends Klean Kanteen’s Rise Food Box. Lauren recommends the Lunya washable silk sleep mask. Will Knight can be found on X @willknight. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

    • 42 min

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