Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is a Tech Reporter on NPR's Business Desk. Based in Silicon Valley, it's her job to cover the biggest companies on earth. In her reporting, she works to pinpoint how economies and human relationships are being radically redefined by the tech sector.

Shahani has an unconventional path. Journalism is her second career. Before it, she was a community organizer in her native New York City, helping prisoners and families being deported from the U.S. She loves learning from brilliant, intense people — be they the engineers who are building self-driving cars, or the jailhouse lawyers filing laser-sharp habeas petitions.

Shahani received a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, with generous support from the University and the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowship. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. Her reporting has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award.

She finds Northern California to be a beautiful and jarring place — and she hopes one day to understand its many contradictions.

Uber has grown into a global phenomenon with a flexible labor system in which drivers are treated as independent contractors. Increasingly, that system is under attack.

Just this week Seattle passed a historic law to allow Uber drivers, and other drivers on contract, to unionize. And it turns out, according to legal experts, the local law has teeth.

The camera on your smartphone is powerful. You use it to record your baby's first steps. Take a panorama shot or selfies at the Taj Mahal. Every day, we're finding new uses.

And recently, a startup in Silicon Valley realized: That camera on the phone could be used by people who are blind, to get help seeing remotely. The company Be My Eyes has created a novel kind of volunteer opportunity on the Internet.

Yahoo is changing course in its efforts to sell shares in another company. The tech giant's goal is to avoid a big tax bill.

Yahoo has a 15 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Yahoo wants to sell that stake, which is worth about $32 billion, for two reasons: one, to get a bunch of cash, which it can give to investors who are hungry for a return; and two, because those shares arguably overshadow the rest of the business, making investors undervalue what Yahoo itself brings to the table.

Two tech startups you know have now gone public: Square (which makes the little white square to swipe credit cards) and Match, the online dating giant. Both companies got nice, first-day pops to their share prices as they started selling for well above the initial price. But interestingly, those initial prices were set low.

Really low.

Square was planning to price somewhere between $11 and $13 a share, which, analysts say, is already pretty cheap. But then, the company went even lower, settling for just $9. That's really, really cheap.

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If you travel for work — and you're tired of living out of a suitcase, renting rooms and sharing bathrooms with grungy roommates — there's a man in Austin, Texas, who has a possible solution. Call it a long shot. But basically, he's building tiny self-contained apartments that move when you do.

Jeff Wilson gives me a tour of the first prototype. He's the mastermind behind the Kasita ("little home" in Spanish — only with a "k" instead of a "c").

The latest clash in the cybersecurity vs. privacy debate played itself out in Congress on Tuesday when the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. Supporters say the bill, approved 74-21, will help stop hackers by getting companies that have been breached to share information about the embarrassing attack with federal law enforcement. The House passed its version in April.

Lawmakers want to know more about Volkswagen's massive cheat — how the automaker used software to crank up the power on a vehicle, and then hide the fact. By now everyone's heard of the VW emissions cheating scandal. But less discussed are the many products on the Internet that let you do, in essence, the same thing.

Dieselgate did not happen in a vacuum. There's an entire market — called the performance tuning market — that helps car owners to game the system.

Tens of thousands of cars that drive themselves are about to hit the streets. Sort of. Last year, the electric carmaker Tesla started putting cameras and sensors into its Model S vehicles — making it possible, one day, for the devices to become the driver's eyes, ears and even hands. And today is the day.

The way Tesla has chosen to deliver this feature to car owners is peculiar, but let's start with what self-driving even means.

Amazon is firing yet another shot at a competitor. This time it's a mega-artisanal shot, at Etsy — the popular craft site. The e-commerce giant on Thursday launched Handmade, a new marketplace for, well, handmade goods. This could be wonderful news for the artisan movement, or terrible news for Etsy, its staunchest supporter to date.

Valerie Nethery got a message out of the blue, from Amazon. "They emailed me directly. I'm not sure how they found me."

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And it's time for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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A gunman in Virginia murdered two television journalists, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as they conducted a live on-air interview on Wednesday. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanagan, apparently had a camera.

Flanagan didn't just want to shoot the victims. He wanted to film himself in the act of committing murder.

Here's an awkward situation. You're in Hawaii with your spouse, vacationing. And you find out you've been exposed as part of an adultery website. Your email is in the Ashley Madison data that hackers leaked. This is precisely the situation in which Casey Corcoran found himself.

An Awkward Moment

Over the weekend, Corcoran and his wife were in a hotel room overlooking the ocean. It was about 6:30 p.m.

Here's an experience some of us have had. The phone rings. You pick it up and say "Hello. Hello. Helloooo." But nobody answers.

It turns out there could be someone on the other end of the line: an automated computer system that's calling your number — and tens of thousands of others — to build a list of humans to target for theft.

Build A List

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop Security, a company in Atlanta that detects phone fraud, says that in any number of ways, the criminal ring gets your 10 digits and loads them into an automated system.

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Google is restructuring. In a blog post today, CEO Larry Page announced a new firm called Alphabet. Alphabet will become the parent company atop all of Google's many ventures. NPR tech reporter Aarti Shahani joins us now to explain. Hi, Aarti.

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Cars have become computers on wheels. Crash the computer, and you could crash the car.

Two hackers decided they wanted to try doing that with a car that's considered pretty strong in terms of software, not just hardware. They chose the Tesla Model S. And — guess what — they broke in. But that's not the surprising part. The surprising part is how Tesla responded.

The Hack

This post was updated at 4:14 p.m. ET.

Google is making big promises to fix its Android operating system. The company recently came under sharp criticism after researchers found a major flaw in Android would let hackers take over smartphones, with just a text message.

The continent of Africa has long been seen as the place where humanitarian aid and World Bank loans go — to attempt to save lives or to dictate how countries should grow.

Now there's a new movement underway — a technology movement. Young entrepreneurs from the continent are protesting the old ways by launching startups that, they say, will put Africans in the driver's seat. But not everyone agrees that technology is the solution to Africa's problems.

Android is the most popular mobile operating system on Earth: About 80 percent of smartphones run on it. And, according to mobile security experts at the firm Zimperium, there's a gaping hole in the software — one that would let hackers break into someone's phone and take over, just by knowing the phone's number.

Just A Text

Long gone are the days when you could pass off all your computer issues to an expert — IT support or the broadband 1-800 number. Today, in this always-connected, mobile world, regular people find themselves in a challenging situation.

On our own, we have to manage security on our devices, patch software and update passwords. And according to a new survey by Google, we're not prioritizing well.

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