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Why Harnessing AI Could Define The Next Big Era In Tech

John Locher
A set of mirrors show different images and angles in a parallel reality experience at the Delta Air Lines booth during the CES tech show, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 in Las Vegas.


On today's program: How President Trump’s trade deal could affect PA; cyber security experts are looking for protection from Iranian attacks; a proposed EPA rule could limit public policy materials; APM’s Molly Wood talks about Pittsburgh’s shot as a tech hub; and a local exhibit explores Andy Warhol's complex relationship with Catholicism.

Trump administration inks an initial trade deal with China
(00:00 — 8:45) 

 President Donald Trump and China’s top trade negotiator Vice Premier Liu He shook hands over a trade deal Wednesday in what’s been referred to as phase one in the talks between the two countries. Trump agreed to relax some of the tariffs he imposed on Chinese imports. In exchange, Beijing has agreed to buy $200 billion in American products and services.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Daniel Moore says the deal reopens doors for American farmers that rely on the Chinese markets to sell their products. 

Can Iran execute a successful cyber attack?
(10:11 — 17:49) 

Recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran have the cybersecurity community concerned about a potential cyber response from the Iranian government. WPSU’s Min Xian spoke with Peter Forster, a professor of security and risk analysis and International Relations at Penn State, about what organizations can do to protect themselves

EPA could change how public policy is developed
(17:51 — 21:51) 

Word leakeda few weeks ago that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may soon finalize a rule to limit the types of scientific studies that can be used to create new regulations on only those with publicly available data. 

The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant reports the proposal, named “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” would require public health researchers to release their raw data for anyone to analyze.

Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood is coming to Pittsburgh
(21:52 — 34:00)

If the 2000s were about the rise of the internet and the 2010s were about software—how we learned to use that technology—then Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood says the 2020s will be all about artificial intelligence.

"This is the point where we are going to take all of the data that we have been collecting over the past two decades, almost without realizing it, and try to use it to make predictions, to create efficiencies," she says. Will it work? Will it be as flawed and biased as the humans who created it? Can the promise deliver all we've been told it would? Wood says, "I think this is the decade we figure that out."

Fresh from CES in Las Vegas, Wood tells 90.5 WESA's Megan Harris about her impressions of the latest trends and gadgets soon to hit the shelves—although most, she says, are still waiting on 5G, which Wood estimates could still be a decade in the making.

She’s sharing the stage with WESA and a panel of local experts and entrepreneurs on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Carnegie Science Center to discuss Pittsburgh’s role in the future of tech innovation. Tickets are available here.

The “secret piety” of Andy Warhol
(34:05 — 38:55)

There isn’t much consensus about who Andy Warhol the person was, despite a trove of artwork and hours of interviews with those who knew him. An exhibit at The Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side takes a look at one aspect of Warhol’s identity outside of his art: his religion. 

Andy Warhol: Revelation” explores the artist's Byzantine Catholic upbringing and how it influenced both his public and private life. 90.5 WESA's Bill O'Driscoll shares his impressions of the collection, which is on display through Feb. 16.

90.5 WESA’s Caldwell Holden and Caroline Bourque contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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