Monthly Archives: September 2015

Yeast That Make THC, Climate Divestment, and Cliff Diving

Scientists have just proven for the first time that it’s possible to engineer yeast to make THC, arguably the most important chemical in marijuana. But do we want to get high using lab-made drugs when the real thing works so well?

On this week’s Radio Motherboard, we talk about the future of both synthetic drugs and lab-grown natural ones, Senior Editor Brian Merchant tries to make us care about fossil fuel divestment that could save the climate, producer Jaimie Sanchez tells us about cliff diving in Italy, and I talk about why DC’s crypto wars have gotten so exhausting.

Forever War, Superbugs, and an Ultrasound that Controls Your Brain

This week is ALL FRONTS, Motherboard’s deep dive into what a future of forever war looks like. On this episode of Radio Motherboard, we talk about what it means to always be at war and how technology and automation have made it possible to stay in a perpetual state of war.

We also talk about why fast food restaurants are finally moving away from antibiotic-pumped meat, a weird Quebec phenomenon called “pizzaghetti,” and sonogenetics, a newly discovered technique that allows researchers to control neurons using ultrasound. As always, thanks for listening—you can find us on iTunes and we always welcome feedback.

iPhones, Free Money, and Hacking Team

If you’ve been listening to Radio Motherboard the last few months, thank you very much: It’s been a bit of a roller coaster as we try to figure out a format and recording setup that works best for us, and it’s been a blast experimenting.

This week, we’re experimenting again, as we try out a shorter, more segmented format that’s hopefully a bit snappier than some of our more recent episodes. This week, we tackle the iPhone 6S release, talk about whether basic income will ever become a reality, and touch a bit on why reporting on the Hacking Team has been so much fun. We love hearing from our readers and listeners, so tell us if you’re digging the new style or if it’s got you down—we’re available at and on Twitter @motherboard. We’re also available on iTunes here.

Are You a Jerk If You Vacation in Cuba?

If you’re American, it’s easier than ever to go to Cuba, a country that’s remained, mas o menos, off limits for the last 60 years or so. In fact, you can go to, buy a ticket, fill out a couple forms confirming you fit into one of several broad approved categories of person (you probably do), and hop on a flight direct to Havana. But should you?

As we’ve explored in a series of stories over the last couple weeks, Cuba is still very much an island ruled by an authoritarian regime, with nearly all industry and services owned and operated by that regime. There’s little starvation or homelessness on the island, but there’s also very little free expression, internet access, or free flow of information. Overt propaganda is everywhere, and there are neighborhood watch groups specifically designed to inform on people who are “counterrevolutionary.”

And so, if you go to Cuba to sit on a beach, smoke cigars, and drink mojitos, you are ostensibly putting money directly into the pockets of that regime. Maybe that bothers you, maybe it doesn’t. But should it? After spending three weeks reporting in Cuba, I spoke to Jose Luis Martinez of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba about this topic and about the general internet connectivity and technological situation in the country.

Afterwards, Motherboard staffers talk about their biggest work technology gaffes—if you’ve done anything particularly embarrassing, please tweet it my way: @jason_koebler.