Alex Goldmark

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Episode 763: BOTUS

Apr 7, 2017

All across Wall Street, humans are being replaced by computers. Even the people who make decisions about which stocks to buy and sell are being replaced by computer programs, by bots.

To understand what goes on inside a stock-picking bot, we at Planet Money built our own.

Bots are cheaper than stock-picking humans. They're less emotional and more disciplined. They can process more information at once. They are doing things like scanning social media for consumer trends and counting the number of cars parked in Wal-Mart parking lots, then using that to trade.

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence has ordered all lobbyists to be removed from the Trump transition team. After some initial stumbles, the team is vowing to keep a promise that Trump made while campaigning.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

The team at Planet Money set out to buy 100 barrels of crude oil right from the source, and then follow it from ground to gas tank.

After a little cajoling, Jason Bruns, a part-time preacher, part-time oil man in southern Kansas, agreed to pump us some oil from one of his wells in a cow pasture.

When do you get to actually touch crude oil? Never. It's silky, like shampoo. Don't try this at home kids.

In 2011, Lariat Alhassan had a business in Abuja, Nigeria. Larclux Paint was the name. She sold house paint. And industrial paint. Textured paint. Paint that fills in cracks in your walls. It was a paint company. But a really small one.

"The employee I had was just me. I was the production manager. I was the marketer. I was delivery person. I was everything," says Alhassan, laughing. "Except the security."

That was the company. A woman in her late 20s and a security guard watching over a factory space she rented to make the paint.

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