Rosie from the Jetsons, R2-D2 from Star Wars, and the Terminator—here in America, our understanding of robots has been built around what we see on the big screen. But as scientists and technology companies begin developing robots and incorporating robotics technologies into our every day lives, will our Hollywood understanding ring true in reality? Erik Sofge contributes to Popular Science and writes about science fiction for Slate. He explains how Hollywood has driven our perception of robots, and how far off it is from reality.
What if you didn’t have to ever eat to get all the nutrition you need? This dream of never having to deal with the hassle of "food" is what inspired Rob Rhinehart to create a grayish, macro-nutirtious cocktail called Soylent which he concocts in an ex-garment factory outside Los Angeles. About 20,000 customers have placed pre-orders of the stuff, and more than $2 million in orders will be shipped in early March. Rhinehart explains why in the future, everyone will eat Soylent.
Today the New York Department of Financial Services begins its first of two days of hearings on digital currencies like Bitcoin. Charlie Herman, economics editor for WNYC, discusses how today's hearings could change our understanding of virtual currency. While Bitcoin may be on the rise, the currencies in emerging markets are on the decline. Gillian Tett, assistant managing editor and columnist at The Financial Times, predicted the early months of 2014 would bring this sort of turbulence.
Last week, we discussed this piece of common advice given to young people: "Do what you love." It sounds very simple: Follow your passion, and the money will follow. But is that always the case? Our conversation about following your dreams sparked a lot of discussion. To explore this issue in greater depth, The Takeaway hears from Jey Born and his wife Betsy Thorleifson. Together they discuss how they are making a team effort as a couple to do what they love.
It's become popular to insist that the key to a successful career is to simply "follow your bliss" straight into a profession that you're truly passionate about. For most people, is it really practical to do what you love? And if it's not, why are we giving this advice to our young people? Miya Tokumitsu, holds a Ph.D in art history. Her recent essay in Jacobin magazine breaks down why being told to "do what you love" isn't necessarily sound advice.
Central to the Syrian peace talks is the question of how the international community should deal with President Bashar al-Assad, particularly as the evidence of war crimes continues to mount. Bente Scheller, author of "The Wisdom of Syria's Waiting Game: Foreign Policy Under the Assads," puts these talks into historical context. Marine Olivesi, a freelance reporter for PRI's The World, explores why the Free Syrian Army is no longer fighting with just Bashar al-Assad.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced a new bill that takes up some of the issues identified in the Supreme Court’s June decision in Shelby Counter v. Holder. Joining The Takeaway to explain the aspects of the new bill are Erin O’Brien, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent, who has been following the politics behind the proposed update to the Voting Rights Act.
Wealth can be a tool for investment, for development and even for change. But wealth can also be an end in itself—becoming an addiction. That was the case for Sam Polk, a former hedge fund manager. In his last year on Wall Street, Polk earned a $3.6 million bonus. He felt it wasn't enough. Today, Polk explores why Americans love and possibly have an addiction to money.
Older Americans are increasingly shunning retirement to start companies. Liz DiMarco Weinmann is 61-years-old and started Dare Force Corporation, which helps women over 40 to start new careers. Susan Price is 54-years-old and was laid off in 2008. Losing her job prompted her to go back to school for an MBA. She now works full-time and has also started her own side-business as a career coach. Together these two women explain how they made their career transitions and what the process was really like.
After seven weeks of negotiations, America's nuclear talks with Iran are reaching a critical phase. If all goes well, Iran will get $7 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for agreeing to roll back its nuclear program. But much to President Barack Obama’s consternation, the Senate is considering new Iranian sanctions. P.J. Crowley, a former State Department spokesperson and a professor at George Washington University, examines the power struggle between the White House and the Senate.
The idea of standardized service for electricity and for railroads, along with the notion of "a common carrier," was once something new—and rare. In the case of railroads, establishing train lines as "common carriers" set the stage for massive transformations. It's something Edmund Phelps, economics professor at Columbia University and winner of the 2006 Nobel prize in economics, thinks brought in one of the most innovative eras of American history—a time we stand to learn a few lessons from.
Al Qaeda flags now fly over Fallujah and Ramadi, two of the major conflict zones for American troops throughout the Iraq War. For U.S. veterans who fought in the region, that news is hard to hear. Marine Michael Zacchea suffered severe injuries in a fire-fight in 2004 during what is known as the second battle of Fallujah. Benjamin Busch served two combat tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps infantry officer. David Retske is a former UAV pilot who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. Together they reflect on Al Qaeda's resurgence.
One of the biggest challenges in American cinema has been bringing the stories of war to the civilian big screen. "Lone Survivor" is a new film by director Peter Berg that attempts to bring the story of a mission gone wrong in Afghanistan to a civilian audience. Donna Axelson's son, Matt, was one of the SEAL team members killed in the mission. She discusses what it was like to see her son portrayed on film and shares her thoughts on how and why filmmakers should attempt to bring the realities of war to a civilian screen.
In the annals of Jersey political history, in the myths and stories explored so well by the likes of Tony Soprano and Nucky Thompson, how does the Chris Christie Administration compare? "I am embarrassed and humiliated," Governor Christie told reporters on Thursday. The 108 minute press conference was just the start of the Governor's apology tour. Congressman Rush Holt, a Democrat representing New Jersey's twelfth Congressional district, puts Christie's latest scandal into perspective.
A series of traffic jams that took place over the summer in Fort Lee, NJ now appear to have implications for Gov. Chris Christie. Newly released emails show that after Fort Lee’s mayor failed to endorse Christie for re-election, a Christie aide pinged a top official with a simple request: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Gabe Klein, former transportation commissioner for Chicago and Washington D.C., notes that it's not unusual for politicians to meddle with transportation.
The International Monitoring System is the world’s first planetary surveillance network. The system has picked up everything from the sounds of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami to the sounds of whales near the Juan Fernandez islands and much more. Randy Bell, Director of the International Data Centre Division of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), explains how the nuclear detection system has yielded unexpected scientific discoveries.
The song that frames an Olympic figure skater's routine needs to have a variety of tempos. It needs to have emotional resonance and perhaps a little bit of edge. Most importantly, it needs to be something the skater can listen to over and over and over again. As competitors gear up for the 2014 Olympics, Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1992 Olympic Champion in ladies' singles, reflects on the kind of music that brings home medals.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs in computer programming will grow by 12 percent from 2010 to 2020. Soon, we might all have to learn code—whether we want to or not. Manoush Zomorodi of WNYC's New Tech City explains why coding literacy is the way of the future. Ali Blackwell is one of the co-founder's of Decoded, which runs workshops to teach anyone to code. He discusses why coding is so important.
Big news for the world of drones came late last month when the FAA announced that it was authorizing sites in 10 states to carry out drone aircraft testing. One of the sites where testing will take place is Virginia Tech. Jon Greene is Interim Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership which is leading testing for Virginia Tech. He explains how his team is preparing drones for commercial use.
On March 8, 1971, a small group of activists calling themselves the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI staged a break-in of FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania. The files they discovered there revealed that J. Edgar Hoover had authorized the wide-scale surveillance and intimidation of anti-war protesters and other dissident groups. Retro Report producer Bonnie Bertram looks back on that break-in and its consequences.