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Robots are here to stay: in factories and homes — from real-world battlefields to popular culture. On this archived edition of To the Point, we talk about robotics and the increased interaction of robots with human beings. Also, the Waldorf method from Europe makes an appearance in the schools of China.

Banner image: Baxter with (L) Rodney Brooks, founder of Rethink Robotics, and his partners, Andreas and Josh. Photo: Steve Jurvetson

Caitlin Shamberg
Sonya Geis

EPA Struggles to Craft Obama's Environmental Legacy

"Failure is not an option." So says the association of clean-air agencies about President Obama's promise to use his executive authority when it comes to climate change. The staff of the Environmental Protection Agency is struggling to regulate America's 1500 power plants to impact the environment — and avoid lawsuits. Coral Davenport reports for the New York Times.

Coral Davenport, New York Times (@CoralMDavenport)

The World of Robots -- in Love and War 33 MIN, 43 SEC

Remember Hal? The first conversation between a human being and a robot might well have happened in 1968 in Stanley Kubrick's iconic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now, robots are finding their way into work places, homes and popular culture. Google is buying up robotics firms. Amazon is predicting home deliveries by drone. The recent film Her depicts a romance with an operating system. The interaction of humans and robots has become a serious study. When do they help? When do they get in the way? Who's responsible for their actions?  Do we need a new code of ethics for dealing with robots?

Mike Davin, The Business of Robotics (@BizOfRobotics)
Elizabeth Croft, University of British Columbia (@ecroft)
Kevin Kelly, Wired magazine (@kevin2kelly‎)
Ronald Arkin, Georgia Institute of Technology

Cool Tools

Kevin Kelly

Alternative Education Catches On in China 7 MIN, 39 SEC

For a century, European and American parents looking for an alternative, arts-based education for their children have embraced the principles of Waldorf Schools, developed in 1919 by an obscure Austrian mystic. Now the movement is catching on in a place famous for routine, highly structured learning. After taking power in 1949, China's Communist Government eliminated illiteracy in that vast country -- a historic accomplishment. But now, education is one of the biggest problems facing the country. One consequence is the Chinese Waldorf movement, according to Ian Johnson in this month's New Yorker magazine.

Ian Johnson, journalist and author (@iandenisjohnson)

Wild Grass

Ian Johnson


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