Robot or Not?

Robot or Not?

www.theincomparable.com/robot
John Siracusa educates Jason Snell about what is, and what is not, a robot.
103: Pizza
Apr 17 • 11 min
You have left Pizza Country. - John weighs in on what makes something a pizza, including the horror of the Turkey Dinner Pizza. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
102: Sandwiches
Apr 3 • 8 min
What is a sandwich? - Exploring what makes a sandwich, while also discussing the history of food, sandwiches as satire, and the difference between llamas and camels. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
101: Supervillains
Mar 20 • 10 min
How super is my villain? - John helps Jason figure out the precise moment when a villain becomes a supervillain. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
100: The Robot
Mar 6 • 2 min
At long last… the end? - Your hosts return to where it all began and then prepare to set out for new horizons. (Robot or Not will return in two weeks with a new series of episodes.) Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
99: Your Hosts
Feb 27 • 2 min
John Siracusa and Jason Snell themselves. - Are John and Jason robots? All will be revealed! Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
98: Human Beings
Feb 20 • 2 min
Us - Could it be? Are we all robots? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
97: Captchas
Feb 13 • 0 min
Fill in the blank. - What does a robot do when it gets to a web page with a checkbox that says “I’m not a robot”? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
96: The Gate at Jabba’s Palace
Feb 6 • 2 min
Gatekeeper droid or door? - The gate at Jabba’s palace in “Return of the Jedi” talks to droids, or has something inside it that talks to droids. So is it a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
95: Autonomous Sailboats
Jan 30 • 5 min
Roomba of the Sea? - They roam the ocean, scanning for important data and relaying their information home. There are no humans on board. Are these lonely sea voyagers robots? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
94: Shardik
Jan 23 • 4 min
A monster from the Dark Tower - The robotic guardian of the Beams. He looks like a bear but has a satellite dish on his head. He’s a thousand years old. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
93: Nintendo R.O.B.
Jan 16 • 2 min
Nintendo’s Robotic Operating Buddy - Game controller, robot, or total embarrassment? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
92: Pronunciation
Jan 9 • 3 min
Robutt or not? - ˈrōˌbät or rōbət? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
91: Naked Robotic Core
Jan 2 • 5 min
iPhone, Unadorned - An unadorned iPhone can be a Naked Robotic Core, but is it a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
90: Mechagodzilla
Dec 26, 2016 • 1 min
John loves him. - Look who was under the tree! It’s a giant mechanical monster! Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
89: Battlebots
Dec 19, 2016 • 1 min
They fight! - Among the fiercest creatures in the machine kingdom are the Battlebots. They’re designed for fighting! But are they really robots, or is that just a clever marketing name? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
88: School Babies and CPR Dummies
Dec 12, 2016 • 1 min
Educational toys or robots? - High school students carry them around and learn what it’s like to be a parent. Or you learn how to revive them by pressing their chest and breathing into their mouths. But are these learning tools also educational robots?…
87: K5 Mall Robot
Dec 5, 2016 • 3 min
Does it follow Asimov’s laws? - It patrols the mall. Sometimes it knocks over small children. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
86: The Hosts of “Westworld”
Nov 28, 2016 • 6 min
It’s in the brain! - The HBO series “Westworld” makes us contemplate whether its central characters, the Hosts, are robots or not. (We recorded this episode after the first seven episodes of season one had aired; forgive us if it was revealed later that…
85: The Bicentennial Man
Nov 21, 2016 • 4 min
Robin Williams, Isaac Asimov, and Grobycs! - A robot slowly turns himself human. When does he stop being a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
84: Metal Mario
Nov 14, 2016 • 1 min
Do metal men dream of robot sheep? - Sometimes Mario is metallic. Does that make him a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
83: Kayaks
Nov 7, 2016 • 1 min
They have paddles. - They are boats with paddles. What else are they? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
82: The Borg
Oct 31, 2016 • 6 min
You will be assimilated. - Straight out of “Star Trek” come these technological villains. Also, we discuss larger issues including AIs and hive minds. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
81: The Energizer Bunny
Oct 24, 2016 • 1 min
Nothing outlasts the Energizer - It just keeps going, and going, and going…. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
80: Tachikoma and Fuchikoma
Oct 17, 2016 • 2 min
They’re adorable… - Little cute robots from “Ghost in the Shell.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
79: SpaceX
Oct 10, 2016 • 6 min
Robots (or not) in space! - Self-guided rockets and drone barges. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
78: Hot Dogs
Oct 3, 2016 • 1 min
Sandwich or Not, part 2 - They’re sure tasty, and it’s meat between bread, but are hot dogs sandwiches? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
77: Daft Punk
Sep 26, 2016 • 1 min
DJs or not? - They sure look like robots. But who’s under the masks? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
76: Animals in “Blade Runner”
Sep 19, 2016 • 2 min
How do you like our owl? - The owl and the snake from “Blade Runner” raise some interesting questions. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
75: Bubo
Sep 12, 2016 • 3 min
A little metal owl from “Clash of the Titans.” Crafted by the gods, can he possibly be a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
74: Gort
Sep 5, 2016 • 5 min
She’s a real woman, Jim. - The robot from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, plus a long digression into Star Trek androids. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
73: Cartoons
Aug 29, 2016 • 2 min
Synonym or not? - Is all animation “cartoons”? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
72: Robots from “Castle in the Sky” and “The Iron Giant”
Aug 22, 2016 • 2 min
Two animation robots. - Two beloved metal creatures from animation. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
71: RoboCop
Aug 15, 2016 • 2 min
RoboCop - That “Robo” prefix is sure interesting, and he’s probably a cop, but… Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
70: The Robots of “Futurama”
Aug 8, 2016 • 5 min
So many robots. - Bender, Calculon, and Hedonismbot. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
69: Tron
Aug 1, 2016 • 1 min
Lightcycles are cool. - He fights for the users inside a computer. Can software people be robots? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
68: Canadarm
Jul 25, 2016 • 1 min
Oh, Canada! - A fancy “robot arm” from Canada. But when is a robot arm just an arm, and when is it a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
67: Silicone Stingray
Jul 18, 2016 • 3 min
Timely episode! - Part animal, part machine. But is it a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
66: Traffic lights in South Africa
Jul 11, 2016 • 1 min
Listener David, thanks - Please obey robot. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
65: Serena Williams
Jul 4, 2016 • 8 min
Tennis or not? - It’s Wimbledon time, and so our discussion turns to tennis, and Serena Williams—who is not a robot, despite her perhaps wishing she was. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
64: Rossum’s Universal Robots
Jun 27, 2016 • 2 min
R.U.R. - Karel Capek’s play that made this podcast possible. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
63: Animatronic Creatures
Jun 20, 2016 • 1 min
Charles E. Cheese Esquire - The Country Bears, Chuck E. Cheese, and the things from Five Nights at Freddy’s. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
62b: Filesystems and Flowerpot Robots
Jun 18, 2016 • 3 min
Our first live episode - Live from RelayCon WWDC 2016, it’s a special live edition of Robot or Not. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell with Myke Hurley.
62: General Grievous
Jun 13, 2016 • 2 min
Cough, cough - He’s a droid with a cough. So what’s the deal? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
61: Elevators
Jun 6, 2016 • 3 min
Yes, we said elevators - They go up, they go down. They might even go sideways from time to time. And they can be smart. But are they robots? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
60: Inspector Gadget
May 30, 2016 • 2 min
What if penny met a dinosaur? - Go go Gadget! Also we get off on a tangent about Penny, inspired by The Flop House. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
59: The Doctor from “Star Trek: Voyager”
May 23, 2016 • 2 min
Hologram or not - Please state the nature of the medical emergency. Can a hologram be a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
58: Synths
May 16, 2016 • 3 min
From the AMC TV series “Humans,” the lifelike Synths look like humans but don’t act like it. And they bleed a funny color. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
57: Baymax
May 9, 2016 • 6 min
“Big Hero 6” - He’s an inflatable, medical robot from “Big Hero 6”—but can you back up your personality and still be a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
56: The Incomparable’s Logo
May 2, 2016 • 1 min
You know, that robot - Our own robot (or not) is in the spotlight at last. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
55: The Tin Woodman
Apr 25, 2016 • 3 min
You know, from “The Wizard of Oz” - If he only had a heart. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
54: T-1000
Apr 18, 2016 • 4 min
“Terminator 2” - It’s made of liquid metal. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
53: Tamagotchi
Apr 11, 2016 • 1 min
Feed me, or I die! - Is it even a game? What if you had a video game that featured a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
52: The Robots of “Destiny”
Apr 4, 2016 • 6 min
“Destiny” - From Bungie’s bestselling video game, Ghosts, Exos, Rasputin, and other things that might be robots. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
51: Lego Simulated Worm Toy
Mar 28, 2016 • 5 min
A software model of a flatworm, piloting a Lego Mindstorms toy. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
50: The Matrix
Mar 21, 2016 • 3 min
Hello, Mr. Anderson. - Agents and Oracles and Architects from the “Matrix” trilogy. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
49: Chatbots
Mar 14, 2016 • 3 min
In IRC, on AOL, and elsewhere - They listen to us and talk back. But is that enough? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
48: Replicants
Mar 7, 2016 • 7 min
“Blade Runner” - Roy Batty, Pris, and all the rest. They’ve seen the Tannhauser Gate, but are they robots? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
47: Thomas and Friends
Feb 29, 2016 • 3 min
Confusion and delay in Sodor - Living rail cars in Sodor. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
46: Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo
Feb 22, 2016 • 2 min
MST3K bots - The bots from “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
45: Nanobots
Feb 15, 2016 • 6 min
Very tiny machines - Enter the realm of the very, very tiny as John and Jason ponder if size matters when it comes to whether something is a robot or not. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
44: The Internet of Things
Feb 8, 2016 • 2 min
Bruce Schneier’s metaphor - Security expert Bruce Schneier said the Internet of Things was a robot, but what does John think? You can probably guess. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
43: Daleks and Cybermen
Feb 1, 2016 • 5 min
Doctor Who monsters - Two enemies wrapped in metal shells from “Doctor Who” face their ultimate foe—the judgment of John Siracusa. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
42: Prince Robot IV
Jan 25, 2016 • 2 min
“Saga” - It’s right there in the name of this character from the acclaimed comic book “Saga,” but as we’ve learned, names can be misleading. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
41: Burritos
Jan 18, 2016 • 1 min
Sandwich or Not? - This one seems to have gotten in by mistake. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
40: Swimming Pool Cleaners
Jan 11, 2016 • 3 min
C-3PO’s toaster oven - Things that clean your swimming pool: are they Roombas or just dumb hoses? Also, if a toaster can’t be a robot, can a robot be a toaster? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
39: Cars (from “Cars”)
Jan 4, 2016 • 1 min
So who made the cars? And where are they? - If the cars in Pixar’s “Cars” movies aren’t cars, what are they, and where did they come from? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
38: Podcasts
Dec 28, 2015 • 0 min
Are you listening to a robot? - Just in time for the holidays, some existential questions. Also, could a robot be on a podcast? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
37: Clockwork Droids
Dec 21, 2015 • 3 min
The Reverse Cybog Posit - Doctor Who’s clockwork repair droids (from the episodes “Girl in the Fireplace” and “Deep Breath”) come under scrutiny. Sure, they start out as robots, but do they become something else..? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
36: Iron Man, Ultron, and Vision
Dec 14, 2015 • 4 min
Marvel movie robots or not - From the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and specifically “Iron Man 3” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” deep robot-or-not questions about Iron Man’s suits, Ultron, and the Vision. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
35: Herbie The Love Bug
Dec 7, 2015 • 2 min
Herbie is full of love - A Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of his own! Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
34: Aperture Science
Nov 30, 2015 • 4 min
Portal and Portal 2 - GlaDOS, Wheatley, turrets, cubes, spheres and more. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
33: Vicki from “Small Wonder”
Nov 23, 2015 • 2 min
“Small Wonder” - She’s a small wonder, pretty and bright with soft curls. She’s a small wonder, a girl unlike other girls. She’s a miracle, and I grant you She’ll enchant you at her sight. She’s a small wonder, and she’ll make your heart take flight.…
32: Lobot
Nov 16, 2015 • 1 min
…or not - Cloud City’s majordomo from “The Empire Strikes Back” is in the spotlight. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
31: robots.txt
Nov 9, 2015 • 1 min
What’s in that Skype window? - It’s right there in the name, but what about the things that connect to it? And what about when Merlin talks about putting things “in the robot”? We need answers, John! Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
30: Twiki and Dr. Theopolis
Nov 2, 2015 • 6 min
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - We take you back to the days of “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” to debate the show’s two artificial sidekicks. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
29: Johnny 5
Oct 26, 2015 • 1 min
He’s alive! - That little guy from “Short Circuit.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
28: The TARDIS
Oct 19, 2015 • 4 min
They’re not built, they’re grown - The blue box from “Doctor Who” might be sentient, might be alive, but is it a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
27: V’ger
Oct 12, 2015 • 9 min
Star Trek: The Motion Picture - V’ger and the Ilia probe, both from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. Also, John complains about fake skin on androids. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
26: Cylons
Oct 5, 2015 • 9 min
Battlestar Galactica - The metal robots (and their fleshy successors) from the old and new “Battlestar Galactica.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
25: Home Appliances
Sep 28, 2015 • 3 min
Conceptual toaster questions - What would a toaster have to do in order to be a robot? This episode introduces Siracusa’s Law, which somehow involves kitchen countertops. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
24: Sasquatch
Sep 21, 2015 • 6 min
The Six Million Dollar Man - The bigfoot/sasquatch from “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
23: Space Probes
Sep 14, 2015 • 3 min
Doubles! - From golf carts on Mars to New Horizons flying past Pluto, these are impressive machines, but are they robots? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
22: Hitchbot
Sep 7, 2015 • 1 min
Dressed up like a ghost - He tried to hitch his way across the country, but was dismembered in Philadelphia. Image by archier on Flickr. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
21: Droids
Aug 31, 2015 • 6 min
The ethics of Star Wars sentience - Are droids robots? Do they have rights? Is the Empire based on a robo-slave economy? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
20: Pinocchio
Aug 24, 2015 • 4 min
Robots versus magic - Are we seriously talking about magic here? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
19: Marvin the Paranoid Android
Aug 17, 2015 • 2 min
Life… don’t talk to me about life - Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with! Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
18: Commander Data
Aug 10, 2015 • 6 min
Androids and Robots - Is an android a robot? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
17: The Terminator
Aug 3, 2015 • 3 min
I’ll be back - I know now why you humans cry. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
16: Siri
Jul 27, 2015 • 0 min
What about Jason’s iPhone? - So-called intelligent agents. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
15: The Major
Jul 20, 2015 • 2 min
Human brains, mechanical bodies - From “Ghost in the Shell,” a human brain in a mechanical body. And what about uploaded brains and bodies? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
14: Jaegers
Jul 13, 2015 • 4 min
Big robots with little people inside - Big robots with people inside, as seen in “Shogun Warriors” and “Pacific Rim.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
13: Transformers
Jul 7, 2015 • 3 min
Robots in disguise? - Like the song says. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
12: USS Enterprise
Jul 2, 2015 • 3 min
Hello, Computer! - The main computer of the USS Enterprise. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
11: KITT
Jun 29, 2015 • 6 min
Knight Rider - The “Knight Rider” car is cool, but is it a robot? What about KITT’s evil twin, KARR? Also, the dark pre-history of Pixar’s “Cars.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
10: ASIMO
Jun 25, 2015 • 2 min
Toy robots - Honda’s ASIMO, Sony’s AIBO, and other cute things that can do The Robot dance. Also, our Radio Shack memories. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
9: Assembly-Line Robots
Jun 22, 2015 • 3 min
Titans of industry - Look for the union label. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
8: Roomba
Jun 19, 2015 • 3 min
The lowest possible form of robot? - Does a self-guided vacuum cleaner cross John’s minimum bar for a robot? And what does that have to do with ants and dogs? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
7: Telepresence Robots
Jun 15, 2015 • 0 min
Skype isn’t a robot - They’re funny, but are they robots? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
6: Self-Driving Cars
Jun 10, 2015 • 5 min
Are they robots or marketing? - Pondering sentient Google cars, Johnny Cab, and autopilots. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
5: Emotions
Jun 4, 2015 • 0 min
Love and other robots - The greatest prog rock album ever made. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
4: K-9
Jun 2, 2015 • 2 min
Tin dogs - John and Jason try to understand robot dogs. Plus, a trip through old “Doctor Who” episodes. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
3: Darth Vader
May 29, 2015 • 2 min
Cyborgs and Sith Lords - Cyborgs and robots and humans—how do we tell these things apart? Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
2: Service Kiosks
May 25, 2015 • 4 min
Supermarket self check-out and ATMs - John’s position on supermarket self-checkout machines, Jason’s need for beer when he visits his in-laws, and whether attaching arms to things makes them robots. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
1: Mr. Roboto
May 22, 2015 • 5 min
Domo Arigato - We explain why we’re here, and then discuss the protagonist of Styx’s 1983 album “Kilroy Was Here.” Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.
0: Origin
Apr 7, 2015 • 6 min
How it all started. - A flashback to past podcasts, as a way of explaining why this podcast exists. Host John Siracusa and Jason Snell.