Cover art for podcast Robot or Not?

Robot or Not?

219 EpisodesProduced by John Siracusa and Jason SnellWebsite

Jason Snell asks John Siracusa to rule on the meaning of various words and concepts. It’s not just about robots anymore.Have a question for John? Email robot@theincomparable.com.

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217: Floating Bridge

September 20th, 2021

3:15

Listener Isaac wants us to judge if a certain “floating bridge” is actually a ferry. This leads, of course, to a discussion of infinite bridges and whether a fairy is a ferry in California.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

216: Grocery Robot Swarm

September 7th, 2021

7:43

If robots at a grocery-store warehouse works in tandem, are they robots? If they have a hive mind, are they still robots?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

Show Notes & Links …

215: A Criterion of Data

August 16th, 2021

5:17

Singular or plural?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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214: Religious or Spiritual

August 2nd, 2021

2:03

When you see an org chart and money changes hands, your spirituality has become something else.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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213: Daylight Saving Time

July 19th, 2021

6:24

Should we really spring forward and fall back?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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212: Dishwasher

July 5th, 2021

9:40

When do you run the dishwasher? Do you rinse the dishes first? And wouldn’t it be nice if our dishwashers were robots?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

211: Rules for Watching TV

June 21st, 2021

8:37

Do you always start watching at the beginning? And do you have to watch till the end?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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210: Burrito, Part 2 (Qdoba v. Panera)

June 7th, 2021

4:48

The strange case of the burrito sandwich.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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209: Dog-Shaped Dogs

May 24th, 2021

9:13

What is the shape of a dog?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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208: Self-Driving Cars, Part 2

May 10th, 2021

7:54

Tim Cook thinks that self-driving cars are robots. Does John want to revisit his opinion?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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207: Pandemic Changes (or not)

April 27th, 2021

2:00

Has the pandemic made John reconsider some of his previous rulings? (One guess.)

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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206: Relish

April 5th, 2021

8:01

Not all pickles are pickles, and not all relish is pickle relish.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

Show Notes & Links Branston Pickle

205: Pots and Pans

March 22nd, 2021

4:51

What divides pots from pans?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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204: Peanut Butter

March 8th, 2021

8:47

Chances are pretty good that the peanut butter you eat is terrible.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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203: Bagel Update

February 22nd, 2021

6:24

A very unfortunate bagel on either side of the Atlantic.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

Show Notes & Links …

202: Books

February 8th, 2021

5:26

Is a book a bound, printed collection of pages, or is it something more?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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201: Apocalypse

January 25th, 2021

12:36

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the robot, happy stuff: When does the apocalypse start, and when do we reach post-apocalyptic times?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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200: Microscopic "Robots"

January 11th, 2021

6:36

We celebrate our 200th episode by going back to where it all started—news about whether something is a robot or not. Also, we may have inadvertently …

199: Christmas Special

December 24th, 2020

6:41

In the spirit of the season, we discuss when a Christmas tree is dead. (Thanks to Listener Darran.)

Christmas tree death

John Siracusa and Jason Snell

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198: Soda

December 14th, 2020

3:44

Fizzy water. Is it soda, or pop, or a soft drink, or something else?

(Incomparable members also get a bonus episode about Coca-Cola and cocaine, …

197: Indoors

November 30th, 2020

4:11

When are we indoors and when are we outdoors? And where do tents fit in?

196: Video

November 16th, 2020

4:36

Is a GIF a video? (Incomparable members also get a bonus episode about movie studio logos, released today.)

195: Child

November 2nd, 2020

2:44

When is a child no longer a child?

194: Henge

October 19th, 2020

4:58

When the definition escapes its antecedent.

193: Puppet

October 5th, 2020

3:38

When is it a puppet, and when is it just someone in a suit? And what does this mean for the future of Gritty?

192: Backup Brain

September 21st, 2020

2:46

If we clone your body and transfer your memories to it, is it you?

191: Game

September 7th, 2020

6:36

The universe is Candy Land.

190: Pillow

August 24th, 2020

1:54

You can use this podcast as a pillow, if you like, but it’s still not a pillow.

189: What We're Owed

August 11th, 2020

9:20

When a book series hasn’t completed, what does the author owe us?

188: Reboot

July 27th, 2020

8:01

Beginning in this episode, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto will be portraying John and Jason. Or not.

187: The Cloud

July 13th, 2020

4:11

Is The Cloud just Other People’s Computers? Watch out for Cloud Men!

186: Gum

June 29th, 2020

5:01

Most people aren’t eating light bulbs.

185: Blanket

June 15th, 2020

4:12

Listener James sends us a special message from beneath his blanket.

184: Indie Developer

June 1st, 2020

6:44

What’s an Indie Developer, and is John one now? What does it mean to be “indie?”

183: Slots and Ports

May 18th, 2020

8:59

Is a port a slot? PCMCIA cards have slots, but USB devices have ports. Either way, Jason has to make amends.

182: Working From Home

May 4th, 2020

2:58

Whatever this is called, a lot of us are doing it these days.

181: Camera

April 20th, 2020

4:17

My other car is also a camera.

180: Tabs

April 6th, 2020

10:54

Tabs or spaces? AFTERSHOW: Commas.

179: Grocery Store

March 23rd, 2020

3:21

But what if they also sell shampoo there?

178: Morning

March 9th, 2020

2:29

Morning has broken, like the first… morning?

177: Walking Distance

February 24th, 2020

2:42

It’s within walking distance. How far is that?

176: Swipe Right

February 10th, 2020

2:54

Where does your finger go when you “swipe right”?

175: Beard

January 27th, 2020

4:02

When is it stubble and when is it more?

174: Reading

January 13th, 2020

1:32

It’s fundamental, yes. But is it something you can do with your ears?

173: River

December 30th, 2019

6:01

When is a body of water a river?

172: Soup, Part II

December 16th, 2019

3:27

Is soup a drink? What separates liquids from food?

171: Dish

December 2nd, 2019

2:15

From dish to plate to bowl.

170: City

November 18th, 2019

7:39

Does it all come down to the U.S. Postal Service?

169: Burgers

November 4th, 2019

5:05

And do sliders have to slide?

167: Pet Names

October 7th, 2019

7:57

Can we differentiate between how people name pets and how they name children? Listeners Rover and Whiskers, drop us a line.

166: Smart Devices

September 23rd, 2019

4:46

Where do we draw the line between a regular device and a “smart” device?

165: Leftovers

September 9th, 2019

5:31

When does a meal turn into leftovers?

164: Cover Version

August 26th, 2019

4:03

Listener Luke sent in this week’s theme song. Is it a cover version of our canonical theme song? When is a new version of a song not a cover?

163: Family

August 14th, 2019

7:44

What constitutes family? Blood relatives only? Are friends family? Are co-workers family? Can you escape your family?

162: Doors

July 29th, 2019

3:25

What about when they’re ajar?

161: Storefronts

July 15th, 2019

6:35

Select all the STOREFRONTS to prove that you’re a human.

160: Bacon

July 1st, 2019

6:09

By popular demand, John has done his research—or maybe not?—and is here to break down what is bacon and what is an impostor.

159: Campus Delivery Robots

June 11th, 2019

4:30

Prompted by a note from Listener Zach, we discuss the trend of “autonomous food delivery vehicles” on college campuses.

158: Pants

June 3rd, 2019

2:46

The entire conversation is pants. (The Brits will get that.)

157: Board Games

May 20th, 2019

9:21

How much board is required?

156: Combination Restaurants

May 6th, 2019

7:02

We’ll see you at the Carl’s Jr./Green Burrito/KFC/Taco Bell.

155: TV and Movies

April 15th, 2019

15:57

When is it a TV show and when is it a movie? It’s confusing.

154: American Food

April 1st, 2019

6:01

It all goes back to Mesopotamia.

153: Live Action

March 18th, 2019

8:20

If the new “Lion King” film features CGI animals talking with other CGI animals, is it a “live-action” movie or just a different kind of animation? What about a movie like “Avengers: Infinity War”?

152: Milk

March 4th, 2019

5:16

Legal news: Is Almond Milk milk?

151: "Chick Flick"

February 18th, 2019

9:31

What is a “Chick Flick”? Let’s start off by taking apart the term itself.

150: Marty the Supermarket Robot

February 4th, 2019

6:35

In a rare topical episode, John and Jason discuss Marty, the tall, googly-eyed robot that may soon be roaming the aisles of a supermarket near you. …

149: Simulated Universe

January 21st, 2019

9:01

Is this real or are we in a video game? How can we tell the true nature of the universe?

148: Hacker

January 7th, 2019

2:16

Do hackers do good, or bad, or both?

147: Cult

December 24th, 2018

8:16

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Merry Christmas, everybody!

146: GIF

December 10th, 2018

5:20

Choosy mothers pronounce it differently.

145: Database

November 26th, 2018

3:49

Where spreadsheets and databases collide.

144: Soup

November 12th, 2018

6:15

“You haven’t done soup yet, have you?”

143: Phones

October 29th, 2018

6:55

Smartphones, dumb phones, feature phones, and computers in your pocket.

142: Toasters

October 15th, 2018

9:20

Slot toasters, toaster ovens, and the definitions thereof.

141: Podcasting

October 1st, 2018

2:50

What makes something a podcast? OMG, are we one?!

140: Bread

September 17th, 2018

3:14

Bread is bread, but what about hot dog buns, bagels, tortillas, and pitas?

139: Planets, and also Pluto

September 3rd, 2018

5:34

John is given the opportunity to endorse or reject the rulings of the International Astronomical Union.

138: Job Security

August 20th, 2018

8:28

John’s worked (and left) a lot of jobs. What’s his personal philosophy about job security versus going it alone as an independent?

137: Nerds and Geeks

August 6th, 2018

6:16

The subtle and vexing difference between a nerd and a geek.

136: Programming

July 23rd, 2018

8:56

What is computer programming? And what doesn’t qualify?

135: Reality TV

July 9th, 2018

8:29

When is a game show a game show, and when is it reality television? Also, we reveal our favorite reality TV show.

134: Personal Computers

June 25th, 2018

9:12

Is a Mac a PC? Is an iPad a computer? Does John favor a broad definition or a narrow one?

133: Gnocchi

June 11th, 2018

5:04

What makes pasta pasta?

132: Seasons

May 28th, 2018

6:21

The conundrum of seasons versus eternally pleasant weather.

131: Savory Donuts

May 14th, 2018

2:06

Bagels are not donuts, people.

130: Sweaters

April 30th, 2018

2:23

Listener Ed, we’ve got bad news.

129: Pets

April 16th, 2018

9:03

What makes an animal a pet?

128: The Midwest

April 2nd, 2018

8:06

Did both of Jason’s parents both come from the Midwest, or only one? What are the true boundaries of America’s heartland?

127: Potato Chips

March 19th, 2018

6:53

From Sour Cream & Onion to BBQ, what are the “real” potato chip flavors?

126: Vacation

March 5th, 2018

10:01

If you don’t go anywhere, is it a vacation? What if you go somewhere, but you don’t relax?

125: Cheesecake

February 19th, 2018

13:35

Is cheesecake cheese, cake, pie, tart, or none of the above? Does the angle of the pan matter? Does crust content matter? Do any of us matter, really?

124: The Trolley Problem

February 7th, 2018

13:33

As recently highlighted on “The Good Place”, it’s a classic ethical conundum that John wants absolutely no part of. And what if the trolley drives …

123: Janet from "The Good Place"

January 22nd, 2018

5:13

Never believe what a robot tells you.

121: Holidays and Holiday Movies

December 25th, 2017

7:23

What makes a movie a holiday movie? How do they celebrate winter holidays in warm climates? Merry Christmas to all, especially in Australia!

120: Death

December 11th, 2017

11:47

Okay, time to call it. Time of death— wait, wait, everybody hold on. How do we define death?

119: Life

November 27th, 2017

15:18

How can we call something alive?

118: Ice Cream

November 13th, 2017

10:31

It would seem like ice cream versus frozen yogurt would be the main debate. But the pronunciation of a third competitor completely derails us.

117: Brunch

October 31st, 2017

14:23

We discuss the names of meals and when they happen, and make an interesting(?) digression into human sleep cycles.

116: Salad

October 16th, 2017

7:45

From leafy greens to sugary Jell-O concoctions, all sorts of things are called salads.

115: Barbecue

October 2nd, 2017

9:43

Continuing our confused series of episodes about food-related topics, it’s time for John and Jason to talk about Jason’s favorite food style and what happens when you put food on a grill.

114: Smoothie

September 18th, 2017

6:43

If everything can be a smoothie, then nothing is. So we try to define what makes a smoothie and acts as a bulwark against the milkshake.

113: Art

September 4th, 2017

16:54

I don’t know what it is, but I know it when I see it.

112: Donuts

August 21st, 2017

10:26

We don’t know quite what an old-fashioned donut is, but we know what we like… and what we don’t.

111: Artificial Intelligence

August 7th, 2017

11:23

What makes machine intelligence “real AI”? And what is the difference between strong and weak AI?

110: Anime and Kaiju

July 24th, 2017

8:32

The very definition of video entertainment from Japan.

109: Sport

July 10th, 2017

14:39

What makes something a sport, and not an exercise or a game?

108: Condiments and Favorite Foods

June 26th, 2017

9:51

Exploring Jason’s favorite food, what a “favorite food” even is, and the hazy dividing line between condiments and other edibles.

107: Science Fiction

June 12th, 2017

10:03

What’s science fiction? And more importantly, is Star Wars science fiction, fantasy, or something else?

106: Computer Chips

May 29th, 2017

11:44

Is everything a computer chip? Is nothing a computer chip? Jason thinks this is gonna be good. John thinks it’s obvious.

105: Canonical Bagel Flavors

May 15th, 2017

18:28

What is the canon of bagels? Why are some ingredients allowed in an Everything Bagel but not any other bagel style? What makes raisins an acceptable ingredient, yet bars blueberries? Mr. Siracusa, native of the great …

104: Pizza Toppings

May 2nd, 2017

9:39

What toppings are allowed on pizza? And what about using a knife and fork to eat pizza? There are many rules.

103: Pizza

April 17th, 2017

11:38

John weighs in on what makes something a pizza, including the horror of the Turkey Dinner Pizza.

102: Sandwiches

April 3rd, 2017

8:35

Exploring what makes a sandwich, while also discussing the history of food, sandwiches as satire, and the difference between llamas and camels.

101: Supervillains

March 20th, 2017

10:18

John helps Jason figure out the precise moment when a villain becomes a supervillain.

100: The Robot

March 6th, 2017

2:19

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.)

99: Your Hosts

February 27th, 2017

2:54

Are John and Jason robots? All will be revealed!

98: Human Beings

February 20th, 2017

2:04

Could it be? Are we all robots?

97: Captchas

February 13th, 2017

0:51

What does a robot do when it gets to a web page with a checkbox that says “I’m not a robot”?

96: The Gate at Jabba's Palace

February 6th, 2017

2:55

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?

95: Autonomous Sailboats

January 30th, 2017

5:49

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?

94: Shardik

January 23rd, 2017

4:13

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.

93: Nintendo R.O.B.

January 16th, 2017

2:49

Game controller, robot, or total embarrassment?

91: Naked Robotic Core

January 2nd, 2017

5:27

An unadorned iPhone can be a Naked Robotic Core, but is it a robot?

90: Mechagodzilla

December 26th, 2016

1:03

Look who was under the tree! It’s a giant mechanical monster!

89: Battlebots

December 19th, 2016

1:34

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?

88: School Babies and CPR Dummies

December 12th, 2016

1:03

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 …

87: K5 Mall Robot

December 5th, 2016

3:04

It patrols the mall. Sometimes it knocks over small children.

86: The Hosts of "Westworld"

November 28th, 2016

6:54

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 …

85: The Bicentennial Man

November 21st, 2016

4:59

A robot slowly turns himself human. When does he stop being a robot?

84: Metal Mario

November 14th, 2016

1:32

Sometimes Mario is metallic. Does that make him a robot?

83: Kayaks

November 7th, 2016

1:00

They are boats with paddles. What else are they?

82: The Borg

October 31st, 2016

6:22

Straight out of “Star Trek” come these technological villains. Also, we discuss larger issues including AIs and hive minds.

81: The Energizer Bunny

October 24th, 2016

1:23

It just keeps going, and going, and going….

80: Tachikoma and Fuchikoma

October 17th, 2016

2:09

Little cute robots from “Ghost in the Shell.”

79: SpaceX

October 10th, 2016

6:50

Self-guided rockets and drone barges.

78: Hot Dogs

October 3rd, 2016

1:32

They’re sure tasty, and it’s meat between bread, but are hot dogs sandwiches?

77: Daft Punk

September 26th, 2016

1:27

They sure look like robots. But who’s under the masks?

76: Animals in "Blade Runner"

September 19th, 2016

2:42

The owl and the snake from “Blade Runner” raise some interesting questions.

75: Bubo

September 12th, 2016

3:49

A little metal owl from “Clash of the Titans.” Crafted by the gods, can he possibly be a robot?

74: Gort

September 5th, 2016

5:04

The robot from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, plus a long digression into Star Trek androids.

73: Cartoons

August 29th, 2016

2:11

Is all animation “cartoons”?

71: RoboCop

August 15th, 2016

2:18

That “Robo” prefix is sure interesting, and he’s probably a cop, but…

70: The Robots of "Futurama"

August 8th, 2016

5:16

Bender, Calculon, and Hedonismbot.

69: Tron

August 1st, 2016

1:37

He fights for the users inside a computer. Can software people be robots?

68: Canadarm

July 25th, 2016

1:49

A fancy “robot arm” from Canada. But when is a robot arm just an arm, and when is it a robot?

67: Silicone Stingray

July 18th, 2016

3:10

Part animal, part machine. But is it a robot?

65: Serena Williams

July 4th, 2016

8:36

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.

64: Rossum's Universal Robots

June 27th, 2016

2:44

Karel Capek’s play that made this podcast possible.

63: Animatronic Creatures

June 20th, 2016

1:25

The Country Bears, Chuck E. Cheese, and the things from Five Nights at Freddy’s.

62b: Filesystems and Flowerpot Robots

June 18th, 2016

3:50

Live from RelayCon WWDC 2016, it’s a special live edition of Robot or Not.

62: General Grievous

June 13th, 2016

2:16

He’s a droid with a cough. So what’s the deal?

61: Elevators

June 6th, 2016

3:15

They go up, they go down. They might even go sideways from time to time. And they can be smart. But are they robots?

60: Inspector Gadget

May 30th, 2016

2:27

Go go Gadget! Also we get off on a tangent about Penny, inspired by The Flop House.

59: The Doctor from "Star Trek: Voyager"

May 23rd, 2016

2:53

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. Can a hologram be a robot?

58: Synths

May 16th, 2016

3:34

From the AMC TV series “Humans,” the lifelike Synths look like humans but don’t act like it. And they bleed a funny color.

57: Baymax

May 9th, 2016

6:26

He’s an inflatable, medical robot from “Big Hero 6”—but can you back up your personality and still be a robot?

56: The Incomparable's Logo

May 2nd, 2016

1:35

Our own robot (or not) is in the spotlight at last.

54: T-1000

April 18th, 2016

4:06

It’s made of liquid metal.

53: Tamagotchi

April 11th, 2016

1:25

Is it even a game? What if you had a video game that featured a robot?

52: The Robots of "Destiny"

April 4th, 2016

6:06

From Bungie’s bestselling video game, Ghosts, Exos, Rasputin, and other things that might be robots.

51: Lego Simulated Worm Toy

March 28th, 2016

5:59

A software model of a flatworm, piloting a Lego Mindstorms toy.

50: The Matrix

March 21st, 2016

3:29

Agents and Oracles and Architects from the “Matrix” trilogy.

49: Chatbots

March 14th, 2016

3:12

They listen to us and talk back. But is that enough?

48: Replicants

March 7th, 2016

7:08

Roy Batty, Pris, and all the rest. They’ve seen the Tannhauser Gate, but are they robots?

46: Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo

February 22nd, 2016

2:04

The bots from “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

45: Nanobots

February 15th, 2016

6:46

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.

44: The Internet of Things

February 8th, 2016

2:34

Security expert Bruce Schneier said the Internet of Things was a robot, but what does John think? You can probably guess.

43: Daleks and Cybermen

February 1st, 2016

5:42

Two enemies wrapped in metal shells from “Doctor Who” face their ultimate foe—the judgment of John Siracusa.

42: Prince Robot IV

January 25th, 2016

2:27

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.

41: Burritos

January 18th, 2016

1:06

This one seems to have gotten in by mistake.

40: Swimming Pool Cleaners

January 11th, 2016

3:28

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?

39: Cars (from "Cars")

January 4th, 2016

1:42

If the cars in Pixar’s “Cars” movies aren’t cars, what are they, and where did they come from?

38: Podcasts

December 28th, 2015

0:53

Just in time for the holidays, some existential questions. Also, could a robot be on a podcast?

37: Clockwork Droids

December 21st, 2015

3:28

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..?

36: Iron Man, Ultron, and Vision

December 14th, 2015

4:55

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.

35: Herbie The Love Bug

December 7th, 2015

2:50

A Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of his own!

34: Aperture Science

November 30th, 2015

4:23

GlaDOS, Wheatley, turrets, cubes, spheres and more.

33: Vicki from "Small Wonder"

November 23rd, 2015

2:30

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 …

32: Lobot

November 16th, 2015

1:01

Cloud City’s majordomo from “The Empire Strikes Back” is in the spotlight.

31: robots.txt

November 9th, 2015

1:58

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!

30: Twiki and Dr. Theopolis

November 2nd, 2015

6:11

We take you back to the days of “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” to debate the show’s two artificial sidekicks.

29: Johnny 5

October 26th, 2015

1:47

That little guy from “Short Circuit.”

28: The TARDIS

October 19th, 2015

4:43

The blue box from “Doctor Who” might be sentient, might be alive, but is it a robot?

27: V'ger

October 12th, 2015

9:34

V’ger and the Ilia probe, both from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. Also, John complains about fake skin on androids.

26: Cylons

October 5th, 2015

9:59

The metal robots (and their fleshy successors) from the old and new “Battlestar Galactica.”

25: Home Appliances

September 28th, 2015

3:58

What would a toaster have to do in order to be a robot? This episode introduces Siracusa’s Law, which somehow involves kitchen countertops.

24: Sasquatch

September 21st, 2015

6:25

The bigfoot/sasquatch from “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

23: Space Probes

September 14th, 2015

3:13

From golf carts on Mars to New Horizons flying past Pluto, these are impressive machines, but are they robots?

22: Hitchbot

September 7th, 2015

1:54

He tried to hitch his way across the country, but was dismembered in Philadelphia. Image by archier on Flickr.

21: Droids

August 31st, 2015

6:15

Are droids robots? Do they have rights? Is the Empire based on a robo-slave economy?

20: Pinocchio

August 24th, 2015

4:51

Are we seriously talking about magic here?

19: Marvin the Paranoid Android

August 17th, 2015

2:24

Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with!

17: The Terminator

August 3rd, 2015

3:18

I know now why you humans cry.

16: Siri

July 27th, 2015

0:57

So-called intelligent agents.

15: The Major

July 20th, 2015

2:24

From “Ghost in the Shell,” a human brain in a mechanical body. And what about uploaded brains and bodies?

14: Jaegers

July 13th, 2015

4:14

Big robots with people inside, as seen in “Shogun Warriors” and “Pacific Rim.”

12: USS Enterprise

July 2nd, 2015

3:26

The main computer of the USS Enterprise.

11: KITT

June 29th, 2015

6:26

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.”

10: ASIMO

June 25th, 2015

2:56

Honda’s ASIMO, Sony’s AIBO, and other cute things that can do The Robot dance. Also, our Radio Shack memories.

8: Roomba

June 19th, 2015

3:53

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?

7: Telepresence Robots

June 15th, 2015

0:53

They’re funny, but are they robots?

6: Self-Driving Cars

June 10th, 2015

5:26

Pondering sentient Google cars, Johnny Cab, and autopilots.

5: Emotions

June 4th, 2015

0:48

The greatest prog rock album ever made.

4: K-9

June 2nd, 2015

2:12

John and Jason try to understand robot dogs. Plus, a trip through old “Doctor Who” episodes.

3: Darth Vader

May 29th, 2015

2:40

Cyborgs and robots and humans—how do we tell these things apart?

2: Service Kiosks

May 25th, 2015

4:17

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.

1: Mr. Roboto

May 22nd, 2015

5:11

We explain why we’re here, and then discuss the protagonist of Styx’s 1983 album “Kilroy Was Here.”

0: Origin

April 7th, 2015

6:47

A flashback to past podcasts, as a way of explaining why this podcast exists.

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