114

Smoothie

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.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


113

Art

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


112

Donuts

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


111

Artificial Intelligence

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


110

Anime and Kaiju

The very definition of video entertainment from Japan.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


109

Sport

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


108

Condiments and Favorite Foods

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


107

Science Fiction

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


106

Computer Chips

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


105

Canonical Bagel Flavors

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 state of New York, educates Mr. Snell, one of those California hippie types, about what a real bagel is.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


104

Pizza Toppings

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


103

Pizza

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


102

Sandwiches

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


101

Supervillains

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


100

The Robot

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.)

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


99

Your Hosts

Are John and Jason robots? All will be revealed!

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


98

Human Beings

Could it be? Are we all robots?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


97

Captchas

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


96

The Gate at Jabba’s Palace

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?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


95

Autonomous Sailboats

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?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


94

Shardik

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.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


93

Nintendo R.O.B.

Game controller, robot, or total embarrassment?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


92

Pronunciation

ˈrōˌbät or rōbət?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


91

Naked Robotic Core

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


90

Mechagodzilla

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


89

Battlebots

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?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


88

School Babies and CPR Dummies

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?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


87

K5 Mall Robot

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


86

The Hosts of “Westworld”

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 “To Serve Man” was actually a cookbook.)

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


85

The Bicentennial Man

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


84

Metal Mario

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


83

Kayaks

They are boats with paddles. What else are they?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


82

The Borg

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


81

The Energizer Bunny

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


80

Tachikoma and Fuchikoma

Little cute robots from “Ghost in the Shell.”

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


79

SpaceX

Self-guided rockets and drone barges.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


78

Hot Dogs

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


77

Daft Punk

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


76

Animals in “Blade Runner”

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


75

Bubo

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


74

Gort

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


73

Cartoons

Is all animation “cartoons”?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


72

Robots from “Castle in the Sky” and “The Iron Giant”

Two beloved metal creatures from animation.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


71

RoboCop

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


70

The Robots of “Futurama”

Bender, Calculon, and Hedonismbot.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


69

Tron

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


68

Canadarm

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


67

Silicone Stingray

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


66

Traffic lights in South Africa

Please obey robot.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


65

Serena Williams

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.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


64

Rossum’s Universal Robots

Karel Capek’s play that made this podcast possible.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


63

Animatronic Creatures

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


62b

Filesystems and Flowerpot Robots

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell with Myke Hurley


62

General Grievous

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


61

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?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


60

Inspector Gadget

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


59

The Doctor from “Star Trek: Voyager”

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


58

Synths

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


57

Baymax

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


56

The Incomparable’s Logo

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


55

The Tin Woodman

If he only had a heart.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


54

T-1000

It’s made of liquid metal.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


53

Tamagotchi

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


52

The Robots of “Destiny”

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


51

Lego Simulated Worm Toy

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


50

The Matrix

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


49

Chatbots

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


48

Replicants

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


47

Thomas and Friends

Living rail cars in Sodor.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


46

Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo

The bots from “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


45

Nanobots

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.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


44

The Internet of Things

Security expert Bruce Schneier said the Internet of Things was a robot, but what does John think?

You can probably guess.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


43

Daleks and Cybermen

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


42

Prince Robot IV

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.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


41

Burritos

This one seems to have gotten in by mistake.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


40

Swimming Pool Cleaners

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?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


39

Cars (from “Cars”)

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


38

Podcasts

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


37

Clockwork Droids

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..?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


36

Iron Man, Ultron, and Vision

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.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


35

Herbie The Love Bug

A Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of his own!

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


34

Aperture Science

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


33

Vicki from “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.

She’s fantastic, made of plastic.
Microchips here and there.
She’s a small wonder, brings love and laughter everywhere.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


32

Lobot

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

Lobot

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


31

robots.txt

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!

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


30

Twiki and Dr. Theopolis

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

Twiki and Dr. Theopolis

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


29

Johnny 5

That little guy from “Short Circuit.”

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


28

The TARDIS

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


27

V’ger

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


26

Cylons

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


25

Home Appliances

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


24

Sasquatch

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


23

Space Probes

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


22

Hitchbot

He tried to hitch his way across the country, but was dismembered in Philadelphia.

Hitchbot

Image by archier on Flickr.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


21

Droids

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


20

Pinocchio

Are we seriously talking about magic here?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


19

Marvin the Paranoid Android

Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with!

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


18

Commander Data

Is an android a robot?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


17

The Terminator

I know now why you humans cry.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


16

Siri

So-called intelligent agents.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


15

The Major

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


14

Jaegers

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


13

Transformers

Like the song says.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


12

USS Enterprise

The main computer of the USS Enterprise.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


11

KITT

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.”

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


10

ASIMO

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


9

Assembly-Line Robots

Look for the union label.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


8

Roomba

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?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


7

Telepresence Robots

They’re funny, but are they robots?

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


6

Self-Driving Cars

Pondering sentient Google cars, Johnny Cab, and autopilots.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


5

Emotions

The greatest prog rock album ever made.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


4

K-9

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


3

Darth Vader

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


2

Service Kiosks

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.

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


1

Mr. Roboto

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell


0

Origin

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

John Siracusa and Jason Snell