Powered By I’m Not A Robot

No announcements or commentary today. 2020 has been a rough year for everyone and I thought maybe we should all approach the end of the year with a bit of humor.

Since the name of this blog is “Powered by Robots” but I don’t often write about robots these days. I figured this short video would be fun. Enjoy (If you can’t see the video, click Continue reading).

14 thoughts on “Powered By I’m Not A Robot

  1. Since the Russian word “robot”, that has been adopted into the English language, simply means “worker”, perhaps in these days of pandemic lockdown we really would all wish for the privilege of being “robots” who are actually continuing to earn wages. Of course, in English we use this word to refer to automatons or androids, except for some English-speaking countries where it also refers to a traffic light, none of which receive wages for their work. Perhaps some of us might wish to offer the same complaint. [:)]

    Regarding the above video, it is ironic that the sort of automatons envisioned by the late Isaac Asimov, and by James when he initiated this blog, would likely answer the questions much more accurately than humans do, to prove that they are *not* robots. Go figure…


    • Many people do complain about not receiving proper wages for work… as well as about being more likely to be taxed if one is not a billionaire. Traffic lights do receive the power and parts they need to function.


      • I believe, James, that Marleen was simply reiterating that old principle which says “the laborer is worthy of his hire” — in response to the notion of whether it can be worthwhile to be deemed a “robot”. With just a little free association one might also ponder what it might mean to assert or to prove: “I am not a reboot”.


      • That’s part of the gag. It continues with pseudo-serious tongue-in-cheek cheekiness. Of course, one could overdo ….


      • You can’t see how this is related?

        Since the Russian word “robot”, that has been adopted into the English language, simply means “worker”, perhaps in these days of pandemic lockdown we really would all wish for the privilege of being “robots” who are actually continuing to earn wages. Of course, in English we use this word to refer to automatons or androids, except for some English-speaking countries where it also refers to a traffic light, none of which receive wages for their work. Perhaps some of us might wish to offer the same complaint. [:)]


        Certainly says more about you than about me.


      • I may, James, just step over the line with this… into too nerdy or too artsy…
        whichever is worse, of course. Or maybe just too wordy.


        From a 2011 sharing:

        The Origin Of The Word ‘Robot’

        Science Diction is a bite-sized podcast about words—and the science stories behind them. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and sign up for our newsletter.

        I liked listening to the conversation.

        The podcast is a little different from the attached article, although they compliment each other. For the podcast, don’t select the video-shaped thing. Look higher on the page. When I wanted to listen again, I accidentally clicked on the video box (where there is in fact no video, when I was there, and where you won’t get the same information as the title for the day).

        Here is the end of the article, minus the last two sentences: Audiences loved the play across Europe and the United States. Soon after, robots became the darling of science fiction writers, most famously Isaac Asimov, who composed the 3 Laws of Robotics and, eventually, Hollywood’s dream merchants. With each iteration, robots became more fleshly and life-like, or should I say humanoid?

        Ironically, R.U.R. was [Karel] Čapek’s least favorite work even as the play and his coining of robot ensured his literary immortality.


        Aka reboot: I remembered you, PL, sharing the background of the word some other time. But I had the sense you’d said, before, that it was Czech. So I did a little looking. I don’t know much about Slavic/Slavonic [and am not curious enough right now to see if there’s a difference], but that type of church could be in both Russia and the Czech Republic (and between). I had a Czech (specifically Bohemian) grandparent (and one from in between), but no Slav or Czech language was spoken; only English and “German” (as the wife from in between also spoke “German” and English in America). But I might now sound like a record repeating in a groove.


      • I don’t actually know, Marleen, if Czech shares with Russian the use of the word “robot”. As far as I know its origin is solely Russian, but I haven’t tried to research its etymology or its breadth of linguistic usage any deeper than that. Any memory about me having cited Czech in relation to its origin would therefore be mistaken.

        As for “reboot”, it began as a computer term for reloading a segment of computer code which contained the fundamental operating instructions for a machine, called a “boot” after the image of putting on one’s boots as a metaphor for getting ready to go somewhere. The reloading process was therefore called “bootstrapping”. Bootstraps were a pair of leather loops at the top of each boot to be grasped with both hands as an aid to pulling each boot on over the foot against the friction of an otherwise tight fit. For more advanced computers which held this basic code in hardware memory and therefore could reload it automatically, it thus became a reference to restarting the program from an unpowered state, even a brief one.

        Much more recently, not longer ago than twenty years, I think, the term “reboot” began to be used to describe a revised version of a previous sci-fi series, as if starting over from the same basic premise but with some adjustments to the backgrounds of the characters or the technology or the worldview. Hence one may use that notion of the term to consider a human personality, and whether it has reinvented itself or become renewed in some manner. This could be taken as a positive or negative development. A negative example would be a deceitful adoption of a new identity to evade lawful punishment or to commit fraud. Perhaps a positive slant could be justified for someone in a witness protection program who would otherwise be killed for their testimony against some criminal activity. It might be used, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, as a metaphor for a religious conversion, or even a political one.

        As for puns that “mistake” or confuse the words “robot” and “reboot”, for example in the framework that James used to begin this discussion, that’s another story.


      • Oh, okay… then I don’t know for sure who had shared that (the Czech connection) before, or where it had been shared at one of James’ sites or, rather, elsewhere). But here is quotation of what is in the text of the article connected with the podcast to which I linked:

        As a word, robot is a relative newcomer to the English language. It was the brainchild of a brilliant Czech playwright, novelist and journalist named Karel Čapek (1880-1938) who introduced it in his 1920 hit play, R.U.R., or Rossum’s Universal Robots.

        Robot is drawn from an old Church Slavonic word, robota, for “servitude,” “forced labor” or “drudgery.” The word, which also has cognates in German, Russian, Polish and Czech, was a product of the central European system of serfdom by which a tenant’s rent was paid for in forced labor or service.

        Taking its cues from other literary accounts of scientifically created life forms such as Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein and the Yiddish-Czech legend The Golem, R.U.R. tells the story of a company using the latest biology, chemistry and physiology to mass produce workers who “lack nothing but a soul.” The robots perform all the work that humans preferred not to do and, soon, the company is inundated with orders. In early drafts of his play, Čapek named these creatures labori, after the Latinat root for labor, but worried that the term sounded too “bookish.” At the suggestion of his brother, Josef, Čapek ultimately opted for roboti, or in English, robots.

        { My family was never part of the Slavonic or other type of Orthodox Church; the two grandparents said they spoke German (while this was only spoken to each other), but my grandmother said (of the appearance of the letters), “that’s not German,” when my dad showed her his German book in high school. }

        Meanwhile, I happened across these, today, when I searched on “czech yiddish” with google:

        The 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem… 2017

        Between Hebrew, Yiddish, German, and Czech: The fluid Linguistic Identity of Czech Jewry as Reflected in the Collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague

        Selected museum objects will guide us through the world of Bohemian and Moravian Jews in the time when Yiddish was disappearing from Central Europe, Hebrew kept on fighting for her place, Judendeutsch or jüdisch-deutsch was developed as a specific language strategy in the era of modernization, German triumphed and Czech was slowly becoming more visible. In my lecture I will present a sociolinguistic analysis of particular texts and inscriptions from the period under discussion in historical context. It is not only printed books and manuscripts that reveal the language conventions, but also texts engraved, embroidered, painted etc. A manuscript of General Regulations published in German 1754 for Moravian Jews, but soon re-written in Judendeutsch, has been chosen to symbolically represent the sociolinguistic situation of Moravian Jewry in mid-18th century; Torah mantles tell the story about how German digged her way into the sacred space of the synagogue; silver goblets, on the other hand, provide an illustrative example of the language shift from German to Czech. Within less than 200 years, Czech and Moravian Jews changed their language habits remarkably; and in this region, language was a message in itself.

        Knaanic Language – Structure and Historical Background
        Conference Czech-Jewish and Polish-Jewish Studies: Differences and Similarities
        Conference: Community and Exclusion. Collective Violence in the Multiethnic (East) Central European Societies before and after the Holocaust (1848–1948)
        Conference The Holocaust and its Aftermath from the Family Perspective
        International Conference New Approaches to the History of the Jews under Communism
        The Prague Summer School of Jewish Studies 2018 – Early Modern Yiddish in Prague: Language and Literature



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