Bots are not "robots"!

But you can’t disagree the initial wording is bad.
Saying “androids and cyborgs are types of robots” in this context is like “cuirass and gloves are types of armor”. While it might be true from some point of view, it is not entirely correct.
Besides, there are more accurate terms to call those things: armor-gloves are called gauntlets and robots-cyborgs are biorobots.

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I do agree that saying cyborgs are a type of robot is incorrect. Being part something doesn’t equal being a type of that something.

Edit: Welcome to the forums, by the way! I saw that that was your first post

But it could become valid again.

Besides, to me the border between bot and robot is very thin. You can make many bots robots by adding some mechanical parts (witch aren’t robots on their own). For example one could hook a chatbot to a keyboard using some actuators. Also, the program controlling a robot is a bot while running in a simulation environment.

Intuitive the definition makes sense, but if I start thinking too much about it, it’s start to become difficult.
Is a machine controlled by a data center at the other end of the world a bot or a robot. It feels wrong to call it a robot, especially if the data center controls multiple machines around the world, but I wouldn’t call it a bot either.


All very good points. However, I’d argue that once you give it physical, mechanical parts that allow it to perform complex physical tasks it becomes a robot. I guess for me, it’s just the fact that AlphaGo and Leela don’t have physical bodies makes it feel very weird to call them “robots”. Language has never been and will never be perfect though.

Don’t even get me started on the Chinese word for robot, 机器人 which if literally translated means something like “machine person”. Since my robot vacuum doesn’t look like a person, it feels really weird to call it that, but that’s the word.


You own a Roomba? Or is there another robot vaccum I don’t know about? :star_struck:


This has always been my understanding and personal distinction. Without a physical body, it’s just code. Give that code some legs and robot claw arms, and it is now a bonafide citizen of the world :face_with_monocle:

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Now this discussion is going down interesting paths. If (in future) someone manages to ( as in Ghost in the Shell) shift their conciousness onto the net then they would not be a person as they dont have a body but they would potentially act the same as a person. Same with a program/bot/robot etc. If a robot fails and its controlling authority (whatever you call it) shifted online or onto a backup server then it would no longer be a robot but then could be shifted back into a different body and it suddenly would be so again?

The distinction (to me) became less relevant when the net showed that you don’t have to be tied to a machine to necessarily function. You could therefore argue that moaning that robot needs a body is an attitude that was distinctly last century or early naughties and connected people of the future don’t see that as even relevant.

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There are tons of them. Mine is a Roborock :slight_smile:

I identify as an advanced naughty though. :smirk:


Every language has such words. I find “airplane” quite weird for something that’s usually tube-shaped, “mobile phone” is not much more than movable sound, and I rarely use my “television” to see in the distance.


TBH I hate the word ‘bot’. While there are probably many legitimate uses of it I hear it used so often for something that I would just call ‘software’ or ‘program’. But these words ain’t good enough anymore if you want to claim that your piece of software is super-modern, intelligent and what-not (no matter if it really IS of course).

Maybe that is the reason I quite like it when Nick Sibicky calls the go AIs ‘robots’, because to me that has an ironic untertone. (One that is probably neither intended nor perceived by anyone but myself. :slight_smile: )


“Robots” is kind fun way to refer to these programs. Chinese call them “dogs”. No one cares about proper names as long as it’s understood what we’re talking about. So people may perceive you as being a kind of unfun stick in the mud.

Are you sure these are private messages and not notifications about public replies? :stuck_out_tongue:


Chinese has all sorts of interesting translations for relatively new concepts:

Computer - Electric Brain
Telephone - Electric Voice
Television - Electric Vision

But when you think about it, English is also kind of quirky in how words have been put together. Are the words on the left really much better, or is it just that we have gotten used to them?

Words are invented and evolve all the time. Why does “robot” apply to only physical things, while “bot” is okay for software? With a sprawling language like English, there’s no ultimate authority that defines words (or says what’s correct), instead words are defined by how people actually use them. Words change/lose meanings all the time, and it’s futile to fight against it.

In the future, I’ll be sure to call software like AlphaGo and Leela Zero by a more appropriate name, like “cyborg” or “android”.


So if Nick has a set up like this at home operated by elf or whatever other bot then it’s ok to call it a robot…


Just curious, how do you feel about the usage of the word “literally”?

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To be fair, the plural there was a bit misleading. I only got one private message, but It looked as though it was written by a ten year-old so I’m not exactly taking it to heart :joy:

And yep the dog thing is because Go sounds like the word for dog.

Some of my favorites when I first started learning were:

Train - 火车 - Fire Car
Van - 面包车 - Bread Car
Thing - 东西 - East West
Immediately - 马上 - On a horse

There are tons, but I hardly notice them any more because they just seem so normal now.

Etymology gives really interesting insights into culture, and Chinese having a logographic writing system has the added benefit of easily being able to see why a word is what it is. With English it’s often not as easy to see. :slight_smile:

I’d be okay with that since it’s a more obvious joke

Yes, that would absolutely be a robot. I doubt he’s doing that, but who knows

I’m okay with “literally” because that’s the common modern usage. I feel like the common modern usage of “robot” refers to a physical thing though rather than software.

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I’m not sure if that’s generally true.

For example:


The part of this conversation that causes shivers to run up and down my spine, is the idea that language is defined by how people use it. Not by linguistic rules thoroughly documented in a lexicon. Taking a look inside an American Slang dictionary and leaves me little hope that the language is not quickly growing muddied.

As if advanced English wasn’t already difficult to traverse, the new breed of garbage each generation injects into the societal stream of consciousness is staggering. How long will be it before the average child is learning words in Elementary school, only to see them outdated by the time they are in their 20’s or 30’s, replaced by new meanings, innuendo, and increasing layers of obfuscation?

As a native speaker, I cringe as how rapidly my language is changing in the modern age :weary:. Won’t somebody think of the children?!!! :sob:

People have been shouting that literally since time recorded (and here I mean literally literally)


Language rules are descriptive, not prescriptive. All languages evolve.


the idea that human language is (even can be) defined by “linguistic rules thoroughly documented in a lexicon” runs shivers down my spine :wink:.

dictionaries and grammar books are collections of occuring phenomena and therefore reactionary by defintion. trying to unify language use is important of course, but it can necessarily only happen after carefully observing whats already there.
the opposite case (deciding on rules and trying to indoctrinate them into a language) is exceedingly rare and is usually met by great resistance, at least initially.

as for the children :slight_smile:. since the younger generations are massively involved in language change, i think its safe to assume, that they actually want to use language differently than others, who came before them, did.


Radical, dude!