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When I was growing up, Rosie from The Jetsons was the pinnacle of technology—not to mention comedy. (That feather duster juxtaposition? Don’t get me started!)

But These Days™, robots do a lot more than just keep house for an ungrateful family. (Though your Roomba may disagree.)

Between chatbots on websites and maybe-too-good-AI, tech has advanced so rapidly that you just might be wondering, “Wait…how will I even know if an entity I’m interacting with is, in fact, a robot?”

Well, I’m happy to help. Just ask these questions:

Does it have (Cogswell) cogs?

Observing cogs, gears, and/or wheels are all hints that you may be dealing with a robot. But these elements can also be present in other constructions, like Rube Goldberg machines (or, you know, a bike).

Looks like we need to keep investigating.

Is this being bringing me coffee?

If yes: it could be one of Dunkin’s neat, roving coffee delivery bots. Or it could be the intern you forgot you hired (thanks, um…Alan?). If no one/thing is bringing you coffee, well geez, that’s a major bummer, isn’t it?

Let’s keep going.

Does it have a significant following on Instagram?

A follower count in the millions suggests some level of real-life celebrity or at least a tangential relationship to, say, Justin Bieber. On the other hand, there’s Lil Miquela, the first influencer robot who clocks in at a wildly impressive 3 million followers—while rocking a Princess Leia hairdo, no less!

Wow, weeding the humans from the cyborgs is a lot harder than it seems.

We’re going with the nuclear option:

If I pour water on it, will it erupt in a flash of sparks and plumes of smoke before ultimately short-circuiting?

That’s a bot, baby! (Or a radio.) REGARDLESS, if it doesn’t do the aforementioned malfunctioning, it’s safe to assume you’re dealing with a human who’s likely pretty rankled that you mistook them for a robot and poured water on them as a test.

Or it’s hyper-intelligent Chihuahuas stacked inside a human costume. But that’s another post entirely.

So, as you venture forth into the world of motherboards, synthezoids, and feather dusting digital housekeepers, please remember: robots are cool and convenient for certain tasks, but human beings are irreplaceable. (Right, Alex? Where’s my coffee?)

Have an analog weekend, everybody!

—Your acing-the-Turning-Test friends at Brokaw

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