"it slowly dawned on me that the landscape of science is maybe what interests people a great deal in science fiction."
Not the earliest description, but there are lots of imaginative details here from Clarke.
Autonomous car engineers might also appreciate this last bit:
Automatic Control Car-related
Want to Contribute an
CyberOne Robot By Xiaomi vs. Optimus Robot By Tesla
'I shall introduce myself... I am a robot.'
Giving Snakes Their Legs Back
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to 'help them out.'
'Ring Nation' Show Predicted By William Gibson In 1999
'... you had your trademark Lucky Dragon Global Interactive Video Column outside.'
SolarXOne Solar-Powered Drone Flies (almost) Forever
'It's an Indian Air Force drone; its solar cells could power an entire farm.'
Video! Chess Robot Breaks Opponent's Finger In Match
'A robot may not injure a human being.'
Virtual Co-Embodyment - Two People Control One Virtual Body
'... we were supposed to be forming five unit composites first."
The Wanderer: Eyebot From Fallout, Eye From Zelazny
'We send our eyes on their appointed rounds, and they can hover or soar or back up...'
Experts Decry Planet-Scale Schemes To Limit Global Heating
'Light from the sun hit those little spheres and bounced.'
OrganEx Revives The Organs In Dead Pig
'Wakened into half-life activity one hour a month...'
NAVER Labs Haptic Device 2.0 Robot vs. IKEA
'... the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'
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