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"The first thing that's wrong with being a science-fiction writer today is that the present has caught up with the future and surpassed it."
- Peter Watts

Quizzer  
  An autonomous mind-probe.  

In the center of this circle Iliff sat cross-legged on the ground, watching the Quizzer go about its business.


(Quizzer from 'Agent of Vega' by James Schmitz)

The Quizzer was an unbeautiful two-foot cube of machine. Easing itself with delicate ruthlessness through the Psychologist's mental defenses, it droned its findings step by step into Iliff's mind. He could have done the work without its aid, since the shield had never been developed that could block a really capable investigator if he was otherwise unhampered. But it would have taken a great deal longer; and at best he did not expect to have more time than he needed to extract the most vital points of information. Besides, he lacked the Quizzer's sensitivity; if he was hurried, there was a definite risk of doing irreparable injury to the mind under investigation—at that stage, he hadn't been able to decide whether or not it would be necessary to kill the Psychologist.

The second time the Quizzer contacted the Ceetal, he knew. The little robot reported an alien form of awareness which came and went through the Quizzer's lines of search as it chose and was impossible to localize.

From Agent of Vega, by James Schmitz.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1949
Additional resources -

Compare to the psychoprobe from Satellite Five (1938) by Arthur K. Barnes, the mechanical judge from The Lord of Tranerica (1939) by Stanton A. Coblentz, the psychic probe from Foundation and Empire (1952) by Isaac Asimov, the truth meter from The Star Beast (1954) by Robert Heinlein, the cephaloscope from The Houses of Iszm (1954) by Jack Vance, the veridicator from Little Fuzzy (1962) by H. Beam Piper.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Agent of Vega
  More Ideas and Technology by James Schmitz
  Tech news articles related to Agent of Vega
  Tech news articles related to works by James Schmitz

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