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"Cyberpunk worked when the Internet was in its hand-wound crystal radio phase, when you had to be a sort of hobbyist to do e-mail, and it all had a very steep learning curve. Those days are over."
- William Gibson

Chemical Brain  
  A purely chemical artificial intelligence.  

In the story, the author specifically calls out R.U.R. as an inspiration.

The problem engrossing the captain and me is this: Can we build a mechanical, a chemical brain delicate enough to respond to thought as it now does to sound or other stimuli? Can we give such a command as this to our chemical and mechanical brain: ‘Keep the motor running; every four hours feed it gas and oil’? Can we do more than that? Can we set our machine certain tasks to do, fixing those tasks in its ‘mind,’ and then going away and forgetting it? Don’t you see what that would mean? It would mean the creation of a genuine Robot, an independent metal creature that would work without supervision, eat its daily ration of fuel, and never get sick or go on strike.”

The machine grew under our hands until it was six feet tall. It stood, as I have said before, on rollers, the rollers being encased in caterpillar belts. At the base it was about four feet around, tapering to twelve inches at the top. It was built, not in one piece but in segments, jointed ball-and-socket fashion, with various springs and rubber cushions separating the different parts. To describe it further is beyond me; only it had two armlike pistons, one on each side, possessed a central electric dynamo, and was wired so profusely as to make the interior seem a tangled mass of cord.

Came the day when the brain of this monstrous mechanism was put in place. The part that fitted into what I must call the neck was made of aluminum, all except the cover, which was transparent glass and screwed into place. A small cylinder, which emitted an intense bluish light when brought into contact with electricity, was inside the aluminum howl. The captain connected the necessary wires. His face was very red. I watched breathlessly as Parsons filled the hollow globe with a glutinous mixture of opaque liquid. My hands unconsciously gripped each other until they hurt while I waited for something to happen, but nothing did. He screwed the glass cap into place and stepped down and back from the machine.

Technovelgy from The Chemical Brain, by Francis Flagg.
Published by Weird Tales in 1929
Additional resources -

Alas, the tale does not end well for its creators:

Parsons had evidently turned on the lights as he entered, for the room was well lighted. At the sight of what I saw strength nearly left me. I stood as if petrified. There before me—believe it or not, as you like— was lying the crushed and bleeding body of Walter Parsons, his features fixed in a set grimace of stark horror and agony, while crouching over him like some fearsome prehistoric monster was the metal man he had helped to.make, the hideous Robot, driving its short, armlike pistons into his still quivering flesh.

The sight sickened me. My bowels turned to water. The awful monstrosity was bent over like a bow, screaming as if in rage, and the pulsing matter under the glass cap on the top of its head sent out its reddish-blue tinge and glared at me like an evil eye.


('The Chemical Brain' by Francis Flagg)

Insane with terror I showered blow after blow on it with my Stilson wrench. The glass cap broke; the glutinous mass rolled out and pulsed on the floor like a living thing in its death throes. Even as it fell the whole body of the machine straightened up convulsively. Through all its sinuous wires and lengths ran a sighing sob. Then with a terrible crash it fell over on the already horribly mutilated body of its victim and was still.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Chemical Brain
  More Ideas and Technology by Francis Flagg
  Tech news articles related to The Chemical Brain
  Tech news articles related to works by Francis Flagg

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