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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Robot Surgeon-Hand  
  A skilled surgical robot that attaches at the end of the surgeon's arm.  

V-Stephens was being held prisoner in a cube-like room in the psychotic ward. How to escape?

From time to time V-Stephens examined his wristwatch and then turned his attention back to the object crawling up and down the sealed edges of the entrance-lock.

The object moved slowly and cautiously. It had been exploring the lock for twenty-nine hours straight; it had traced down the power leads that kept the heavy plate fused in place... During the last hour it had cut its way throught the rexeroid surface to within an inch of the terminals. The crawling, exploring object was V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot of precision quality usually joined to his right wrist.

It wasn't joined there now. He had detached it and sent it up the face of the cube to find a way out. The metal fingers clung precariously to the smooth dull surface, as the cutting-thumb laboriously dug its way in...

The forefinger of the surgeon-hand reached the anode terminal and paused questioningly. All four fingers rose erect and waved like insect antennae. One by one they fitted themselves into the cut slot and probed for the nearby cathode lead.

Abruptly there was a blinding flash... the hand dropped to the floor, its work done. V-Stephens ...crossed the cube to collect it.

With the hand in place and acting as part of his own neuromuscular system again, V-Stephens gingerly grasped the lock...

From War Veteran, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by If in 1955
Additional resources -

Philip K. Dick was fascinated by the idea of robotic or technological replacement parts for humans. See the Interchangeable Hands from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1964).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from War Veteran
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to War Veteran
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

Robot Surgeon-Hand-related news articles:
  - bebionic3 Myoelectric Robotic Hand
  - Handbot Climbs Shelves, Has Rope Launcher
  - BeBionic Robotic Hand With Powered Wrist
  - bebionic Myo-Electric Hand Launched

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Cheetah 2 Robot Now Leaps Obstacles To Get You
Robotic Exoskeleton Releases Man From Wheelchair
Oh, Just Let Robots Run Airports

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