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

Robotic Trash Can  
  A sensor-equipped waste can capable of autonomous cleaning - and legal judgement.  

Carl Tritt is having a bad day. Sentenced to twenty years by a robot judge, he makes the mistake of spitting on the sidewalk.

Forgetting where he was in his misery, he choked a bit. Then spat heavily.

Even as the saliva hit the spotless sidewalk, a waste can twenty feet away stirred into life. It rotated on hidden wheels and soundlessly rolled towards him. In shocked horror Carl pressed the back of his hand to his mouth. Too late to stop what was already done.

A flexible arm licked out and quickly swabbed the sidewalk clean. Then the can squatted like a mechanical Buddha while a speaker rasped to life in its metal insides. A tinny mechanical voice addressed Carl.

"Carl Tritt, you have violated Local Ordinance #bd-14-668 by expectorating on a public sidewalk. The sentence is two days. Your total sentence is now twenty years and two days."

From Robot Justice, by Harry Harrison.
Published by Fantastic Universe in 1959
Additional resources -

This reminds me of the Profanity Sensors (see a picture of the original movie prop) in the 1993 movie Demolition Man, starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock. Whenever Sly swore (which he did often) a nearby sensor announced his crime and printed out a ticket.

Compare to the garbage device from The Age of The Pussyfoot (1966), by Frederik Pohl.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Robot Justice
  More Ideas and Technology by Harry Harrison
  Tech news articles related to Robot Justice
  Tech news articles related to works by Harry Harrison

Robotic Trash Can-related news articles:
  - Bombproof Trash Can Secures Rubbish
  - DustCart Robotic Trash Can From DustBot
  - DustBot Video Shows Robotic Future Of Trash

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