"I think a lot of kids whose mental growth outruns their maturity gravitate to science fiction."
There is a short mention of this in Queen of Angels. The unit functions in an apartment that clearly belongs to an upper caste person; it is probably an expensive item. Besides working as an answering machine, it has speech recognition and schedule keeping functionality.
There is a continuing fascination for devices like this in sf; another favorite example is the Daily Schedule (DS) in The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert.
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'Of course not a vehicle moved by means of internal explosions of a derivative of rock oil...'
Autonomous 'Fiberbots' Weave Large Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider.'
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'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'
Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.'
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'If you couldn't see the ads, how would you know what was fashionable?'
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'...the lower part of the suit was simply a rigid cylinder.'
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'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'
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'Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?'
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'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it'
Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
'Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...'
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