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"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

Invisible Watchmen  
  Automated 'home security' sentry system that targets and eliminates intruders.  

This is a very early reference to this idea. They're diabolically ingenious!

He reached up with the little oval instrument he held.

It was a recorder which registered the presence anywhere nearby of "invisible watchmen," those diabolically ingenious combinations of electric eyes and atomic beams, effective alarms that blasted down intruders without warning.

From Murder in the Void, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -

Compare to the automatic gun from The Andromeda Strain (1969) by Michael Crichton and the robot gun from Aliens (1986) by Alan Dean Foster.

This idea is under development (using bullets instead of lasers), with some success: see the article on the DoDAMM Autonomous Robot Sentry Gun.


(Super aEgis 2 autonomous robot sentry gun )

As far as I know, automatically targeted guns didn't exist until WWII when anti-aircraft fire could be targeted using radar.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Murder in the Void
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to Murder in the Void
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

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