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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

The Machine (M)  
  An autonomous robot able to alter its appearance and functionality at will.  

The machine was a foot wide and two feet long: it looked like an oversized box of crackers. Silently, with great caution, it climbed the side of a concrete building; it had lowered two rubberized rollers and was now beginning the first phase of its job...


('The Unreconstructed M' by Philip K. Dick)

Beam, holding the cigaret lighter, walked toward the M. A receptor stalk waved toward him and the machine retreated. Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed. For an interval, the device struggled with itself; then, reluctantly, the portable t-v unit again became visible.

From The Unreconstructed M, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Science Fiction Stories in 1957
Additional resources -

I don't have text references, but readers might compare the Shrike from Dan Simmon's 1989 novel Hyperion and the Aleph from Gregory Benford's 1983 novel Against Infinity.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Unreconstructed M
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to The Unreconstructed M
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

The Machine (M)-related news articles:
  - MorpHex MKII The Unreconstructed Hexapod
  - Metal That Morphs
  - Liquid Metal Terminator Development Hums Right Along
  - Liquid Metal Shape-Changing 'Soft Robotics'
  - Shapeshifter Robot Is Comprised Of Cobots

Articles related to Robotics
Dyson's Secret Household Robots
Festo BionicSwift Bird Robots Described In 1930
Robotics Jobs In The Food Industry
Smallest Remote-Controlled Walking Robot Crabs

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