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"One can see the free software movement as a precusor for a "free hardware" or "free wetware" movement--one that will provide free libraries of designs for biological or nanotechnological products that replicators can be programmed to churn out."
- Charles Stross

Visual Pattern Recognition  
  A robot's ability to respond to programmed visual stimulus  

Very early reference to this idea. In the story, G-3a is one of the Earth's last robots trying to reconstruct or rebuild new robots to take his place.

"This," said G-3a thoughtfully, "is the only perfect brain that I could find. You see, I am not trying to create something; I am merely rebuilding. Those" - he nodded to the black squares - "are the sensory organs. The visions from the eyes are flashed upon these as though they were screens. Beyond those eyes is the response mechanism, thousands and thousands of photo-electric cells. Men made it so that it would react mechanically to certain images. Movement, the simple avoidance of objects, the urge to kill, these are directed by the copper sphere."
From Rust, by Joseph E. Kelleam.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1939
Additional resources -

Thanks to the Three Hoarsemen for pointing this story out.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Rust
  More Ideas and Technology by Joseph E. Kelleam
  Tech news articles related to Rust
  Tech news articles related to works by Joseph E. Kelleam

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