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"Concepts of religion may now be goals of science and engineering."
- Bart Kosko

Proxy Robot  
  A remote-controlled floating telepresence robot, for use by aliens who cannot share an atmosphere.  

This is a very early example of an often-used idea.

Visitors from across space seldom emerged from their rooms, other than to go to the recreation halls, if such were provided for the particular type of creature they happened to be. The most important reason was simply that direct exposure to Earthly conditions usually held a promise of swift death. Instead, they accomplished their contacts with the terrestrial environment by means of radio-controlled proxy robots, usually provided by the hostelry itself...

The robot was a little flying sphere, about eight inches in diameter. It had a single mechanical eye, and one flexible metal arm. More than that, besides its propulsion, radio direction, and auditory receiver units, it possessed only the capacity to speak, as its unseen guide, hidden in one of the rooms here, directed.

Technovelgy from Hotel Cosmos, by Raymond Z. Gallun.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1938
Additional resources -

Proxy robots did as they were directed - including attacking helpless human attendants in the hotel!

Four white-clad youths were down, screaming on the floor, while proxy robots wheeled and darted over them like angry hornets of gigantic size. No weapons were in evidence here, but the proxies, by hurling their own bulks swiftly, could strike furious blows against their human adversaries.

Old Dave — Easy Goin’ — Ledrack, rushed forward, the pistol-like device in his hand flaming vengefully. Ragged bolts of energy lanced from it blindingly, and with each blast a proxy robot clattered to the floor in glowing, superheated fragments...

The remaining proxies hurtled toward Dave, like wickedly glittering projectiles, their camera eyes agleam, their metal arms extended like spearpoints!

...Dave, armed as was no one else present, smashed the last of the small attacking mechanisms with a series of dazzling bursts of energy.

Compare to remote telepresence robot from Buck Rogers, 2430 AD (1929) by Philip Nowlan (w/D. Calkins) and the robot probes from Oath of Fealty (1981) by Larry Niven (w/J. Pournelle). See also the copseyes from Larry Niven's 1972 story Cloak of Anarchy, Eyes from This Moment of the Storm (1966) by Roger Zelazny and the Raytron apparatus (1928) from Beyond the Stars by Ray Cummings and the artificial eye drone from Glimpse (1938) by Manly Wade Wellman.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Hotel Cosmos
  More Ideas and Technology by Raymond Z. Gallun
  Tech news articles related to Hotel Cosmos
  Tech news articles related to works by Raymond Z. Gallun

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