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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

  Ensures the obedience of robots.  

A peculiar and original take on the idea that robots need to have some sort of control mechanism. The author seems to take it from the idea of a record that is played to teach speech or manners.

While the women lived in luxury, having the robots doing all their menial tasks for them, the men spent their weary lives toiling away in the mines in a weary search for the precious metal that had to be made into brain-plates daily to keep the robots in a state of mental subjection.

“Comrades,” Tolka addressed the rulers of the key cities that were grouped before her in the throne room, “as you know, there has been a drastic shortage of platinum recently and thousands of robots had to be disposed of. The men who work in the mines have notified me through their spokesman, a man they call John Corstair, that the present lode has been almost entirely exhausted."


“And so,” continued Tolka, “we must render at least two thousand of the robots useless immediately in order to preserve as many of them as possible, because if their brainplates wear out completely and are not replaced, it is quite possible that they will become completely demented and go on a tour of destruction as they did when my illustrious mother, Tolka I, was in her prime.” She raised her voice to a demanding pitch. “Would you want such a state to occur in our generation?”

A chorus of “No’s!” greeted her question.

Tolka rose from her throne. “Very well,” she said, turning to her personal robot servant, “then we will act without delay.”

The robot, which was about the size of an average man of the twentieth century, walked stiffly toward Tolka, swinging his long arms in an odd fashion. His platinum brain-plate began to squeak and whine as a vibration needle dug into it to produce speech.

Technovelgy from Women's World, by David C. Cooke.
Published by Science Fiction in 1939
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