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"We'd have most of what we predicted of the conquest of space, if we hadn't ignored parasite control."
- Larry Niven

Synthetic Intellect  
  A machine mind, created and improved by more primitive machine minds.  

I canít think of an earlier reference to this idea.

However, there were things there which did not belong in the pilot chamber of any ordinary vessel. Among them was a large, square case, from which many wires radiated. It contained the cool, synthetic intellect of MZ-1. Minds that could compare with it in keenness and power, existed only in the Place of Knowledge. MZ-1 was not like the worker and soldier robots whose simple reasoning faculties are adapted only to routine duties. MZ-1 was the first of its kind; it was a superthing, for in it were united the strength and mobility of the fastest space ship, and the mental powers of a thought machine.

The latter were marvelous fabrications now. Five hundred years ago a genius named Benz had invented the first. Its mental abilities had been about equal to those of a man, though its memory and its mathematical capacities were more accurate. Benz had made a score of the machines, and he had put them to the task of designing others. Improvements had been rapid. The first machines had swiftly become obsolete. Those they had invented had taken their place ; and these latter, in turn, invented sentient mechanisms which were a little ahead of themselves. So it had gone, stop by step, year after year, until the synthetic intellects at the Place of Knowledge had far outstripped the minds of men, and had reached a level of thought that was truly deific.

It might have been said that Benz was the last human being really to think. After his time, all thought and all invention was mechanical.

Technovelgy from The Machine That Thought, by William Callahan.
Published by Science Fiction in 1939
Additional resources -

Compare to computers improve computers from The Feeling of Power (1958) by Isaac Asimov and Vulcan 3 from Vulcan's Hammer (1960) by Philip K. Dick.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Machine That Thought
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