"Cyberpunk worked when the Internet was in its hand-wound crystal radio phase, when you had to be a sort of hobbyist to do e-mail, and it all had a very steep learning curve. Those days are over."
Vashti lives in an age in which people live alone in a single room - the Machine serves all their needs. Direct experience is a thing of the past - when she faces it, she panics.
This is a very early use of the idea of using some sort of machine to allow physicians to examine patients at a distance. The earliest efforts in telemedicine date from around 1905; telecardiology via telephone was demostrated by Willem Einthoven. Telestethoscopy using the telephone was tried in the 1920's.
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Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?
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'I know kung-fu.'
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