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"The whole problem of energy sources is going to be solved by little solutions, not by some big new piece of technology that does everything. We got into this crisis by believing that we had one big piece of technology that would do everything (oil)."
- Gregory Benford

Hoverlimo  
  A hovercraft for hire, with servility built in.  

They are at the UniBio labs, learning about the future of sex (corporate version); following the presentation, they head back to the office to write up their stories - or they would, if they could find a hoverlimo. Unfortunately, the vehicle refuses to carry fewer than 7 passengers.

"When I write this story," I said, "and when I mention this foolish delay, portraying UniBio in an unfavorable light, your bosses will be extremely upset."

"This information disturbs and alarms me," said the hoverlimo. "I, being only a subprogram of an incompletely-activated routine of the UniBio building computer, wish only to please my human passengers…However, I can't move."

"Your mother was a garbage truck," I said, and kicked it in the rubber skirt.

"Undoubtedly, sir. Thank you, sir. Please come back soon, sir."

From Steel Beach, by John Varley.
Published by Ace Putnam in 1992
Additional resources -

One of the fun things about recent sf (i.e., post 50's) is that one no longer encounters perfect devices.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Steel Beach
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