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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Servok  
  An 'automatic' or clock-set mechanism to perform simple tasks.  

Every available space in the room was crowded with exotic wet-climate plants. Something rustled in the greenery. She tensed, then glimpsed a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms. An arm lifted, sent out a fine spray of dampness that misted her cheeks. The arm retracted and she looked at what it had watered: a fern tree.
From Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1965
Additional resources -

In the appendix to the book (provided by Herbert), servok is defined this way:

SERVOK: clock-set mechanism to perform simple tasks; one of the limited "automatic" devices permitted after the Butlerian Jihad.

Compare to the asteroid garden from Asteroid of Fear (1951) by Raymond Z. Gallun, Martian sawgrass" from QRM - Interplanetary (1942) by George O. Smith and lifezones from Tides of Light (1989) by Gregory Benford.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dune
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
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