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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Robotic Abattoir  
  Robots with knives in a meat-packing plant.  

One building now gushed forth smoke and another stench that was unmistakable. Kris had encountered it once before when she passed a meat-packing company on a detour through a grotty area of Denver. The abattoir? And it was opposite buildings that resembled the barn they'd been in that night. To confirm her hideous surmise, the double doors of one of the barns now opened and its inhabitants, comprised of the six-legged grazers and some other smaller and different types, were being herded into the abattoir by a curious mechanical which had long extendable "arms" and which spat electrical sparks at laggard beasts. All unconscious of their imminent demise, the beasts jogged into the building... The doors slid closed and noises she didn't want to describe issued forth...

"They gather meat, too," Zainal said...

From Freedom's Landing, by Anne McCaffrey.
Published by Ace Books in 1996
Additional resources -

Thanks to Ashley for contributing the tip for this item.

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