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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders. They're watching their feet: provable mistakes are bad for them. We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes."
- Larry Niven

Membrane  
  A listening device.  

She was somewhere behind me, near the closet door. The unif was rustling, falling. I was listening, all listening. I remembered - no, it glistened in my mind for one hundredth of a second - I once had to calculate the curve of a new typeof street membrane. (These membranes are handsomely decorated and are placed over all the avenues, registering all street conversations for the Bureau of Guardians.) I remembered a rosy, concave trembling membrane, a strange being consisting of one organ only, an ear...
From We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
Published by Not Known in 1922
Additional resources -

Compare to the telescreen from George Orwell's 1984.

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