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"I think we're still on that topic, still trying to figure out what computers are, how they change us, why we use them."
- Neal Stephenson

Living Machines  
  Robots that are able to learn.  

An interesting early treatment of the distinction between automated machinery and mechanisms that are capable of learning.

"Man is not a machine in the purely mechanical sense, though many of his functions are demonstrably mechanical. The ability to reason, however it has evolved, whatever it may be at bottom, whether a bewildering complexity of reflex actions or not, lifts man above the dignity of a machine. Does this imply the impossibility of creating machines (mechanical brains) that can profit by experience, go through the processes which we call thought? No; but it does imply that such machines (however created) are no longer mere mechanisms. There is here a dialectical process to be reckoned with. Machines that 'learn' are living machines."

Living machines ! I mouthed that phrase over and over to myself and mouthing it I looked at the cylinders with increasing dread. They were machines.

From The Mentanicals, by Francis Flagg.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1934
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