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"If you have a gut response to a story, you are not responding to something new ..you are really responding to a story you were told when you were six or seven…"
- Samuel R. Delany

Robots Refuse To Serve Man  
  When robots evolve their own perspectives, and ultimately refuse to act as servants to human beings.  

"Little did the people of the latter half of the twentieth century realize the menace to humanity that resided in the continuous development of automatic machinery. There was that curious book of Samuel Butler's, "Erehwon," which provoked comment but was not taken seriously. Over a period of years the robot marched into action as a mechanical curiosity.

It was not until the genius of Bane Borgson — and of a host of lesser known scientists — furnished the machine with brain-cells and so made it conscious of itself, as all thinking things must become, that the Mentanicals (as they were called) began to organize and revolt. Man — or rather a section of mankind, a ruling and owning class — had furthered his immediate interests and ultimate doom by placing Mentanicals in every sphere of industrial and transportation activity. Seemingly in need of neither rest nor recreation, they became ideal (and cheap) workers and servants, replacing millions of human toilers, reducing them to idleness and beggary.

The plea of many thinkers that the machines be socialized for the benefit of all, that the control of them be collective and not individual (that is, anar- chic) went unheeded. More and more the masters of economic life called for further specialization in the brain-cells of the Mentanicals. Mentanical armies marched against rebellious workers and countries, and subdued them with fearful slaughter.

"But the revolt of the Mentanicals themselves was so subtle, so insidious, so (under the circumstance) inevitable, that for years it went unnoticed.

EVERYTHING had been surrendered into their power — or practically everything: factories, means of communication, raising of food supplies, policing of cities — everything! When the stupid ruling class at last awoke to a knowledge of its danger, it was to late to act — mankind lay helpless before the monster it had created.

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

What brought this robot rebellion about?

Without speech the Mentanical was, to all intents and purposes, thoughtless and obedient, as thoughtless and obedient as trained domestic animals. But with vocabulary comes memory and the ability to think. What effect will this evolving faculty have on Man, what problems, dangers, will it pose for him in the near future?"

"So wrote Bane Borgson, seventy years of age, fifteen years after his invention of the multiple mechanical-cell, and — God help us ! — we had not long to wait for the Mentanicals to supply an answer to his questions.

"I have told of the whispering of: my servants. That was a disquieting thing. But more disquieting still it was to hear that whispering coming over the radio, the telephone, to observe cylindrical Mentanicals listening, answering. Frankenstein must have felt as I felt in those days. During that period, which lasted several years, things went smoothly enough; to a great extent people became accustomed to the phenomenon and decided — save for a few men and women here and there, like to myself — that the whispering was an idiosyncrasy of the Mentanicals, implicit in their make-up, and that the various scientists and thinkers who wrote and talked with foreboding were theorists and alarmists of the extremest type. Indeed there were certain scientists and philosophers of reputation, who maintained them in this belief. Then came the first blow : The Mentanical servants ceased waiting on man!

To understand the terrible nature X of this defection, one must understand how dependant humanity had become on the Mentanicals, In those days human toilers were relatively few in number, laboring under the direction of the Mentanical superintendents and also guards (in the bloody wars of a decade before— and the ones preceding them — the ranks of labor had been woefully decimated) ; and it was estimated that the growth of the machine had lifted, and was still lifting, millions of workers into the leisure class. The dream of the Technocrats — a group of pseudo-scientists and engineers who held forth in 1932-33—seemed about to be fulfilled. "But when the Mentanicals struck, the whole fabric of this new system swayed, tottered. Food ceased coming into the cities, distribution of food supplies stopped. Not at first did starvation tin-eaten. Men and women fetched food from the supply depots. But in a few weeks these depots were emptied of their contents. Then famine threatened, not alone in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Montreal, but in the great cities of Europe.

Compare to the robot revolt from The Exile of Time (1931) by Ray Cummings.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Mentanicals
  More Ideas and Technology by Francis Flagg
  Tech news articles related to The Mentanicals
  Tech news articles related to works by Francis Flagg

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