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"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it."
- Robert Heinlein

Embryonic Robots  
  Very small robots, possibly a very early reference to nanotechnology in science fiction.  

At this point in the story, someone uses a lifelike humanoid robot to plant listening devices (and maybe more):

The bureaucrat in Appleford had been ensnared by the bait; his attention distracted, the librarian had become oblivious to the robot and to its actions. Therefore, as Appleford read, the robot expertly slid its chair back and to the left side, close to a reference card case of impressive proportions. Lengthening its right arm, the robot crept its manual grippers of fingeroid shape into the nearest file of the case; this Appleford did of course not see, and so the robot then continued with its assigned task. It placed a miniaturized nest of embryonic robots, no larger than pinheads, within the card file, then a tiny find-circuit transmitter behind a subsequent card, then at last a potent detonating device set on a three-day command circuit.
From Counter Clock World, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Berkley in 1967
Additional resources -

The purpose of these tiny "embryonic robots" is not clear; neither is their functioning. However, the notion of a robot that is no larger than a pinhead is clearly a reference to what we today would call a "nanobot" or nanotechnology machine. See the article on autofac for an even earlier reference from Dick.

(Thanks to Rudi Martinez for this suggestion.)

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Counter Clock World
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Counter Clock World
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

Embryonic Robots-related news articles:
  - Bush Signs Nanotech R&D Act
  - Untethered Microrobots Dance, Form Self-Organized Structures

Articles related to Robotics
Maintain Your Megastructure
Humanoid Robot's Muscles Biomimic Ours
Animatronic Robotic Baby Exposed
China Deploys Robot Traffic Police

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