I remember reading a short story in an old anthology about a robot that has a limited memory that is filling up and will soon stop being able to make new memories. I think I remember that the robot had a weapon and is threatening a technician. The robot explains that it wants to control its own destiny, and kills itself.

The premise behind the story was that using a perceptron, an idea first proposed in the 50's, it would be simple to make an AI. The way this was done was to take a glass sphere, cover the inside with a magnetic coating, and write information on the inside. The underlining question was what to call the self-destruction of a AI. If it was suicide, did that imply person-hood?

The only reason I remember this any of this is I think it is the base of the robot shrink, Dr. Perceptron, in Futurama, yet I have can find no reference to this anywhere. Appropriately, it's been driving me nuts for years.

Any thoughts?

  • 1
    How old was the old anthology? How long ago did you read it, and did it seem old at the time? Do you remember if the anthology was hardcover or paperback, American or British? Was it an anthology on the robot theme, or miscellaneous sci-fi stories? Was the story set on Earth in the near future?
    – user14111
    Feb 15, 2018 at 19:36
  • Good questions! Paperback, American, miscellaneous, Earth, near Old. I looked though my books. It was one of my fathers. I have a couple of other ones, Years best SF 1, 2,3, 5, 6, 8, 9, the old ones from 1965-64. Looked through but I don't think it was in one of them. I have others from that time, and a bit earlier.
    – FireSpy
    Feb 20, 2018 at 21:50
  • Things I am sure of: perceptron, glass sphere, sphere is broken by robot self. Robot is having a discussion with a person about it's nature. Person may be a Psychologist, but I don't thing it was by Asimov. Interviewer was male. When I saw the Futurama eps. I knew immediately it was a touch back to this story, but no one else has commented on it.
    – FireSpy
    Feb 20, 2018 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


I remember this story. It is Siema by Anatoly Dnieprov, originally published in Russian in 1958 and translated for publication in More Soviet Science Fiction, edited by Isaac Asimov. Click on the first link for a pdf of the story. Dnieprov's character described a robot (Siema) whose memory depended on a glass sphere whose interior was coated with ferric oxide, that was frustrated by its limited memory, and that turned on its maker. However, Siema did not self-destruct.

  • Thank you so much! I have been looking for this for a long time.
    – FireSpy
    Aug 17, 2019 at 14:19
  • You're welcome. It was a memorable story. Please check the answer to indicate that it was correct; thanks in advance! Aug 17, 2019 at 18:10
  • FireSpy, if you think this is correct answer, then please click on the checkmark to indicate that the topic is closed. Thanks! Aug 24, 2019 at 15:33

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