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I've been trying to google this for years. I'm pretty sure I read it in a short story collection, but don't remember the collection or the author or even the name of the story or any of the characters in it. It may have been from one of those 'years best scifi'/'worlds best scifi' compilations, but I'm not solid on that.

Things I do remember:

  • a man is being investigated because his wife (a genius roboticist) defected to another country, which is run by or just has a lot of robots in it that don't follow the three laws of robotics.
  • the fact that his society disallows strong AI and requires every robot to follow all three laws and the other society doesn't is propagandized to be a reason why his society is superior to the other one
  • there's something of a cold war going between the two of them
  • he himself is an investigator trying to sort out how its possible to be invisible from the omnipresent security of the society in which he lives, because rebel operatives seem to be able to graffiti things without getting caught by the cameras.
  • Spoilers:
    • He catches someone who tells him that its because they're using hoodies with IR LEDs in the rims to wash out their faces, and that the person is not really an operative so much as a disgruntled teen who built something using the equivalent of the Anarchist's Cookbook, which was disseminated by the man's wife, apparently.

    • he's about to be tortured or something and a robot and his wife bust into the containment facility he's in and helps him escape, and they start heading towards the border with this other society. His wife is graphically killed by a government robot that apparently doesn't follow the three laws in the escape attempt, but the rescuing robot seems unworried.

    • giant black robots that don't look like they follow the three laws pop up out of the tops of buildings as they fly(?) over them, and the man realizes his wife was right all along

  • Super Spoiler
    • they get to the other society and he has a moment where he encounters his wife. Again. and again. And realizes there are literally hundreds of clones of her. Nice.

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    You have a very good start here, one thing that will help people is the year though, you say "years" do you know roughly how long that was and was it new at that time? – TheLethalCarrot Sep 20 '18 at 8:57
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    Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! This question would be improved by going through the checklists here; How to ask a good story-ID question? – Valorum Sep 20 '18 at 9:09
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    I can't really put this as an answer because I'm not sure it's a match, but it sounds along the same lines as vN : The Machine Dynasty #1 by Madeline Ashby – mwarren Sep 20 '18 at 9:41
  • @TheLethalCarrot I don't know the answer to either of those questions, unfortunately. – Evan B Sep 20 '18 at 13:38
  • @Valorum thanks, I had looked at that to guide how I wrote it in the first place :). – Evan B Sep 20 '18 at 13:40
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@TheLethalCarrot's question prompted me to think harder about the source, and I realized that it was probably one of the 'years best scifi' compilations I had sitting on my bookshelf. I poked through the index on a few of them and figured it out.

The story is I, Robot by Cory Doctorow. It was published in Year's Best SF 11 (ISBN-13 98-0-06-087341-7), and is the very last story in the book. Looks like it was from 2005.

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    Good work remembering. Please remember to come back and accept your answer when the timer runs out. – Xantec Sep 20 '18 at 14:09
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    I'm enjoying reading this, probably not surprising given Cory Doctorow. – FuzzyBoots Sep 21 '18 at 12:09
  • @FuzzyBoots i definitely enjoyed re-reading it as well :) – Evan B Sep 24 '18 at 17:20
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    @Xantec done :D – Evan B Sep 24 '18 at 17:20

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