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In countless other science fiction the creators rely on obedience from their superhumanly-strong machines. I think it was argued in Westworld that the machines had to be strong, ironically to protect humans from harm.

But it seems clear to me that Nathan in Ex Machina deliberately made his robots subhumanly frail — strong enough to be functional but without a knife, no match for any human almost. This is, of course, the smart way to go.

Did any other robot creator in fiction take this path before? What is the first example of frail robots?

I think I should be more clear: robots that ended up harming people but were physically fragile. Because an obvious example of fragile robots are those in Star Wars or even Silent Running.

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    "Did any other robot creator in fiction take this path?" Yes probably. But to get a useful answer you'll need to focus on that, and probably ask who was the first.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 21:43
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    I think should be left open as "first example of [x]" type question, which has been established are on-topic and not a list.
    – Skooba
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 18:59
  • I think Louie was used as a tool to kill crewmates...
    – Spencer
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 23:00

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The "Maschinenmensch", a robot replica of the character Maria both in Thea von Harbour's novel "Metropolis" (1925) as well as the Fritz Lang film of the same name (1927), was at least not superhumanly strong and could be destroyed by the mob without too much effort (in fact, she could be handled by a single human and the scene seems to suggest she is not stronger than the flesh and blood Maria would have been).

Before that, she did manage to hurt people (as an infiltrator and agitator, not physically. Designing her superhumanly strong would have been surplus to requirements).

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