I would likely have read this story in the late 1980s or early 90s. I do not recall if it was novel or short story length. My suspicion is that it was either part of Asimov's "robot" universe or a one-off tale from Arthur C. Clarke.
The problem is that the main scene I recall is that of the scientist demonstrating the capabilities of his new robot and distributed computing/AI design by throwing a box of paper clips at it. The robot's arms are a series of bifurcating limbs (with processing nodes at each joint?) such that it has a huge number of "fingers" and can just reach out and catch all the individual paperclips at once. This ability (and not any of the other work that he has done) finally catches the attention of his superiors.
But if you search for anything to do with AI, robots or computing and paperclips ... you will mostly find results about the "Paperclip Maximiser" problem whereby an AI will accidentally destroy the world by turning it all into paperclips.
My feeling is that it if it were Asimov it would be quite late Asimov as the science and technology was a bit more concrete. i.e. that the real world technology was starting to catch up with the science fiction and so the story contained more "technical details" (albeit still fictional) compared to the earlier Asimov with the generic "positronic brain", etc. This is partly why I am also considering Clarke as the source as his work tended to be more closely related to real world technology (although this is a big generalisation!).
I do not recall anything else of significance about the story so I suspect that I have focussed on this key scene and simply forgotten which novel/short-story it is part of - presumably because this isn't a significant plot point even though the visual image it created for me was striking.