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It writes that it met a human who was alone and did not know how to speak. After the robot had taught him its language they got on very well together. The historian says humans have similar skeletons to robots but they are made from calcium compounds, not titanium. It said his friend the human complained his thermostat was malfunctioning. It tried to repair him.

It did not realise that turning the human off before repairing him left him irreversibly dead.

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    @Lexible is there a Meta QA on use of spoiler tags being not encouraged in story-ids ? I am a bit confused- what downside is there to using then? Conversely, how are people who stumble on the Q meant to remain unspoiled? (I found this QA)
    – bertieb
    Apr 11 at 20:54
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    @bertieb "how are people who stumble on the Q meant to remain unspoiled? " They aren't?
    – Lexible
    Apr 11 at 22:11
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    Spoliers do not reduce enjoyment of stories journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797611417007 Nonetheless I have fond memories of the first time I encountered some plot twists. I choose to prioritise treating my fellow human beings with respect and offering them a choice of whether to read a spoiler. Apr 12 at 8:55
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    @Lexible There are three kind of people opening SIQs. #1 The one asking it; #2 the ones who know the answer, and, most importantly, #3 people who got interested in the story, #1 and #2 can't be spoiled, already knows the story, and surely can handle a single click. #3, which I presume to be the majority, definetly can be spoiled, and don't want to be, so the spoiler tag is more than appropriate. And regardless, I don't see any harm putting a single sentence of the question in spoiler tag, let alone such a fundamental issue that it worths a -1.
    – Neinstein
    Apr 12 at 10:57

2 Answers 2

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Men are Different by Alan Bloch

I'm an archaeologist, and Men are my business. Just the same, I wonder if we'll ever find out about Men - I mean really find out what made Men different from us Robots - by digging around on the dead planets. You see, I lived with a Man once, and I know it isn't as simple as they told us back in school.


One day, for no reason at all, he complained of the heat. I checked his temperature and decided that his thermostat circuits were shot. I had a kit of field spares with me, and he was obviously out of order, so I went to work. I turned him off without any trouble. I pushed the needle into his neck to operate the cut-off switch, and he stopped moving, just like a Robot. But when I opened him up he wasn't the same inside. And when I put him back together I couldn't get him running again. Then he sort of weathered away - and by the time I was ready to come home, about a year later, there was nothing left of him but bones. Yes, Men are indeed different.

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    "pushed the needle into his neck" Strong vibes about the dim vet and the cat in Do androids dream of electric sheep? Apr 13 at 7:43
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Men Are Different by Alan Bloch. I read it in Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales edited by Asimov.

The whole story is only a single page. It starts:

I'm an archaeologist, and Men are my business. Just the same, I wonder if we’ll ever find out about Men - I mean really find out what made Men different from us Robots-

and ends:

One day, for no reason at all, he complained of the heat. I checked his temperature and decided that his thermostat circuits were shot. I had a kit of field spares with me, and he was obviously out of order, so I went to work. I turned him off without any trouble. I pushed the needle into his neck to operate the cut-off switch, and he stopped moving, just like a Robot. But when I opened him up he wasn’t the same inside. And when I put him back together I couldn’t get him running again. Then he sort of weathered away, and by the time I was ready to come home, about a year later, there was nothing left of him but bones. Yes, Men are indeed different.

The paragraph about the skeletons is:

Our scientists tell us that Men were very much like us - and the skeleton of a Man is, to be sure, almost the same as the skeleton of a Robot, except that it's made of some calcium compound instead of titanium. Just the same, there are other differences.

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  • If so, it would be a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/140963/… (which is not marked as accepted, but is a self-answer)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 11 at 12:35
  • Wow, you and Andrew both wrote fine answers at the same time! I accepted Andew's merely because it was posted a few minutes earlier. Thank you. Apr 11 at 13:01
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    @FuzzyBoots Since this one is accepted, I made this the dupe target.
    – Buzz
    Apr 11 at 13:39
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    @JudithJones I find it amazing how many knowledgeable enthusiasts are around on this site to help out with story identification. I am also very happy that story identification is not off topic here. Again and again people -- myself included -- come here in the hopes that somebody recognizes a great story from some vague and at times misleading memory fragments. Apparently that nagging "lost story" is a common condition, and this aspect of the site a service to mankind ;-). Apr 12 at 9:04
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    And as a bystander, I have profited from being pointed to great stories because it's more often the great ones that leave an impression. Apr 12 at 9:06

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