“A Robot Has Shot Its Master”

The 1930s hysteria about machines taking jobs and killing people.

By |Posted Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, at 8:00 AM ET

In the autumn of 1932, a British inventor named Harry May invited some friends over to see a demonstration of his latest invention, a robot called Alpha that could fire a gun at a target. Operated by wireless control, the robot sat lifeless in a chair on one side of the room. May placed a firearm in the robot’s hand and made his way to the other side of the room to set up a target. With the inventor’s back turned, the two-ton Alpha slowly rose to his feet and pointed the gun with his metallic arm. The men shouted warnings while the women screamed in terror. The inventor turned and was startled to see that his robot had come to life—and was now pointing a gun directly at him. Alpha lunged forward. . .  The Rest of the Story

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