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> Prior to 2003, people were less interested in non-sentient autonomous machines.

Yeah, you're just making shit up. The first machine intelligence in pop culture can be found in https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.U.R. (the origin of the phrase "robot"). Non-sentient autonomous machines are even older. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golem Sci-fi authors have been talking about modern-looking self-replicating machines for decades.

Maybe you have some weird definition of a drone? Drones in common parlance have come to be associated with any robotic vehicle, and are used in technical parlance to refer to a huge variety of autonomous or semi-autonomous machines.




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