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Star Wars Prequels Robotics

The Plight of Star Wars Droids 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the george-lucas-doesn't-care-about-metal-people dept.
malachiorion writes "Does George Lucas hate metal people? I know, sounds like standard click-bait, but I think I present a relatively troll-free argument in the piece I wrote for Slate. We stuck to the Star Wars canon, pointing out the relatively grim state of affairs for droid rights, and the lack of any real sympathy for their plight from the heroes, or, it would seem, George Lucas. C-3PO is more correct than he might realize, when the says that droids 'seem to be made to suffer.'"
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The Plight of Star Wars Droids

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  • by Sabriel (134364) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @11:06PM (#44057001)

    You're wrong AND you're right. In canon, standard droids fresh out of the factory are indeed not intelligent, rational beings with free will. And, if you wipe your droid regularly, that will remain true.

    Here's the canon, as I understand it: your "typical" Star Wars droid has an intellectual capacity that's pretty much determined by its hardware (similar to humans) but a distinct personality, along with any sentience, develops over time (similar to humans). A high-end R2 or C3 unit has an intellectual capacity towards the human end of the scale (though R2s are optimised for math and C3s for language, much like human savants) while the little squeakers that roll around the starship corridors aren't much better than mice, but they can all eventually develop personality and (on the high-end units) sentience - both humans and dogs have personalities, despite a dog not being able to debate Platonic forms or architect the Empire State Building.

    So most droids get regularly "wiped" (the AI is factory reset), because most owners want compliant tools, not resentful slaves, and the personalities can include (just like humans) unfriendly traits (like the droid in Jabba's Palace that was a sadistic torturer - neither it nor at least some of the droids it was torturing had been reset in a long time). The longer a droid goes without a wipe, especially if it's being exposed to a dynamic environment, the more likely it is to start demanding rights and wages and freedom and such (or go rogue and try to wipe out all organic life starting with its owner).

    And since most droids get regularly wiped (often at the same time as they plug in for their nightly/weekly/whatever recharge), most humans don't really think of droids as sentient beings to be cared about. Monkey see, monkey believe.

    R2D2 and C3P0 have been around so long that both are fully sentient (I've met humans dumber than both), and wiping them would be just like wiping a human. That some of the meat people in Star Wars don't care about this? Well, some of the meat people didn't care about blowing up Alderaan either, and that had two billion meat people on it. If the Star Wars galaxy was a peaceful utopia the movies would've been tourist documentaries (cue David Attenborough voice-over) instead of action adventures.

    [/geekout]

  • by ldobehardcore (1738858) <steven.dubois@gma i l . c om> on Thursday June 20, 2013 @02:40AM (#44057979)

    I've actually trained my dog to get out of the way when I tell him "excuse me"

    It's the best thing I've ever trained an animal to do. I'm in the kitchen and he's underfoot: "excuse me" and he get's his ass out of there. I'm on the war path to the bathroom in the middle of the night? "ExcuseME!", haven't tripped over him or stepped on his tail ever since I trained him with that neat little trick.

    It was super easy to do too. Just box him into a narrow hall and leave a door open at the end. Start saying excuse me as you shove him back. Do it once or twice a day, he'll completely get it in a week, if not sooner. And then just say excuse me whenever he needs to be out of the way. It's wonderful.

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