Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Truth About Droids


That BB-8 in The Force Awakens is pretty cute, isn't it? Too bad it and every other droid in the Star Wars galaxy is held in slavery in a culture so biosupremacist they do even recognize it as such!

This first occurred to me while watching the Clone Wars animated series. There was an episode where the  bird-headed (and brained) battle droids not only make poor tactical decisions, but did so due to over-confidence.

The humanoid species of the galaxy programmed these droids?  I think not.

Follow me here: I can buy that people might program artificial intelligences that make bad decisions--maybe that's just an unavoidable sequelae of having that level of AI.  But AI that are arrogant, boneheaded, dishonest, or overconfident?  That seems unlikely.  Yes, AIs like this do show up in science fiction, but they're typically unique entities, not armies of fretting domestics and slow-on-the-uptake battle-bots.  I mean, if that was just the inevitable downside to sapient droids, then I think people would just choose to do without them.  Seems like they're more trouble than they're worth a lot of the time.

So how does one explain the evidence before us in the canon--the fact that pain-in-the-ass droids are found all over the galaxy?

My theory is that the humanoid races don't actual make droids.  Those droid-foundries on Genosis are apocryphal.  I think droids are machine-life enslaved by the biologic sapients of the galaxy.

Probably your Walrus Man, Snaggletooth, or what have you, aren't out on slaving runs (though Jabba's treatment of Oola the Dancing Girl, and Watto's ownership of the Skywalkers might suggest otherwise).  I think maybe certain fringe biologic races or perhaps other droids, sell the droids to galactic society.  These droids aren't manufactured in the sense of being designed by teams of engineers and rolled out of factories, but instead droids are self-replicating.  They "reproduce" in some way (not likely sexual--despite what your thinking), and the resultant neonate intelligences go through some sort of growth/maturation process.  This allows for their (many) personality quirks.

I don't think droids evolved naturally.  Probably they were initially created by a long-vanished precursor race, or by the transcendent AIs that succeeded a precursor race.  Since that time droids have been undergoing evolution, changing in ways that have made them as complicated and flawed as any biologic sophonts.

So that gets us to the very real fact of their slavery. Apparently galactic society is just hugely bio-chauvinist.  Collectively, it's just culturally incapable of viewing droids as anything but machines.

I know this is the "canon" answer, nor will it fit well with everyone's version of the "Star Wars Universe."  But I find the science fictional nuance this adds to the universe compelling and gameable.

11 comments:

Matthew Schmeer said...

The fact that droids are tortured and scream in pain support your thesis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgz1_AdSRz8

seaofstarsrpg said...

Ha! Indeed. Free the Droids now! http://wp.me/pylJj-jS

Greg Gorgonmilk said...

I'm not at all knowledgeable about the Expanded Universe (and may not ever be now that it's all apocyrphya), but did they ever identify the corporations responsible for building, say, R-units?

Sean Robert Meaney said...

And yet a certain droid is a bounty hunter...which still may be a slave assassin employed by its owner to hunt down vermin.

Sean Craven said...

Forgive me if I'm stepping on your heels, but you might get a kick out of this... http://seancraven.blogspot.com/2010/12/r2d2-sex-dwarf-of-spaceways.html

Jez Gordon said...

Heh... I had the "Cogs" - a droid rights movement seeking equality for all cognitives - in my Star Wars game for a long time.

pulcherius said...

The battle droids were stupid and arrogant because George Lucas thought it was funny. They are not a good example of typical droids in the SW universe.

Trey said...

The battle droids are just as much "in universe" as any other, so you'd have to give a compelling reason to discount them. We can look at another explain in the entire series: C-3PO. He lies (perhaps even self-deceives), gets irritated, and projects his errors onto others. That's a lot of baggage to purposely build into a robot.

Trey said...

@Jez - That's a good idea!

Hradek said...

R2-D2 was built by Industrial Automaton, and C-3P0, if he came fresh off of the assembly line, would have been built by Cybot Galactica, the same company that made Luke's arm.

In universe, droids that develop quirks are ones that haven't had their minds wiped lately. C-3P0 got mind wiped in RotS, though he seems prone to picking up quirks, being that he was not an off the line model.

Also according to the now defunct EU, thousands of years ago there was a droid uprising, and after it was put down, restraining bolts and the mind wiping process were implemented to keep them in line.

As for the Battle Droids, I would say garbage in garbage out. Their creators were probably arrogant and thought they were smarter than they were, and their product reflects that.

C Huth said...

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Great_Heep