Slavery and sentience in Star Wars for droids?
August 30, 2014 10:41 PM   Subscribe

My kids rewatched A New Hope this week, and I ended up lost on Wookieepedia trying to find a broadly-definitive (by fans, not so much Lucas) take on droids like C3PO and R2D2. I understand slavery of sentients was eventually outlawed by the New Republic, but are droids emancipated? Can a droid be a Jedi (I saw the Skippy story)? Are droids AI or something else? How is Jar Jar Binks considered fully sentient in law, but not R2D2? Can a droid be murdered? What about copying a droid - is that like cloning a sentient being? Droids 101, please
posted by viggorlijah to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I can only speculate on one thing, and I'm not sure how helpful it'll be - but a droid probably can't be a jedi - don't jedi "communicate" with the force via the midichlorians in their blood?
posted by tahu363 at 11:32 PM on August 30, 2014

this sounds like a perfect topic for
posted by alchemist at 11:48 PM on August 30, 2014

I'm assuming you saw the Droids and slavery part of the Slavery article, which includes the unreferenced sentence "An uprising of droids would later bring such ideas of their liberation into question". Assuming that's not just some wookieepedia editor making stuff up, it suggests there's been at least one uprising by droids trying to win their freedom.
posted by russm at 12:53 AM on August 31, 2014

There's a series of Star Wars books where the bad guy is an extragalactic alien race that abhors all technology, including/especially droids. This series is where you learn that C-3PO and R2-D2 fear death, which is a pretty compelling claim to sentience. You also get some organic creatures who are fighting the war, at least in part, for droids not just as "hey these are useful unpaid laborers" but as "hey these robots are my pals", which is a big step.

Droids are looked down upon by most organic creatures - you see this even A New Hope, with that "we don't serve your kind here" schtick.

There is a big range of droid intelligence - droids that are no smarter than my LCII, up through guys like C-3PO and beyond - but of course that's true of sentient organic creatures as well.

re: Jedi: tahu363 is right in terms of the movies, BUT if you're interested in the books (if you're delving into Wookieepedia probably you are), there's at least one example of this kind of thing. There's a human Jedi who uh...transfers her spirit into a computer and continues to use the Force from within the ship computer. So that's a thing that happens, and that suggests that blood is not a requirement for communication with the force. There's also these guys.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that "Droids and Slavery" section isn't more fleshed out. You'd think the Star Wars fan wiki would be as fanatical as the Star Trek one.

Anyway, based on some searching and vague recollections from having owned the Star Wars Encyclopedia as a kid, here are some more pages to explore:
Droid Rights (movement) and Droid Rights Organizations

Droid Abolitionist Movement, ending with the (failed) Great Droid Revolution. There's also a whole category for Droid Revolts.

Droid Supremacy and Anti-Droid Sentiment

The Galactic Constitution, the Rights of Sentience, and Bill 1979

"Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88" and sentience programming
Note that all of this lore, along with 90% of the rest of the wiki, is probably going to be discarded to make way for the upcoming movies.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:00 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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