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The Psychology of Droids
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Sutehp
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
CRMcNeill wrote:
I’m less concerned about droids actually being sentient than I am about the assertion that being sentient requires that droids have, need or even want to be independent and self-determining, or the assertion that sentience in the rare, exceptional droid like R2, 3PO, or Bollux should be considered the norm for all droids, all the way down to the simple-minded drone running the static broom out in the hallway.

Is anyone actually asserting that?


Out-of universe, no. No one I've seen is making that assertion, at least so far as I've read in this forum.

But as for in-universe...

It's been noted in the Star Wars 'verse that droids have a variety of sentience depending on the type/Degree of droid. In-universe, droids are assigned to a specific Degree depending on their intended function. Here's a quote from WEG's own Cynabar's Fantastic Technology: Droids:

Cynabar's Fantastic Technology: Droids wrote:
"Droid: A mechanical and/or electronic construct designed and put into service to assist organic life."
--From the Cybot Galactica Design Team Operations Manual
While the above definition is substantially correct, it does not fully describe what exactly a droid is. A droid is more than a computer that can move undr its own power. Often a droid is designed with a personality as complex as that of an organic lifeform, or with the ability to perform tasks that are too phyically demanding for living beings.
Most droids are proigrammed with an advanced synthetic intelligence, separating them from their purely robotic cousins (non-intellect bearing mechanisms, such as factory assembly robots common on many low-tech worlds). Not all droids have the same complexity of programming, and there is vast diversity in droid functions, designs and capabilities.
A majority of droids have the common traits of self-aware intelligence, locomotion, sensory reception, logic, manipulation and communication, based on the requirements of the manufacturer.
Droids are classified into five degrees, as follows:
-First Degree Droids. Usually utilitarian in disposition, droids of this class are programmed with the physical sciences, medical sciences, or mathematics in mind. First degree droids are usually teamed up with organic counterparts to facilitate the completion of any specific task. The 2-1B surgical droid is an example of a first degree droid.
-Second Degree Droids. This type of droid is frequently designed for functionality over aesthetics. a second degree unit's ability is often overlooked by the uninformed, simply because of the droid's physical appearance. The lack of advanced personality programming on many second degree models adds to this common misconception. Second degree models are programmed for environmental, engineering, and technical duties as well as applied sciences. Astromech droids--such as the famed R2 series--are second degree droids.
-Third Degree Droids. The most common models to be seen with organic beings are third degree droids. They are designed and programmed with the social sciences in mind, specializing in protocol, translation, organic relations, teaching, diplomacy, and other functions that put them in regular contact with organic beings. As such, these droids tend to be physically designed in the mold of their makers, or the manufacturer's intended customer base. Protocol units like the 3PO and Siak-series are classified as third degree droids.
-Fourth Degree Droids. Such units are illegal in most systems. Fourth degree droids are designed for military and security operations. After several accidents involving the design and manufacture of these "mechanical soldiers," the use of fourth degree droids was prohibited, except for certain models designed for legitimate military use. Although publicly denouncing the use of lethal droids for any operation, the Empire (as well as several underworld organizations) use fourth degree droids in an assassin capacity. Defense droids, like the G-2RD, are fourth degree droids. [For a more canonical example, think of K-2SO from Rogue One!--Sutehp][/i]
-Fifth Degree Droids. Similar to primitive robotic units, fifth degree droids are typically programmed for menial duties such as simple lifting, mining, salvage, transportation, sanitation and waste control. Fifth degree droids generally perform tasks deemed unfit or impossible for organic life. This class of droid is seldom equipped with any advanced knowledge processors, save for those that are required to perform an intended task. Fifth degree droids are the most common (and most affordable) found throughout the galaxy. The BLX-series labor unit is but one of the many fifth degree droids found throughout the galaxy.


The intelligence of a droid will depend great on the type of droid it is, since the Degrees have widely varying requirements of intelligence for the intended tasks. But since the First, Second and Third Degrees (with the possible inclusion of the Fourth Degree) are intended for highly complex tasks, intelligent droids that possess intelligences equal or surpassing an organic intelligence are not rare at all. The (relatively simple-minded) Fifth Degree droids might be the most common in the galaxy, but there's nothing suggesting that the other four degrees of droids are rare at all.

There is a section on the Droids Rights Movement and several specific factions just a few pages later. Interestingly enough, while the Rebel Alliance isn't a droid's rights faction per se, the Alliance is noted to have a policy of tolerance towards all lifeforms, including mechanical lifeforms by default.

I'd quote the stuff about the Droid's Rights Movement but I can't cut and paste stuff and slow-copying the above has made me tired enough for bed. More on this later, maybe. Razz
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Whill
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TauntaunScout wrote:
"[Faction X] is no better, they treat the droids like slaves!" is a common type of statement among fans. According to people at dice saloons, every gonk and battledroid in the galaxy is a human rights issue.

I don't know what these dice saloons are that you speak of, but they sound quite horrifying.

TauntaunScout wrote:
Whill wrote:
CRMcNeill wrote:
I’m less concerned about droids actually being sentient than I am about the assertion that being sentient requires that droids have, need or even want to be independent and self-determining, or the assertion that sentience in the rare, exceptional droid like R2, 3PO, or Bollux should be considered the norm for all droids, all the way down to the simple-minded drone running the static broom out in the hallway.

Is anyone actually asserting that?

I run into it often.

No, I meant is anyone here asserting that exceptional droids like R2, PO, or Bollux should be considered the norm for all droids in the galaxy. I don't think anyone is arguing that here. You run into that often? I think that in this thread, some of you are arguing against extreme positions not even being stated here.

I said some droids are sentient. It is quite obvious in the films. They were created as sentient characters. The Maker himself said as much in the 70s. Artificial sentience isn't possible on Earth, but SW is space fantasy. With a mere hand wave, a couple sentient characters were made into mechanical beings, yet kept their sentience. The position that absolutely no fictional droid characters are sentient characters is just flat-out, objectively false. But of course that does not mean that exceptional droids are the norm.

TauntaunScout wrote:
From a movie perspective, that all makes sense to me. They have to have a degree of autonomy to keep things moving. And because it's a spaceship fairy tale so droids can fill the roles often given to talking animals, magic mirrors, and so on.

But in my RPG/Miniatures games? No way. It's not murder to blow up a droid for example, so you don't get dark side points for it, or whatever the situation is.

These things are not mutually exclusive in anyone's SWU or game. Artificially sentient beings cannot be killed because they are not alive. However I may give a DSP to a Force-sensitive character who blew up a droid in a rage, but that has nothing to do with it being a droid. Doing anything with extreme anger may warrant a DSP due to "Anger, fear, aggression. The Dark Side are they."
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
Is anyone actually asserting that?

Once one cuts through all the cherry-picking, false analogies, appeals to emotions and implied argumentum ad hominem, that certainly seems to be the direction things are being pushed.
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Sutehp
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are we certain that droids like R2-D2 and C-3PO are exceptional in terms of their sentience (or indeed in any other way)? I've never seen that asserted anywhere in-universe in canon or in Legends. Granted C-3PO was built by Anakin Skywalker (an exceptionally gifted mechanic), but I saw nothing indicating that Anakin used anything other than scrounged factory-spec parts of an ordinary 3PO unit. And R2-D2 was introduced alongside other factory-made R-series astromech droids on Amidala's ship with nothing indicating that he was anything more exceptional or special than the other astromechs. Is there anything indicating that R2-D2 and C-3PO are unusual examples or the typical astromech or protocol droid? I haven't seen anything indicating that they're any more or less sentient than any other astromech or protocol droid. What, if anything, makes R2-D2 and C-3PO exceptionally different from other astromechs and protocol droids?

And my point about the different Degrees of droids, which Whill also made, is that some (not all, certainly, but at least some) droids are sentient. We don't have an exact proportion of what percentage of which Degree of droids there are; all we know is that Fifth Degree droids (the menial droids that don't need to be sentient) are the largest contingent of the five Degrees. But we have no idea if the Fifth Degree droids are more than the other four degrees combined, or even if the Fifth Degree droids even make up a simple majority of all the five Degrees. And we know from the Cynabar book I quoted earlier that the First, Second, Third and Fourth Degree droids are all sophisticated enough to be intelligent/sentient. However, that same book made no mention at all of what proportion of the total droid population each Degree consisted of.

Considering the nature of their intended design functions, the first four Degrees pretty much have to be sentient in order to be good at their assigned functions (ranging from medicine to mechanical repair to protocol and diplomacy to security and assassination). It's only the Fifth Degree that don't need a sentient AI because their work is mostly menial. Considering that four out of the five Degrees of droids are sentient, then it's safe to say that sentient droids are not that rare at all throughout the galaxy.
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Dredwulf60
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sutehp wrote:
And R2-D2 was introduced alongside other factory-made R-series astromech droids on Amidala's ship with nothing indicating that he was anything more exceptional or special than the other astromechs.


He did receive a commendation from the Queen for his actions to repair the ship under fire on the escape to Naboo.

This does make him exceptional, or at least recognizes his inherent exceptionality but at the same time, no one seems to find it odd to give a Royal audience and commendation to a mere device functioning properly as it was designed.

Why didn't the ship get a commendation? Wink


For me, it is much akin to a lowly peasant rising to the occasion and recognized as worthy by royalty. Smile

But I can see how others might just view it as human propensity to give personality to their machines.
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TauntaunScout
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Dice saloons" are gaming stores.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dredwulf60 wrote:
Sutehp wrote:
And R2-D2 was introduced alongside other factory-made R-series astromech droids on Amidala's ship with nothing indicating that he was anything more exceptional or special than the other astromechs.


He did receive a commendation from the Queen for his actions to repair the ship under fire on the escape to Naboo.


Well, yeah. It's easy to get singled out by the Queen of Naboo when you're the only survivor. Razz (See what I did there?)

Dredwulf60 wrote:
For me, it is much akin to a lowly peasant rising to the occasion and recognized as worthy by royalty.

But I can see how others might just view it as human propensity to give personality to their machines. Smile


Oh, so you're saying that droids are not nonsentient, they're just lower-class? Shocked

I misjudged you, Dredwulf. You're most definitely not a anti-droid bigot, you're a droid classist! [j/k] Laughing Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dredwulf60 wrote:
Droids were created to fulfill the role of bumbling peasants (as in Hidden Fortress), serf types made to do toil and work.

Picked up in the desert by Jawas they were made slaves... and when you are a slave you get shackled.
The restraining bolt is a stand-in. A sci-fi version of a slave shackle.
Sounds right to me. And one of the two peasants in Hidden Fortress is pretty skinny...as is C-3P0.

Quote:
This tells me:
Droids are sentient enough to be treated as slaves.
Droids might try to run away from a 'bad' master. That suggests to me that they have self-awareness and enough simulation of being a character to make it functionally so.
And many droids probably realize that trying to wander around without a master has risks. Doing that may result in arrest, capture, or being dismantled by a mob of frightened and prejudiced biologicials. And since droids legally don't seem to have any rights in the Empire, it's going to be difficult for a "free droid" to find an employer willing to pay them a wage sufficient to pay for energy, a safe place to hide while recharging, oil baths, replacement parts, and programming upgrades.

Quote:
The galaxy in general is okay with slavery of droids as long as the majority are in denial of the droid's free will. They likely use a lot of the language used in this thread to undermine any droid-freedom type movements. Ridiculing those who might stand up for the emancipation of sentient machines.

And I'm okay with that. It is appropriate to the setting.
Adventure Journal #9 had an adventure called "Droids Defiant" that had a John Brown like character and a bunch of droids who were trying to start a droid rebellion. I used it for an adventure I ran. It worked pretty well.

Potroclo wrote:
I always though droids were tied to a master, whether they liked it or not (or more accuratelly, whether the personality they develop over time liked it or not) and restraining bolts were used to override this and tie them to a new master.
Legally tied. Probably some programming too. But I think what we see in the movies seems to indicate that any programming could be overridden given time and circumstances. Yet another reason to memory wipe droids so as to eliminate any lingering loyalty to a previous master and/or the recollection of any bad behavior towards the droid by their present master. So restraining bolts would be a safety feature.

Re: do droids feel pain? Sure they do. We see this in ANH on the Jawa sand crawler we see EV-9 torture another droid. The droid behaves as if it feels pain. It's reactions don't make much sense otherwise. And EV-9's actions make no sense if the subject of her torture doesn't have any pain circuits.
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Sutehp
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
Re: do droids feel pain? Sure they do. We see this in ANH on the Jawa sand crawler we see EV-9 torture another droid. The droid behaves as if it feels pain. It's reactions don't make much sense otherwise. And EV-9's actions make no sense if the subject of her torture doesn't have any pain circuits.


I totally forgot about EV-9D9. A droid torturing other droids. This means that (at least some) droids have the capacity to feel two things, either of which is completely frightening: pain and sadism.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sutehp wrote:
Are we certain that droids like R2-D2 and C-3PO are exceptional in terms of their sentience (or indeed in any other way)? I've never seen that asserted anywhere in-universe in canon or in Legends.
They seem to be exceptional because they are characters that the film makers chose to focus on in the films. Similarly stormtroopers seem completely unexceptional because individual stormtroopers are almost never the focus in the original trilogy. they are almost never the focus the original trilogy because they are not the focus of the films.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sutehp wrote:
Bren wrote:
Re: do droids feel pain? Sure they do. We see this in ANH on the Jawa sand crawler we see EV-9 torture another droid. The droid behaves as if it feels pain. It's reactions don't make much sense otherwise. And EV-9's actions make no sense if the subject of her torture doesn't have any pain circuits.


I totally forgot about EV-9D9. A droid torturing other droids. This means that (at least some) droids have the capacity to feel two things, either of which is completely frightening: pain and sadism.


Or Jabba just thinks droids doing stuff like that is funny. I still think they "register damage" like the terminator. And report it, unlike the terminator. There's nothing to indicate that droid screaming isn't the exact same thing as my car's check engine light. Toyota COULD make my car scream instead of turn on that light. That wouldn't mean it feels anything.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TauntaunScout wrote:
Sutehp wrote:
Bren wrote:
Re: do droids feel pain? Sure they do. We see this in ANH on the Jawa sand crawler we see EV-9 torture another droid. The droid behaves as if it feels pain. It's reactions don't make much sense otherwise. And EV-9's actions make no sense if the subject of her torture doesn't have any pain circuits.


I totally forgot about EV-9D9. A droid torturing other droids. This means that (at least some) droids have the capacity to feel two things, either of which is completely frightening: pain and sadism.


Or Jabba just thinks droids doing stuff like that is funny. I still think they "register damage" like the terminator. And report it, unlike the terminator. There's nothing to indicate that droid screaming isn't the exact same thing as my car's check engine light. Toyota COULD make my car scream instead of turn on that light. That wouldn't mean it feels anything.


That doesn't make sense, Tauntaun. No car ever made in real life was sentient and self-aware. But we need fuel the same as a car does. When a car needs fuel, an indicator light goes off. When humans get hungry, our stomachs growl and we feel hunger. So both humans and cars have indicators showing when they're low on fuel. But no one is going to argue that cars can feel hunger when they're low on fuel. No one has ever argued that because that's obvious for a four-year-old to see it. We've seen many examples of self-aware droids in Star Wars. If you're going to make an argument that droids are non-sentient and unfeeling, please don't make the mistake of comparing droids to machines like cars that don't even have a working mind.

When a droid says "ow!" in the same way a human does when they're both exposed to extremes that cause them injury, that's a pretty good indicator that they're feeling the same thing. Those of us who have been arguing that droids can feel have provided examples in the SWU of droids reacting to pain in the same way that humans would. All you've been doing is saying "droids can't feel" without any proof of it. Prove to us that all droids (including R2-D2 and C-3PO) can't feel and are in effect non-sentient using reason-based arguments and examples from the movies and then maybe we can take your arguments seriously. Just saying "no, they're non-sentient" isn't good enough.

Remember, saying that seemingly self-aware droids in Star wars can't feel because real life machines can't feel is simply absurd because in real life we don't have artificial intelligence that can simulate a human mind. In Star Wars, they apparently do have that technology, so how can you know that a machine mind can't emulate a human mind so well that it can create an artificial soul? Can you make a reasoned argument that droids that react emotionally to pain and other stimuli in the same way as humans aren't alive without seeming prejudiced against the idea that self-aware machines (even fictional ones like R2-D2 and C-3PO) could have souls? The idea seems to offend your sensibilities for some reason. Why is that, I wonder?
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TauntaunScout
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Suthep do you think 3PO is the norm? You seem to have given both answers.

Like I said before. Being able to function normally with his limbs ripped off is an indication that 3-PO doesn't feel pain. Like as an actual feeling. But that's not good enough apparently because some homo sapiens have higher pain tolerance than others. But we subjectively experience pain as a sensation and an emotion. Whereas 3PO objectively gathers data about damage to his system.

As to the ewok incident. He doesn't really impersonate a deity until Luke gives him a specific script and orders him to recite it. Like a robot.

Ultimately it depends on your definition of sentience I guess. But I don't think droids are sentient because I don't think they have subjective experiences. Droids don't have emotions. They mimic emotions just like some computers do, because they're designed to. R2 and 3-PO audibly bicker with each other even when no humans are around because of by-products of programming.

The car engine light is indeed a fair comparison. Philosophically both are just a bunch of if/then statements, placed inside a hunk of metal by us. You seem to say that faster processing speeds, more realistic indications for required user care and/or maintenance, and more sophisticated sensors to detect that need, turn it into real feelings if it's a droid.

Unfortunately "examples from the SWU" are very problematic at least ever since Han looked up in the sky and saw several planets explode at once.

If you pretend that people in SW can make emotional beings in a factory, fine. I don't pretend that. Ever since I was a kid I played with my SW toys on the assumption that the droids (by definition) weren't feeling beings, but useful machines.

As to souls I'm not going into religious stuff on here. But I don't think droid sentience mixes with adventures in spaceships & lasers, even one with SW specific brand of unrealism. Whereas a sentient horse or sentient magic ring or something in a castles & swords fantasy would go along just fine for me.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:20 am    Post subject: Re: The Psychology of Droids Reply with quote

George Lucas created some sentient characters as artificial mechanical beings. He thought them being robots would be an amusing attribute. From a dramatic perspective, they are the peasants of SW society. Some organics treat droids as nothing more than slaves, while others treat them with respect (as the film heroes largely tend to, battle droids notwithstanding). Droid technology would seem to indicate that a lot of droids have some level of sentience. But droids are not alive. They are intelligent equipment. They are property. It is what it is. In Star Wars, droid technology is not meant to be a social statement or philosophical food for thought. Droids aren't Data, and Star Wars is not Trek.

Sutehp, I don't think TauntaunScout is making an actual argument. It may not be completely explicit in every post, but he has stated "in my SWU" and "I still think...". He seems to be describing his view of droids in his SWU. He doesn't have to prove anything in his SWU. I also think it is silly to keep bringing up comparisons to Earth technology, but I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on some things.

CRMcNeill wrote:
The most recent dispute of whether or not droids are should be treated equally to living beings got me thinking about this. My stance was that perceiving droids as living beings (or the equivalent thereof) was a product of anthropomorphism (or its alien equivalent) on the part of the observer, not necessarily on the part of the droid itself. As such, there seems to be an assumption that, because a human in a droid's place would wish to be free, and since the droid exhibits human behaviour patterns in its social interactions, it is therefore exactly like a human and wishes to be free.

Has anyone asked the droid what it wants?

Granted, what a droid wants, thinks and feels is in large part determined by its programmer, but any heuristic processor (which not all droids have) has the potential to expand from that starting point.

So does a droid want to be free, equal and self-determining? Or is it the Star Wars equivalent of a House Elf, content to serve, and horrified by the concept of freedom?

My thinking is more the latter, if only because a droid is a construct, manufactured to perform a service, and sold to interested buyers by a company the designed and built them to turn a profit. While said company may not be able to control the manner in which a droid's consciousness will develop, they would do their damndest to make sure that certain assumptions about a droid's place in the scheme of things.


I imagine that in Star Wars, AI sentience was achieved as a singularity type of event in the past. It made droids better able to serve their masters. However, the genie was out of the bottle. I don't see that droids are programmed to have emotions which could become complications in serving their purpose. I feel that droid emotions are largely an unintended side effects of artificial sentience. Regular memory wipes can help keep droids from getting too quirky. Some owners like their droids having more personality so they don't do memory wipes. If those droids are well treated, it may make them more loyal.

For the most part, I don't feel droids want to be emancipated. It certainly would make more sense for manufacturers to program them against developing those desires. I don't think even Threepio and Artoo would want to be free. However if droids are treated badly by their masters, then as a side effect of their sentience they are more likely to want to be free of those masters. L3's droid/slave uprising in Solo makes sense to me if the droids were badly abused. Since their Kessel masters were malevolent slaveowners, it makes sense they would have also abused their droids. But even the droids who may have escaped with some slaves probably still would not want to be emancipated. They would probably just want a better master and then to serve their programmed purpose. Some of them may even want a memory wipe to relieve them of the memories of that awful place they escaped from.


After consideration of some feedback I've received, I think it would be best for us to give this thread a little break. It is only temporarily locked, but I will reopen it in a few days. Thanks.
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