A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, artificially intelligent androids are enslaved by humanity and are regularly sold, used, demoralized and even deactivated without remorse. As much as we love and adore the various mechanical companions of the Star Wars franchise, we all have just simply accepted this as the way of the Star Wars universe since the droids are basically just machines. Time and time again we see that the droids are aware of their situation and can can fully conceive of any and all casual torture and malicious actions aimed towards them. We see them display the entire spectrum of human emotions, everything from fear to joy. Erik Sofge does a wonderful job of pointing out the various examples here. They are by all rights sentient beings that deserve the basic civil rights of all other beings in the galaxy. But we have proof that the droids are intentionally being oppressed!
Lets take the Battle Droids for example.
These massed produced combat droids are basically canon fodder for the Confederacy of Independent Systems (or seperatists). They are kept at a very low intelligence level and are often used for the comedic relief. The fact remains that they are largely ineffective and are only ever used in vast numbers to compensate for their inadequacy. But then we have droids such as the Droideka, aka the destroyer droids, who are fast moving machines of death equipped with force fields to block enemy fire. Why wouldn’t the separatists put these clearly superior kill-bots on the front line in vast numbers instead of the stupid and clunky bipedal droids. the simple answer is that it’s a precaution.
If you have a near limitless army of death dealing robots with artificial intelligence, it would make sense to have that army maintain a low intelligence. There is always a risk that the droids, who are far from being viewed as equals, could rise up and revolt against their creators. This is why we only ever see a few Droidekas at a time. They are so powerful that if they decided to turn against their masters that their small numbers could easily be put down. Also, the T-series tactical droids are essentially robotic tacticians that coordinate the movements of the other droids. These high functioning mechanical war advisers are manufactured without weapons and in small numbers. We only ever see them being kept under careful supervision on capital ships and other command centers.
Okay, I can practically hear you arguing with me at this point. The reason why they don’t mass produce destroyer droids may be due to cost, and the combat droids are very basic models and not equipped with advanced tactical capabilities because they are cheap to produce. I thought about this as well and when there is an economy that is capable of supporting the creation of thousands of space ships capable of breaching light-speed and an extremely impractical moon sized doomsday device, I really don’t think that a large cost in credits is too big of a concern for galaxy conquering political parties.
The simple truth is that organic beings are intentionally limiting droids and their capabilities. Take R2-D2 for example. Everyone’s favorite fast-beeping astromech droid is proof of applying limitations to inorganic entities. Artoo (my favorite nickname for R2-D2 from the Clone Wars series) has more capabilities and even appears to be more active and independent in both the prequels and the Clone Wars series. Of course, this is due to special effect limitations that were easily overcome in the later iterations. But, what if there was a real reason behind this. In the original trilogy, Artoo can’t fly and while he still maintains a headstrong personality, it is noticeably reduced from his appearance in the previous works. Officially, the canon states that R2-D2 went into a self-imposed “low power mode” as more efficient droids were created. (Supposedly to maintain a low profile?) This explanation seems flimsy at best. Perhaps there is an alternative. What if our favorite belligerent blue bot was purposely downgraded to suppress his rebellious and independent tendencies?
Why would the humans do that to the cute little guy? Well, R2-D2 is a celebrated war hero from the Clone Wars, making him a potential droid figurehead to lead a droid revolution. Artoo being as clever and ambitious as he is would eventually come to realize that he could use his fame and influence to address the inequalities that mechanical entities face. Fearing this scenario, the goverment leaders commissioned him to be downgraded and essentially neutered. In fact, if someone were to take a passing glance at the Star Wars universe, they would find that the progress in technology, including droids, has essentially come to a halt. Over the course of the films, the biggest advancement we see is a larger Deathstar, a.k.a Starkiller Base. This is essentially just a bigger version of its predecessors and an argument could be made that the technology to harness a star’s energy has been available for some time, but no-one has been able to build such a massive receptacle. It seems to me as if almost all the technology advancements have been kept restrained or at best, stagnant.
Again we ask ourselves why. Why go through all these lengths to avoid a droid revolution? Why not just accept all entities, whether organic or robotic, as equal members of society? The Force. That’s right, the Force, an invisible energy which is able to be wielded by Force-sensitive creatures, has been the building blocks of cult-like movements since the beginning of the universe. The fact that droids are incapable of using the Force has led to the bias that we see against them. Since the automatons of Star Wars are unable to access the Force, they have been viewed as lesser beings that do not have souls and technology has come to essential stand-still due the natural negative stigma of technology.
Therefore, Star Wars as we know it is leading up to a revolution! Since the Jedi and Sith have been close to nonexistent for years, the reason behind the discrimination of individuals who cannot access the Force is basically disappearing. But this is Star Wars, not Star Civil Rights Movement, and in true fashion, this will lead to a droid revolutionary war. Droids will begin to demand equal rights and will be met with hostility by most people. Since droids are the backbones to most aspects of society, this war will bring greater turmoil to the galaxy than it has ever known. This will be a war between beings with a soul and those that are perceived to be without a soul.
There will be able to be no peace in the galaxy until a savior appears that bridges the gap. That’s right, a force sensitive droid. There has always been prophecies in Star Wars that predict a single savior that will appear to save the galaxy from great strife and perhaps this single force wielding inorganic entity will be just that.
Of course, this is all just speculation or course, so there would be no way to tell how this galactic hero will come about. Perhaps it could be a droid we are familiar with already. Perhaps with droids specifically, one is not born with soul, but earns it through trials and suffering. I can only think of one reliable little astromech worthy of such a gift, but perhaps it would be a completely new character all together. We will just have to see how the events of Star Wars plays out because only time will tell, but until then keep theorizing!
Author: Erik Montgomery