There are some members of the fictional artificial intelligence family that don’t fit comfortable into any existing theories, my own or otherwise, as to how they work. In this category I would put the technological members of the Star wars series. Compared to now, Star Wars is the product of another time. The plot-lines and story arcs were dictated by the interests of the populous during the seventies and eighties. This was just passed the civic revolutions of the post-war years, and during the time when the screenplays were being written there was a sense of the integration of new values and new technology that made itself, as a movement of thought, known in the plot of the first three movies. The prequels (the last three that were made) were the product of what is, I think, a sufficiently different time to merit their own discussion in most cases. However, the intelligence and character roles that were created in the first three films remained as a guide for the prequels, so that if we stick to the topic of robots, we might talk about them together.
Robots? Anyone who’s played around with AI knows that the robots are not absolutely necessary to the creation of intelligence, or even the research of same, so why must there always be a robot? This rule is entirely fictional. There is nothing in the development of computer science right now that would suggest that all AIs must be bound up in an entity with arms. However, and not just in Star Wars, but in other places too, this seems to be the situation that we see. Why is this? For, as we will further see, this is truly a widespread, almost universal, phenomena: we always bind AIs into things with arms. I think that there are two things that we might draw from this fact: first, that humans like things that we can put in boxes, and dislike things that we can’t. Second, that it took the spreading-out of the technology, and a wider understanding, of computers before our representation of them in fiction began to become more true-to-fact.
But I say that Star Wars represents the really-crazily-advanced group. Why, and what we can learn from them, is what I am going to attempt to address. There is a significant discussion of the droid and related phenomena on the Star Wars Fan Wiki, but to take advantage of same would be to ignore the first rule of researching pop-culture, that is: everything on a fan-wiki is utterly useless. So instead, let’s have a look at one aspect, of one droid. C3PO is fluent in six-million forms of communication? Really? This got past script editing?
How impossible is that, really? According to The Global Language Monitor, there are 1,025,109.8 words in the English Language ("Number). I don’t know what they mean by 0.8 of a word… but let’s assume that they know what they're doing. If we say that each word is approximately four characters (It’s probably more, but we’re being conservative), than the number of bytes in each word is four. If we then make the further assumption that all languages equate to this same more-or-less amount of data simply to be informed of all possible morphemes, then C3PO only needs to store 24.0260 gigabytes in order to know every word in all of those languages. Of course, he also needs much more than that in architecture so that he can synthesize those words into what he is trying to either say or understand, but I think that he could probably fit all of that inside a couple of terabytes, which are, of course, about a thousand gigabytes each. Even with our present, and fairly low, level of technological advancement, it is easily possible to store all of that information on a mere two or three hard drives. Because the problem of storage is not so frightening as to be insurmountable, then all that is stopping us from treating C3PO as possible are the limits of the ingenuity of his creators. And his creator was Darth Vader, so that pretty neatly wraps that up, right? Well, I think that we’ve proven that such a machine is possible, so the only question is how hard, or how long to implement, would it be.
Perhaps you find yourself wondering something that I’ve wondered a lot about Star Wars: namely, why the machines don’t take over? In the movies at least, they don’t, but in many, many, many other stories and films this is just what happens. I wonder if we can figure out why…
Mallya, Vaibhav. "Why Is There No Powerful AI in the Star Wars Franchise?" Quora. Quora, 7
Sept. 2011. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <https://www.quora.com/Why-is-there-no-powerful-AI-in-the- Star-Wars-franchise>.
"Number of Words in the English Language: 1,025,109.8." The Global Language Monitor. The
Global Language Monitor, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <http://www.languagemonitor.com/number-