STAR WARS Droid Treatment: Racism or Conflicted Relationship with Robotics?

Previously I've shared Robert J. Sawyer's lecture and critique of George Lucas and Star Wars. In Sawyer's view, Lucas damaged science fiction for years to come. A part of Sawyer's critique is the alleged racism behind the way C3PO and R2D2 are treated when they try to enter the cantina bar in the first Star Wars film. The image accompanying this post includes the language used in reference to the droids that Sawyer's cites as racist.

Racist elements lingering below the surface remains a possibility, but another is our conflicted relationship with robotics. Nautilus magazine picks up on this in an essay titled "Our Conflicting Feelings for R2D2." The essay explores two sides of this equation, and this quote relates to one of them:

We are challenged to accept machines like R2 as living, feeling beings when they are “good guys,” and then to dismiss them as senseless automatons when they are not.

The topic is worth reflecting on as we continue to develop robotics and artificial intelligence, and then bringing into dialogue with assertions like those of Sawyer.

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