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Is the question of droid consciousness ever addressed in canon sources? Are they self aware or do they merely pass the turing test by seeming self aware?

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How could anyone ever tell the difference? –  jwodder Feb 14 '13 at 22:19
    
Canon authors could. Star Wars lit has a lot of meta commentary, so figured it could have been mentioned. –  zipquincy Feb 14 '13 at 22:26
    
Am I self aware or do I merely pass the Turing test by seeming self aware? There is no way to test it. –  Plutor Feb 15 '13 at 1:12
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@Plutor - I know there is no way to test it in the real world -- fortunately we are talking about fiction though. Authors can "know" whether their character is just a mechanical puppet or a self-aware being, and may have mentioned it. –  zipquincy Feb 15 '13 at 1:20
    
Are you asking about "are there examples of consciousness", or "are ALL droids conscious"? –  DVK Feb 20 '13 at 2:59
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up vote 12 down vote accepted

If you do a Google Books search for phrases like "Threepio wondered" and "Artoo thought", you'll get hits that are clearly passages from EU novels written from the perspective of a droid. For example, there's this line from Dark Apprentice by Kevin Anderson:

See-Threepio thought that if his fine-motor control had allowed it, his entire golden body would be chattering with cold. His internal thermal units were no match for the frozen polar regions of Coruscant.

If droids are capable of being perspective characters, I'd say that's the most compelling evidence you could get that they're actually conscious.

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This is compelling evidence that Threepio is sentient. It does not, however, prove the case for all droids. We've also seen droids as perspective characters give simple, mechanical reports and make strictly observational comments. –  Jeff Feb 20 '13 at 2:47
    
@Jeff well a random med-droid in TESB told Luke to "Take care, sir", as well as offering up small-talk such as "Sir, it will take quite awhile to evacuate the T-forty- sevens." A simple robot wouldn't seem to do that. It seems that there is evidence wherever you look that they are conscious. Sometimes the smarter ones know when to shut-up, just like us :) –  John Davis Feb 20 '13 at 17:10
    
@JohnDavis: Basic politeness is something I would always look to put into a typical medical AI - bedside manner is a huge part of a doctor's job. And for a droid which has been doing quartermaster duty, logistics are an essential function. Both of your examples are not, to me, compelling evidence of sentience. Compelling evidence of sentience would be the quartermaster making the choice himself, and justifying it after-the-fact to human officers. –  Jeff Mar 1 '13 at 21:53
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The Medstar Duology (Battle Surgeons and Jedi Healer, Clone Wars era) also addresses this issue. The droid I-5YQ comes to the planet and expresses great sadness, remorse, sarcastic capabilities, inquisition about the force and human behavior, and a desire to get drunk. The book compares this seemingly conscious droid with the clones, and the doctors in the Medstar Duology revise their point of view on what exactly can be considered alive. It seems that the consciousness of droids is a common theme throughout the Star Wars saga.

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