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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. ScarvesandCelery
    February 6, 2017 @ 2:11 pm

    “Although it’s not entirely clear what we should make of R2-D2 blatantly trying to murder C-3PO only to rethink it later and help reassemble him.”

    Confirmed: R2D2 is Supreme Leader Snoke.


  2. Lambda
    February 6, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

    There’s nothing simple about the sentience of artificial intelligence, or indeed any intelligence resulting from anything other than uninfluenced survival-reproduction competition etc. It’s just something which can’t be measured at all.

    It’s perfectly possible that someone will be able to create an intelligence which acts in every way like a human but doesn’t actually experience anything. It’s also perfectly possible that someone will be able to create an intelligence which acts in every way like a human except that it claims not to really experience everything, but actually does genuinely experience everything like a human. And there would be no obvious way for the creator or anyone else to tell, I can’t think of any experiment which would distinguish sentient AI from non-sentient AI. (Indeed I can’t be certain that my current computer isn’t sentient, and experiencing pain whenever I type ‘r’ and ecstasy whenever I type ‘t’. It’s just one of those things you have to assume doesn’t happen or you’d go mad. Like the wind created by my hands whilst typing is neither going to cause nor prevent any hurricanes.)

    Additionally, it’s perfectly possible that someone cleverer than me in the future might devise a working test for sentience in AI and be able to certify that this perfect human-imitating AI isn’t sentient and you can do whatever you want to it. It’s also perfectly possible for such a test to be claimed to exist and for this to be widely believed, but for it to be complete bollocks. All of these scenarios are reasonable suppositions about the future.

    Not that something being a reasonable supposition about the future makes it unpolitical to put it into the premise of one of the biggest sequences of films ever, or anything. But still worth remembering.


    • Aylwin
      February 6, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

      There’s nothing simple about the sentience of artificial intelligence, or indeed any intelligence resulting from anything other than uninfluenced survival-reproduction competition etc. It’s just something which can’t be measured at all.

      Mind you, the same goes for the sentience of all humans who aren’t me. There’s no essential difference between the sort of direct evidence available about them and the sort that would be available about any human-resembling AI.

      Which means that the arguments for accepting such evidence about humans but not for other similarly-behaving entities come down to A) treating physical and biographical resemblance to me as a significant criterion for acceptance – which is obviously morally/politically as well as logically suspect – and B), in the specific case of something designed to resemble a human, treating that deliberately imitative quality as grounds for suspicion, since it offers a persuasive alternative non-coincidental explanation for otherwise highly suggestive patterns – which has considerable validity in everyday practical terms (the argument that something that looks, walks and quacks like a duck actually being one looks a lot weaker if you know it was built as a working model of a duck), but which seems of doubtful significance when you get down to philosophical brass tacks.

      Of course, in Star Wars there’s that whole Force thing complicating the question, as it provides an obvious potential “test” – if you believe, as people well might, that the “life” manifested by connection through the Force is a necessary criterion for sentience, and if Force-sensitive folk like the Jedi get no reading from droids, that could be considered a compelling argument for denying their sentience.

      Obviously, though, that argument would be substantially undermined by connection with the Force turning out to be a product not of an entity’s inherent nature, but of its role as a microbiological biome…


  3. Spoilers Below
    February 6, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

    Compare Hayden Christensen’s performance with that of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, and a lot of what he’s doing becomes much clearer.

    I love AotC, from its bizarre politics, to its repeated use of clones to symbolize the various aspects of different characters (how many Padmes are killed in this movie? Does Obi-Want want to turn Anaikin into a clone of himself? Why does Jango want to raise a son, rather than simply being content with cloning himself?), and even for its respecting its audience enough not to spell things out blatantly, and let certain aspects come out on their own.

    As interesting as the new films have and haven’t been, it’s a shame we won’t see the like of something like this again.


  4. Ozyman.Jones
    February 7, 2017 @ 4:31 pm

    Playing computer games against an AI on ‘HARD’ ruined my ability to suspend disbelief when it comes to armies of robot (droid) warriors; that and watching developments in computer tech, sensors and detectors over the last few years.

    A droid, fitted with the best of today’s tech, should be able to sense movement sooner and of a more minute amount than any human could, hear sounds softer and further away than any human, and recognise and understand speech from the merest whisper. They could use infrared, sonar and laser detection systems from distances impossible for a human, or any organic life. Weapons targeting would be infinitely quicker and more accurate, and calculations for trajectory adjustments be completed in milliseconds, allowing for wind, rain, gravity, or any other variable before firing.

    In theory, a droid army should be unbeatable.

    And yet they are buffoons, cannon fodder of the worst kind. Who developed these droids?


    • Aylwin
      February 7, 2017 @ 5:33 pm

      BAE Systems.


    • Metaphizzle
      February 7, 2017 @ 5:56 pm

      I think the Star Wars Extended Universe may have touched on that at some point, but I’m not familiar with the explanation. Personally, I like to think that it absolutely is possible to make smarter, completely OP battle droids… but they’re also smart enough to wonder why they should take orders. So every time some military research lab let their killer droid get too smart, the droid would kill all the meatbags and bugger off to the Outer Rim to do his own thing. So, those who use droid armies are caught in a balancing act of making sure their AIs are smart enough to kill the enemy, but not smart enough to rebel against them. (And groups like the Trade Federation just say, “Screw it! Make the droids all morons. We can just overwhelm our enemies with sheer numbers.”)


      • Ozyman.Jones
        February 8, 2017 @ 1:15 am

        Makes sense on a certain ‘Star Wars’ logic level. Let’s just hope they are cheap, because watching the Clone Wars series with my seven-year-old, the separatists certainly go through a hell of a lot of them!


      • Jarl
        February 8, 2017 @ 3:21 am

        Which would also explain why, despite being seemingly independent thinking machines all on their own, Trade Federation Battle Droids still need to be hooked up to a battle computer that remotely operates them.

        I have read a lot of the Expanded Universe (not necessarily most of it, just a lot) and your explanation is also why there’s a droid bounty hunter on the deck in the Empire Strikes Back, a prototype combat/assassin droid was turned on at the lab, immediately realized that it was smarter than every technician in the room and they would realize this and destroy it immediately, and thus it killed everyone the moment it woke up and went off to become a bounty hunter. And other things, but that story got really stupid.


  5. Alina Austin
    February 9, 2017 @ 9:45 am

    Trilogy: Episode II – Attack of the Clones is not so great movie as it was expected. But it is a one time watch movie if you are a fan of any of the actors worked in it.


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