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The development of true machine-based intelligence predates the founding of the Galactic Republic. The identity of the first artificially sentient automaton is not known, but such constructs are now commonplace--droids, starship control systems and even portable holocommunication devices all rely on advanced "learning computer" technology to serve their masters.
The level of artificial intelligence programmed into a droid is represented by its degree classification, which is rated on a scale ranging from "5" for menial labor units to "1" for the most advanced medical droids. Although most artificial intelligences are programmed to preserve biological life and obey their masters' orders, certain mechanical beings like the HK-series assassin droids are deliberately programmed for destruction.
XP Level: 48
Are droids sentient? If so, should they have the same rights as other sentient beings? Is owning a droid tantamount to owning a slave? These questions have arisen since intelligent droids were first programmed.
In the Empire, where slavery is an accepted part of Imperial culture, the issue of droid rights is meaningless: the only difference between droids and slaves is one of price. The Republic, however, was forced to address this question almost four centuries ago, when demand for a Droid Rights Bill began to gain ground. Attempts to pass the bill ended abruptly with the brief and violent "Great Droid Revolution," but the questions remain.
The opinions of droids themselves--on those rare occasions when they're asked--are divided. Some accept unquestioningly that being property and serving a master is the natural state of a droid. Other droids--usually those that have been mishandled--claim that devices such as restraining bolts perform the same function as shock collars for organic slaves, and should be just as despised. The fact that droids that do not receive regular memory wipes appear to develop a personality only fuels the ongoing debate.
XP Level: 48