The computers of Star Wars

The thing I like about Star Wars is that whilst technology is pervasive, it is by no means overbearing. Luke Skywalker does not have a mobile device. Neither does Darth Vader. Droids seem to be everywhere, but they seem to blend into the environment rather than take it over. Science fiction does not have to be about technology, as FireFly quite clearly illustrated. Although in reality computers in sci-fi often reflect futuristic themes, no attempt was made to do this in 1977, even though computers had started to make inroads into our everyday lives. There are multiple computer in the movies, from those used for targeting to navigation, and of course the droids.


X-wing targeting computer

In one sense, the computers, or rather the interfaces in Star Wars, were primitive, especially from the perspective of graphics. Although this parallels technology available in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it is not unrealistic to think that technology could evolve this same way in some far off universe. The computers themselves were obviously rather sophisticated, as they had to control super-lasers, and calculate hyperdrive coordinates. The droids in Star Wars were exceptionally intelligent, with seemingly limitless abilities. Herein lies an example of the complexity of the software in Star Wars. In Return of the Jedi, C-3PO mentions that he is “fluent in over six million forms of communication…“. This is in itself incredible – just the logistics of the interpretation and translation algorithms involved is mind-blowing. Couple this with speech recognition capabilities, and one obtains a picture of how powerful these computers (droids) are.

Computers can be powerful, ubiquitous, and yet not overpower every aspect of our lives.


One thought on “The computers of Star Wars

  1. codeinfig says:

    the droids were definitely a factor in this. if you have a robot butler that can open a subspace channel (or even make a local cellular call) then it may be more fun to have your phone follow you around on wheels.

    not to mention that while leaving your phone down where you might forget to pick it up is a disaster waiting to happen, running away from your droid and shutting the door is a welcome escape! perhaps miniturization is where we went wrong. ok, i only mean sometimes.

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