Ethical breakdown of the movie by topics.
Networked Communications (Chapter 3)
Communication is networked by a common language, and in several ways, C-3PO, the humanoid droid, is a way of connecting humans who drive the story and interactions with not only dialogue for the viewer, but a repository of a massive database of general information and inquisition on the timeline of their universe, technologies of their universe, and other general fringe pieces of information people would not know about. In some ways, C-3PO is similar to a constant connection to Wikipedia or a personal assistant, where he can unify data sources like R2-D2 and other droids, and his own database, to a personal query. In many ways, C-3PO is a figure that represents a connection to the internet- a bigger world that allows more people to be able to see the universe’s information quickly and easily.
Freedom of Speech (Chapter 3)
Despite being central to the plot and all the characters around him, C-3PO in this setting is shown no respect and is treated as an AI who can be taken for granted and not particularly loved, in a setting beyond that of a utility. Despite being sentient and incredibly engaging, he is treated not only as less a member of the crew on the Millennium Falcon, but to Luke’s family, a slave who is only useful or helpful in their limited, shackled use cases, and deserves no better.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is first and foremost a discussion of the hero’s journey. As a secondary discussion point, the movie is clearly the contrast of the censorship of the empire to the freedom of speech and expression that the Rebellion supports. When the rebels discovered the Death Star plans that would eventually be able to be used to find flaws and other weaknesses in the design of the system, the empire exactly attempts to get that information right away and figure out where the plans are stored, along with how they can destroy copies of the plans they don’t want exposed.
The rebels keep the fact that they have the plans a secret, and only by rumor does the Empire know whether or not the rebels still have the plans for the Death Star. By choosing particular moments where they withhold information from the galactic public, they recognize the weight of the information they hold and instead of simply sharing that information with the public, they recognize they can use it tactically to enable others to eventually be able to express themselves more freely, and instead kept the information to help others.
In stark contrast, the Empire crushes the choice of the people in favor of absolute control and power. They take extreme measures to keep people in line and will destroy entire worlds to rule their people by fear alone, therefore making their job, in theory, easier. The Empire functions on an incredibly need-to-know basis, with different levels of conspiracy and secret that cause their members to shift their perspective of the galactic government as they work their way up the chain of command.
Intellectual Property does not serve a significant role in the film, but there are computing technologies in the film that could be relevant to IP.
The Death Star Plans:
- The Rebels get their hands on the plans for the Death Star (the ship built by the Empire). Naturally, it is safe to assume that those plans were never intended for the eyes of any person with a reason to want to blow up the Death Star. The plans could therefore be protected by some Interstellar IP law. Knowing the film, however, it’s safer to theorize that the plans were just kept away physically, especially because the Death Star was being built in secret. Finally, the Empire has no need to protect their data by law as they show several time in the film that they can act as they like (punishing whom they like) without reciprocation.
- Leia records a message that is meant exclusively for the eyes of Obi-Wan and entrusts it to R2-D2 (a droid). Of course, any message intended for any recipient should be protected by the software which delivers it. R2-D2 does not do that. This would imply that the world is unconcerned for the privacy of data and information, and instead puts value on physical objects.
- The ships used by the Rebellion were of very few makes and models. This is also true of the Empire. That could imply that they each own the patents on certain ship designs, although it could just be that it is easier for them to mass-produce ships of one design.
- Although there are unique droids in the film, there are several that are made in the same way, as well as the fact that all droids have a serial number which identifies the type of droid they are. The IP issues go beyond their exterior, as they have an entire operating system that goes along with them, and must be distributed along with each new droid. In the film, shady characters (the Jawas) collect, refurbish, and sell droids they capture. The sale of droids is likely illegal because of the way it is portrayed, but it is unclear if it is because of some patent on them or because the droids were stolen from a previous owner.
A large part of the film consists of the Empire trying to gain vital information from others by any means necessary. Computing, however, is arguably not a part of that. If a person has data that would be relevant to the empire, gaining that information by means of torture rather than using the technology they have available to themselves is their go-to option. An interesting ethical question is somewhat present in how they have a droid dedicated to the extraction of information from prisoners. What are the moral implications of people designing technology exclusively to hurt others? This question is not really explored in this film, however, as the scene is shown in passing.
Privacy and the Government
Government Information Gathering
- When Leia is detained in the Death Star the Empire continually tortures her for information about the Rebel Alliance but relatively speaking their methods are simplistic. At one point they send in an Interrogation droid in but it appears they only use a serum provided by the droid as if the droid itself doesn’t do much aside from physical torturing. And when Leia proved too “strong” for the torture they just used the Death Star to blow up her home planet. Darth Vader was also seen interrogating people with the force, indicating that information gathering is almost exclusively done manually.
- When the Millenium Falcon is captured by the Death Star some Storm Troopers are sent aboard with scanning equipment to check over the ship for people or any sign of the people aboard it. The Empire is fairly certain that this would find anything hidden on the ship, but unfortunately the device is never seen being used.
The Death Star Plans
- The entire movie details the journey made by a few people and droids to give data stolen from the Empire to a Rebel cause. It is unclear how this data was stolen explicitly but it is clear that it was data once held on an Empire server of sorts. The information is transmitted from person to person implying that communications are likely monitored by the Empire or is too large for conventional transmission.
Droid Theft and Reselling
- When R2-D2 and C-3PO land on Tatooine they are captured by some Jawas. The Jawas disable them and then outfit them with a device that allows them to disable the droids if they disobey orders. This is an incredible hijacking technology essentially allowing theft of an artificial intelligence with little to no effort. Because of the droids’ advanced artificial intelligence, as is displayed by C-3PO, this is actually a form of droid-based slavery.
- Han Solo and Chewbacca are smugglers who seem to have the ability to pass under the radar of the Empire. In addition many other patrons of the cantina in Mos Eisley seem to be smugglers or criminals as well indicating that there is a lot of issues with crime in the rim planets of the Empire.
- The Death Star and the Imperial Star Destroyer both possess the ability to create a beam of energy strong enough to capture a passing ship and draw it into a hangar.
Errors, Failures, Risks
Droids failing and left to die
- Sentient Droids with sophisticated AI are often, when broken, left to rot and be forgotten. As a very strange development to a future where such incredible technology is had, and people fight for a cause and to help others, but droids will not even be repaired and are instead left to equivalently die.
Death Star Exploits
- Later software errors allowed minor exploits to Death Star systems, interfacing with R2-D2 so that he can give the team information about the station, scan the station, and also control remote objects and systems with his interface. Naturally, this was not intended, so a failing of the Death Star internal security design allows R2-D2 to get such complete access to the station at once.
- An unsecured lever over an infinite abyss controlled the power to the Tractor Beam, on the whole terrible design with no redundancies and a single point of failure.
Comparison of Computer Simulation to Real Life
- Computer systems failed in the most complete point at the climax of the movie: The targeting computers that were calibrated to work in the trenches along the Death Star were actually insufficient for acquiring an accurate shot to destroy the Death Star. At the climax of the movie, Obi-Wan’s spirit told Luke to shut off his targeting computer, and instead use the Force to guide the missiles. If this was not used and used effectively, the technology designed for a task would have cost the planet of Yavin IV, the entire Rebel Alliance, and the remainder of the hope in the galaxy.
The Death Star Battle Station
- Death Star is a ultimate weapon with the power to destroy any planet. In the movie, to force Princess Leia to disclose the location of rebel base, Tarkin, the commanding officer, ordered to destroy Alderaan, the homeland of Leia. It killed all live creatures in that planet and the entire planet is blown up just to demonstrate its power. Creating such weapon violated the public interests and was only benefit the Empire. Moreover, it was unclear in the movie who designed the Death Star and when the rebels stole the architectural plans, no people in Empire tried to secure the weapon and protect it from possible attacks. It seems the Empire doesn’t have full control of the technology or at least they are incapable to detect and fix possible bugs.
Droids Inappropriate Treatment
- The droids in this movie were sentient and conscious. They were loyal to their “masters”. When R2-D2 tried to complete the mission to find Obe-Wan, Luke said he has “never seen such devotion in a droid.” which implied a personal choice. The C-3PO also showed the sympathy in the movie that he treated R2-D2 as his friend. He persuaded Luke to buy the R2-D2, chatted and joked with it and at the end of the movie, when the R2-D2 was broken, C-3PO was anxious and extremely worried about R2-D2 and expressed his willing to sacrifice his circus or gears to repair it. Despite the fact that the droids having similar emotions like human, they were treated as property and like slaves. Jawas sold them to Luke and both droids and human think this selling is appropriate. At the beginning, C-3PO called Luke master and asked R2-D2 to trust Luke because he was their new master. C-3PO also said that “there is no sense in risking yourself on my account” showing its inferiority. Also in the bar, although many bizarre creatures from different planets were served, the bartender said “We don’t serve their kind here. Your droids, they’ll have to wait outside.” indicated the entire society discriminated the droids and didn’t give them the same rights as human and didn’t show any respect to them.
The numbers of droids take over human jobs in this movie and two main characters are droids, C-3PO(protocol droid) and R2-D2.
- Protocol droids are designed to smooth the differences encountered by the vast range of cultures throughout the galaxy. They specialize in translation, etiquette and cultural custom that are able to assist diplomats and politicians in the communication and also serve as secretaries or assistants for officials.  C-3PO in this movie displayed its ability in translating R2-D2(droid) language of Binary, Bocce and “programming binary load lifters” and “working on condensers”. It shows this type of droids could take both manufacturing and white-collar jobs. From one perspective, they are loyal to their owners so they would complete the repeated physical works without complaint or rest. From other perspective, they are programmed to be fluent in over six million forms of communication and be capable of learning and translating new languages, they could take over jobs like interpreters which requires advanced education.
- R2-D2 in this movie was mainly serve to record the video, plug into the computer outlet to interpret the imperial network and also repair the ship. It had multi-functionalities that acted as a good programmer(hacker) and mechanical engineer.
- Pilots in the outer-rim territories are new type of jobs because the new technologies allows traveling in space.
Globalization or “Galaxyzation”
- Han was a smuggler who transported stuffs through galaxy. Although smuggling is illegal but it showed there was a business with conveniente galaxy commute.
- StartWars DataBank, Lucasfilm Ltd., retrieved on April 23th, 2017 from http://www.starwars.com/databank/protocol-droid
- 3PO-series protocol droid,Wookieepedia, retrieved from http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/3PO-series_protocol_droid