Is there robotics and artificial intelligence in Dune?
The history of Dune begins in the year 10,191 after the formation of the Space Guild, which for us would be the 22,000 AD approximately. In it we are presented with a society more advanced than ours, since they are able to move between planets using ships or to protect themselves using shields that generate force fields. With so many technological advances, it would not be unreasonable to see all kinds of androids, supercomputers, and even artificial intelligences. But we don’t see any of that in the movie. This collides with another very interesting fact, which is the separation of society into families, in the purest medieval style.
However, what may seem like an anachronism is totally justified in the original work by Frank Herbert. Long before the events that are narrated about House Atreides, humanity did develop all kinds of technology worthy of any work of science fiction. They were called “thinking machines.” The term was used to designate any computer or robot capable of reasoning like a human being, since they came to develop full artificial intelligence.
The Thinking Machines Ban in Dune
Before even the formation of the Space Guild, humanity was divided into two large groups: those who totally depended on thinking machines and those who, on the other hand, argued that relying on machines was harmful to the human race.
This would lead to an unprecedented war conflict: a series of wars which were called “The Butlerian Jihad” or “the Great Revolution.” After a struggle of almost 100 years, humans would end beating computers, who had come to enslave the other group of humans. This sounds familiar to us, right?
This conflict, narrated as a kind of holy war, served as a pillar for the creation of a new society. A commandment would be written from which, the creation of AIs would become illegal: «You will not build a machine in the likeness of the human mind». Robots would come to be considered a kind of aberration, while nonthinking machines (that is, computers with very limited processing capabilities) would be allowed.
This means that in the Dune universe, people renounce the technology they have created for fear that it will take over humanity.
Differences from Star Wars
The difference in this aspect between Dune and Star wars It is obvious. In the universe created by George Lucas, droids exist, but they have been designed to be slaves. This fact is very evident with C-3PO, who despite being a character that we all have affection, refers to his Jedi partner as “Master Luke”.
Why is it not explained in detail in the movie?
In the Dune universe, 10,000 years have passed since robots and artificial intelligence stopped being used. Explaining the reasons for an event so far apart in time would be forced and even absurd.