I have heard stated that the inquiries of neurology, the reverse engineering of the brain, nano technology, and new scientific discoveries will combine to give AI researchers the knowledge necessary to built an artificial brain complete with free will, like humans have. Now that is the key: the free will shall be equivalent to the free will of humans.
Those who believe in free will from a religious perspective tend to justify that belief by saying, “God gave humans free will,” end of discussion. However, should we happen to seriously entertain the possibility of such a claim, then we must ask, “Why does the feral child–such as one who has been neglected and locked in a basement–‘choose’ to behave like a nonhuman animal instead of a human?” In fact, why can one more or less predict some common choices a person will make merely by knowing what part of the world the person grew up in? Is choice behavior influenced by learning? Is choice behavior influenced by language?
If choice behavior is influence by learning, the will is not free. Besides, not everyone learns the same lesson, because of the difference in factors effecting attention and cognition.
If human choice behavior is dependent on language, the will is not free. This is primarily due to the fact that language is acquired much as a songbird acquires songs outside the repertoire of those wired into the brain as a result of genes inherited from parents. And language acquisition is also dependent on mirror neurons in the brain. This is the reason the term “dealer of illegal drugs” or “communist” or “queer” has different emotional significance to different people. Besides, language must be learned. And as previously mentioned, “not everyone learns the same lesson…”
The claim that “God gave humans free will,” is an extraordinary claim. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Yet the claim is contrary to existing evidence. We therefore must assume that free will in this instance is nothing more than a religious belief carried over from primitive superstition.
Next we have those who believe in free will from an atheistic perspective. They believe there is a module in the brain that is equivalent to a “black box” with unknown components. The problem with their belief is that they fail to provide a coherent method by which this “black box” can come into existence. And they fail to provide a coherent method by which this black box can know what decision to make without having been previously made aware of certain options and provided the emotion and/or motives necessary to make those options viable.
Are there genes that hardwire “free will” into the brain? And are there hardwired instructions as to how “free will” shall function? Or does “free will” develop as a result of genetic-environmental interaction? Can you see the logical contradictions?
A “black box” equivalent to a random number generator would make individual choices so wild and unpredictable that the individual would appear completely insane. A person trying to decide whether the baby needs changing might decide to kill the president, which would be an illogical decision resulting from randomizing choice.
Also, the atheistic believer in free will would need to provide a scientific theory as to exactly how free will could have evolved. They would need to explain at what stage in evolution was the “free will” mutation born. They would need to provide a clear and concise explanation of the selective pressures that resulted in an unnatural mechanism naturally developing in the physical brain. And their theory must be falsifiable.
Plus, they would also need to provide all those explanations of free will required by religious believers. And remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
I see no reason to doubt the possibility that atheistic believers in free will have partially inherited their belief from religious believers.
Building a machine with free will that is equivalent to human free will is possible, because humans don’t have free will. Free will is an illusion.