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Artificial Intelligence, Zygotes, and Free Will


Katelyn Hallman

University of North Florida, US
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In this paper, I assume that strong AI is possible and I question whether AI robots would have free will. The ultimate goal of this paper is to use our intuitions regarding AI and free will to motivate incompatibilism. I argue that AI cannot act freely because the nature of an AI robot’s design keeps it from being able to have the kind of control required for free will. The strategy of this paper is to first define the control condition of free will. Then I discuss Mele’s Zygote Argument and compare it to AI. Then I briefly discuss advancements in AI technology and briefly describe how AI would work. Next, I show how an AI machine cannot satisfy the requirements for free will. Following this, I use these intuitions to motivate incompatibilism—the concept that free will is not compatible with determinism. Finally, I respond to a series of objections. It is my hope that, using this AI thought experiment, we can come to a similar conclusion that Mele came to: AI is not relevantly different from humans, AI would not have free will, so neither would humans (if humans turn out to be determined in the appropriate way).

How to Cite: Hallman, K., 2015. Artificial Intelligence, Zygotes, and Free Will. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 7(2), pp.7 (44–54). DOI:
Published on 29 May 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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