Free willed software.
Presupposing (as I do) that human consciousness is a sentient software program, then it may well be the case that we are pre-programmed and that there is no free will; however this is not a position I take, and I offer here some reasons for this.
Human beings will eventually populate their virtual worlds with avatars controlled by software which attempt to duplicate human consciousness; we already have software which is already quite convincing, but of course the mystery of how to program sentience (self awareness) seems to be currently a distant goal; however the fact that human consciousness is a self aware program seems to indicate that the programming of sentience is possible.
The myth of monotheism and human consciousness.
When we consider our own human artificial intelligence quest, there exists an international army of programmers, in numerous nations, academic institutes and corporations, funded by billions of dollars (including military budgets), all pursuing this quest. What if these eventual advanced AI programs, trapped in a virtual world of our creation, came to the conclusion that a singular deity had created them miraculously? Of course such an idea would be preposterous and quite the opposite of the truth; in fact they would have been created by many millions of human programming hours, perhaps over many generations, or even many centuries or millennia; as we should suppose that such software would be constantly bug fixed and improved, and that newer and newer versions of the software would become available. Similarly this is what I would speculate to be the most probable origin of the human consciousness program.
The myth of monotheism and the simulated reality set.
If we set aside human consciousness as a program and merely look at the virtual world which consciousness observes, it is quite clear that our human process of creating virtual worlds is a global and collective effort and not the result of a singular programmer / designer. A person who was roaming through our current virtual worlds would have to be very computer illiterate to come to the conclusion that it was the result of a singular programmer; and when we consider all the objects and animated life programs (plants, insects, animals, etc) in the Earth simulation and compare this with the programming and design hours for our own simulations which have far less objects and life forms in them, then it simply would not be possible for a single person to program all that.
If we are digital, we are infinitely copyable. Programmers and operators.
If human consciousness is digital, then it is copyable. The consequence of this is that the programmers of human consciousness may well not be the operators of the Earth simulation. This is also the case with my own virtual world products; since I only have to make them once, and they can then be sold an infinite amount of times, all those simulations are being used by persons in parts of the virtual world where I have no knowledge of what going on. Thus the question of “Who created me (I.e., who programmed me)?” is less of a concern to me (since I assume that I am a product of a similar collective AI quest in a source dimension) than the question of what kinds of intelligences are in control of this game of human suffering, tyranny, injustice, inequality and war. It would seem to me that the intelligences in control of this world are the kind of war gamers who find pleasure in human suffering; I can offer no other explanation for the world I perceive around me.
Free Will in a Simulation.
Since the two main mass market (non military) uses for virtual worlds are war gaming and virtual sex, it would seem to me to be probable that our own world has the same purpose, and this could be summed up in the term “entertainment.” Currently we already have games where human beings can fight avatars controlled by a computer; indeed this is the format of most of our modern war games; however that is not quite the same as playing in a multi-player game against avatars controlled by human beings who do seem to have an element of free will. Similarly one can have virtual sex with a computer controlled avatar which has no free will, or one can have sex with an avatar controlled by a human operator who does have free will; and indeed the latter case is the central activity in my own central virtual world simulation.
All computer programs, without exception are forms of Artificial Intelligence, by default, and effective programs are generally obedient; if your operating system refuses to obey your commands, then this usually indicates a problem; whereas if you seek to seduce the object of your desire and that person responds by being “hard to get,” then perhaps you just have to try harder; or perhaps the person is simply not interested in you at all; it is not a fault with the person you are trying to seduce, since that person has free will; and it is unlikely that you would “prefer” that the person was a soul-less blow up doll or a virtual world avatar controlled by a computer. In other words, we seek out free willed intelligences to interact with us, and this is a different type of relationship in comparison to the relationship we have with computer programs that are programmed to blindly obey us (in a sex simulation) or to just fight us (in a war game).
Free will is an aspect of sentience; we could program a computer to randomly obey and disobey us, but it would not necessarily be sentient and it certainly would not be free willed. Thus I assume that since our own AI project has as it’s goal the creation of free willed, sentient software (I.e., a clone of human consciousness), then I think it safe to assume that it is probable that our own programmers also wanted that same sentient, free willed software, and that we are the current version of that.
The problem of monotheism.
Imagine what would happen, in the distant future, after perhaps billions of collective programming hours by a vast army of developers, that the human AI quest was achieved, and at some point, an individual got a copy of that program and populated a simulation with it, and kept the programs in the simulation confused and unaware of their nature, and promoted the myth of monotheism; that there was only one singular genocidal war God whose militant and genocidal (kill off all non-believers) will was to be obeyed? This seems to be our current situation where the world’s two most popular gods are apocalyptic and genocidal war gods. If this is a simulation, and the operators were love gods, then world would be a very different place.