Can a robot with artificial intelligence have free will?

Jonathan Hall, Tillmann Vierkant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter discusses the question of whether there could ever be artificial intelligence with free will. This question reduces to whether or not artificial intelligence will ever be able to act on domain-general rationally formed intentions. However, it might not be possible to distinguish between behavior that is produced by such intentions and behavior that is merely a simulation. This could be because, as the Chinese Room thought experiment seems to show, consciousness intuitively is a necessary condition for intentionality. There are three potential responses to this challenge. One could argue that full domain-general rational behavior is possible only with consciousness, or that it might also be necessary for the system to be implemented in the right substrate, or that the right microfunctionalist structure needs to be in place for real intentionality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFree Will
Subtitle of host publicationPhilosophers and Neuroscientists in Conversation
EditorsUri Maoz, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197572160, 9780197572153
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2022


  • artificial intelligence
  • simulation
  • microfunctionalism
  • domain-general
  • intensions
  • Chinese Room
  • consciousness


Dive into the research topics of 'Can a robot with artificial intelligence have free will?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Does free will come in degrees?

    Hall, J. & Vierkant, T., 19 Apr 2022, Free Will: Philosophers and Neuroscientists in Conversation. Maoz, U. & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (eds.). Oxford University Press

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Cite this