MegaMaster Musings

Free Wills
September 21, 2004

I have heard discussions that perhaps the robots in X’s time are different because they have “more” of a free will than those in Mega Man’s time. But that can’t really be the case. Free will is like a boolean. You either have it or you don’t. There are no “degrees” of free will. The reason for this is simple. The sheer definition of “free will” is that a person can choose his own actions. If at any time he can no longer do this, then he doesn’t, by definition, have a free will.

There is, however, the possibility of an emulated free will. This would go into the same category as emulated emotions. A robot could be programmed to act like it has a free will, and to make specific types of decisions in specific circumstances, even if it is just a mindless machine following instructions. Such a “free will” wouldn’t really be one at all, but it would appear to outside viewers as being a free will, if programmed correctly.

Do the robots in Mega Man’s time have emulated free wills? It’s possible. However, unfortunately there is still a problem with this: the robots in the original series show their free wills in situations where they really wouldn’t, if they were emulated. You see, emulated free wills would be programmed; thus, what the robot could and could not do would depend on the programmer. Dr. Wily might give his robots emulated free wills to some degree, but it would be suicide for him to program them to turn against him. And several of his own creations do just this. Bass, Ballade, and King, to name a few.

One might suggest that Wily is such an incompetent programmer that he wasn’t able to code the emulated free wills correctly enough to fix this problem. Or maybe it’s because he’s using borrowed (stolen) code and doesn’t understand the programming enough to deal with it properly. But honestly, I don’t think he would have gotten this far if he didn’t have a high level of intelligence, twisted though it may be. I rather expect he knows what he’s doing by now.

So if robots in Mega Man’s time have free wills, and those in X’s time have free wills, then this isn’t what sets them apart. Of course, that is what Dr. Light wrote on the capsule in Mega Man X1, so I suppose we are right back to where we started.

I guess we’re just going to have to say that it’s a plot hole and leave it at that.

- The MegaMaster