I posted this on a couple of threads today, and feel it deserves its own highlighting ...
I wish a little ... that some of this conversation [and others like it] had an "off switch".
It would be fine to discuss some of these topics in a forum about artificial intelligence or scifi, ethics or philosophy or the like ... but in a Zen Forum, we often find the clearest clarity by keeping things simple and avoiding questions. My job is often to toss cold water on good discussions. It is not because I am anti-intellectual and don't enjoy such dorm room and coffee shop ruminations (I do!!). It is just that, for Zen Practice, we generally find our "answers" by stilling the debating mind.
For example, on the subject of the chicken-or-egg question of "mind" and "brain", please see this other thread where the question is side stepped.
Brain, Mind ... NEVER MIND!
On the subject of "free will", Buddhists generally believe that ... imagined or not ... we seem to choose our next step, are ever at a crossroads, and certainly pay a good deal of the consequences of our volitional actions. Apart from that, we are happy to avoid the chicken-egg debate. More here:
I offered this today on violent video games, and feel it may apply to this topic too ... and am not going to go much further.
I would think that it is not good to hurt sentient beings, even if they are imaginary sentient beings and "simulated" violence.
I am sorry if we sometimes sound like the "just stop it" fellow that was posted on another thread today ...
... but we are, although with an important twist. That twist is that we are more just "let it be" people when it comes to certain points of mental wheel spinning and debate. Is there free will, do robots have Buddha nature, is vanilla better than chocolate (and countless other such questions) ... just sit, live gently.