One of the most strange things about life is that everyone thinks that they’re rational—but they aren’t. We think we all have free will to make rational decisions, but in reality our decisions are either made emotionally or have some deeper subconscious motive that is difficult to put a finger on. For example the colour of the ballot box can greatly affect a voter’s decision if they are unsure about how to vote – yet the point of an election is that it should be a way to represent what people really, consciously want (well, perhaps not with the EU elections to a pseudo-Parliament but that’s a wholly different matter).
But I think it’s plain that we have never, and never will, have absolute free will. We may be more likely to think about our actions than animals, but we are still essentially governed by evolutionary instincts, even if we think are acting rationally.
Of course it may be that there’s no such thing as free will at all; perhaps we’re all just pre-programmed machines, or even characters in a computer game God created for his own personal entertainment. In any case, as we learn more about how our decisions are predominantly made unconsciously, and as businessmen use this information to their advantage, it would seem as if free will is likely to decline dramatically in the future. Perhaps it will be entirely gone in a couple of generations – if it ever existed in the first place.