‘A person, group, or country under the control of another’
The above quote neatly defines what a puppet is, but anybody who has ever considered the nature of free-will will not find this definition satisfactory. Often the argument is polarised between Determinism (or Causal Determinism) and InDeterminism or Free Will, with the basic tenants of Determinism being that every aspect of the future is built systematically on events from the past, while Free Will states that chance has a strong effect on how the future unfolds and that therefore an individual can steer a course independent of past events. Needless to say, this is a philosophical argument and, until we know everything about everything the question will remain unanswerable.. so does this help our discourse?
If we level the playing field with another question - Can any personality (or organism) ever be more than an elaborate puppet? – we miss a large chunk of the reason for asking this question and descend into a philosophical quagmire.
The original question seems crucially important because one of the intentions of this project is to create an artificial organism that has a reason to exist other than simply to be a legible conduit of data, or a randomised mash-up of information-based noise. On one hand, because this device is 100% the product of a human creative process, it is a puppet whose strings are visible and known, and on the other hand its goal is to rise above its composite parts and create a structure that reflects its innate strengths and innate flaws, things learned and things not learned, and the assistance or hinderance of the surrounding environment on the success of its toil. Seen in this light, the question loses its philosophical importance and becomes a much more tangible question about the inner-workings of the device.