To my mind there must be, at the bottom of it all,
As I was reading I got this impression of the "they( as some grand designer)" as if the designer of the monolith, and those without freewill, apes. I know it's just a story, but the first story to me that somehow as story tellers, we'd given the impression that Hal, was imbued with something more then we had come to know in the beginning days of computer intelligence. In another sense still, moon dwellers, with no freewill.
So in that sense there was this drive to apply human capabilities to a machine, and thus all humanity expression in terms of this machinist attribute of being? So at some point the Frankenstein(a biological design robot) becomes alive through our efforts to construct this live emotive thing we call a robot.
So it is as if the simulation had taken on this elevation of sorts, as to say, that the machine had graduated once having realized that such a robot could dream, and thus a culmination of all things possible for a human being, had somehow now become that simulation of reality? A Second Life?
So we have this godlike power now. And in place of sending machines to distant planets to gather information and to do our bidding in an effort to gather information, some "they" beyond the parameters of our seemingly capable world of science found out, that the biological robot had already been designed? Say what?