What will it take for computers to learn to think? Do we have to understand consciousness to build a machine that has it? How does the brain do what it does? How can we find out? What will happen after the moment consciousness rises from machinery? Some people, my self included, believe the Singularity is not unlike the event horizon at the edge of a black hole, a point of no return beyond which acceleration towards complexity so profoundly outstrips the ability of biology or human culture as to negate our capacity for perception... we simply will not be able to see it!
The IEEE has compiled a special section (The Singularity: A Special Report, June, 08) on the issues and implications of what AI, Science Fiction, and Futurists call the "Singularity"... a moment when machines reach the ability to consciously close their own self evolutionary loop... physical evolution at the pace of knowledge or representation...
What do you think?
Funny that there are such huge differences when comparing the requirements of a Turing Machine (minimally complete universal algorithm cruncher) and the Turing Test (minimally conscious intelligence). There are some who believe a Turing complete Machine (and the right software) is all you need to satisfy a Turing Test for machine intelligence. And, there are others who say that intelligence can emerge only from machines of far greater structural complexity.
Cultural bias, anthropomorphism, human centered perspective weighs heavily on our ability to clearly reason about this issue. There is something comforting in imagining the human mind as special, as different, as more than mechanical, as inimitable, outside of the confines of physics. It is much harder to imagine a machine who's mechanical functioning results causally in the sensations and experiences we call mind, emotions, consciousness, and soul.