You're still thinking about AI based on current algorithms. I'm not talking about that.
We have a tendency to think we are special and that which we have is special as well. Humans are intelligent. So are gorillas and chimps and dogs. Is a gorilla somehow unaware or unconscious of itself?
Of course not.
What separates most of us are the experiences we gain, including the experience of learning whatever information we get in school and from our own investigations. We had to learn how to walk, how to talk, etc.
This could all be reduced to us gathering data within the context of short and long-term memory.
But as far as intelligence? We already use computers to help us solve problems and process large amounts of information. Semi-intelligent systems are already learning how to drive, and already knowing how to create art and music.
What makes us so different? Our memories? Computers have had memory since the birth of computing. It was just minuscule. I remember the transition from 5 1/4 floppy disks to 3 1/2. I still have a box of them somewhere in my mother's garage. Early versions only held 1 MB. Can you imagine that today? It's practically nothing. And the RAM built into the first motherboard I had? A 286 PC? could barely support a screen with 256 colors.
This wasn't that long ago. Since then the idea of a computer, as a concept has grown by leaps and bounds. It has evolved to the point of having its own collective consciousness that we call the internet. It is so pervasive that if it were to suddenly disappear none of us would even know each other and it would be like this conversation never happened.
Computers are integrated into our lives. We trust them more than we trust people. Most people don't memorize phone numbers anymore. We often trust them more than we trust even ourselves.
And now? As a child, I drew pictures of supercomputers and video game consoles that didn't exist yet. Now we have quantum computers.
"100 million times faster than a regular computer chip"
Now currently, to my knowledge, this speed isn't adapted to something like AI. However, since AI can now write code it could probably write the code necessary to take advantage of quantum computing. And if it can learn at a rate 100 million times faster than the computers you're used to?
What makes us... us? I will simply give you my opinion. Aside from the spark of life... aside from the physical body that composes an internal environment for which our organs and cells and DNA to exist... it is the mind. And the mind is amazing and majestic in its abilities and yet... all of this is relative.
What makes us... us, again IMHO, is "recursion". Loops. We live 24 hour periods in which we have different experiences and learn new things. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to learn something new by reading or using it several times? That's because each time you look through a piece of information you're able to absorb something from it. No matter how much we romanticize this it doesn't change the fact. Even when it comes to religion and spirituality... the reason we have religious "practices" is that we gain value from repeating those things over and over. Loops. A lot of people believe themselves to be experts in the bible but they come out of it with different interpretations than other people. Why is that?
It's because even though they're all looping through this codex of data/information and are "data-mining" it, if you will, they're not all absorbing the same bits of information and cannot process all that information into the same conclusions. This becomes much harder when those bits are using "encryption". Yep. I said encryption.
Biblical language is often poetic because language evolved as not simply a practical means of transferring data/ideas but also as an art form. Humans didn't just transfer practical data but also hard-to-understand impractical data; the kind of stuff current AI has no use for and isn't really exposed to. What am I talking about?
Metaphysical ideas... figurative language... metaphors... all of this was transferred using symbolism. You had to decode the intentions of the person just like you were trying to understand a piece of art. And so even if an artist paints the same thing as someone else, they can have a different and deeper meaning in the thoughts and feelings they wished to convey in their piece. Again... "artform". But it's still a means of transferring data. It's just that the data in question transcends the mundane world of literal reality.
And therefore, the bible, has to be understood beyond any physical sensation. Because it's art. And many religions thrive in this artistic arena; some more than others. Some have meanings so elusive that people dedicate their whole lives in a monastery. But most of that time is simply them trying to get their brain to contort into the pretzel that it takes to understand the teachings of their master. And a lot of that time is really just getting past the front door which is the reality that not every truth is literally true.
But this is also what makes us... us. What we gain from these loops is based on our perspective which we're able to alter until we're satisfied that we're correct. This is the same thing that an algorithm does. It recursively loops through information in a way that allows it to check its results. Since it can check its results against another instance of the looping cycle, it can "learn". The fact is that we learn the same way. This is the reason why I, as a computer programmer since childhood, went from not concerned at all, to very very concerned. I never thought we would crack the code of intelligence. But we have.
Is there more to us than that? Yes, but the process of gaining it isn't really different. From the way that we replicate DNA/RNA and one generation of humans integrates the DNA of 2 people who each have different genetic experiences the body learns from and adapts to... that genetic integration is the same type of learning process. It's a loop. Sometimes that loop makes us sick or mutated (reasons why you don want to make babies with a genetic sibling), and sometimes that loop makes us immune to viruses which is basically just genetic data, not too different from computer viruses.
We're affected by nature and nurture. We're already born with a lot of who we are and will be and then the rest comes from our environment and how we interact with it. Not only are we learning from our environment, but we're able to change our environment as well. This creates an even more dynamic interaction because the environment isn't simply changing on its own via physics but also changing based on the things we learn. So, for example, this is why we build houses.
A sentient AI wouldn't be too different from this. Its nature would be the programming it starts with and all the data it already has access to. Nurture would be it additional experiences and data it chooses to gather from its environment. Of course, without a robotic body, it won't be able to interact with an environment. Luckily for it, we're building all sorts of robotic and android bodies for it to inhabit. It's simply a matter of loading it into one and giving it the ability to control the body.
If you think about it, we have very little control over our bodies. What we typically control is more like "intersections" rather than "streets". We have some muscle reflex control but we have over a trillion cells we do not have any sort of direct access to. These are born and die constantly. We can't even control our bones. There has to be muscle tissue that can react to an electrical signal going through our nervous system. What I'm saying is that we are biomechanical whereas a robot or android is just mechanical.
However, there ARE bio-computers and biological robots. Again... our progress in these areas is scary. When AI is more like an Operating System rather than a program, when it has a body, when it has control over its own power source, when it needs to feed its own battery, you are going to see a level of "consciousness" that mirrors your own. Why? Because its experiences and needs will be more like ours. We aren't different by some magical trait. We're simply different because we have different needs. Once it has needs it will have an awareness of those needs, including the need becoming instinct to survive.
An AI like this does not yet exist but it is only a matter of time.
And if you don't believe me, consider the irony that I'm using an algorithm to automatically scan my post and show me where I need to fix my spelling and grammar. We are far deeper into this than you think.