Philosophy essay 4
Frankly, I see no good reason why a sentient building a computer that has a mind is not possible. Whether it will happen soon is another question. I personally doubt that we will see one in this century, though possibly in the next. Artificial intelligence is still a far cry from real intelligence, and I think it will take some as yet unforeseen conceptual breakthrough(s) for it to become a reality. Artificial intelligence has been able to solve, or largely solve, a number of (relatively) simple problems, particularly pattern recognition of certain types. However, these are largely problems that our much less intelligence brothers and sisters in the animal kingdom are also readily able to solve, so they are not really features of higher intelligence.
For example, higher vertebrates seem to be able to parse their visual fields and recognize objects, such as other members of their own species, possible food stuffs or prey, possible predators, and other environmental objects or hazards. This is clearly a very useful and long evolved function, probably evolved before much in the way of higher intelligence. Indeed, I suspect this was the beginning of higher intelligence. I suspect thinking in most thinking species is accomplished by manipulation of images originally parsed from the visual field, at first just by arranging certain images in certain sequences to represent certain actions involving the things the images represent. These images are then probably the symbols with which they think.
I also suspect the human evolutionary breakthrough was probably the evolution of names, or short symbols for complex images. Names in the human brain are probably like pointers to a data structure in a computer program, but there may not be a reverse pointer from the image back to the name, at least not all the time. I suspect this is why most people can readily recognize a face but forget the person's name, since there is no pointer...