@Renier_Lillie I’ll be curious to hear other thoughts - I think it is a very meaningful question.
My personal opinion is that we have not yet discovered any means of creating a machine that will ever be anything more than a set of equations. Even if those equations, once trained with the correct parameters, are able to make the machine behave in a way that appears extraordinarily human, it is still nothing more than a set of equations.
Think about it like this - does a non-player controlled (NPC) video game character have a soul? Obviously not, but they behave, at least sometimes, in a seemingly human fashion - because they have been programmed to do so by a human. An AI robot is really little different than an NPC in a video game.
So my opinion, at least at this point in history, is that it is simply beyond our capabilities to produce a robot that actually exhibited self-awareness and consciousness in the way that humans do… Which makes the question meaningless - only God can create such a being.
Here are some additional thoughts:
Philosopher John Searle has asked people to imagine a native English speaker, who knows no Chinese, in a room alone with boxes full of Chinese characters and a set of English instructions.3 People outside the room slip in cards with Chinese symbols on them, which are actually questions, unbeknownst to the person inside. By following the instructions, the person is able to send back Chinese symbols that are the correct answers to the questions. People outside the room would think the person inside understood Chinese well. But the reality is, the person in the room doesn’t understand it at all—he has no clue what the characters mean. He’s just following rote instructions to give the appropriate output.
Searle’s point is that this is exactly what a computer does. It follows a set of instructions (a program) to give the appropriate output. No matter how fast or efficiently it is able to do so, no matter how natural or personable its responses seem to us, we cannot logically conclude that the computer has understanding or consciousness. A computer’s level of intelligence might be able to give the illusion of consciousness, but it can never guarantee the real thing. Sorry, Siri.