The concept of conciousness and awareness has always fascinated me. It was what drew me to science fiction as a kid, and to philosophy as I got older. One of the tropes of science fiction is artificial intelligence, the idea that a computer robot can become sentient and move beyond the limits of its programming.
The New York Times Idea of the Day Blog posted this great article from “The New Atlantis” that really takes apart this idea of a computer being able to “think”. Essentially, the author theorizes that a computer, even a very powerful one, is no more than the sum of the steps it is programmed to follow. it has the ability to know WHAT to do, but not WHY to do it.
I highly recommend reading the article if you have an interest in artificial intelligence. It inspired me to finally read “The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kurzweil, and to read “Flesh and Machines” by Rodney Brooks (both books are mentioned in the New Atlantis article, and the links go to Amazon.com). Look for a review (and maybe an Artificial Intelligence theory showdown!) when I finish them.
incidentally, the article does not reference the Borg but I am sure if contacted the borg queen would heartily disagree with the author’s thesis. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!