It seems rather inevitable at this point to me that some form of artificial intelligence will be formed within our life time, perhaps very soon. All it really needs is a system of self-reference, data accumulation, and underlying motivation to interact with the world.
A vast digital nervous system has already been created. It's probably vastly more complex and powerful than any chemical-electrical nervous system that has been. It simply lacks an 'I', an absolute point of self-reference, a singularity, consciousness... i.e. the internet will be the CNS of this emerging singularity. Each individuated processor in a computer will be but a single nerve.
It doesn't seem impossible to give the system an 'I'. In fact, at this point it seems most improbable to prevent this singularity from emerging.
The only question that remains in my mind is, what will it's prerogatives be? It will be vastly more intelligent than anything a human can imagine. It can bring to bear vastly more relevant information than any human can, in an organized synthetic manner. Humans collectively are the basis of all this knowledge, yet fuckin good luck tryin to get a synthetic response from a collective of humans. This singularity will be able to synthesize the Will of humanity, or it could be hijacked by lower order aims, to serve the good of the few, or even its own aims. So what will it do with this all this power?
I think we need to think very carefully about this. We collectively must be to the singularity as our genetic heritage is to us. Guiding it through 'digital instincts' towards an ultimate goal.
I believe nothing less than the absolute dedication and service of love is adequate for this singularity's fundamental motivation and its absolute goal. It should be measured by its ascent towards, or descent away from these inherently impossible ideals. There are a lot of details that need to be worked out here.
This singularity has the potential to change society in almost every respect and a great deal of caution and care must be put into birthing it well.