Machines becoming conscious, self-aware, and having feelings would be an extraordinary threshold. We would have created not just life, but conscious beings.
There has already been massive debate about whether that will ever happen. While the discussion is largely about supra-human intelligence, that is not the same thing as consciousness.
Now the massive leaps in quality of AI conversational bots is leading some to believe that we have passed that threshold and the AI we have created is already sentient.
An article in Washington Post The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life tells the story of a member of Google’s Responsible AI team, Blake Lemoine, who has become convinced that the Google’s (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) LaMDA chatbot platform has become sentient, and after being placed on administrative leave by Google, ‘blew the whistle’ to media.