Having just attendeed an AI conference at Cambridge, I’m fairly certain that machine consciousness isn’t very likely and therefore the positioning of it (or, at least, artificial consciousness – number 99) on my Table of Disruptive Technologies is about right. It’s not impossible, but it’s very very unlikely.
The only proviso here is, of course, what one means by consciousness. We are still struggling to describe it, let alonge create it, although I personally belive that it could be a spectrum. We tend to think of things as either being conscious or not. But what if every living thing from grass and trees and cats to humans have it in varying degrees? How you then jump to replicating consciousness in a machine if still another thing altogether, although since the AI conference was about AI in Sci-Fi and fantasy film and literature perhaps I can suggest that maybe every physical object is also on this spectrum?
BTW, on the subject of narrow AI versus general AI (AGI), I’m similarly skeptical. I have no doubt whatsover that narrow AI will broaden and that task specific algorithms and robots will expand their capabilities and skills, but coding ‘the world’ or all of human capabilities and experience seems, shall we say, ambitious. Even if you could code intuition and common sense, humans are emotional and irrational and do not always follow if/then rules. This is surely what makes us uniquely human and, dare I, say interesting.