I do like the comparison between our mind and computers. On a practical level, it will be impossible for us to find out whether computers have the capability to gain consciousness, pretty much as it’s impossible for us to find out whether other human beings are conscious. For all I could figure, I’m the only one conscious in this universe, all the other humans could be figments of my imagination, and I could part of a simulation, etc, those kind of paradoxes. Again, here it makes sense to apply Occam’s razor, in that it is more likely (to me at least) that the universe is as I perceive it, and that things that are similar are actually similar (and thus that other humans also experience consciousness).
Now here it becomes tricky, because for a computer, we know (contrary to our own body) exactly how it works, up to every bit of information we can trace and study. Then, if we have a computer program that gains general intelligence (I’m sure we’ll reach that point within a few decades), behaves like humans, thinks “like humans” (i.e. makes the same thought processes, reaches similar conclusions, etc), then how can we be certain it didn’t attain consciousness?
We can’t. And that’s a problem, since with computers, I’m very convinced that consciousness, if it has it, is part of its circuitry, and completely incapable of things like telepathy, transcendence into higher spheres, etc. But to me, what is the difference between a computer acting human-like and a human acting human-like? How can I distinguish between the consciousness of a seemingly “conscious” computer and an actually conscious human? I can’t.
Therefore I think the safest assumption is that the conscience we experience is part of an illusion resulting from the way our nervous system works. I don’t know why, or how, but I’m convinced it is part of the natural world as we know it, until we can gain evidence it is not.
This does make it part of the same finite state space as the rest of the universe.