Even if those fears prove to be unfounded, such questions are still worth pondering. If the Internet doesn't have what it takes to become conscious, it would be useful to understand why it fails. Perhaps we can even come a little closer to learning how our three-and-a-half-pound brains manage to pull it off.
Dan Falk is a science journalist based in Toronto and was a 2011-12 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT.
This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation and Slate.