Harv, you didn't really address the point I was trying to make. I'll try to make it again. :)
The computer programs we have now are basically just a few inputs, a series of if/then statements, and a few outputs. So naturally it won't have an understanding of what chess is.
Now I made a paralell with life's chemical reactions. Amino Acid :: Human Being as Deep Blue :: SkyNet. The reason Deep Blue cannot think on its own is that it doesn't have enough inputs to draw conclusions based on other inputs. It isn't self adapting. It isn't self aware.
The reason I conclude that if you add enough electrical signals together you will arrive at sentient thought is that we’ve seen it in us. I asked you what separates human thought and consciousness from any simple chemical reaction. Can you come up with any answer besides complexity? One cellular reaction itself does not have a self-awareness, but put enough together and it does. How can you refute this argument? It’s self evident.
I admit that this argument "feels" off to me. But, I learned a few years ago not to trust my gut reaction in issues of science and logic. In other areas, where your sources of data are more concrete or reliable (being a good judge of character, for instance) gut reactions are great. But if I followed my gut on issues like this I would hold firm in my belief that time dilation is impossible and the theory of relativity is garbage. This was my initial gut reaction to Einstein.
So, from a logical and not a "it feels right" perspective, how do you define consciousness? More importantly (I think much more importantly) at what point did the amino acids roiling around in the primordial soup become sentient and recieve a soul? What was it about that one last little bit of cytosine that caused the first sentient thought?
Your perspective requires this perpetual splitting of hairs. Mine does not. I could be wrong, of course, and I've tried to refute this position within myself, but in the end the logic always wins.