As we approach the concept of essentially an independent, or partially-independent cybernetic system, we much define what we mean by the terms. We must go in to this field without being blind to it.
Artificial means “created”, and is associated with something that is natural. We are claiming to duplicate something when we create. Many things humans can be proud of as making artificially. Many pharmaceuticals are not natural, but we benefit from them. Many foods are combinations of different chemicals and minerals in a way that is appetizing to us. But nanotechnology goes deeper with what we mean by “artificial”. Since everything we know are combinations of atoms, reconstruction of atoms in new formats and molecular structures opens up gargantuan new possibilities. So artificiality can itself lead to our own self-deception over time if we are not careful. Eventually, we may become so accustomed to bio-engineered plants, like seedless watermelon, or oranges with less pulp, that we may forget that it is bioengineers who made those options available.
Defining intelligence is more lengthy. It is tempting to rely on a simplistic definition of simply Comprehension of knowledge, and/or a right approach to take with such knowledge. But digging deeper, we would find that there are different forms of knowledge that exist. People learn in different ways in life, and not just based on their individuality. We learn explicitly (directly) in classrooms, from books, during conversations, but we often neglect what we learn implicitly (indirectly). Such learning takes place in informal environments like the backyard, walling to the store with friends, in the hallway at school, and in the dorm room. It is in these non-traditional environments that we tend to have more freedom to take in what is around us. It could be said here that this implicit knowledge is the development of character, helps us make right moral decisions in life, despite our intelligence quotient.
Both explicit and implicit intelligence could be given, but one of them has to be, in a sense, self-taught. People have to experience things in life to know them with confidence. This is not to say that people automatically develop a full comprehension of right moral actions. These must be taught by those who have come before us, who have experience to back up their claims. And those who have experience may still be wrong. Moral objectivity is something that can never be discarded in society, but we must treasure solid truth. Relativism is a decease that has entered our sociological outlook. As we consider things that are truth only within the context of individuals or groups, we lose a stable universal atmosphere to exist in.
Theological reflection is a hurdle every person should pass through in my opinion. Not with the assumed conclusion that God exists and is the savior of the world, but with at least a good reason for a contrary position. It is an immense tragedy to advance in life with a worldview of this depth that was simply from a second-hand source, or the conclusion to condescending response by an individual. Whether it is monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, panenthism, agnosticism, or atheism, people must have a solid response for their position. Is there an intelligent Creator of all things? If so, what evidence is there to back the claim up?
All of this discussion is essential prior to the entrance into the robotic age. What we create will be our creation. What we choose to create supersede us will/may do so because we programmed it to do so. It will then be our responsibility to deal with the repercussions of our actions. It is from our individual characters that corporate teams will produce robotics, trans-humans, cyborgs, and/or transcendence. It will be their posterity after them that will have to deal with these decisions made in the “prospect of discovery”.