Forget global warming and intelligent design. The real debate is whether or not (strong) AI is possible. Now this isn't much of a debate for myself or most people I encounter in my academic circles. We read Dennett and Hofstadter while still in diapers, and use "dualist" as some sort of slur. Of course, occasional dissent does creep in. At a recent openhouse for newly admitted PhD students, I was talking to several colleagues and was surprised when one -- a respected machine learning theorist -- was willing to stick out his neck against AI. Without quite committing to dualism, his argument (if I recall correctly) was along the lines of Penrose's; if I may paraphrase, consciousness is just too freaky to be explained by classical mechanics, and so must be swept under the quantum gravity rug. My friend Gahl (I surmise from our conversation) is basically being indoctrinated to reject strong AI in her freshman class.
So, I thought I'd use this space to give a strong AI opponent (or several) an opportunity to defend their views. Tell us why machines will never think or be conscious. Is it the missing ghost? Something magical about neural tissue? A mis-application of Godel's theorem?
Have I caricatured your stance? Here's your chance to set the record straight!