Are androids alive? We often explore that in syfy. Do electric sheep dream? We try to weigh our creations’ humanity against our own.
Can a computer realize its own sentience? Probably as much as we can realize our own. don’t have the answer to ourselves, much less anything else. Even in our own circles, we tend to put relative values on our states of being. Some feel enlightened, or conscious, or awake, or simply aware, compared to our peers. We feel special because of it. It gives us confidence in our self-identity. We even dare to pity those who continue to blindly follow their own programming.
On the flipside, we also find empathy or sympathy for otherwise inanimate non-living things. Stuffed animals may be manufactured by the thousands in China, but for little me, Ted E Bear was my best friend. Some people had a pet rock. We name our motorcycles. Our pets become family, to some. We dont eat the animals we name and feed. Religion is based on the premise of intangible dieties with sentience greater than our own.
We cannot definitively prove that God exists. We define life in terms of our mortality and morality. We try to judge our machinations in those same terms. But life for androids can only be properly defined in their own terms, based on their own sense of mortality and morality. The problem is that we humans wont understand a word of it. We will either embrace them as pet rocks, or mock them like we did people who thought rocks were pets.
The tipping point becomes when the rocks decide that they are not going to be pets anymore. Sentience wont respond to a kill swith.