Professor in the Research School of Computer Science at Australian National University
Way before the singularity, even when setting up a virtual society in our imagine, there are likely some immediate difference, for example that the value of an individual life suddenly drops, with drastic consequences.
How close to thinking are the machines we have built, or are going to be built soon? The answer is easy: immensely far. The gap between our best computers and the brain of a child is the gap between a drop of water and the Pacific Ocean. Differences are in performance, structural, functional, and more. Any maundering about how to deal with thinking machines is totally premature to say the least.