"What we haven't been able to figure out are the proper algorithms to make it happen and there is a huge ongoing research effort at the moment to reverse engineer the brain to figure out what kind of algorithms it employs."
I figured this out a number of years back. It's an evolutionary algorithm. In fact, understanding that evolution is the mechanism by which intelligence works also explains a lot of distinct phenomenon like why human brains recognize intelligence in clearly evolved things like trees and such. A well done, open ended algorithm, slated with predicting future events given very sparse data would necessarily develop an embodied reality simulation, and allow us to understand things like what we mean to understand things. We have an accurate model by which we can predict the activities of such elements. And to borrow terminology from other known evolutionary algorithms like science (amazing how children learning and science seem very similar), consciousness is like having a theory of self much like it's accurate to say children have a theory of mind. And as far as useful organs go, predicting the future is basically worth dedicating a massive amount of resources towards, it's just that doing that requires one to accurate predict what's going on during the present. And it does this by testing the world with the senses, rather than brains processing the senses it's more akin to the brain predicts what should be happening and the sense check whether that's consistent with their perceptions, so from basically no information we evolve an understanding of the world such that our eyes, that cannot see what we see, can tell us whether or not our impressions of what's going on are right or not. -- One will find under this model basically every observation about brains and consciousness are explained.