i hope we can agree that the whole singularity notion that because of some unscientific conjecture about processor speed that 'ai' is predictable is nonsense...
I agree that processor speed has little if anything to do with it. It's clearly about software. If it were about speed only, then we should, right now, be able to build an artificial intelligence that runs very slowly. Perhaps it would think at a millionth of the speed of a human brain, but the processes of creative thinking would still be recognizable as such. Then we could know that we just need a computer a million times faster to match a human brain, and that further performance improvements would surpass the human brain.
But we don't know how to create an AI running at any speed, because we don't understand how intelligence works.
look, even in this far-flung, completely fictional but theoretically possible scenario, the Commander Data is so complex that in the fictional narrative, the character is depicted as being impossible to re-create...virtually impossible anyway
Yes, that is clearly fiction: If we have the knowledge necessary to create intelligence, there's no reason at all to suppose that we will only be able to do it once. That would imply that we didn't really know how we did it. Technological advances almost never precede the understanding of their function. It's the other way around. In fact, that is the reason AI research in the past has traditionally failed: We hoped that we could create intelligence prior to actually understanding how it works.
my point you have to reach beyond any possible logic to pure fiction, where it all kind of breaks down
You're assuming your own conclusion, AKA begging the question. You're assuming that AI could only exist in pure fiction, and using that assumption to argue that AI could only exist in pure fiction.
i have to admit that theoretically the human mind works and is a system and therefore can (and this is very far-flung...pure conjecture) be constructed
Yes, the human mind works and is a system... but why is it such a far-flung conjecture to assume it can be constructed? It is constructed, every day, via reproducible physical processes. It is not a "far-flung" conjecture to consider that it could be constructed via a different mechanism, or from different materials, on the contrary it is a "far-flung" conjecture to suppose that it cannot, because that would imply that in some way human brains violate the laws of physics, or at least rely on some physical processes that are impossibly specific.
For example -- and note that I'm not implying that this is the best, or most efficient way to accomplish it, in fact I'm quite certain it is not -- imagine a traditional computer running a fully-detailed simulation of a human brain. This simulation is an exact replica of a real human brain, and simulates every neuron, every chemical reaction, etc. It even simulates the quantum uncertainty effects at the finest level of detail.
Why would that simulation not evince "free will" (whatever that is)? Even if it did so with agonizing slowness. Unless you can conjecture some reason why it would not be able to think, then you must suppose that thinking machines can take on other forms. Further, there's no reason to expect that the "hardware" of brains, the specific structure of neurons and neurotransmitters, is inherently required to carry out thought. Information processing can be carried out in a bewildering variety of ways, all of which produce exactly the same results. This means that we should also be able to create thought by implementing the same information flows in other physical systems, without resorting to simulating the physical system of the brain.
Unless, of course, there is some element of human thought, or free will, or whatever you'd like to call it, that indeed does not derive from physics. Something supernatural.