Plan 9 is not an Ed Wood fifties' cult film, and NELL is not the son of HAL, from the famed Kubrick film. One is a deceased Bell Lab project, and the other is a Carnegie Mellon University project.
Why computers don't think yet?
I tend to be a singularitarian, but not quite.
The NYT has a piece on NELL.
At least since the time of Thomas Hobbes, people have been trying to think of society as an assortment of coordinating units serving a higher purpose like in the Leviathan. A computer is an assortment of a different kind of parts. Those things, the assorted electronic circuits, are not there yet, they are not intelligent; what gives me hope is that humans are not that smart either; just look at what passes for news at Fox. The Turing test is not that hard either, when one listens to what passes as ``intelligent conversation'' in a bus, or a plane.
As Sejnowski proposes in his book ``Liars, Lovers, and Heroes'' consciousness is a social construct in more than one way. Without the others we are not aware of ourselves. From the Times article linked above one can read:
``His ideal, Dr. Mitchell said, was a computer system that could learn continuously with no need for human assistance. “We’re not there yet,” he said. “But you and I don’t learn in isolation either.”''
My conclusion is that computers will be more and more in our lives, and maybe sometimes we will feel the company of another complex thing next to us, which will bring us joy.
Is that much to ask?