Thanks to R, who sent me a great article on Professor Henry Makram's Blue Brain project to create consciousness from a computer. You can read it here.
The obvious point of reference for thinking about the meaning of artificial consciousness from a Jewish perspective is the golem. These legendary early animated non-human beings were imagined in the talmud. Significantly, they could be created only by righteous and learned rabbis. This introduces a measure of control over the animated being. Still, though, the golems that were created could wreak havoc. The presence of the world "emet" (truth) on their foreheads is significant for two reasons: one, it suggests that the being is subject to the normal laws of reality (this is my reading of this part of the legend) as we know them. Second, when the first letter of the word emet is erased, it becomes "met" (dead), and the being dies.
A good article on Golems here, Wikipedia entry here.
My tiny brain is not equipped to deal with the Jewish or ethical significance of this now real prospect. I'm going to do some reading on this over the next few months.