Hello! Zero reply, likely stupid thread ahoy! Yay!
Brought on by a hard sci fi novel called Blindsight (linking the Tvtropes because the Wikipedia page spoils the ending) http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Blindsight
"Blindsight is a "hard" science fiction novel by Peter Watts which deals issues of sentience. Nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel, the book is available for free on Peter Watts website: http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm "
So, ignoring the bizarre cast of characters (man with half a brain, a cyborg, a pacifist soldier, and a feckin vampire), the novels about how not only is consciousness not necessary for sentience, it is in fact a handicap on intelligence. I've not read the book yet, so I can't comment on the reasoning behind it (DAMN YOU UNIVERSITY READING SHIT).
SO, what is your take on this?