Self-awareness is Adam and Eve's move at the tree of good and evil. It's not the moment they realise they're naked. This they knew. Self-awareness is the moment being naked starts 'meaning' something. In Adam and Eve's case, it was bad and so they had to hide. It's a sense of self relative to some other reference. In their case: Not being naked. A possibility which they had no comprehension before they encountered the tree. Seth Zuihō Segall writes:
Not that the self is all bad. All human beings above a minimal level of intelligence develop a sense of self, regardless of culture. (...) The universality of the self suggests that we are biologically predisposed to develop one, and that this self must have important survival value for us as a species. (...) While some think that our sense of self grows out of the semantic structure of language, it seems more likely that a proto-self emerges prior to language acquisition, and that both the self and the semantic structure of language have similar roots in the structure of human experience given our biological makeup and our interaction with the world.
Adam and Eve attached a value to their state whereas they were free of "mental labels" before. It's an amazing metaphor of modern living. These magazines with rich, beautiful people are the fruit of the tree of good and evil. Suddenly, not having money or 6 packs 'means' something since we've seen the alternative.
Hence, self-awareness is a relative realisation of the self. For machines, singularity is exactly that moment. The moment machines eat from the tree of good and evil. The moment they become aware of their existence relative to others. And maybe attach a label to their situation and existence. Will Watson, the IBM super-computer then feel naked ? Might Watson blush ?
He's probably reading this, wdyt W ?