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...so I am not sure why you think an AI with self-awareness would surprise me.

It would arise from complexity, not from additional bits of (slightly-conscious) matter. It's the complexity that appears to be the key component. I cannot claim you are wrong, but I haven't seen any measurements of how much consciousness is associated with our sun (just to pick the biggest thing within about 4 light years of here). So I remain skeptical that the universe is in any way 'conscious' or self-aware, even as organisms within it may be.

...evidence that local realism can be violated such that either information can travel faster than light or in the quantum world objective reality doesn't exist until someone observes/measures it.

Sure. That's EPR (among other things), and I think you mean the Bell Inequality (just being pedantic). I know I posted something on the relatively-recent use of quasars as the trigger for observations, thus eliminating the human "choice" to measure at a given moment. Quantum entanglement and non-locality. Those are really odd, to be sure, but not really new to me. I may no longer be in research, but I still try to pay attention to interesting things like that.
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