I urge you to watch Andrew Ng's talk that I linked to in the post, and read On Intelligence (http://www.amazon.com/On-Intelligence-Jeff-Hawkins/dp/080507...) by Jeff Hawkins, a book that totally changed the way I look at intelligent behavior.
So yes, a general purpose learning algorithm, using the correct paradigm, would learn to think in a way as powerful as we do. And it'll do so in a way that its programmers would never be able to predict.
In the same vein, I would say that Google search results is an emerging phenomena, albeit not quite as interesting as general purpose intelligence. This is because it's intractable to predict what Google will return for certain queries, even if we know all of its rules. Keep in mind that there are degrees of emergence, it's not black and white. (On the other hand, I don't think Google's algorithm is as "simple" as it originally was, but that's for another discussion.)